Reply To: Conspiracy theory spread

  • Whit Blauvelt

    March 28, 2023 at 5:28 pm


    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?