Friday, May 2, 2014

Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 30

There are times and places where mystery and science overlap.

Do you think that the Epigovernment is unaware of that, or rather, that they study this closely through their surrogates?

And use it on us?

The answer of course is yes.

The problem is that they use it for their own self aggrandizement, for our demise, that is, not for the common good.

Otherwise, how could we be living in the Matrix?

Watch the video below and read the matrix series (The Matriarch of The Matrix, The Matriarch of The Matrix - 2, and The Matriarch of The Matrix - 3).

Oh, and have a rebel science of a good weekend!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

It Takes A Culture To Raise A Compulsive Liar

Big Tommy
There are several definitions of the word "culture," but for today's post I am working from the definition: "culture - n 1. the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action."

Interestingly, the definition evolved from: culture: mid-15c., "the tilling of land," from L. cultura, from pp. stem of colere "tend, guard, cultivate, till" (see cult). The figurative sense of "cultivation through education" is first attested c.1500. Meaning "the intellectual side of civilization" is from 1805; that of "collective customs and achievements of a people" is from 1867. (Online Dictionary, World English Dictionary).

We grow from infants into adults within our culture in the sense of "it takes a village to raise a child."

Our cognitive nourishment as well as our physical nourishment come though our roots in the soil of the many ideological gardens that comprise our culture.

Another word related to culture is "environment," so we can also say that we grow from infants into adults within our environment in the sense of "it takes a village to raise a child."

"Environment" is sometimes a better word to use than "culture" because it can also encompass the discoveries taking place in microbiology and genetics.

Discoveries which inform us that our concept of our human condition has been radically limited in the past.

Limited to the point of damaging our culture/environment to the degree that our culture/environment will become extinct, in whole or in part, if we do not grow in our understanding (see e.g. The Human Microbiome Congress, On The New Meaning of "Human" - 2, The "It's In Your Genes" Myth - 2, On The Origin and Future of Nomads).

But, I want today's post to focus on the national culture, its many subcultures, and what they cultivate within us in their role as "our village" which raises us from childhood into adulthood.

More specifically, let's focus on how unaware we tend to be that our culture teaches us to be dishonest in one degree or another, because it is dishonest in one degree or another.

Not long ago the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Ninth Circuit decision that, among other things, said:
Saints may always tell the truth, but for mortals living means lying. We lie to protect our privacy (“No, I don’t live around here”); to avoid hurt feelings (“Friday is my study night”); to make others feel better (“Gee you’ve gotten skinny”); to avoid recriminations (“I only lost $10 at poker”); to prevent grief (“The doc says you’re getting better”); to maintain domestic tranquility (“She’s just a friend”); to avoid social stigma (“I just haven’t met the right woman”); for career advancement (“I’m sooo lucky to have a smart boss like you”); to avoid being lonely (“I love opera”); to eliminate a rival (“He has a boyfriend”); to achieve an objective (“But I love you so much”); to defeat an objective (“I’m allergic to latex”); to make an exit (“It’s not you, it’s me”); to delay the inevitable (“The check is in the mail”); to communicate displeasure (“There’s nothing wrong”); to get someone off your back (“I’ll call you about lunch”); to escape a nudnik (“My mother’s on the other line”); to namedrop (“We go way back”); to set up a surprise party (“I need help moving the piano”); to buy time (“I’m on my way”); to keep up appearances (“We’re not talking divorce”); to avoid taking out the trash (“My back hurts”); to duck an obligation (“I’ve got a headache”); to maintain a public image (“I go to church every Sunday”); to make a point (“Ich bin ein Berliner”); to save face (“I had too much to drink”); to humor (“Correct as usual, King Friday”); to avoid embarrassment (“That wasn’t me”); to curry favor (“I’ve read all your books”); to get a clerkship (“You’re the greatest living jurist”); to save a dollar (“I gave at the office”); or to maintain innocence (“There are eight tiny reindeer on the rooftop”).

And we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk, as reflected by the popularity of plastic surgery, elevator shoes, wood veneer paneling, cubic zirconia, toupees, artificial turf and cross-dressing. Last year, Americans spent $40 billion on cosmetics — an industry devoted almost entirely to helping people deceive each other about their appearance. It doesn’t matter whether we think that such lies are despicable or cause more harm than good. An important aspect of personal autonomy is the right to shape one’s public and private persona by choosing when to tell the truth about oneself, when to conceal and when to deceive. Of course, lies are often disbelieved or discovered, and that too is part of the pull and tug of social intercourse. But it’s critical to leave such interactions in private hands, so that we can make choices about who we are. How can you develop a reputation as a straight shooter if lying is not an option?
(The Dredd Philosophy Is The Dread Truth, quoting from US v Alvarez). Where does this come from, when some of our cultural proverbs tell us how honest George Washington was ("I cannot tell a lie" - which is an untruth too)?

Our "Father of Public Relations" tells us it comes from a few powerful people down through our cultural history who have a philosophy we tend to be unaware of:
THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
Edward L. Bernays

Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons — a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty [now 320] million — who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
...
It is the purpose of this book to explain the structure of the mechanism which controls the public mind, and to tell how it is manipulated by the special pleader who seeks to create public acceptance for a particular idea or commodity. It will attempt at the same time to find the due place in the modern democratic scheme for this new propaganda and to suggest its gradually evolving code of ethics and practice.
(A Closer Look At MOMCOM's DNA - 4, quoting from Propaganda). That is the big picture in general, but the business subculture surrogates carry out much of that work:
One of the most important comments on deceit, I think, was made by Adam Smith. He pointed out that a major goal of business is to deceive and oppress the public.

And one of the striking features of the modern period is the institutionalization of that process, so that we now have huge industries deceiving the public — and they're very conscious about it, the public relations industry. Interestingly, this developed in the freest countries—in Britain and the US — roughly around time of WWI, when it was recognized that enough freedom had been won that people could no longer be controlled by force. So modes of deception and manipulation had to be developed in order to keep them under control
"
(The Deceit Business, quoting Chomsky/Adam Smith). Other surrogates educate us through manipulation of the speech of culture:
Most propaganda tends to be more subtle than this. In fact, it sounds indistinguishable from "respectable" political speech. Probably the only difference is that propaganda (according to our definition) is designed, whereas most political speech contains CSD due to an institutionalised habit (going back centuries) of minimising content likely to alienate voters or offend power interests. (This results in extremely banal communication, which nevertheless has propagandistic and hypnotic qualities.) The higher the level of political speech, the more likely that the speech-writers design the speech to have a propagandistic effect.
(Anxiety Culture - Propaganda, emphasis added). One of the works of propaganda is to educate us to not realize that what we believe is a product of propaganda, so "public relations" (PR) is the current term of art for that dynamic, but PR has the same purpose and function that hardcore propaganda does.

It would take several books to completely cover the issue, so Dredd Blog readers can click on the Series Posts tab at the top of this, or any other post, and find many more posts with more details on the subject.

The video below shows that this problem is psychological, and therefore the treatment should be commensurate with that understanding.

That goes for the psychological problems of our culture too (The Cultural Amygdala, Etiology of Social Dementia - 10).

The next post in this series is here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Economic War Of The Pacific - 3

This series began about four and a half years ago in October of 2009.

In that first post I quoted knowledgeable people concerning issues of the economic impact that Asian Nations, and specifically China, might have on the United States.

The economy of the future from the standpoint of Pacific Asian countries (Economic War Of The Pacific) and a follow up a few years later (Economic War Of The Pacific - 2) were concerns that our politicians never seemed to mention.

They were too busy trying to steal our Social Security, Health Care, and our safety net from us, by blaming the middle class and poor for what they were doing as puppets for the Epigovernment.

Almost exactly five years later, I followed up with The Government Catastrophe Has Already Happened, pointing out that while officials in the U.S. government squabble and waste our wealth and time, our reputation in the world plummets (Decline of U.S. Reputation - Why?, She's Come Undone).

During that time other Dredd Blog Series added details (First Shots Fired In The Currency Wars, Phase Five Of The Currency Wars? - 3, Clash of the Titans of Export, Clash of the Titans of Export - 2, and the like.

Regular readers know that Dredd Blog had the direction things were going clearly in sight:
The US is on the brink of losing its status as the world’s largest economy, and is likely to slip behind China this year, sooner than widely anticipated, according to the world’s leading statistical agencies.

The US has been the global leader since overtaking the UK in 1872. Most economists previously thought China would pull ahead in 2019.
(Financial Times; or Voice of America). This new estimation written about in a report by the International Comparison Program, which is part of the United Nations, puts the date about five years earlier than previously expected.

Meanwhile, the propagandists of McTell News want us to get militant in Syria, Iran, and the Ukraine.

It is as if they have been planning the American decline all along (A Decline Of The American Republic - 3).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

El Cid vs. Joe Six Pack - 4

Torture: Abu Ghraib
On this date in 2009 we noted the movements around the globe that were trying to bring justice to certain war criminals.

We focused on events in Spain in that regard.

This series looks at the issue of U.S. war crimes and the global attempts to make it real (El Cid vs. Joe Six Pack, El Cid vs. Joe Six Pack - 2 , El Cid vs. Joe Six Pack - 3).

The bottom line is that there is no international justice for those who have the most powerful military (The Fog of War - McWarster McNamara) managed by a new-age feudal culture (American Feudalism - 6) in a hex of a mysterygon within an alien conundrum (Exploded Planet Hypothesis), because that military-force-enabled immunity leads to winning the budget wars (MOMCOM - A Mean Welfare Queen) without using any reason.

So, what is the status of Western Civilization's sense of justice some five years later?

The painer in chief (The Dogma of The High Priest In Chief) of those days is now a painter (Painterish) who is taking some pains, along with other establishment Reich Wingers, to get his brother elected to painer in chief II (The Rehabilitation of High Priest Bush II - 2).

The process works something like forgetting what you were watching on television five years ago, in the cab of your 18 wheeler, as you careen down a certain highway (War is the Highway 61 of the 1%) like The Universal Smedley on steroids.

The previous post in this series is here.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Symbolic Racism: A Look At The Science

"I am not a racist"
The subtitle for this post might be "Symbolic Racism: One Result of Cultural Toxins of Power."

More about that deeper into this post, but first let's set the foundation for some of the things we want to build upon that foundation in this post.

Subconscious social dynamics are always at work in cultures, tugging, pushing, and pulling this way or that way, subtly shaping and forming cultural activity and cultural evolution.

These dynamics originate in the ever changing structure of culture and society that, to use a metaphor, develops like a tree --with roots, trunk, limbs, and leaves (Tree Root Facts).

The human subconscious cognitive system is like the underground system of a tree, generally hidden from daylight, but always crucial to the function of the entire system.

And, generally tending to add up to a substantial portion of the total relative volume of the entire tree's systems.

Scientists tell us that our human subconscious brain activity is somewhat similar, in that, the subconscious is some 98% of our entire cognitive activity:
Probably 98 percent of your reasoning is unconscious - what your brain is doing behind the scenes. Reason is inherently emotional. You can't even choose a goal, much less form a plan and carry it out, without a sense that it will satisfy you, not dis­gust you. Fear and anxiety will affect your plans and your ac­tions. You act differently, and plan differently, out of hope and joy than out of fear and anxiety.

Thought is physical. Learning requires a physical brain change: Receptors for neurotransmitters change at the synapses, which changes neural circuitry. Since thinking is the activation of such circuitry, somewhat different thinking re­quires a somewhat different brain. Brains change as you use them-even unconsciously. It's as if your car changed as you drove it, say from a stick shift gradually to an automatic.
(What Orwell Didn't Know, by Dr. G. Lakoff). The "it takes a village to raise a child" concept fits in here if we consider that "the village" means our culture.

We are parts of something larger than ourselves, something that literally molds and shapes our heads and our brains within it (The Skulls They Are A Changin').

Some of that "something larger than ourselves" is not of the purely human species, rather, it is "of" a living ecosystem, on this planet ---but most importantly, it is something not to be afraid of (The Human Microbiome Congress).

Yes, something in what we call culture or society ("my/our" home town, "my/our" city, "my/our" state, "my/our" country, "my/our" alma mater) is larger than we as an individuals are, yet we consider both the parts and the sum of the parts to be part of "my" and part of "our" at the same time.

For better or worse, that is in varying degrees the source of and operation of the "my/our" cultural amygdala (Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala).

Since that culture is also composed of human individuals, those individuals have the ability to have some impact on molding and shaping the culture, although in general, mere individuals have a lesser degree of impact on the larger culture than the larger culture has on individuals:
The president said the comments allegedly made by the basketball tycoon were “incredibly offensive” and showed how the United States continued to wrestle with the legacy of race, slavery and segregation.

"When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk. That's what happened here," he told a press conference in Malaysia, the penultimate stop of an Asia tour.

The furore, following an outcry over comments about slavery made by the Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and a supreme court blow to affirmative action, helped to put race back on the US political agenda.

In a rare display of bipartisan unity, Republicans joined Obama, rap stars, athletes and others in lambasting Sterling, 80, who has owned the Clippers, a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise, for nearly three decades.
(Backlash Against LA Clippers Owner, emphasis added). The professional sports eruption came of the heals of the Clive Bundy fiasco of racial comments, Jonestown type religious machinations, and mob-type unlawfulness.

A large surprise in the Bundy subterfuge was who was supporting him in right-wing media and other right-wing organs (Politicus USA).

At least in the context we are talking about in this post, the problem is only sensationally exposed like this occasionally, from time to time, nevertheless, it constantly lurks and persists down in our collective cultural subconscious.

Sometimes, as we have seen in recent days, the individual impact on culture can go viral and have a significant impact on the public dialogue, and thereby have significant impact on other individuals and potentially on the entire culture (Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala - 2).

We can see this quite clearly if we take a look at the history of cultural racism in America, for example, and doing so from the perspective of the evolution of the U.S. Constitution.

For reasons that would take up too much of today's post to go into (more in future posts), the U.S. Constitution has some indications that toxins of power induced a racially infected document at its inception.

Consider one learned comment on that:
The San Francisco Patent and Trademark Law Association knows this well. In 1987, that group asked Justice Thurgood Marshall to give a speech in commemoration of the Constitution's bicentennial. No one can be certain what the group expected to hear from Marshall. One reasonably could assume, however, that the group knew that Marshall was the nation's first black Supreme Court Justice and the man who, as a lawyer, made the Constitution the centerpiece of the legal strategy he employed to persuade the Supreme Court to end school segregation in the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education. Whatever the expectation, Justice Marshall did not deliver a celebratory address. Invited to speak about the nation's Constitution and its founding precepts of equality, freedom, and justice, Marshall generated national headlines by telling his audience that the Constitution "was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights we hold as fundamental today."
(The Survival of Racism Under the Constitution, William and Mary Law Review, Vol 34, Issue 1, Article 3, emphasis added). The original draft of the constitution, which was not ratified or approved, did not even contain the Bill of Rights (later, the approved draft had Amendments One through Ten - The Bill of Rights, but still it institutionalized slavery within the boundaries of the U.S.).

Another interesting factor concerning the beginning of the U.S. as a slavery nation, is the subtle self-deceit, in terms of feebly thinking that racism could be covered up so that no one would really notice:
The text of the Fugitive Slave Clause is:
No person held to service or labour in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due.
As in the other references in the Constitution dealing with slavery, the words "slave" and "slavery" are not specifically used in this clause. Historian Donald Fehrenbach believes that throughout the Constitution there was the intent to make it clear that slavery existed only under state law, not federal law. On this instance, Fehrenbacher concludes:
Most revealing in this respect was a last-minute change in the fugitive-clause whereby the phrase "legally held to service or labour in one state" was changed to read "held to service or labour in one state, under the laws thereof." The revision made it impossible to infer from the passage that the Constitution itself legally sanctioned slavery.
(Wikipedia, Fugitive Slave Clause; cf. Three-Fifths Compromise). Those non-slave states that ratified the improved constitution, which had the Bill of Rights, nevertheless did sanction slavery to the extent that they compromised --rather than require the slavery practicing states to abolish slavery before becoming members of the union.

This may have been the act that planted the seeds of denial, which persist in our culture, a persistence through which we are all potential carriers of those cultural circuits --we have an exposure to the cultural toxins of power that still infect the culture with symbolic racism and even "religious hatred" (Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala - 4).

Cultural circuits may be wired into us, depending on our very local culture, which we must rid ourselves of, and rid our government of.

Otherwise, eventually those toxins will work more corruption within us, like infections of other diseases tend to do.

The scholars who wrestle with the concept of residual racism have terms of art for the residual effects of historical, institutionalized slavery that we still wrestle against:
One line of research has revolved around the idea that a new form of racism has taken over the political role once played by "old-fashioned," "redneck," or "Jim Crow" racism. Those older belief systems incorporated social distance between the races, beliefs in the biological inferiority of blacks, and support for formal discrimination and segregation.

The new form of racism has been given a number of different labels. One set, conceptualized and measured in similar ways, includes symbolic racism (Sears, 1988), modern racism (McConahay, 1986), racial resentment (Kinder & Sanders, 1996), and subtle racism (Pettigrew & Meertens, 1995). These theories all share the underlying assumption that, among whites, new forms of prejudice embody negative feelings toward blacks as a group combined with a sense that blacks violate cherished American values. But each marks an important evolution in the concept of a new racism.

"Symbolic racism" was the first of these terms to be introduced ... It is usually described as a coherent belief system combining the following ideas: that racial discrimination is no longer a serious obstacle to blacks' continuing anger about their own treatment, their demands for better treatment, and the various kinds of special attention given to them are not truly justified ... These beliefs come out of what has been known as a psychological "blend" of negative affect directed against blacks with conservative values, particularly the belief that blacks violate cherished American values. The word racism was chosen because the construct was thought in part to reflect racial antipathy. The term "symbolic" was chosen to highlight the idea that these beliefs were rooted in an abstract system of early-learned moral values and ideals (rather than in more concrete personal experiences or self-interested motivations) and that these beliefs referred to blacks as an abstract collectivity rather than to specific black individuals.
...
This variety of theories reflects a widespread view among social scientists that a new racism has evolved, as well as considerable effort to document that shift.
...
Symbolic racism has often been shown to have strong effects on whites' political attitudes, both their candidate preferences ... and their racial policy preferences (...). A considerable number of different symbolic racism items have been used in such research over the years.
(“The Symbolic Racism 2000 Scale”, Political Psychology, Volume 23, Issue 2, pages 253–283, June 2002). The way these social storms swirl, backtrack, and go forward again, develops unexpected impacts and conflicting approaches.

That is something any culture can expect when it, as a pluralistic culture plagued by ancient racial dynamics, seeks to shake itself free:
“There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody White and feel relieved.” —Jesse Jackson
...
Survey research on racial attitudes in the general American population has shown a trend with potentially profound political implications: Overt White hostility toward African Americans began to decline markedly in the early 1960s and by the 1990s had reached historic lows (Schuman, Steeh, Bobo, & Kyrsan, 1997; Sniderman & Carmines, 1997). Whereas Americans were once deeply divided over whether African Americans and Whites should be allowed to drink from the same fountain, sleep in the same hotel room, attend the same schools, or intermarry, there is now close to consensus at the level of both mass and elite opinion that de jure segregation is unacceptable.

Survey results notwithstanding, the most influential observers of race relations in the United States—prominent academics, journalists, and political figures—are deeply divided over the prospects for overcoming traditional racial divisions (Black, 2002). On one side are those who see no relief in sight from continuing conflict between African Americans and Whites (Bell, 1992; Hacker, 1995) and an apocalyptic few who predict a coming race war (Rowan, 1996). These observers trace the problem to the pervasiveness and tenacity of White prejudice toward African Americans: “Racism lies at the center, not the periphery, in the permanent not in the fleeting, in the real lives of black and white people, not in the caverns of the mind” (Bell, 1992, p. 208). On the other side are those who paint a considerably more upbeat picture (Jacoby, 2000). Thernstrom and Thernstrom (1997) argued that African Americans have made substantial gains—economic, educational, and health—in overcoming the effects of past prejudice. They attribute pockets of persisting inequality not to White racism but rather to racial gaps in educational attainment, to the rise in African-American crime, and to the structure of the African-American family.

Most social psychologists who study racial attitudes seem to line up with the pessimists. They are skeptical of the depth and sincerity of the changes in racial attitudes shown in representative-sample surveys. Commenting on such surveys, they conjecture that it is only “plausible that prejudice was on the decline”; alternatively “it was also possible that prejudice was taking more subtle and insidious forms to which the available assessment methods were largely insensitive” (Brauer, Wasel, & Niedenthal, 2000, p. 79). Others echo this skepticism about whether the purported steep decline in prejudice is genuine (e.g., Dovidio & Gaertner, 2000; Greenwald & Banaji, 1995, p. 15; Rudman, Ashmore, & Gary, 2001.) Whites, they suggest, have learned to say the right thing, but they have not truly internalized the egalitarian ideals that would justify calling them nonracist (Jackman & Jackman, 1983).
(Attributions of Implicit Prejudice, Psychological Inquiry, 2004, 15, 4, 279). Institutions are in the same boat with social scientists, searching for ways to move forward even in the face of the storm of recent outbreaks in unlikely places - professional sports:
The NBA opened an investigation and the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People said it would not give Sterling a lifetime achievement award which he had been scheduled to receive next month. The NAACP honoured him in 2009 despite accusations of racism in a lawsuit brought then by the team's former general manager, Elgin Baylor.

Sterling became a national pariah over the weekend after the news site TMZ posted a 10-minute recording of what it said was a 9 April conversation he had with his girlfriend, Vanessa Stiviano, 38.

"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people,” the man identified as Sterling says at one point in the recording, scolding the woman for posting photos of herself with black people.

“I'm just saying, in your … Instagrams, you don't have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”

The male voice singles out Magic Johnson, the retired basketball star and investor: "Don't put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him to my games."

In response Johnson, who used to play for the Los Angeles Lakers and is in the NBA Hall of Fame, used Twitter to say: "I will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner.”
(ibid, Backlash Against LA Clippers Owner). In an election year, when republicans seek to gain minority voters, this is a boon to democrats running for various offices in the government.

Meanwhile, the generators of social ignorance are busy in our culture, attempting to wire us with more ignorance about race (Agnotology: The Surge).

If further racial polarization takes place it will not help us to rid those old threadbare circuits from our cultural amygdala.

And like the return of the tornadoes last night, after breaking a record that has existed for 99 years (we had no tornado deaths this year until last night), a racial outbreak is not something we look forward to.

The next post of this series is here.

Telegraph Road, by Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)