Need a little help...

n0b0dy 0f n0te

Well-Known Member
This isn't something I normally do, but I need a little help, and this is easily the best place to look for it.

I'm writing a piece about conspiracy-theory thinking, propaganda and radicalisation. I had thought I could cover the ground in one post, but it quickly became apparent that it was too big, so I've decided to break it up into a series, with the first part being about how we train ourselves to believe bullshit.

I've covered most of the bits about the mechanisms by which we end up following Alice, but I want to make sure I haven't missed anything critical, and that I haven't dropped a bollock somewhere. I think that any eyes on this particular project will be useful.

I've posted a first-pass draft, and I'd really appreciate some feedback. I'm not looking for style or grammar points or other corrections at this point, just thoughts on any critical points I haven't covered so far.

White Rabbit draft

I may ask for help on part two as well, when I move on to strategies for finding a way out. Future posts in the series will take a look at specifics of radicalisation, from creationism to incels. In fact, I'm hoping to draw a thread that will explain an ultimate hypothesis, namely that the foundation of all of this kind of thinking, to the degree that it's found prominence in modern culture, can be tracked back to the root of all counter-scientific thought in the mainstream; corporate creationism.

Hope to pull the trigger on this post in the next day or so.

Warning: I was aiming for 3,000 words, but got to well over 4,000 before I realised I hadn't even finished laying out the problem.
 

surreptitious75

New Member
Some thoughts simply because you asked and for no other reason

Although not explicitly stated the thread implies that this type of thinking is relatively modern
But in point of fact it has existed for as long as civilisation has - it is simply more amplified today because of the ubiquity of the medium involved
This would suggest something akin to it being hard wired which would explain why it is incredibly difficult to free oneself from as a consequence

Another point only mentioned in passing is the reference to echo chambers and peer pressure / group conformity [ both implicit and explicit ]
Again this is nothing new and is merely more so now for reasons already mentioned

The notion of planting a seed in a mind in order to change it while well meaning is actually irrelevant for two reasons
For if the mind in question is closed then it will have zero effect upon it and if is open then no more is actually required

The default position is to always remain open and hold onto nothing otherwise the return to dogmatism is guaranteed
Although to be pedantic the emphasis should actually be more upon being detached rather than upon being open
As one can be detached about anything - both true and false - whereas one can only be open about some things

Having very strong opinions not susceptible to adaption can be highly consuming energy wise and can have a negative impact upon ones thinking
And so adopting a minimalist approach from a philosophical perspective where one avoids such opinions is the best way to overcome dogmatism

Ultimately though there is no solution to the problem of conspiracy because most are not even aware their thinking is faulty
Instead they paradoxically think that everyone else is at fault - although this is not restricted to any particular demographic
As we all display irrationality in one form or another at some time for it is among other things what actually makes us human
So while reducing it is possible eradicating it is not so that is one limitation that simply has to be accepted regardless of anything else

And so conspiracy thinking and echo chambers and irrationality will always be with us as they always have been despite the efforts of some
Homo sapiens are an eternal work in progress both individually and collectively and this is significantly due to the way we think about things
 

n0b0dy 0f n0te

Well-Known Member
Some thoughts simply because you asked and for no other reason
Always interested in your thoughts, brother. You do challenging questions like nobody I've ever met.
Although not explicitly stated the thread implies that this type of thinking is relatively modern
That's something I need to look at, then. There's nothing new about it, though it's certainly the case that, as with all things, thinking progresses. A lot of what I'm driving at here isn't really about how old it is, only with how we get there.

That said, the aetiology of such thinking is important. Looking back at what I've written, I only alluded to our gullibility as children. It's well worth making the distinction between the propensity and the actuality of such thought.

Good shout.
This would suggest something akin to it being hard wired which would explain why it is incredibly difficult to free oneself from as a consequence
I'm probably an outlier in this, but the notion of any kind of thinking being hard-wired is, to my mind, about as utterly stupid as it's possible to get. The only things our brains are genuinely hardwired for is bodily function.

Every bit of bollocks spoken about any kind of thinking being hardwired is fine-tuning writ large in bright flashing neon letters several hundred feet high accompanied by a troupe of dancing girls.

Even people who can think get this catastrophically wrong. There is no kind of thinking, mode of thought, or class of belief we're hard-wired for, because higher-order thinking simply isn't a function. Higher-order thinking is emergent.

When people talk about modes of thought being hard-wired, I hear 'I don't get shit'. There are modes of thought that are baked-in, but they're nothing to do with brain states, and everything to do with the fact that dumb hicks are surrounded by dumb hicks, making no allusions to any members here, unless they feel like I meant to slight them, in which case Bogus Cunt is a cunt and I totally meant it.

That thought wasn't hard-wired, by the way, it was higher order thinking. Some cunts register on the scale of uselessness as 'we're going to need a bigger boat'.
Another point only mentioned in passing is the reference to echo chambers and peer pressure / group conformity [ both implicit and explicit ]
Again this is nothing new and is merely more so now for reasons already mentioned
Not sure what you mean here. I should note that my aim here isn't novelty. I couldn't care less about originality in this outing, only in completeness. What I really want to know is whether I've missed any important pointers to self-propagandisation.

I read and absorbed the rest of the commentary, so thanks. These two points were useful, as the responses might help others in seeing what I haven't seen.

Thanks, dude.

BTW, I meant to email you. I'll send you a link over. I've done quite a bit of writing in the past few weeks. Starting to feel like my old pace.
 

We are Borg

Administrator
Staff member
I haven’t read it but you should include time period, depending on how big the population is, where there more or less conspiricy theories. Or did the internet made it more accessible and wide spread.
 

Dragan Glas

Well-Known Member
Greetings,

Given our brains are pattern-recognition systems, it's not surprising that we can fall down the proverbial rabbit hole - we see patterns everywhere, real or imagined (hence why we see Jesus in toast, etc).

We also see correlations - patterns - in data and events, which can result in superstitious beliefs or belief in pseudoscience or out-and-out quackery.

Conspiracy theories are just another form of this mistaken belief.

A recent example is the pandemic.

As most countries have done, Ireland has kept daily records of new infections - on one occasion I mentioned that the daily rate had gone up to someone I knew (he's since returned to Serbia), and he replied:

"What virus?! It's all a government plot to stop people making money!"

By that point, over 300,000 Americans had died from the virus. Before he went home, I discovered he wasn't vaccinated - others who knew him said he refused to get vaccinated because "people are making money out of it". :rolleyes:

He believed all sorts of other nonsense as well.

Just an example of how people can end up down the rabbit hole.

Freeing oneself from this is hard in one way yet easier in another.

Trying to beat someone over the head with "facts" doesn't work - it just makes them more determined to hold on to their beliefs.

The easy way is the same way we change our minds - by finding new information ourselves that gradually undoes the mental chains that bind us.

Kindest regards,

James
 

n0b0dy 0f n0te

Well-Known Member
Indeed.

I wasn't going to cover pattern recognition, because I'd intended to link my piece on cognitive inertia, wherein I talk abut that at some length, along with childhood gullibility being brought over into adulthod.

Thanks for the feedback.
 

Led Zeppelin

Active Member
I want to make sure I haven't missed anything critical, and that I haven't dropped a bollock somewhere.
With all due respect, I think you have possibly overthought a couple points. Almost to the point where it sounds like you have your own conspiracy theories. I'd like to ask you what exactly do you mean by the "anti-vaccine movement"? The first "anti-vaxxers" I know of were all of the anti-Trump people in the US main stream news about a year ago who said they would never take a vaccine because Trump told them so and questioned the safety of a vax that could be approved so fast.. (I am not a trump fan, he supports the murder of unborn children). Just sayin! Even the Anti-Fa (I guess a left-wing organization?) here in Germany was a bit confused about which side they should protest on for about week or 2.
 

Led Zeppelin

Active Member
You have put far too much faith in current US political movements then what they are worth. Americans are rarely smart enough to do anything that what the name of an organization they found, implies they should do. And none of them are smart enough to have any "dog-whistle" things you talk about. You might have had some people who knew that Black Lives Matter, would do fuck all to solve anything about police brutality or excessive use of force in America. Even if it were only to help black guys! BLM claimed systemic racism in police use of force, raised billions of dollars, and did not use a dime of that money to push for legislation that would allow for any relevant transparency between the state and the public.
 

Led Zeppelin

Active Member
I hate to ask you this but have you actually been beat up by the police before in the US or have meet any black people there or lived in an all black neighborhood in the US or anything like that? Was it a "dog-whistle" that made the police kill my homeboy Jimmy at the Best Western Hotel when I know he didnt have a gun on him because I was just fucking there and the police killed him and planted a gun on him? Fuck BLM.
 

n0b0dy 0f n0te

Well-Known Member
I'd like to ask you what exactly do you mean by the "anti-vaccine movement"? The first "anti-vaxxers" I know of were all of the anti-Trump people in the US main stream news about a year ago who said they would never take a vaccine because Trump told them so and questioned the safety of a vax that could be approved so fast.
Then you've been somewhat buried. I, and I know others here, have been arguing against anti-vaxxers for decades. In fact, anti-vaxxers of one sort or another have been with us since not long after Jenner founded vaccinology. Here's a French antivax cartoon from the early 1800s.

1629715874284.png

It's worth noting that it wasn't just vaccines. There was resistance to pre-variolation, the process that preceded vaccination.

My first ever inkling of antivaxxers was when I was about five, though the term wasn't around then. It started with a paper suggesting a link between the pertussis vaccine and encephalopathy.

The antivax movement as we know it today finds its roots in a paper released by Andrew Wakefield in 1988 that suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. It went nuts and, although the paper was retracted by The Lancet (it should never have been published), the damage was already done. It's a sad fact that a huge amount of the research resources in vaccine research have been committed to comprehensively debunking this single, deeply flawed and fraudulent study. I doubt there are more than a handful of members here who wouldn't have shredded the paper had we been on the review panel. Everything about it was wrong, from a tiny sample set, no controls and, ultimately, what turned out to be massively falsified data.

Here's a piece a I wrote about antivaxxers in 2016.

The Unbearable Shiteness of Beings.

It's a not bad rule of thumb that, if I talk about something on the blog, it's not a trivial thing. Antivaxxers have killed probably hundreds of thousands of people since Wakefield alone. It's always been hard to pin down figures for how many they've killed until now. Now we see the real cost.

I should add that I blame corporate creationism for a huge amount of it. They are really the source of modern anti-science dogma, and the Venn diagram between creationists and antivaxxers is one of those rare things of incredible interest to mathematicians, because it asymptotically approaches a perfect circle.
. (I am not a trump fan, he supports the murder of unborn children). Just sayin! Even the Anti-Fa (I guess a left-wing organization?) here in Germany was a bit confused about which side they should protest on for about week or 2.
There's no such organisation as Antifa. That's a Trumpian trope. He invented an enemy. Demagoguery 101.

Antifa is only a word, and there was never any organisation or movement, it was just being against fascism.

There was a time when just about everybody thought Mussolini was a total dick. They were antifa.
 

n0b0dy 0f n0te

Well-Known Member
You have put far too much faith in current US political movements then what they are worth.
I don't do faith. I have perfect confidence that the US political system will crush any attempt to drag the US kicking and screaming into progressiveness. All else aside, the McCarthy mind-virus is considerably stronger than any factually-based political oeuvre in the US.

You can tell by all the fuckwits bleating on about socialism and higher taxes, demonstrating that they haven't the foggiest idea of what socialism is.
Americans are rarely smart enough to do anything that what the name of an organization they found, implies they should do.
Struggling to parse this in a way that makes sense.
And none of them are smart enough to have any "dog-whistle" things you talk about.
This is absolutely false. You forgot the bit about sloganisation.

Americans are, in fact, the source of most of the political dog-whistles I've come across. 'All lives matter' is a dog-whistle. 'Used to be a man' or 'born with a penis' are transphobic dog-whistles. 'Defending a lady's honour' is a dog-whistle for the notion of women as chattel, because the honour in question is her chastity, which belongs only to her husband.

Because of sloganisation, hardly anybody needs a brain to get dog-whistles circulating. People are stupid.

And that's a huge part of why dog-whistles are so dangerous. You think Americans are too dumb to come up with such things, but I'm betting you have shitloads of phrases in your lexical consciousness that are American in origin and that you don't even realise are dog-whistles.
You might have had some people who knew that Black Lives Matter, would do fuck all to solve anything about police brutality or excessive use of force in America.
I cant comment on that. I did spend most of a year embedded with copwatchers and transparency and accountability activists, including during the riots last year.
Even if it were only to help black guys! BLM claimed systemic racism in police use of force, raised billions of dollars, and did not use a dime of that money to push for legislation that would allow for any relevant transparency between the state and the public.
See, I told you you knew American-origin dog-whistles, because you just repeated a classic.

That there is systemic racism in US policing isn't just a claim, it's a demonstrable fact. Any statistical analysis of brutality and incarceration rates show that there isn't just systemic racism in the police, but in the judiciary7 and in society as a whole. The entire war on drugs is an inherently racist exercise, and not by accident. It was deliberately begun to oppress black people, along with the hippies, because they were political opposition.
 

surreptitious75

New Member
Although not explicitly stated the thread implies that this type of thinking is relatively modern
But in point of fact it has existed for as long as civilisation has - it is simply more amplified today because of the ubiquity of the medium involved
This would suggest something akin to it being hard wired which would explain why it is incredibly difficult to free oneself from as a consequence
This comment about being hard wired requires clarification and what I actually meant by what I wrote above was
I do not think human beings in general are hard wired for thought as such but they can certainly display extremely dogmatic thinking

The two most obvious examples being those who believe in objective morality where moral issues are black and white rather than shades of grey
And also those who think in absolute terms because they have a psychiatric condition such as OCD [ obsessive compulsive disorder ]
But anyone can display such thinking so while we are not hard wired for it as such the potential to be so nevertheless exists in all of us

I think the only thing we are possibly hard wired for is survival and anything that propagates that but nothing else
But even that is susceptible because were it universally true then no one would ever contemplate or attempt suicide
 

n0b0dy 0f n0te

Well-Known Member
Oops. Missed this one.
I hate to ask you this but have you actually been beat up by the police before in the US or have meet any black people there or lived in an all black neighborhood in the US or anything like that?
I haven't been beaten up by a US cop, but I know a few who have. As for the rest, yes, I lived in Chicago for a while with a global community and social development charity.
Was it a "dog-whistle" that made the police kill my homeboy Jimmy at the Best Western Hotel when I know he didnt have a gun on him because I was just fucking there and the police killed him and planted a gun on him?
Beating somebody up isn't dog-whistling. Dog whistling is a form of what's come to be known as 'stochastic terrorism', which is an interesting term worthy of research.

Not sure what point you're aiming at here.
Fuck BLM.
That's disappointing. I didn't have you pegged as a racist, but that's racist.
 

n0b0dy 0f n0te

Well-Known Member
This comment about being hard wired requires clarification and what I actually meant by what I wrote above was
I do not think human beings in general are hard wired for thought as such but they can certainly display extremely dogmatic thinking

The two most obvious examples being those who believe in objective morality where moral issues are black and white rather than shades of grey
And also those who think in absolute terms because they have a psychiatric condition such as OCD [ obsessive compulsive disorder ]
But anyone can display such thinking so while we are not hard wired for it as such the potential to be so nevertheless exists in all of us
not much to object to, and that's a much better presentation.

I do wonder about the inclusion of psychological conditions and absolutism. Binary thinking is everywhere and in everyone, without exception, even among those of use who've worked hard to defeat it. Most of us carry around a sort of instinctive misunderstanding of the excluded middle, and this is further exacerbated by what I'm coming to term 'cognitive dielectrics'.

More on that here:

Poles Apart
I think the only thing we are possibly hard wired for is survival and anything that propagates that but nothing else
But even that is susceptible because were it universally true then no one would ever contemplate or attempt suicide
You should go and find some of Camus on this subject. He had some really deeply interesting things to say about suicide from a philosophical perspective. He determined that suicide was the only true remaining question for philosophy, i.e., why we don't all just off ourselves.

Interesting reading, and not entirely wide of the mark.

We think really poorly about suicide.
 

surreptitious75

New Member
I think binary thinking can sometimes be beneficial because some issues are black and white rather than shades of grey
So it is important to be able to distinguish between those that are and those that are not - where ever that is possible

Objective morality and subjective morality are treated as binary but there is actually significant overlap between the two
Everyone has both in their moral philosophy - no one is absolutely one or the other - free will invalidates that entirely

Only a machine could live according to a predetermined moral code that only had binary choices
Because of free will this is not possible with human beings who cannot think in binary all the time


Got to read some Camus at some point but there is always too many books and not enough time
A human life is nowhere near enough to get through absolutely everything one wants to read - one does the best one can

I suppose one answer to the Camus question is that as we are going to die anyway we might as well live life while we are here as you are a long time dead
But existence and non existence are simply different points on the spectrum as everything that lives will also die - we are nothing special in respect to this
 
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