Conspiracy theory spread

  • Posted by Whit Blauvelt on March 27, 2023 at 5:29 pm

    The hyper-rationalization of the Trumpist, QAnon-type conspiracy thinking which dominates the Republican Party in America looks like a clear case of mass psychosis of the paranoid-schizophrenic sort. If so, is this a case of activation of what was latent, or actual contagion, a political weaponization, an intentional spread of madness?

    For instance, I have a brother with Ivy League degrees in philosophy and engineering who sincerely believe that the climate threat is false, a conspiracy which virtually every climate scientist in the world has joined. It’s not a matter of his not being rational, but of over-predominance of sense-free rationality, which McGilchrist well-describes as being the symptom of the left brain gone too far.

    What’s to be done?

    Don Salmon replied 2 months, 3 weeks ago 5 Members · 47 Replies
  • 47 Replies
  • Don Salmon

    Member
    March 27, 2023 at 6:10 pm

    Hi Whit:

    As a clinical psychologist who has worked with quite a number of delusional individuals, I can say there are a number of approaches.

    But first, I want to check – are you asking what can done on an individual level (like, talking to your brother) – or on a societal level, or both?

  • Ralph Rickenbach

    Member
    March 27, 2023 at 6:59 pm

    I agree that there are many things that can be done depending on what you want to achieve. One of the first is to look at your own way of thinking.

    I always get a bit nervous when somebody talks about people who have different views to their own as being poster-children for left-hemisphere dominance and being wrong.

    With a society that is predominantly left-hemisphere dominant, even majorities can be wrong. Which does not mean that your brother is right. And then, categories like right and wrong are, well, left hemisphere concepts.

    Once you have examined your own thinking and motives, ask yourself what brings life to your relationship.

    • Don Salmon

      Member
      March 27, 2023 at 7:21 pm

      Hi Ralph:

      I think I see your point. I guess I had a different take.

      Assume someone is caught up in delusional thinking. Assume one has made a correct assessment. The interesting question here, to me, is, What can you do?

      I guess I’ll go ahead and give some answers.

      Individually, there’s almost universal scientific and well researched agreement that you can’t argue someone out of a delusional state. So for example, in my group therapy session at Bellevue Hospital, I remember a woman came to the group in a florid psychotic state. She came up to me and said, “I know you. You’re my lawyer.”

      Well, all the arguing I could do wouldn’t persuade her otherwise. So I said, “Oh, I used to be a lawyer but now I’m studying to be a psychologist.” She was perfectly happy with that and was an active participant in the group (previously having been wary of revealing personal secrets to her lawyer!!)

      Similarly when talking with Christian fundamentalists when I lived in South Carolina. I didn’t say, “Well, Jesus was just one of many incarnations of the Divine, like Krishna, Buddha and so on.” I would talk about experiencing Christ in my life, and asking them what their relationship to Christ was. It enabled us to talk about a wide variety of topics that a purely rational (LH) conversation wouldn’t have allowed.

      So with climate change. People choose delusional beliefs because it serves them emotionally in some way. Just trying to give them the facts doesn’t help. Obviously WHit’s brother has the intellectual capacity to understand. If he thinks that climate change is a left wing attack on American values, for example, I can share my concerns about a changing America and my fears that my cultural background makes it hard for me to adjust to all the dizzying changes in the world today.

      This is pretty much how cult deprogrammers work. In fact, they have written books about how to deprogram society of delusional beliefs.

      Does it work?

      Not likely. Religions have promoted delusional beliefs for thousands fo years. Science has promoted the delusional belief in a dead, non conscious world – this belief in materialism is actually the primary driving force behind Iain’s 2nd book – TMWT.

      Will reading his book make a difference? By itself, I doubt it.

      But there are – I believe – subtler realities. If you believe Indian philosophers, we are all connected in a subtle field of consciousness, and we are at the end of an age of LH denomination, and all the conspiracy theories, all the breakdowns we see around us in rules, boundaries, structures etc are a sign of the shift in consciousness that’s occurring collectively. Ultimately, as we shift our own consciousness, that will have effects worldwide. If we can take steps externally to make changes great, but it’s most likely to have more wide ranging effects when we ourselves make that internal change – which gets back to what you’re saying, Ralph, that it’s ultimately the inner change that matters!

      • Whit Blauvelt

        Member
        March 27, 2023 at 8:45 pm

        Thanks Don. My question was on both levels. I would love to reach my brother, and as you say argument just doesn’t help. He’s also convinced the covid vaccine killed tens of thousands of people, while drug companies and governments all conspired to hide it. Meanwhile he’s a good family man, holds down a decent job and so forth. He has no religion at all, nor artistic involvement, and is proud of going decades without reading a book. But he soaks up these conspiracy theories from odd corners of the Internet, and his coworkers in the defense industry.

        The societal level is my greater concern, as my brother individually is no danger to anyone. A society in which so many join in hyper-rational, senseless, paranoid ideation is a great danger to all, whether or not we join in the madness. While “the paranoid style in American politics” has been long with us (https://harpers.org/archive/1964/11/the-paranoid-style-in-american-politics/), it’s now on unusually prominent display, and shares its delusions internationally, particularly with the far-right European political groups, but also with such odd bedfellows as yoga teachers, health-food purists, and those against all childhood vaccines.

        So at the societal level, where some prominent politicians, television “news” performers and billionaires who prefer a distracted public are stoking conspiracy paranoia, how can that be countered? Bringing out factual arguments, as we see with climate threats and many other issues, more tends to harden denial than change minds. Pointing out that it would be impossible for thousands of scientists to conspire about anything goes nowhere for those who are convinced that virtually all scientists have subscribed to an anti-capitalist agenda and forsaken honest science to promote it — as if capitalism is uniquely allied with fossil fuel firms, and has nothing to do with cleaner energy alternatives.

        Is there messaging which can help counter the wide-scale madness? If there is, perhaps it must be more art than science, prevailing more through aesthetics than logics. What shape can that best take?

    • Whit Blauvelt

      Member
      March 27, 2023 at 9:12 pm

      Hi Ralph,

      In Genesis, there’s the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eating the fruit of the latter gets us kicked out of Eden. I get it. Yet as McGilchrist points out value is not something added as a mere veneer over a valueless world of things. My brother’s beliefs, the conspiracy theories being so widely spread, are neither true nor beautiful. In the context of the left hemisphere, good and evil may be mere relativistic human concoctions; in the context of the right hemisphere goodness is deeply inherent in life, requiring our appreciation and respect.

      Have I got that wrong?

      • Ralph Rickenbach

        Member
        March 28, 2023 at 7:53 am

        In my opinion, we have limited understanding of the archetypal story of Genesis, as we interpret it with our LH. I look at it as a description of the process of humankind becoming conscious. We woke up into a dualistic worldview of right and wrong, good and evil, and into a growth process onward into non-duality and individuated unity. We became aware of our impending death, the hardship of daily life, the pain of birth, the distribution of physical power. We were not thrown out of paradise. We rather saw behind the curtain and did so in our new-found dualistic worldview. It introduced shame, a feeling of separation, and the need of sense-making.

        Value is fundamental. We just have a limited view of it. In our sense-making, we have constructed hierarchizations of values, trying to uncover value while surviving in this rather hostile world. I don’t know whether there had been an alternative path (the tree of life) and we made a mistake, or whether we would have stayed non-dual, one with everything in a childlike, immature fashion. (Think of a baby.) Now, we have the chance to grow into conscious oneness, the above-mentioned individuated unity, through the growth pangs of duality.

        The hierarchizations of values have taken different forms over the millennia, and they compete. Traditionalism, modernity and postmodernity are some such hierarchizations. They come in healthy and unhealthy forms. Looking at our history, the biblical narrative, and the story of the two hemispheres, I would always be cautious to divide things in a dualistic way into us versus them. Knowing how wrong the LH can be, and how prominent LH dominant thinking is in our society, let’s strive forward toward a more profound understanding of foundational value, beauty, goodness, and truth rather than trying to convince others that they are mistaken.

        Polarizations are best solved by searching for a more profound third way of looking at things.

        Like you and Iain, I see value expressed in beauty, goodness and truth as foundational. Let me try to find a way closer to value.

        Looking at chesed and emet (grace and truth) in Hebrew, they express something rather different than we interpret.

        Grace is granted from a higher to a lower and usually expressed as unwarranted favor. Chesed is favor, love, giving space, kindness, an open heart, a loving attitude, and much more. Chesed is the fruit of the Spirit as expressed in Galatians. It is extended between equals.

        Emet is not factual truth. It is an uncovering, revealing of foundational principles and substance. That is why the New Testament uses the Greek word aletheia, which is best translated as uncovering and “not holding back.” Emet and aletheia lack the notion of convincing others.

        Chesed and emet, charis and aletheia, grace and truth are how we are to travel along the shared journey of finding foundational value: in a loving, giving, inviting fashion that makes room for the other to uncover what has always been true.

        My five cents. What do you think?

        • Don Salmon

          Member
          March 28, 2023 at 1:23 pm

          Hi Ralph:

          Well, I agree with all you say, though I’m not sure how it relates to Whit’s question.

          I hope you all will forgive me – you guys write so intelligently, I feel like I’m writing like a child. But let me see if I can connect all this together:

          Whit writes that he is concerned that his brother – who clearly has the intellectual capacity to know better – is caught up in conspiracy theories, including the idea that climate change is a hoax. He asks what to do about this on the individual and collective level.

          Ralph, I may be COMPLETELY misunderstanding your initial response, but it sounded to me like you were saying Whit shouldn’t judge his brother. Which I think we all agree on, if that means to make an ethical or value judgment.

          It also wasn’t clear to me – maybe I’m misunderstanding – it sounded like you were also implying we shouldn’t assess Whit’s brother as making a mistake to think of climate change as a hoax.

          I think that’s where the confusion was.

          So to sum up:

          1. Whit is concerned that his brother, due to what I think Whit correctly assessed as a hyper rational, LH tendency toward paranoid thinking (common to most conspiracy theories), has bought into this irrational way of thinking.

          2. Whit asked what do to about it, for individuals and for the society

          3. It sounds like – sorry if I’m oversimplifying – both Ralph and I are saying, on the individual level, to not judge him for his error in thinking – to put it even more simply, to love him and express that love and empathy toward him.

          I think that is the essence of where we’ve gotten so far. I couldn’t tell, in this latest comment, Ralph, if you’re hinting at a spiritual solution for society?

          I guess I”ll jump in. I’ve spoken with a remarkable number of people who have pursued contemplative practices for decades, and I along with many of them have noticed it’s MUCH easier to have a peaceful, quiet mind than it used to be and more remarkably it’s gotten much easier to have glimpses of that state of Nirvana, the Kingdom of Heaven within, the all pervading Presence of God or whatever you wish to call it, than it used to be.

          this to me is a sign of a massive shift in collective human consciousness. The question then is, how do we align ourselves with it?

          To get back to Whit’s question, the crucial thing is to NOT allow our emotional minds to get all that concerned about the dust that is being raised as the Divine Mother is sweeping with Her broom, sweeping away the detritus of the past 5000 years ago since the LH first began to usurp the place of the RH.

          Conspiracy theories are just the dust being swept up. And here, perhaps this is where Ralph was pointing us, looking within at the ways our own consciousness makes room for hatred, fear, paranoia, etc may be the greatest service we can perform for humanity.

          • Ralph Rickenbach

            Member
            March 28, 2023 at 2:54 pm

            Maybe I wasn’t very good at expressing what I wanted to say. I did not talk about judgement or the brother not being wrong at all. I talked about the immediate assumption of us to be right, when we should first make sure that we are not just reacting from our own LH map and understanding.

            As for the strategy with the brother, we agree.

            • Whit Blauvelt

              Member
              March 28, 2023 at 5:28 pm

              Ralph,

              While I appreciate your caution about merely presuming ourselves to be right, anyone who thinks that climate change isn’t a serious threat, or that epidemics don’t require sensible public health responses, or that elections in Western nations are rigged, is dangerously wrong. Those who think these things (hrumph, my brother) are typically hyper-rational, which as we know from McGilchrist’s work comes with left-hemisphere dominance. Any solution must be move people towards more love of the natural world, the health of humanity, and open democracies — to get more of us to our “right” minds. Arguing won’t work when it pushes folks farther into left-dominant perspectives. So what are the alternatives, beyond retreat to our private meditations and happiness?

              How may we nudge societies towards the sort of right-hemisphere enlightenment which will enable them to self-correct, and pull back from hyper-rational, paranoid certainties? We might hope experience of the arts can help; indeed those in our great cities with their artistic resources are less prone to these problems. We might hope that experience of nature will too, yet those in rural areas are often the most beset. I’m in rural Vermont, where paranoid perspectives are fortunately far rarer than in, say, rural Texas. But I’ve no sense of how to bottle Vermont sanity, the general respect here for both science and nature, for export.

              We should help left-hemisphere-leaning paranoid people out of love, when we can. But we also should hope to help those we don’t love. On their present course they are a deadly danger to humanity and this Earth, not individually but because of shear numbers. Ours is not to judge in order to apportion punishment or blame, but we need all the better techniques we can find to turn folks towards the virtues the right hemisphere can illuminate. Might we find means of broad cultural transmission — something bigger than the Beatles in their prime — to shift people by the millions quickly enough for the beauties of this world to revive and survive?

            • Don Salmon

              Member
              March 28, 2023 at 6:41 pm

              Hi Whit and Ralph:

              I heard the same thing Whit said. There’s this idea which is almost universal in liberal circles (also in New Age circles, though they don’t necessarily overlap) that we should ALWAYS be careful in simply asserting, “No, that’s incorrect.”

              I think this is actually a literal, left hemisphere understanding of truth.

              “Truth” with a capital “T” is never a matter of right and wrong (and I think that “never” is not necessarily a LH absolute!!)

              truth in terms of factual things is simple.

              Climate change, exacerbated by humans, is happening.

              What to do about it is up for grabs. But if someone tells you it’s not caused by humans, they are factually wrong.

              I hope we can start there. Then Whit’s original question can be more easily dealt with.

              Social movements: Whit, personally, I strongly believe that ANY social movement not founded on the evolution of a state of consciousness beyond the mind – beyond BOTH RH and LH – is doomed to failure from the start.

              To some extent, we may need to open to RH/immediate experience to begin, but that could just as easily lead to all kinds of dangerous totalitarian movements as true freedom.

              Is what I’m saying making any sense? Does it sound absolutist or complicated?

              If I was talking with a 13 year old kid, I’d ask them to look at moments in nature, playing sports or music, or just talking with a dear friend in times of deep connection, and ask them to consider what it is about those moments that is so profound, so touching, so moving.

              And then to suggest, “What if it’s possible to shift one’s attention in a way that no matter what one is doing, no matter how “terrible” the world system may appear to be, no matter how much emotional or physical pain one may be experiencing, it may be possible to shift to that state of flow.

              And then, as far as a worldwide movement goes (I wish it was mindfulness but for the most part that’s become McMindfulness), how would one encourage, on a societal, international level, even a remote interest in this?

              There’s now a worldwide renaissance of interest in psychedelics. What I’m talking about includes all the possibilities of psychedelics but goes far beyond it.

              Any ideas as to whether this is even interesting to you, and if so, how would it be made more well known?

            • Whit Blauvelt

              Member
              March 28, 2023 at 7:56 pm

              Hi Don,

              Agreed, the social advance can’t just be regression from science to magic, from LH to RH. We need both legs to stand on, and to walk forward. Also agreed, the return to psychedelic research is positive. (Yet my brother as a teen used to drop acid and go to the mall, gaining little from it — set and setting remain crucial).

              McGilchrist points out that life requires obstacles to create solutions for (not quite his words, but at least roughly his gist). As a species, we have arrived at, largely by our own careless creation, obstacles which require further technological and spiritual creativity of high order. As McGilchrist also points out, religion has not always been a separate category of culture. The Japanese, for instance, had no such category or concept before the Portuguese introduced it there. So we might no so much need any new religion, as a newly spiritualized culture in all aspects, including our sciences.

              We might assume, if some are catching a glimpse of such cultural advance, a few drawn here may be among them, and share of such glimmerings.

  • Don Salmon

    Member
    March 27, 2023 at 8:50 pm

    Sure, you’re welcome. If you have an otherwise good relationship with your brother, letting him know you care about him and love him is the key. Then wait! A good friend of mine lives in what is now a “blood red” state and his FOUR brothers are all conspiracy mongers. he’s gone back and forth for years, but letting go of the need to convert them has led him to a weekly meeting with the brother he’s closest to, and his brother evidently has opened his heart considerably to him – and this (the brother) is a guy who always had hyper rational jobs, interests, etc. Since his wife died he’s become a fundamentalist Christian (the family was always rather open, religiously liberal) and it’s become so obvious to my friend that this is just his brother coming to terms with his mortality, and he just doesn’t ever get into arguing with him anymore.

    Before I say more about the societal level, I’ve noticed there’s not too many – if any – folks on this Channel who are interested in occult or spiritual views. I don’t personally see any possibility of hope apart from recognizing this collective change of consciousness that is occurring, and learning how to align ourselves with it – but I may have tagged myself as a hopeless New Age flake already, so before saying more, I’ll check with y’all and see if it’s ok to go in that (crazy?) direction!

  • Lucy Fleetwood

    Member
    March 28, 2023 at 4:07 pm

    I have really enjoyed reading this conversation, I’m sitting with “let’s strive forward toward a more profound understanding of foundational value, beauty, goodness, and truth rather than trying to convince others that they are mistaken.”

    • Don Salmon

      Member
      March 28, 2023 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Lucy:

      Can’t recall if I’ve seen your name before. If you’re new, welcome, if I missed you before, sorry!

      I’m wondering if you have any reflections on how “God” fits in all this. Iain made this a central theme in the later sections of TMWT. That is really my main interest in conversations but it doesn’t seem to be a popular topic:>))

      Perhaps because of the many meanings we give that word? I’m perfectly happy to talk about the Tao, Brahman, Allah, the Divine Mother, or any phrase one wishes.

      And my interest is not so much in ‘discussing’ the “ideas” but in how people’s consciousness can be transformed so as to perceive directly (beyond right and wrong, as you say) that Divine omnipresence “in which we live and move and have our being.”

      I’d particularly be intrigued to hear an answer to Whit’s question in this context. is there something each of us can do to connect to that Unity within which we all exist, which may affect the bizarre overreach of our egoic LH?

      • Whit Blauvelt

        Member
        March 28, 2023 at 8:35 pm

        Don, Lucy,

        I working through his “God” chapter now. As a side note, McGilchrist lists “tao” as a Chinese equivalent to “God.” The closest correspondence to “God” in Taoism is “Tian” (heaven). “Tao” means “way(s),” can be singular or plural. As Chuang Tzu wrote of the “hinge of the ways,” in Taoism the plural generally might be the best reading (in contrast to the Christian claim of Jesus as The Way).

        Personally, I favor Shaftesbury’s stance in his earliest work (published anonymously in Amsterdam) where he argues that to hold a flawed image of God is worse than to hold no image at all. I’m glad to see McGilchrist take a stance on virtue and the moral sense which owes much to Hutcheson. Hutcheson drew from Shaftesbury while staying more of a Christian perspective. Hutcheson was foundational to the Scottish Enlightenment. McGilchrist does in passing cast aspersions on the Enlightenment as being too LH. Hutcheson though, grounded his logic in aesthetics — and saw beauty as essential to reality. He may fairly be seen as exemplifying putting the LH into the service of the RH.

        As for personifying the holy, we might discuss whether there are advantages to the plural “gods” rather than “god,” as there may be advantages to the Taoist “ways” rather than “way.” Perhaps counting the holy is too LH either way? The old Taoists should agree that Tian is “at hand” — although without insisting we “repent” on account of this.

        • Don Salmon

          Member
          March 28, 2023 at 9:22 pm

          Hi Whit:

          I hope you don’t mind if I keep shifting away from intellectual discussion to practice.

          Krishna Prem (I’ll tell you more about him at some point if there’s interest – he was the first Westerner – a British citizen, no less – accepted into the Vaishnava order in India; the devotees of Krishna. He was a spiritual and scientific genius who knew Western philosophy through and through, and taught himself Pali and Sanskrit to read the Buddhist scriptures in the original. But he was a rare individual East or West who knew Reality beyond personal and impersonal)

          Anyway, Krishna Prem wrote a wonderful essay on symbolism in the 1920s. He noted how religious scholar Rudolf Otto wrote an essay wondering if Shankara’s Brahman, the Buddhist Nirvana were the “same” or “different.”

          Krishna Prem responded: “Are the words different? Of course they are. Is the Reality to which they point the same or different? Well, Reality is infinite so of course there are different “aspects” of it (which is what the “Gods” have always referred to in India and much of the more mystical east). But Reality is One.

          OF course, the LH can argue forever about what “One” means. The Zen answer is “not-two” (which doesn’t mean One!!!)

          So let’s practice! What are you aware of?

          Colors, sounds, body sensations; instinctive cravings or fears; various more complex emotions, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, etc.

          All of these exist within one field of awareness.

          Here’s an age old exercise you can try:

          Conjure up an image of a dog.

          You have 2 aspects of experience: the dog image, and the awareness of it. Notice the awareness is effortless; you don’t have to DO anything to conjure it up.

          Now erase the dog and you just have awareness.

          There are any number of LH arguments against this exercise by the way. As with Stephenson’s answer to the problem of the impossibility of his steam locomotive working (your problem is solved by its moving), the arguments are irrelevant. You CAN see this aspect of experience – it’s not an “Argument” about a dog and awareness – it’s a practice.

          When you see EVERYTHING within and as reflections of this one awareness (well, it’s not “one” but let’s not get back into philosophy:>)))

          You’ll see that all the arguments down the centuries about God or Gods or Tao or whatever become completely irrelevant. Thomas Aquinas realized this at the end of his life (all my theology has no more worth than straw, he said).

          But really, see what happens if you don’t think about it. you can see this with your eyes open – One Presence, One Life, One Being, One Consciousness, One Bliss. And yet there is infinite multiplicity (oops, I did say don’t think about it:>))

          • Don Salmon

            Member
            March 28, 2023 at 9:23 pm

            oh dear, I gave one of these exercises in another group and someone thought I was trying to be a “teacher.”

            Far from it. Just sharing. I hope it’s taken in that way. I’m delighted to hear arguments, rebuttals, etc, though I think it may be more fun to share practices:>)))

          • Whit Blauvelt

            Member
            March 28, 2023 at 10:21 pm

            Hi Don,

            Oh, practice is everything.

            Also, it’s common for gestalts seen by the RH to be arbitrarily mapped to word-concepts of the LH, such that people will use the same sets of words for quite different gestalts, and apparently opposed sets of words for gestalts that match. Is the Hindu atma (self) and the Buddhist anatma (no self) the same? Why not?

            As for awareness, to be aware of something is to have some notion of its prospects. A rock in the path is only such if you might stub your toe on it. A dog is only such if it might do any of many doggish things. Can we be aware of awareness then, separate from knowing something of the prospects of awareness?

            My own practice is somewhat along the lines of tuning the cooperation of the two hemispheres, as well as cs/uncs synchrony, towards a common, unified prospective sphere, whose “hinge of the taos” (Hecate’s crossroads, to the ancient Greeks) is here, now.

            Does one direct ones practice(s) from a LH or a RH perspective? In which side does one, by preference, seat the will? McGilchrist’s The Master and … was obviously about this. Yet his books suggest little to me by way of formulas for such a practice, beyond the deep immersion in literary, scientific and artistic cultures he draws such amazing erudition from — and in which I for one could never hope to equal him.

            Might we seek formulas for practice(s) consonant with McGilchrist’s insight, without too much risk of reduction? Are there alternatives to be grounded in his work which might prove more transformational than the popular methods of “mindfulness,” and meditations based on mantra or breath — as worthy as those are?

  • Daniel Jones

    Member
    November 27, 2023 at 8:30 pm

    Respectfully, what this post demonstrates more than anything else is the LH’s inability to empathize and tendency toward exuberant self-confidence that it alone is right.

    You can apply the exact same judgement against the American Left, its conspiracies (Russian collusion, for example), and its arrogance, but you don’t, presumably because it’s your camp. Like the LH, you’re only seeing half the world, the other half you dismiss.

    • Don Salmon

      Member
      November 27, 2023 at 8:41 pm

      Hi Daniel:

      I just looked over all my comments, and though I indirectly referred to Whit’s comments, the only specific issue I wrote at any length about is climate change.

      Do you know up until 2007, it was impossible to tell, simply by someone’s belief about human-caused climate change, whether they were Right or Left, conservative or liberal?

      So if you could be more specific – tell me in a clear, detailed way how my comment that in my view, having been trained as a research scientist and examined numerous studies on climate change, is a reflection of a particular hemispheric or political bias?

      Now that a majority of conservative politicians accept human caused climate change, how would my agreement with them reflect some sort of political bias?

      I’ve noticed an increasing number of conservative politicians stating they are in full agreement with the science now – but they contest the “Left’s” emphasis on government intervention as contrasted with market approaches. I didn’t say anything about what I thought should be done in regard to this now universal agreement that human caused climate change is a problem, so I don’t quite see how you glean some kind of bias when as far as I can see, Right and Left, conservative and liberal, are in full agreement with the point I made about people who in the past have denied humans contribute to climate change.

      • Daniel Jones

        Member
        November 27, 2023 at 9:09 pm

        Hi Don,

        Thanks for your reply. Well, to begin with, I believe I was responding to the original post, not your comment. If I did that incorrectly, I apologize.

        My problem is mainly with the original poster’s contention that “anyone who thinks that climate change isn’t a serious threat, or that epidemics don’t require sensible public health responses, or that elections in Western nations are rigged, is dangerously wrong.”

        That’s one of the most egregious straw men arguments I’ve read in a while, and directed towards his own kin, no less. There is no hope for representative government when behaving like that is the norm, straw manning one another and presuming bad motives or intellectual defects.

        But as long as you’re here, rather than simply trying to use more diplomatic and scientific language to try to explain “the science” or psychoanalyze the man’s brother (who sincerely believes what he believes and probably has good reason for it–most of us have good reasons for our beliefs), why not dismiss the original question out of hand as a partisan failure to employ empathy, a hallmark of left-hemisphere thinking?

    • Whit Blauvelt

      Member
      November 27, 2023 at 9:26 pm

      Daniel,

      Assigning people to “left” and “right,” politically, is largely nonsense — except to the degree those people self-identify as “left” or “right.” I’m essentially a Burkean conservative, descended from early New England and New Amsterdam immigrants, with an ethical stance easily recognized as a blend of Puritan and Dutch Reformed sensibilities.

      That said, the Trumpists — including decidedly my brother — are something else, a radical break with the American traditions. I just spent a week with him working towards settling our father’s estate (Dad nearly made it to 99). We got along fine. But my brother’s beliefs combine (1) a total mistrust of the effects of modern corporate influence on our food supply, which he sees (somewhat accurately) as poisoning us in many ways, with (2) a total trust of corporate-sponsored denials regarding the reality of global warming. So in his mind our capitalist culture’s profit motive is a great threat to our individual bodies, but no significant threat to the climate of our our planetary body. That’s to say, he’s highly rationalistic, while at the same time plainly irrational.

      As for the collusion of Trump and the Russians, have you read the Mueller Report? Or have you just trusted certain media’s assurance that there’s nothing to see? Whichever, not everyone who is against Trumpism is on the “left” — however you define it.

      Regards,

      Whit

      • Daniel Jones

        Member
        November 27, 2023 at 9:49 pm

        I’m glad to hear you had a peaceful interaction with your brother and can give him some credit on a few of the issues you ultimately still disagree on. That’s progress.

        I don’t know what “Trumpism” means and I don’t carry water for any politician, so I have no interest in defending one or attacking the other, particularly in this venue.

        To the extent this group will be helpful, it will be in learning to empathize with people with whom we vehemently disagree with, not attempting to diagnose psychological disorders, question allegiances, or assign intellectual deficiencies in order to explain differences of opinion.

        • Whit Blauvelt

          Member
          November 27, 2023 at 10:30 pm

          Daniel,

          With respect, McGilchrist is a psychiatrist. His books are an application of psychiatric, psychoanalytic and neuro-scientific theory to our current culture, including its politics. His central thesis is that there is a cultural contagion producing the same hyper-rational type of consciousness as typifies schizophrenics and those with right-hemisphere damage.

          My concern that my brother is in total denial of the evidence of the rise in global temperatures resulting from industrial emissions is not a failure of empathy. Nor do I believe that the R.D. Laing approach to schizophrenic treatment — regarding those displaying the symptoms as being perhaps more in touch with reality than the rest of us — is the approach to be recommended here. McGilchrist certainly doesn’t recommend that.

          If we are to study the fall of Rome, we must look at the Roman leadership, its politics. Given that McGilchrist sees our current civilization as close to a similar fall, we must look at our own leadership, our politics. One of the larger crises before world leadership is climate. That we have political factions throughout the Western world which rationalize that thousands of scientists, world-wide, are fabricating evidence of the climate threat in a well-coordinated conspiracy displays a serious psychological dysfunction. If McGilchrist’s hemispheric hypothesis is correct, the wide reception of this conspiracy theory regarding science should be analyzable through it. The cure for this psychological dysfunction may be what’s required, if we’re to improve our cultures’ political responsiveness to the crisis, and save civilization from falling because of increasingly bad weather. If we’re to work towards a cure, we must squarely face the disease.

          Do you lack all empathy for the hundreds of millions who will find their homelands uninhabitable within this century, if our actions fall short?

          Whit

          • Daniel Jones

            Member
            November 27, 2023 at 11:49 pm

            I’m more concerned with the hundreds of millions for whom the basic necessities of life will become too expensive and unreliable if climate change extremists and the largest corporations backing them get their way. I recommend watching Planet of the Humans, produced by well known right-winger Michael Moore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE&t=6s

            • Whit Blauvelt

              Member
              November 28, 2023 at 12:07 am

              Michael Moore is no scientist. Nor are the tens of thousands of scientists who are analyzing the climate change threat extremists. I know some of them personally. They’re quite sane, and largely apolitical, aside from their concern with human survival.

            • Daniel Jones

              Member
              November 28, 2023 at 1:09 am

              Got it. Well, he isn’t in the documentary, so you can watch it and not break into hives. Whit, did you attend Evergreen State by chance?

            • Don Salmon

              Member
              November 28, 2023 at 2:36 am

              You know, I’ve been in dialog groups since the 1980s. It’s hard work and takes significant maturity. The very first, the absolute ground rule of all dialog (and keep in mind, I was trained to lead dialog groups by an expert Buddhist teacher who researched over a dozen forms of dialog over the course of several years in a doctoral program) is you have to demonstrate a willingness to express the “other” side’s viewpoint before criticizing it.

              Based on everything you’ve written here, starting from your particularly pugnacious initial comment, i would say you’re not ready for the first class in how to engage in dialog.

              I was hoping, based on your obvious desire to write sincerely about this, you might be willing to at least attempt to look at your inability to approach a dialogic view, but – as I’ve often encountered before when people claim to want to engage in dialog who aren’t ready for it – you’ve simply used this desire as a pretense to defend a one-sided position, and ultimately, the ultimate anti dialog stance, prove you’re right and the other is wrong.

              And not even prove – since you haven’t even once attempted to engage in rational interaction – basically – to have an excuse to push one perspective without demonstrating even a remote interest in ascertaining what others think and feel, much less even the possibility that there might be some legitimacy in another perspective.

              I hope I’m wrong, but so far, you haven’t given us much hope that you may have some sincerity and want to develop some actual, concrete dialogic skills

            • Whit Blauvelt

              Member
              November 28, 2023 at 3:12 am

              Don,

              It’s not clear who you were responding to. I’m not here for a dialog therapy group. But it’s fine if you are, obviously. I, too, have had Buddhist teachers, as well as Jungians, Theosophists, analytic philosophers, participant-observer sociologists…. My closest friends have been musicians, painters, poets, potters, writers and other crafty sorts. Like Walt Whitman, “I contain multitudes.”

              I can’t see that the attitude of “If everyone just understood each other’s perspectives, we’d be fine” is one which is supported by McGilchrist’s hypothesis. If it’s even compatible with it, it’s off in quite other territory in terms of sociological or psychology theory. In the arts, in the crafts, some things are more truly crafted than others. Most of what shows up at local craft fairs, for instance, is dreck. Sturgeon’s Law (“90% of everything is crap”) applies across every human endeavor. We won’t arrive at a deep appreciation of the 10% in which excellence is expressed by denying the truth expressed in its aesthetics.

              That truth, aesthetic truth, so beautifully described by the old Scottish philosopher Francis Hutcheson in writing which was a huge influence on Thomas Jefferson, is very much a RH accomplishment. Trying to level all our perspectives, regard each as the equal of all others, is the LH gone rampant. There’s far more beauty, far more truth, in some than others. What McGilchrist is about — what I’d hope we’d be about here — is finding and exploring them.

              Whit

            • Daniel Jones

              Member
              November 28, 2023 at 4:05 am

              Don, I have to say that every comment of yours that I’ve had the misfortune of reading has demonstrated the very sentiment and approach you claim to oppose. You also seem to have trouble reading plain English, and ascribe all sorts of baseless faults and motives to people who merely disagree with you politely. I’m sorry that the message of TMAHE didn’t get through to you (I myself decided to read it twice, so maybe a second read would do you some good), and that you’ve chosen to use this forum to spread your pseudo-scientific, partisan screed, but some of us are just trying to have a dialogue about the book and the reality we see out there. I’m sorry you’re not interested in participating in good faith. Good day.

            • Whit Blauvelt

              Member
              November 28, 2023 at 10:33 pm

              Daniel,

              Nothing you’ve posted here addresses the major issues McGilchrist delves into in his volumes. You make it clear that you object to discussing how hemispheric imbalance affects some of the primary issues in our current crisis of civilization, despite that this crisis is the obvious motivator for McGilchrist to spend the years assembling his books. Instead, you focus on his observation that empathy is largely a RH capacity, as if the only lesson you’ve taken is that empathy is good. I doubt McGilchrist would be satisfied with a summary of his work which simply says, “Then we need more empathy.” Lack of empathy, per the hemispheric hypothesis, isn’t so much a cause of the imbalance as an effect.

              Nor does empathy require us to give credence to crackpot views, such as that concern for the Earth’s climate is some grand political conspiracy among scientists. People simply aren’t that good at conspiring at that scale. Effective conspiracies are among relatively small groups of people.

              Technologies can backfire. Romans poisoned themselves with lead pipes for plumbing. We’re poisoning our world in myriad ways, including atmospheric emissions. Empathy is not an effective antidote for poison.

              To see the beauty in the world, and the beauty in people, we have to also be open to see the ugliness there. There’s a great deal of both about, as it’s ever been, yet the swing is towards exaggeration on the ugly side of late, as our societies lose vision of both past and future, and dwell in a shallow presentism. To appreciate the depths and breadths of time, that’s also a RH capacity. I’m in the middle Raymond Tallis’s Of Time and Lamentation: Reflections on Transience. It’s conjunction with McGilchrist forms a quite rich and interesting space.

              Whit

            • Daniel Jones

              Member
              November 28, 2023 at 10:45 pm

              Whit,

              You might not remember, but you posted all over social media back in 2016 about novel ways to rig the electoral college in order to deny Trump the White House. You are exactly what you accuse your brother of. So, maybe practice what you preach, and try listening to your brother sincerely and trying to get why he thinks the way he does. You might learn something.

              If you sincerely care so much about the environment, you owe it to yourself to watch Planet of the Humans. All you’re doing to help the environment so far is repeating corporate talking points from some of the richest and most well connected corporations on the planet. You’ve been co-opted and you don’t even realize it.

            • Whit Blauvelt

              Member
              November 29, 2023 at 12:10 am

              Daniel,

              I’ve not accused my brother of anything. I’ve merely described his views. My own reaction when he expresses some of them has been, “Do you really mean that, or are you joking?” They’re as outlandish as they seem. I exaggerate them not at all.

              What “social media” do you accuse me of? I’ve never had a presence on Facebook or its like. Nor have I any past nor present interest in rigging the electoral college. You do seem to like making stuff up to slander people, in typical wing-nut troll fashion. What are you doing here? This is a space for more civilized, intellectually honest discussion.

              Whit

            • Whit Blauvelt

              Member
              November 29, 2023 at 12:58 am

              This is too funny. Did a Google search to see if my name has appeared in Twitter (where I’ve never posted a single thing), to find something in what Google thinks is Bulgarian. (Or is it Russian?) No idea why someone writing in that alphabet would pretend to have my name. Were they posting electoral college schemes in 2016, as accused?

              Whit Blauvelt (@whitfb) / X

              twitter.com

              <cite role=”text”>https://twitter.com › whitfb</cite>

              · Translate this page

              Отваря профилната снимка. Следване. Щракни за Следване whitfb. Whit Blauvelt. @whitfb. Присъединяване: август 2011 г. 3 следвани · 0 последователи.

            • Daniel Jones

              Member
              November 29, 2023 at 3:47 am

              Then you should find out who was impersonating you on Facebook back in 2016.

              What I’m doing is respectfully pointing out inconsistencies that aren’t true to the spirit of TMAHE or TMWT. When I tried to do that, my views

              What are you doing?

            • Whit Blauvelt

              Member
              November 29, 2023 at 4:18 pm

              Please quote what you believe you found on Twitter from 2016. It’s well known that Russian disinformation factories take on many false identities and photos stolen from elsewhere to post divisive garbage on every side of any issue in which they may foster divisions in democratic societies. If someone was doing that sort of thing using my name in 2016 … well, I worked in internet security for decades, and frankly there’s nothing to be accomplished. Bring suit in Russia for identity theft? The point is, you have slandered me here. You have violated the spirit of our joint inquiry into the shaping of contemporary consciousness, seemingly in the belief that we should not pursue it if some of the evidence of dysfunction extends to examining the rampant conspiracy theories on the political right, including that covid vaccines contain microchips to control us (espoused by Cardinal Burke, who was just finally kicked out of his Vatican apartment by the Pope, bless him); that climate science is a hoax perpetrated by a prevailing Marxism among the educated (I know many scientists who recognize the climate threat; not one is Marxist); and that Jews are engineering the replacement of “white” people by immigrants, under the claimed leadership of Soros.

              These are all symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. They are symptoms that are made sense of by the hemispheric hypothesis.

            • Daniel Jones

              Member
              November 30, 2023 at 5:48 am

              Whit, I have to at least thank you for the laugh. Even by your standards, I’m utterly floored that you’d pull the Russian disinformation card here. Well played, sir. God bless you and everyone around you.

            • Whit Blauvelt

              Member
              November 29, 2023 at 5:54 pm

              Ah, Facebook. I was checking Twitter, where I only ever posted three things, all in 2011, right after Irene hit NY. All were brief, one about a free wifi network temporarily in Manhattan, one saying “Irene goodnight,” and one saying “yeah” to a colleagues post on Irene. Forgot I ever had a Twitter account, but there it is. No idea why Google returns my long-ago Twitter handle with Bulgarian. It was funny though.

            • Whit Blauvelt

              Member
              November 29, 2023 at 6:18 pm

              Okay, Facebook’s “Activity Log” have links to articles on several news sites’ articles where I joined in the comments sections following articles in 2015-2017, where the links now go to articles but not the comments … ah ha, here’s the basis of your slur, an obvious tongue-in-cheek comment I made to Facebook itself, to an article linked by “Democrats.com” after the 2016 election:

              “With our combined nuclear forces, the Russian-American alliance can enjoy total greatness over all the darker-skinned peoples of the world. All that’s required is a demonstration of the Russian-US willingness to use nukes against those who export refugee terrorists. Only those who can block Trump in the Electoral College stand between us and the glorious future of the Russian-American Empire.”

              This is, in your reading, my proposing a devious scheme to block Trump? Seriously? I was writing from within the perspective of a Trump and Putin supporter, standing in his shoes, exploring empathy for his view. Trump has always openly admired Putin; many Trump supporters today take Putin’s side against Ukraine. But … where is the “scheme” to pervert the electoral college you claim I was promoting? You mean, something like Trump wanted Pence to do for him on January 6, 2021? Nah. I’m not that clever.

            • Daniel Jones

              Member
              November 30, 2023 at 5:50 am

              It’s not too late to just log into your old Facebook profile and delete the posts. You can even denounce the election meddling that you then espoused. We’re forgiving people here.

            • Don Salmon

              Member
              November 30, 2023 at 12:20 pm

              I’ve just received a telepathic message from Marjorie Taylor Greene. She is worried she may have to get the Gazpacho police, as she shares concerns with Lauren Boebert regarding the possibility of wonton killings (that is, death by dim sum) . Already, we’re discovering that numerous airports during the Revolutionary War were closed due to such rhetoric, and the reptilian beings from Alpha Centauri are somewhat restless as well. And consider the laser beams from those satellites above California!

            • Whit Blauvelt

              Member
              November 30, 2023 at 4:28 pm

              Quite right, Don. They pretend to be rational, and consider themselves such, but in ways closely akin to schizophrenia — which is entirely what McGilchrist focuses on. So we get elaborate constructions from them which are largely divorced from the evidences of reality. Whatever evidence is brought before them which contradicts their delusions, they rationalize away, spinning their web of madness to encompass ever more. Also, as we’ve recently seen here, they love to troll, and they admire others who model trolling, such as Trump’s recent echoing of the Nazi theme that those who oppose his desire to be the great leader are “vermin,” with all that implies.

            • Don Salmon

              Member
              November 30, 2023 at 6:28 pm

              well, you were right, Whit, and I was wrong. Remember earlier I suggested we be nicer to Dan and hear him out?

              As his comments have receded from the factual, objective world further into delusion, I notice how much more this feels like conversations I’ve had with patients at Bellevue, VA centers and other psychiatric centers.

              I don’t know how it is in England and elsewhere, but now that I live in the Southeastern US, it’s quite striking how people conditioned from childhood to believe in a completely fact-less, delusional form of Christianity find it very easy to slip into belief in materialistic delusions.

              I don’t think it’s irrelevant that the largest faction of Trump supporters are the Southern Baptists, and that this branch of Christianity was founded on a mission to prove black people are inferior to whites.

            • Daniel Jones

              Member
              December 8, 2023 at 5:53 am

              Don, both you and Whit missed basically every message contained in Dr. McGilchrist’s work. I don’t know why you’re even here. Both of you are self-deluded, paranoid bullies. It’s time you both grow up and find a new hobby other than picking fights with strangers on social media. Really, there’s more to life. Trust me.

              I’m respectfully requesting that you both refrain from commenting on my posts. I have no interest in hearing what either of you think, your straw-manning, or your ad hominem. This is where we part company.

            • Don Salmon

              Member
              December 8, 2023 at 9:50 am

              Dan, I had already stopped. If you would refrain from mentioning us again, I don’t think either of us would return to your posts.

            • Whit Blauvelt

              Member
              December 8, 2023 at 4:20 pm

              Daniel,

              Just to note, as a climate crisis denier you hardly fit here. Iain, in yesterdays’ Zoom lesson, started his talk by mentioning the global “meta-crisis,” then listing “climate” first among the many crises comprising it.

              Then again, Iain has broad tolerance, as shown by a talk at Hillsdale College being in his schedule. That’s a Freewill Baptist institution, run by the most conservative lineage of the English Puritan movement, for which its founder was executed by James 1. Iain expressed utter contempt for Puritans later in yesterday’s session. He attributes the removal of Catholic iconography from the churches to the Puritans, and views that as somewhat of a crime against the RH. The Freewill Baptists are strongly literalist, LH in their reading of Scripture, which was why in New England they broke from the more liberal Puritan mainline, which largely became Congregationalist, which was the background of Thoreau (whom Iain worships) and his friend Emerson (who was from a long line of Congregationalist preachers).

              Today’s Freewill Baptists in America are largely, as you may know, Trumpists, while those of us raised in the Congregational branch of the Puritan tradition (including myself) believe the answers to our meta-crisis aren’t to be found in a Trumpist dictatorship or the Christianist dominion favored openly by the current Speaker of the House. It does seem you are of that party. Excuse me if I’ve mistaken you.

              Whit

            • Don Salmon

              Member
              December 8, 2023 at 4:47 pm

              Thanks Whit, fascinating historical observations.

              Daniel, just a reminder – I, and I imagine Whit, were perfectly content to leave this conversation, but you just restarted it. If you don’t want to talk to us, don’t.

              Meanwhile to respond to your comment regarding our lack of understanding of any of Iain’s views, when I’ve spoken with him in those live Zooms, he’s always agreed with my overviews of his various theses.

              Furthermore, before this channel was completely overhauled in September 2022, I had, for a few months, written numerous posts for the previous site which no longer exists, as far as I know.

              Evidently, one of the administrators of the current site assessed my understanding of Iain’s work as excellent, and reached out to me to request that I post regularly here to encourage others to post.

              Finally, with regard to capitalism, a few observations. Iain considers unregulated capitalism to represent pure and profoundly unbalanced left hemisphere thinking. To allow market forces, which see value only in what can be “objectively” measured is something that not only is purely LH, but in more traditional Christian language would be considered demonic.

              To connect this with Whit’s observations regarding Trump’s cult followers, remember that the Southern Baptists were formed in the early 1850s (or was it 1849; I don’t recall precisely) specifically with the intent of promoting white Europeans as the supreme Christians, and black Americans as fundamentally inferior. This dualism is also very LH, and relates to the predominantly categorical thought and the kind of dominator hierarchy (as well as typically LH paranoid style of thinking) that is widespread among Trump’s supporters.

              You though we were being insulting when we pointed out paranoid elements of your letters, but there are actually passages toward the end of “The Master and His Emissary” that describe with remarkable accuracy the kinds of statements you’ve made.

              So once again, if you hadn’t written, I would not be writing this. If you would like this to stop, don’t write.

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