you are not so smart
Our hosts discuss David McRaney's book You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself, and continue the previous week's discussion of Martin Luther King, Jr.

You Are Not So Smart explains how we typically believe we are rational, logical beings who see the world as it really is, when in reality we often over-estimate our own intelligence and opinions while deluding ourselves with our biases and fallacies.

Running Time: 01:55:00

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Here's the transcript of the show:
Robert Kennedy: Could you lower those signs please? I have some very sad news for all of you and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee. Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black, considering the evidence evidently is that they were white people who were responsible, you can be filled with bitterness and with hatred and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country and greater polarization; black people amongst blacks and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love. For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust of the injustice of such an act against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond or go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favourite poet was Aeschylus and he once wrote

"Even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."

What we need in the United States is not division. What we need in the United States is not hatred. What we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness but is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another, a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence. It is not the end of lawlessness and is not the end of disorder, but the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land. (cheers from crowd) So let's dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago, "To tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world". Let us dedicate ourselves to that and say a prayer for our country, and for our people. Thank you very much.
Harrison: Welcome everyone to another week of The Truth Perspective on the SOTT Radio Network. It is January 17, 2015 and we're back. That was Robert Kennedy giving a speech the day of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Today we're going to be continuing our discussion of Martin Luther King a little bit as well as talking about a couple of other issues and some things going on in the world today. Today, returning are SOTT editor Caroline, Elan and joining us as special guest host, SOTT editor Corey.

All: Hellos.

Harrison: I'm Harrison, as usual and we're the Truth Perspective. Elan, do you want to take off on that clip?

Elan: RFK basically was on the campaign trail when he became aware of the news of Martin Luther King's assassination and it's really a remarkable speech for a number of reasons. It was right off the cuff. This wasn't something that was prepared and listening to what he says to these people, he was speaking at a predominantly black group of people and he's there delivering this shocking, horrifying news that their moral and ethical leader has just been killed. He says "I know how you feel. I've lost a brother, JFK to this." So he's empathizing with them in the moment and sharing his own anguish and pain about such a situation.

He's probably also greatly aware of the fact that he has enemies of his own and yet he's still campaigning and trying to forge a way forward after his brother's death. Among other things he's telling these people in the moment that they have a choice and the choice is to either turn to bitterness, resentment and anger and lash out or they can make some effort to gain some greater understanding about the situation and choose to continue on the path that Martin Luther King was on, which was non-violence and to just think about the situation.

Things about this particular speech that struck me as resonating with the events of the Paris shooting a week-and-a-half ago, in which we found no leaders in the world today who were able to address it in a constructive way, as RFK did with the assassination of Martin Luther King. Perhaps later today we'll listen a little more to some of the things that King had said that resonate and how we might use it as an example of exactly what to do in such a horrible situation and what the being of a great man like RFK was, that he was able to say these things at such a crucial moment.

Caroline: Yeah, just listening to him and not having heard that speech, I was quite young when King was assassinated, but I'm sure he was acutely aware of what a delicate moment it was; one wrong word, one wrong sentence could have tipped the anger into something that would have put the whole country into conflagration. He was able to walk that line and turn this incredible rise of emotion to bring it back to something of compassion, not necessarily forgiveness but at least the ability to step back which was for me just a brilliant tour de force. I can only imagine how he was feeling inside, remembering.

Elan: And you really hear it in the response from the crowd. They are cheering him on. That shock and horror that was going to take some time to process after that, maybe that he went through a whole slew of different emotions, feelings and thoughts and they follow him. But in that moment he was able to plant the seed and get them on the side of not reacting and not turning bitter to the whole situation.

Harrison: Even though that was said in a certain context almost 50 years ago, like you said Elan, there's a context in which it applies today and that is the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the attacks in Paris recently and what has happened since then. Just to provide a bit of background before we get into details, we've been reading a book this past week or so called You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney. It's a fun little book, written like a pop psychology book about positive biases, mental heuristics and logical fallacies.

Caroline: All the little shortcuts that you take just in your thinking as you go through your day.

Harrison: And basically pointing out, as the title says, that we're not as smart as we think we are because people tend to over-estimate and over-value their own intelligence, arguments and opinions and even think that they have rational explanations for these things when oftentimes, perhaps more often than not, they don't. There are 39 chapters, each one devoted to one of these different human quirks, anecdotes and scientific experiments demonstrating these things, some of which are better than others. I personally have problems with the book in general, but then again, if I am right - it's hard to say if I am or not - it only proves the point of its title "You Are Not So Smart" which would include the author. So kudos for him for writing a book about it and giving a good demonstration at the same time.

So one of the things that we wanted to do today is talk about a few of these biases. We'll give examples of how they play out in real life; not just in your everyday life with your family and friends, but how that extends into the social sphere and how we react to global events, events in our country and in the world that have a great impact on the future and determine the course of the future we may or may not take.

I like looking at history; it's a cliché at this point that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it, but it really is true. What's that quote from Mark Twain, Caroline?

Caroline: Twain once said that history does not repeat but it definitely rhymes.

Harrison: I like that one. The point being that you'll get people that will argue that history doesn't repeat because history can't repeat because the situation and context is so different. I think that's horse hockey just for the simple reason that we're all humans. We all get into the same types of situations, the same types of conflicts. There are types that exist regardless of the context. You can take something such as racism which isn't just a bias from one group of people against one other specific group of people; for example, whites against blacks. It can be against any race of course.

The same thing happens with history. We see certain patterns and cycles repeating even if the details aren't exactly the same and when you look at these situations repeating, there's such a striking resemblance between them that it's hard to imagine that people can't see it.

Caroline: It's no accident that many, many writers on the political situations and fortunes of the US are comparing it to Rome. They see the same rise and then imperialistic expansion and then decline, only it's been compressed into 200 or so years as opposed to 1,500 or 1,600 years.

Harrison: The historical example I want to use is Nazi Germany. Even that's a controversial one to take because it seems like the whole Nazi thing has gotten to the point, at least on the internet where I spend a lot of my time, that any internet discussion will degrade to the point where someone uses the word "Nazi" and that ends the discussion because it's ridiculous. I recently had an incident that happened on Facebook where someone quoted a piece from the article I wrote on Charlie Hebdo where I made the comparison between identifying with Charlie Hebdo as a magazine in support of free speech as identifying with someone like Joseph Goebbels from the Nazi regime in support of free speech. The idea simply being that to support free speech is not the same as to condone and identify with the content of that free speech; but that someone can say whatever they want and that doesn't mean I have to agree with it. In fact that can mean that I can vehemently disagree with it and think that it is an absolutely disgusting thing to say.

Caroline: Which is free speech.

Harrison: Some people in this discussion formed on Facebook had gotten on to that connection and then they were saying it was ridiculous to make a comparison to Nazi Germany because the comparison just doesn't apply; you just can't compare something like that to the Nazis. I guess the Nazis are off-limits.

Corey: Talking about individuals arguing that there are no parallels between Nazi Germany and what's occurring today, that's obviously a view from nowhere that they're holding and using without any context. They obviously aren't drawing on any of the information that's publicly available to make those connections themselves and I read just in the last year a report showing that Israel has put the lives of 15 million children in jeopardy. And when those kind of facts are just ignored, then of course you can say there's no parallels between Nazi Germany and today if you're just not even going to look at them.

Caroline: The other thing that I was thinking is that we have such a surface society and culture yet people will point to the fact that this can't be the same as Nazi Germany because the same markers aren't there. They aren't seeing the big rallies or they don't look at the demonstrations that are happening, they don't see the same kind of forms even though we have soldiers literally on the streets of America, these guys in their kit ready to head out to Iran tomorrow. But because the details don't match, they don't perceive the larger underlying pattern.

Harrison: Yeah, Obama doesn't have a little mustache.

Corey: Little swastika.A swastika drenched in blood. You see that and you know exactly what it is. If you look out today you don't see that on the helmets or the patches of the soldiers. You see the camo that's the true blue.

Caroline: And it's a fashion statement.

Elan: Corey, you just said something really interesting. You said that we don't have the context from which to assess certain things. The other day I was reading about Richard Perle, one of the authors of the "Plan for a New American Century" talking about, among other things, how Israel might prevail against the Palestinians. And he specifically used the words "We have to de-conceptualize the situation". We have to not put the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis in its historically correct light.

Harrison: The prince of darkness.

Caroline: And there's been an actual concerted effort in the media and elsewhere to fuzz or make blurry the ability to compare the two.

Corey: Well many journalists have been jailed for trying to make these kinds of comparisons. It's a dangerous thing to do.

Harrison: In this time of free speech. Before we get into some of the specific biases and stuff going on, I want to read an article that was published in 1933 in the German newspaper Der Stürmer which was run by a guy named Julius Streicher. I'm going to read it to you and we'll just let the words soak in. You might want to keep in mind the totally ridiculous Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda. But that's what these guys were publishing.

Caroline: And this was in 1933.

Harrison: 1933. This was in March, just days after the fire at the Reichstag. So I'll begin.
A few days ago Germany was astonished by the news of arson in the Reichstag. Fires were set in more than 20 places in the building. It was almost completely destroyed. The ringleader is the head of the communist faction in the Reichstag, representative Torgler At the same time the press brought another unsettling report. In the basement of the communist party headquarters secret passages and tunnels were discovered. Materials that encouraged civil war were found. Detailed plans to murder both individuals and groups of German citizens were found. The bloody uprising was supposed to begin through Germany in the immediate future. There was to be murder and arson in the cities and villages. These news items had a strong effect throughout Germany. The indifferent citizen would not want to see the enormous danger of Bolshevism looked at horror towards Berlin. He too realized now that Germany faced a terrible threat. The burning Reichstag building was the signal that brought every German to his senses.

The National Socialists however were not surprised. They saw it coming. They had long recognized the danger of Bolshevist world criminality. They had long predicted what everyone could now see. They had warned the German people about it in a hundred thousand meetings. They had called them to battle against it in thousands of mass meetings. They organized a mass movement of millions against it. The German people have woken up. It has risen up. It wants to fight against Bolshevist criminality. It demands its destruction, its extermination. But the German people do not know who is guilty. They do not know the cause of this terrible uprising, the criminal murderous arson. The German people will fight in vain against this plague, against this poison if they fail to recognize the scoundrels who mix this poison and spread the plague.
It is not difficult to find the true cause of Marxist/Bolshevist world criminality and it is clear as the light of day and one only need open one's eyes to know the truth. The truth is that both parties that want civil war, that hate the fatherland and that recognize only an "Internationale," were founded by Jews. The Jew Karl Marx, who gave his name to the movement, wrote the program. The Jews LaSalle , Kautsky, Bernstein, Dr. Hilferding, Dr. Moses, Rosa Luxemburg, Liebknecht, Münzenberg and others led and still lead the Socialist and Communist Parties.

The truth is that the leaders and rabble rousers and fomenters of the November Revolution of 9 November 1918 were a clique of Jews; Haase, Mühsam, Toller, Eisner, Levien, Neurath, etc., all belonged to the Jewish people.

The truth is that the Marxist movement is in reality a Jewish movement. The goal of the movement is to make the confused, roused masses into an enormous army of Jewish slaves. This army would be used and exploited to reach the great goal of Jewry, Jewish world domination.
Corey: Blaming them for exactly what they were doing.

Harrison: Exactly. Now of course with the benefit of hindsight going back 82 years, we can see what was wrong with what this guy was writing, that he used this medium to get across a message that would demonize an entire group of people, an entire religion and that was ultimately responsible for the cold-blooded murder of millions of Jewish people in addition to millions of communists and various groups of people. And millions, the deaths of millions and millions of people.

Corey: He was ruled by hate and bigotry and they executed him for crimes against humanity.

Harrison: I took this article and I rewrote it; what struck me while reading the implications and suggestions of the original article was knowing full well what those suggestions led to. Rewriting it, I just replaced the names with the word 'muslim'. I read this article and had this emotional reaction to seeing the way that these words were used and the purpose they were used for and I didn't have the same reaction when I was seeing "Muslim". So why exactly was that?

Caroline: That you had a more muted, less visceral reaction to seeing the word "Muslim" substituted for "Jew".

Harrison: Yeah, exactly. So then that gave me an emotional reaction.

Caroline: Why shouldn't you?

Harrison: Why shouldn't I, especially when I did a little searching and found headlines like "Caliphate is Islamic World's Dream Come True" and the article says that there's going to be a world power by this Islamic state and one analyst of the Islamic state said that "Jerusalem is the pride of world domination for the major aim of the caliphate is to rule the world, that Muslims are going to either convert everyone or kill and/or enslave any that do not convert."

Caroline: With a beautiful little map showing exactly what their goals were.

Corey: And I bet also one of the reasons that we have for living in that different paradigm where the "Muslim", "caliphate" and "Islamic state" and all of that seems so normal, ties right back into the build up to the Reichstag fire, as in the article you were just reading. All the events, "news" and propaganda that were being forced into the public mind that suddenly came to a head as soon as the Reichstag burned, and they said "Now we know who is responsible. We can tell you who is responsible because we've been telling you who is responsible for months and years now."

Caroline: All of a sudden Germany woke up and said "Oh yes, you're right!" But the flip side of that leading up to the Reichstag fire, there's probably the same reaction to seeing the word "Jew". There was no kind of "Oh, that's horrible" because it was so much a part of the fabric of their media, conversation and culture that it didn't seem shocking to see these things being said.

Harrison: Yeah, it was just common knowledge.And common knowledge with all kinds of so-called facts to back it up. Some of these facts may have been grounded in some kind of reality. Some were just completely made up, but the fact that all of this material was available to the attention of the German public and not just the German public, it created an environment where it was just normal. The Jews were the problem. "We need a solution to this problem." And look what that led to.

When we look at that today, we have "the Muslim problem". Just to give an example of how the people in France are responding, what's happened in the last week? Well there have been more than 50 attacks on Islamic groups or buildings or property.

Caroline: Or business.

Harrison: Mosques, businesses, grenades thrown, shots fired.

Caroline: People being killed in their homes. A guy was stabbed.

Elan: The comedian Dieudonne arrested.

Caroline: It's like a slow-moving Kristallnacht. Can I say that?

Elan: Yes. And you should.

Corey: You should, absolutely.

Harrison: People being arrested for saying anything that can be slightly construed as supportive or even questioning the official rhetoric.

Caroline: And not only that, you are arrested and thrown in jail, it's true. There were three kids, one was 22, thrown in jail literally not 24 hours after their arrest with four and five-year sentences.

Harrison: One of them was drunk at a club and he just said something he didn't even remember, and he was arrested for it.

Elan: Well here's the thing; here you have the Paris shootings, the attack on Charlie Hebdo - and this really speaks to McRaney's confirmation bias and perhaps a couple of other biases and logical fallacies that he discusses - the attack is against a magazine that puts out these cartoons that effectively paint all Islamic people in this terrible, horrible light. So then what happens? You have so-called Islamic terrorists attacking this source of inflammatory, hate-filled cartoons and there it is! There's the confirmation! It's real!

Caroline: We always knew they'd do it eventually. But what makes it so much easier to accept is what was happening before. This goes back to the very first chapter in McRaney's book which is called Priming, where he describes all these different situations and experiments where it's been replicated many, many times, that different details of your environment, different things you're exposed to that you hear, different things that you might see or even touch - they do one experiment with a cup of warm coffee - predispose you to adopt one or another point of view. Where it first really, really hit me was back in 1983, watching Back to the Future where you had Lebanese terrorists who were going to kidnap the doctor and grab his time machine and do whatever. I'm sure there were examples going even further back, in James Bond movies or whatever, where it switched from being "the Russians" to a Middle Eastern Islamic type. It was almost like there was a planned shift of focus being set up as the new demon and it was very, very subtle.

Elan: Well I was in New York City the day of 9/11 and was on Fifth Avenue, just a few miles from seeing the World Trade Center impacted and my first thought was "Osama Bin Laden!"

Harrison: You solved the crime.

Elan: I did. In an instant.

Corey: He's right here folks.

Elan: At the time I knew nothing of false flags and I went back to that day and recognized that I had actually been primed with this information via the media who was telling us for the past several months that we could expect an attack. And there my mind went.

Caroline: Right away.

Elan: It was only later in the day when I was watching TV, later that morning and watching one of the twin towers fall down that I said "Well wait a second. That looks a lot like a controlled demolition."

Harrison: We told that too!

Elan: And at the time, that was the only question in my mind that enabled me to say "Well is this whole event what the media purports it to be?"

Caroline: I lived in a different time zone and a different country; when I woke up to that news on the radio the alarm went off and that was the news. I bolted downstairs and threw on the television and they were already showing the one collapse and they showed it over and over and over. I just thought "Wait a minute!" I was already a little bit familiar with the idea of repeated traumatization causing damage to the brain and to the psyche and that opens you up for so many things and I turned the television off. I forbid it to be on all day because I did not want my kids exposed to that. I remember thinking "This looks just like a movie." Then although it's a little bit off-topic, my other thought ran back to that Lone Gunman episode of the X-Files and I thought "This is a freakin' movie. It's real but it isn't."

Harrison: In his book McRaney starts each chapter with the misconception and the truth for these different things. So for priming he says "The misconception is you know when you are being influenced and how it is affecting your behavior. The truth is you are unaware of the constant nudging you receive from ideas formed in your unconscious mind. So like Caroline mentioned, this nudging can be in various different ways. He gives one example where in an experiment in the lab, they put these humans in this lab to do this experiment where they did two variations of it; one using word association. So they say the test is about one thing and they prime you with certain words. In another variation, they put certain objects in the room, just placed around the room, not very obvious. So the words they used were words related to business, and the objects that they had placed around were things like a briefcase or a cup of coffee, to give the subconscious suggestion of a business attitude or framework.

The real experiment was to give people an option. You sit down with another person who the subject thinks is another subject but in fact are in on it. The person gets to choose one of two pieces of paper from a cup; one the person gets to choose to make a deal with the other person. The subject has ten dollars and gets to choose how much to split with them and the other person gets to decide whether to accept that offer or not.

Usually when there's no priming with these business words, people tend to do it 50/50 because they figure "I'll split it evenly and the other person is probably willing to accept the offer because I'm being fair and then we both win."

Caroline: Yeah, because if they didn't accept the offer nobody won.

Harrison: Right. But then when they were primed, it turned out that the vast majority of people lowered how much they offered the other person. So they'd give them two or three dollars. Some people would even offer them a dollar.

Caroline: Or even in the face of the fact that if the other person did not accept the deal, which would encourage an even split, they would both lose. They would still tend to this bias of stiffing the other guy.

Harrison: Right. So without the words, when they just had random objects, 100% of the people split it 50/50, but when they put the briefcase in the room, that went down to 50% of people. So 50% of people became more greedy and selfish and less fair simply by putting a briefcase in the room while they were doing this test. So it's not just ideas that are formed, it's your actual behavior. You can act in certain ways that you might not expect from yourself, simply from some odd detail that's placed in your environment.

Caroline: That activates some unknown or unrecognized portion of your psyche.

Harrison: Yeah, because you can make associations of businessmen like Donald Trump who are jerks, and then you start acting a bit like a jerk. So when we see the priming that we've been receiving in the media for years, it's these subtle ideas, the use of words next to each other to the point where we hear a word like Muslim or Islamic terrorism, or just terrorism or terrorist or attack or evil and all these associations just come in and they're automatic. And that primes us for certain behaviors.

Caroline: So even just to hear the word terrorist. There's terrorist all over the world. There were terrorists in Cambodia. There are terrorists in Africa. There are terrorists in Spain. The Basque folks have been pulling stuff for years. But if you heard the word terrorist, you automatically add the word Muslim to it.

Harrison: I read a statistic the other day; I love statistics. In the last five years in Europe, the percentage of terrorist attacks that were committed by Muslims was two percent. Two percent in the last five years. So is terrorism really a Muslim thing?

Caroline: It said most of the terrorist attacks were connected with separatist things. Catalonia wants to be separate. The Basque area wants to be separate. Very little has to do with spreading the idea of jihadism.

Harrison: So that's priming. Another interesting one is confabulation. These are the stories that you tell yourself, for example, for why you did something. There are some great cases from split brain patients who have had the hemispheres of their brains severed so that one side doesn't know what the other side is doing. When you present information to one side of the brain, that will provoke a certain behavior, but when you ask them about it, the verbal part of the brain will try to give an explanation but it doesn't know what the other side of the brain was seeing or why it did it. So it'll come up with a perfectly logical explanation for why they did it and the person will be totally convinced of it even though it's totally inaccurate and they were doing it for a very obvious reason.

For example, you present the word "dog" to one side of the brain and then ask them to think of an animal and the person will say "dog". When asked "Why did you think of dog?" they'll respond with something like "Oh, I was walking down the street earlier and I saw a dog and it was just the first thing that came into my mind." They're totally convinced of it. But the thing is, it doesn't just apply to people who have their two hemispheres severed from each other, it happens all the time. If you want to get into the details, there are various explanations in the book for how this happens and different ways that it can happen.

So you have something like the attack on Charlie Hebdo and then the response. There were huge rallies in France in response to this and people using the words "Je suis Charlie", "I am Charlie. I'm standing in solidarity with this." If you ask any person why they're doing this, they'll give you a perfectly rational explanation, maybe, maybe not. Some people won't. But do they really know why they're doing it?

Caroline: Well they'll go to the next knee-jerk thing, confabulation, which is freedom of speech. You then want to ask them "Do you know what kind of speech that you are defending?" And they don't often have a good answer.

Elan: Well the thing is, these people have all this emotional energy. They've been primed to think about Islamists in a certain way. They're reacting, they don't know what to do with themselves and they've been directed. They've been told "Okay, this is what you're going to do. This is the right way to think about all of this." It's as though any kind of critical ability to take a step back and ask "Well what really is the meaning of this?"...

Caroline: "What am I really outraged about?"

Elan: ...Yes - has been taken away from them and replaced with something else.

Corey: And there's just so much confusion involved after an attack like that because how vulnerable were those people in their offices? How many people spend so much of their time in their office and never would imagine that gunmen would just come in, guns blazing and then just carry on, have such a psychopathic justification provided by the media, and to be filled with all of those images beforehand. It's either you choose that confusion and that cognitive dissonance of choosing to think it through on your own, but after a huge shock like that what you do is you just use whatever information is at hand, whatever information you've been given. The media has done a great job of priming people so that confabulation seems to come in. It's so automatic and mechanical that we're so easily puppeteered following crises like that. It's such a tool that fits right into the hands of individuals who are directly benefited from these attacks.

Caroline: I actually read a really interesting article. I wish I'd snagged it again from Twitter, my favorite news source. It was a remark that somebody had said "How is it that this meme, this "Je suis Charlie" had overtaken so quickly, professionally produced banners, placards everywhere, buttons. No matter how fast and how passionate people are, it takes a little bit of time to get something like that together. You have to create a silkscreen. I've done this kind of stuff. It takes a little bit of time and yet not even 24 hours later, this whole package campaign was out there and moving. So it makes you wonder.

Elan: It's like a thought virus.

Caroline: Yeah, but the fact that this material outpouring that people could take and put on their badge and carry their placard and march with their banner, those banners, placards and buttons were ready to go so quickly. It was either an astounding logistics pulling together of the people or possibly, shall we say prepared beforehand?

Harrison: The thing that really strikes me is how all of these biases and mental shortcuts work together and how important it is from the perspective of, let's say, a government, to have all this information available for the people in order to shape their opinions. Because basically the take home message from this book is that you are very easily manipulated and that you don't know how easily manipulated you are. And this applies to everyone. The way it all works together is mind-boggling when you look at it.

Let's look at this a bit more closely. You have the priming. In the media you've got the use of certain words, the associations with certain words put together to create an image that will be readily available to the people when an event like this happens. You have something called the availability heuristic. This is the idea that the thing that you'll call to mind most readily is the information that's most readily available to you. If you look at the media, what information is most readily available? It is a very specific viewpoint with very few dissenting voices. You have to search out a dissenting voice in order to get a real second opinion which is more often than not, closer to the truth than the information you're getting from the media.

So people operate based on what information is immediately available and that has to do with whether it's available in that time and place, how often it's available and what is not available. So you've got priming and you've got availability working hand-in-hand. Then you've got normalcy bias.

Caroline: Normalcy bias would fit in with the fact that you've been swimming in these ideas for who knows how long. So this just locks right into what you've already been thinking about anyway. That also goes into conformity bias. But with availability, all you've had is "Those Muslims are evil and want to take over the world and cut your head off!"

Harrison: Then because our thinking isn't as directed as we think it is, it's very automatic. It's very emotional in nature. The ideas just spring up based on associations. So the availability and the priming gives you the raw material that you're going to work with when any new situation comes up and if the only material available is the priming material, then you're set up to react in a way the people writing the news want you to react.

Back to the normalcy bias, this is when there's a big event that happens, the misconception, as McRaney would put it, is that people automatically go into fight or flight and they look for a solution, they get out of it and they save themselves basically. That's not what happens. He gives the example of some plane disasters where one plane was taxiing at the airport and another plane misheard their confirmation to take off. They didn't have confirmation, but thought they did. It was really foggy and this plane ended up getting up to full speed and almost crashed directly into another plane. The pilot saw the other plane, managed to start to take off but didn't get up high enough and the tail dragged through the plane that was taxiing.

They talked to the survivors to see what happened and the first thing that most people did was sit there with a dazed look on their faces. They didn't do anything. One husband looked over at his wife and she had that look on her face and he had to tell her "Get up! We have to get out of here!" He had to drag her out of her seat and they jumped something like 20 feet from the one wing that was available down onto the wreckage to save themselves. A very small percentage of the people actually got off the plane and saved themselves because the thing going on in these people's mind's is that when a crisis like this happens it's automatic to think "Oh well this isn't so out of the ordinary. This must be normal so I'm just going to act as if everything is normal."

This behavior has a scale. He gives examples of extreme weather, for example, in a place that experiences hurricanes a lot, if there is some strong winds or flooding people will say "Okay, well that looks normal" and then the water rises a little bit too far and they say "Okay, well that's just a little bit above normal so it should stop pretty soon". And it keeps rising and by the time it gets to the point where they realize this is way out of the ordinary, it's already too late.

So when an incident happens, like a terror attack that people haven't experienced before, it is a big shock but the way the mind works, we start to see it as normal. And then with the priming and the information available from the media, we then have the capacity later on to look back in hindsight. "These attacks happening just confirm what I already know. They just show me that I was actually right. Oh I predicted that. People were predicting that. It's not out of the ordinary." And then we start getting the confirmation bias that says that we were right. So this just confirms our previously held beliefs that this is a real issue, ignoring the fact that it could be completely manufactured. We're thinking this because people want us to think it.

Caroline: Not only that, to go along with the media and the priming, they already have the solution presented. And in this case the solution is more military on the streets of France, more surveillance and then of course every other country's going "Oh my god! Look what happened in France! We have to step up our surveillance to make you feel safe." So priming also gives the idea that the world is a very unsafe place and yet along with the priming that the world is an unsafe place is that the solution is either in the wings or being presented when you're in that state of shock.

Corey: And President Barack Obama and America just scheduled a security summit for February 18th in order to get both parties on either side of the Atlantic on the same page in regards to monitoring all the Facebook posts and creating centralized databases to monitor the movement of these "jihadis", another one of those words that are supposed to inspire us to hatred and bigotry and to support the continued erosion of what little freedoms we did have. I think it's what you've adequately pointed out Harrison, that, as well as "you are not as smart as you think you are". Also it's "we're not as free as we thought we were". We are much more mechanical than we thought we would be and that this latest terrorist attack is going to keep pushing us in this direction of absolute terror. I have felt just absolute despondency looking at the news and seeing what's happening in France because it's not like they can repeat these things and life can continue on "as normal". When the people choose to believe it then it takes on a life of its own and it becomes a new beast, just as we've seen in France and is spreading.

So I think that what we're seeing is the mutation of a virus, once it really enters the hearts and minds of the people because plenty of people before might have been skeptical, whipping up information in the airwaves, especially from Russia Today and different news sources from Russia pointing out the obvious about terrorism and the fact that it's been publicly documented that ISIS and Boco Haram have been funded by NATO and they're a tool used for this process. Now that has all been swept away. It looks like the people with this kind of mentality, who see these facts are being more quickly swept away just by the constant threat of being monitored, Facebook posts being monitored. They don't want this kind of information being out there and when I say "they" I mean various parties involved. But even if they aren't connected in any real way, they are all connected in the sense that they need these lies to be perpetuated in order to make money off of the machine-guns, the bombs, the missiles, the propaganda, Homeland Security position. They need money. It's a beast and it's alive and well and it's feeding off of the fear and the lies that we're seeing right now and we can see the effects of that in France.

Caroline: Well, if you want to see an excellent example of priming in real time, there is a wonderful, depressing essay that was put up on the SOTT page by an author by the name of Jonathan Silver and he points out the fact that in the last couple of months, the terms that have been used for identifying the enemy have been broadened. It used to be "Islamic terrorists" and "Islamic terrorism". But he had noted in the mainstream that this has been broadened to "extremism". So that takes it out of, as he put it, anybody who's actually planning some kind of destructive or murderous act, to anybody even espousing or speaking about ideas that go against the narrow, proscribed political limits. That makes you an extremist. You don't have to be a violent person. You don't even have to be affiliated with any named group, but you are an extremist. You are on the edges of what is acceptable or beyond that and just gaining that label, which could probably be a good majority of thinking folks, will land you on a surveillance list or restrict your travel, or do any number of things. I do recommend it. It's called Propaganda. It's by Arthur Silver and is up on the SOTT page. It's long and it is worth every word to read.

Elan: That reminds me of a recent statement made by a Russian minister who was outlawing or prohibiting the propagation of Charlie Hebdo-type cartoons in Russia. I think he's the only person representing any world power today or any country in the world, to speak out about such hate speech and to make a stand against it. It only comes of the experience that Russia has had in the past few years with the West and knowing precisely how the propaganda works, that they're able to see the Charlie Hebdo event for what it is.

Caroline: I'm sure the fifth column are screaming freedom of speech at that point in Russia, but also Silver makes this excellent point that satire - that was the label that Hebdo hid behind "Oh, this is just satire" - that satire as an art form, and it was directed against institutions and public figures but that it degrades to insult and as the Saker put it, "spitting on the soul" when you go down to the level that Hebdo was going to, in making essentially personally insulting cartoons. That's not satire anymore.

Corey: I think you brought up a really good point about the point Russia is at in their culture. I guess you could call it, after learning so many lessons from their collapse, the IMF vultures and the Western capitalism and Putin coming through and rising up and displaying a lot of great statesmanship, I think points to the parallels of history that we can learn from, in the sense that Nazi Germany, communist Russia, any sort of authoritarian regime does have common characteristics and lot of those can't be discussed apart from the psychological profile of the people who are instrumental in creating policies and carrying them out. I think that Political Ponerology itself dissects the nature of the beast bit-by-bit and everyone, especially in these days, it's probably worth a good re-read because it seems more and more that the voices that you hear coming from Nazi Germany that you discussed earlier, we're hearing again because it's become safer to speak if you're a psychopathic individual or if you're someone who's pathological and has no respect for other peoples' culture, or respect for differences or hates women, hates Muslims. The list could go on and on.

But I think that when we talk about priming and all this stuff, we're talking about natural human instincts that are used against us by people who don't even seem to share the same rich association that most people have.

Harrison: We just re-watched a movie last night, No Country for Old Men, by the Coen brothers. It's a movie based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy. One of the main characters is just a psychopath. The movie itself is a very interesting and probably accurate portrayal of a violent, sadistic psychopath. There's one scene in it that really gets across one of the points I think you're making Corey. He has just been shot in the leg. He's wounded, he's limping, he needs some medical supplies. He sees a pharmacy, stumbles over the pharmacy and very nonchalantly soaks a rag torn from his shirt in the gasoline from a car, puts the rag in the gas can, lights it and walks away and into the pharmacy. The car explodes. Everyone in the pharmacy says "Oh my god, what is that?!" They turn and look and he just nonchalantly shuffles over into the pharmacy, picks up whatever he wants. He's not even looking around because he knows what the normal human response is to a situation like that and he knows that he can get away with it. So he gets his supplies and he leaves without a second thought about it.

In a microcosm, this is exactly what psychopaths in positions of power do. They know what a normal human response is and they know how to manipulate it to get what they want. They know that priming works; that by presenting certain information and marginalizing other information that would expose them and expose what they're doing, that they can manipulate the majority of people to support them and what they want to do at any given time. The main way they do that is by blowing stuff up.

I'm using that as a euphemism or a metaphor for any kind of attack to focus the attention and the emotions. So it can be a mass shooting or planes flying into the World Trade Center; mass deaths. Any kind of big event like that is simply a way of evoking an emotional response from people to then activate the thoughts implanted in them by the propaganda, by the priming of the stereotypes and existing cultural and ethnic tensions that exist and ramping up and caricaturizing or satirizing the stereotype that exists about certain groups, in this case Muslims. It's like playing a concertina. You just push the buttons and watch what the people do.

Elan: And of course the lie is so big, so destructive and so unfathomable to most people, that anyone could conceive to construct a lie in such a way as it's actually been constructed, to deceive people, that to read about false flags and to really get your head around the fact that there are people who are willing, able and actually committing themselves to doing these things in order to achieve a certain end goal, is beyond everything.

Corey: I think one of the Texan sheriffs in the movie, says "What can we do to defend ourselves against this?" I think that's really big because carrying that movie further, like you said Elan, nobody can understand what's going on, just like in that movie. None of the characters ever came to an adequate understanding of who was killing them. He was a man in black and he just walked through town nonchalantly, manipulating, getting everything that he wanted, killing when he wanted to, sparing lives, but essentially just a murder machine. I think the movie did a good job of not really romanticizing it so much as just putting it there, like a psychopath. That's just a force of death in our world that we don't understand and the character that does think he understands him, funnily, is a stockbroker. He is killed in his room because he didn't understand him.

We can't possibly understand the depths of depravity that the psychopaths are capable of out there right now in our institutions. I think that has been the biggest handicap, obviously, since the turn of the century, since 9/11 is that maybe humanity will never be capable of understanding the depths of that evil and to awaken to that is a very terrifying thing itself.

Harrison: I think that's a good segue into where all of this is going because another one of the take home messages from this book is that we do the same things over and over again because essentially we lack knowledge of ourselves. We lack knowledge of our flaws and the lies that we tell ourselves about ourselves and that we really aren't as smart as we think we are. How that plays out in life is that we keep getting what we've gotten in the past because we keep trying the same routines, tricks and mental shortcuts that got us here in the first place.

Now what does that mean in the big picture? In the big picture it means that history does rhyme, that things repeat. It's a variation on a theme.

Caroline: If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.

Harrison: So if we look at what's happened in the past, and it's not just the Nazis and the holocaust, that's just one example. It's an example for our availability heuristic. But genocide happens all the time, murder, war, manipulation, false flags. All of these happen all the time but if we just take the Nazi example, what I think is the big implication of all of this is that is happening again, and it will happen again regardless of anything else. It might be in one country or it might be in another, but it will happen again.

So what we've been seeing with the response to Charlie Hebdo is like a variation on a theme. It's like someone took the composition of Nazi Germany, put it in a different key and is just playing it on the radio. So what can we look for in the future? Well, what happened in Nazi Germany? We had concentration camps. We had mass murder. We had hate-filled speech from the politicians and the public. We had mass surveillance. We had people turning their neighbors in for nothing. We had torture.

We have a lot of those things today. We have hundreds of thousands dead in the past 14 years from these exact same policies. But it's not going to get any better, is the sad thing, because we keep using the same mental shortcuts as what we've been talking about.

It looks like we've got a caller here. We've got Shane in New York. Let's go to Shane. Hi Shane.

Shane: Hey guys. Great show.

Harrison: Oh thanks. What did you want to talk about today? When you were talking about the book You're Not So Smart and how it brings back this very reactionary state where we get into these routines, there was a book that was actually brought up in the chatroom too called The Unthinkable; Who Survives When A Disaster Strikes by Amanda Ripley. I think McRaney actually references this book when he's talking about normalcy bias. It's a really good read and one of the things that she talks about is how even when people are faced with this immediate disaster, that people look for actual routines to do while they're pretty much right in the middle of it.

There's one story where there's a woman who was in the twin towers and she was going around in circles looking for a book to pick up which she was going to take with her as they were evacuating. It struck me that even though Amanda Ripley was talking about disaster in the immediate sense that we also experience disaster over the course of many years, more on a macrosocial scale and this is how a lot of people react to these disasters, by retreating back into routines and mechanical reactions.

Caroline: That's a really interesting point because along with all the priming we've been provided, with so many distractions and so many people have to spend all their energy every day just getting through their day, so yeah, you would cling to your routine and try to shut out anything that's any more threatening than your daily life.

Elan: And this reminds me of all of the articles and things we're reading now that speak negatively about people who are prepping and how they might be conspiracy theorists or end-of-the-worldists.

Harrison: Extremists.

Elan: Yes. "Why even think about such things? You must be crazy!" So that's kind of setting the mindset for many people who might otherwise question how prepared they are for certain eventualities and probabilities.

Shane: It just goes back to that priming too. We've been told again and again "Be afraid of Muslims. They're terrorists. Be afraid of black people. They're violent." All these things prime people and after years and years of this, it's really baffling to see the reactions of everyday people and responses to things like what happened in Ferguson and now with the outcome in France. It's really horrifying to see. It's just the manifestations of that priming.

Elan: We were talking a little earlier about the whole "never again" idea and I think the mistake that most people make is that they only apply it to Jewish people. And that isn't the lesson of WWII. The lesson is that it can happen to anybody and that the machinery at work is exactly the same.

Caroline: In this book, what defenses does she give against these reactions to the unthinkable? What does she advise?

Shane: She described people in a way shutting down, but she also did describe examples of people who were able to respond. The interesting thing is people who had either been through the situation or a similar situation before had actively mentally prepared for it. One example is a husband and wife who were on a plane that crashed and the husband had been in a public fire at some point and he had survived so whenever he goes into some type of isolated environment, in the beginning he walks up and down the aisles and looks for where the exits are and keeps it in mind. It seems like he had some sort of mental preparation, seeing what could happen and having that in mind if there is some type of disaster.

Caroline: So you could say almost he was voluntarily priming himself "If X happens I know what to do."So that's a good example of priming, and that means you really should pay attention when the flight attendant is giving her little safety thing. That's not just entertainment.

Shane: Yeah, it's got to be conscious.

Harrison: Yeah, which makes it not priming per se, because priming is unconscious.

Caroline: I thought that was a good analogy, but you're right. It's conscious.

Harrison: What it is, is gaining information. It is exactly what you said Shane; this guy, not only did he have the experience, but he prepared. So what can we do? What's the solution? Well the first thing is to gain information, to read about people's past experiences. If you haven't had them yourself, you read about it. You gain information and knowledge about what's going on. So you read about Nazi Germany and then you prepare. You say "Okay, well I know that there's a good probability that something like this is going to happen again because it happens over and over and it has for as long as we have recorded history. So what signs am I going to look out for? Am I going to fall for the same lies and manipulations that humanity has for its entire past? I personally don't want to do that so I'm going to be on the lookout for it and I'm going to be skeptical about anything that I read in the media because I know historically the media have been the ones providing this propaganda for the purposes of the people that want to do these things and that really want to take over the world."

I think that's the most important thing we can do, to prepare by gaining knowledge and putting this knowledge into effect and by critically looking at the information that is made available to us in some alternative forms and sources of information.

Shane: Looking at the daily picture of what's going on and trying to do that on a daily basis, to see what the truth and lies are at any given moment. That can add up a lot for providing some type of protective measure or preparation. It makes me think of when the crisis in Ukraine unfolded and the American people had just been subjected to months of priming against Putin when the Olympics were being held in Socchi, about Putin being anti-gay and just months before that there was a lot of attention given to Pussy Riot and that whole issue. If people are really investigating these things as they come up, it's a red flag that something could happen. So when things do happen, they can make sense of it and not just go where the media or the powers that be are trying to lead people. You don't necessarily have to be a part of that.

Harrison: The Ukraine example is a good one because while the Ukraine crisis has been huge with an extraordinary amount of violence, I think it will probably pale in comparison to what we've got coming, but by looking at that, we can see these dynamics play out in the response to the Ukraine crisis. Of course we've got at least two opposing camps. We've got the Novorussians on the one hand and the Russians because of their similar backgrounds, ethnicity and language. They view themselves as connected in a certain way, in contrast with Kiev and the West.

What are we seeing in the West? This crisis broke out with murder, torture, the murder of civilians, shelling entire villages, towns and cities including hospitals and schools. And what have we seen in the West? Exactly what we predicted we should have seen. We see normalization, people just accepting this is normal, accepting the official explanations and then when asked for why this is happening, they confabulate. They give a plausible explanation for what's going on and their response to it when this is an entirely manufactured, manipulated response on their part. They don't have the information. They're seeing it completely backwards and they're operating as total machines in response to this, thinking that they are free and rational individuals, when it's the total opposite.

Elan: And some of the pieces of information that have been completely left out of the Western media is that the battalions that are leading the fight from Kiev against the Novorussians, are neo-Nazi; the Azov Battalion. You have midnight torchlight vigils of people commemorating the leadership of Stepan Bandera who was a Nazi collaborator.

Caroline: He was a monster.

Elan: He was a total monster, had incredible influence that stretched out even to a coup that was attempted against Roosevelt during WWII. These are just huge pieces of information that have not been made available to people so they have absolutely no criteria to look at the situation from a greater context.

Caroline: There's a perfect example out there on the web if you go find it. There is a picture of some small group from some member, I can't say of the Azov Battalion or not, but in this picture of all these smiling people is a Ukrainian flag, a Nazi flag and a NATO flag, all in one group. If that isn't it right there! But you will never, ever see that in the Western media. Ever!

Harrison: Speaking of swastikas, we were just saying at the beginning of the show that "Well the details aren't exactly the same. We don't have swastikas." Well actually, we do have swastikas.

Corey: Yeah, the neo-fascist parties have been sparking up across Europe ever since the austerity measures were introduced six years ago or so, and still in Greece I think they were just holding a trial to try some of the Nazi party leaders there for the murder of an activist and musician not too long ago. But what was revealed as people are investigating, was the significant ties between the Nazi party and the mainstream Democratic Party, The New Democracy I believe was the name of it. Correct me if I'm wrong though.

But all across the EU we're seeing these things rise up and we do have swastikas in that kind of context, to see where all this can lead to because these aren't all separate in their own little boxes. They're all very much connected and the flames can spread quickly elsewhere.

Caroline: When you talk about austerity, there's another not even history rhyming, but history repeating, because it was in the background of German economic devastation due to the treaty of WWI where hyperinflation set in and people were literally starving, was one of the backdrops that Hitler made all of his promises against. Here we are having that same situation developing all through Europe, some countries faster than others, but it's not too long before it hits the so-called stronger members of the EU. And when you get desperate people who can't even feed their kids, they will do desperate things.

Corey: And the leaders would love to see that I'm sure. The leaders don't want to be the scapegoats for the problems that are going on underneath their "leadership"!

Harrison: Thanks for calling in Shane. Did you have anything you wanted to add?

Shane: I just have one more thought in relation to what's going on in Ukraine and how crazy it is, that there's these actual, literal Nazis in charge and running things. I just came across a piece of information; the neocons, attributed to Leo Strauss and apparently one of his mentors is a German Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt. It's interesting to see the traces of literal Nazism because apparently Carl Schmitt was fairly influential in spreading the Nazi ideology and then for Strauss to pick up the pieces in that philosophy and carry it into the neoconservative movement. That was the basis that drove America towards manufacturing 9/11. It is pretty fascinating to see how all these things tie in with one another. I just want to say thanks for talking about all these important things and have a good one.

Harrison: Alright. Thanks Shane.

Corey: Thank you.

Harrison: Shane talked about Leo Strauss and the neoconservative movement. One of the biggest neoconservatives is Richard Perle, who you mentioned earlier Elan, and he was the guy that said you needed to de-contextualize the Israeli/Palestinian situation, right?

Elan: Exactly.

Harrison: So that's an interesting connection. Just one more thing I wanted to add about what's going to happen; in Political Ponerology, the book you brought up Corey, Lobaczewski makes an interesting remark about psychopaths, that they seem to be almost like caricatures of psychologists because they analyze the normal human responses and really have a good grasp of human psychology in service of being able to manipulate it. One of the things ordinary, non-psychopaths can do is try to actually gain those skills that they lack because it is really handy to be able to know human psychology. We live it but we don't analyze it. We don't have meta-cognition about the way in which we think and the way in which we feel. But by reading a book like You're Not So Smart, not only do you get an idea of how humans and you yourself operate, but you can also use that to predict what will happen in certain situations, and to know what will happen and be prepared.

So when we look at what's coming; things will escalate, things will get worse as we're seeing a repeat of Nazi Germany. But when we look at some specific examples of what's going to happen, it's kind of like the movie V for Vendetta where you've got the police officer shooting a kid in the street and things blow up. I mentioned concentration camps and things getting a lot worse. But what's going to happen with the people? How are the people going to respond? Well first they're going to normalize. They're going to look at what's happening as just this incremental frog boiling in the water. It gets hotter and hotter, bit by bit, but just enough so that it seems like it's normal and it'll seem normal until it is too late, until horrible, horrible things are happening.

Corey: I'd like to inject right there about just how things are ramping up. I'm going to read from a Signs article about the tyranny. It was just put up yesterday, about the tyranny spreading in Europe and what tyrants would like to see.
The lockdown of the populace is already ramping up. The EU is currently discussing the creation of a European passenger name record database, national ID database, meaning officials hope to create a centralized database with a file on every single citizen. Think the no-fly list is a terrifying concept? Wait until it becomes publicly accepted for all web comments, Facebook posts and blog posts to be added to an ongoing record that determines whether you are allowed to travel. Wait until it becomes a mainstream notion that every travel destination you visit is tracked, recorded on permanent record and scrutinized by some pencil-necked bureaucrat who then determines whether or not you are a suspect.
And if you think that is a wild conspiracy theory, obviously we've already been under surveillance for a long time and conspiracy theorists themselves are basically just ponerologists trying to get into the minds who would be capable of pulling off these kinds of things. It's happening right now.

Harrison: It's happening right now and who's really doing anything about it? Who will do something about it? Not very many because when you look at some of these biases, we've got two that I think stand out. Conformity and the bystander effect.

Conformity is pretty obvious. People conform even when they don't think they're conforming. You may think that you're this anti-establishment rebel individual when really you're conforming with other anti-establishment individualist rebels. That's just the way it is. Humans conform and they listen to authority and they obey authority; they tend to, in certain contexts. Not everyone does.

Caroline: And it's such a deep instinct. That's bone deep from evolution. If you weren't part of the tribe, you didn't live. So it's a particularly strong one to get around.

Corey: It's a survival skill that's killing us.

Harrison: So one of the examples that McRaney uses is the Milgram experiment where the experimenter tells the subjects to give electric shocks to a person doing a vocabulary test or something. Most people will give the shocks, even though they're not real, and they'll just keep escalating them. What is left out of the interpretation of that experiment is that in a real life situation, a person telling another person to kill a third person is, chances are, a pathological individual in a position of authority.

So what you have is that conformity really depends on the character of the person giving the orders. In this case we have psychopaths giving the orders. And the bystander effect "Why didn't anyone do anything? How did the Gestapo get away with what they were doing? Why didn't anyone stand up?" Well, in a group of people, when something happens to an individual, say they get hit by a car or they get mugged and beaten up, they're on the side of the street, the more people that are watching that happen, the more people tend to think "Oh well someone else will take care of it". Or they look around and see no one else taking care of it and so that tendency trickles into their minds and they do the same thing. "I don't see anyone else acting so I shouldn't act, because I want to be like the group" and/or "someone else is going to take care of it".

You're much more likely to have someone help you if you're alone and if it's one-on-one. But at least the hope in the situation is that people will intervene and help if one person acts as that role model. We tend to lack role models like that in government and among politicians. We have some in other countries but they don't have a lot of influence on what's going on in our countries. But really the take home message from that is to be aware of your own conformity, be aware of your own tendency not to do the right thing because others aren't doing the right thing and to act as that one beacon that will enable other people to go along with you.

Unfortunately that doesn't tend to happen and it gets to the point where things are so bad that that one person that acts out is then arrested, tortured, life in prison or just disappeared. And that's the thing that's coming.

Elan: Oh it's here. You have arrests being made of people feeding homeless people. In Florida there was that story a few months ago. So there's already this idea that to help others when it's against some arbitrary, ridiculous law, is wrong and punishable by incarceration or some other form of punishment. You can extrapolate and see how that may be extended into other spheres very soon.

Corey: And disrespecting or defying a cop's authority is instant death. They have the right to execute you. It's not written in any law books anywhere, I don't think.

Elan: It's the unstated law.

Corey: But it's now become a norm.

Caroline: And then they blame you.

Corey: And then they will blame you for resisting, yeah, if there's any you left.

Harrison: So given our tendency to conform and to follow authorities, what we really need is a good authority to follow and lacking that, we need to become those authorities. But speaking of inspirational sources and good leaders, we're nearing the end of the show, so I think we'll just come back to Martin Luther King for a minute to wrap up.

Corey: Sounds good to me.

Elan: This segment was made about a year before his assassination. It's his speech at Stanford and it's quite interesting also in light of some of the things with regards to racism and how he's able to not see the anti-black/anti-negro racism that existed at that time, in isolation. So take it away Martin.
And we must see racism for what it is. It is a myth of the superior and the inferior race. It is the false and tragic notion that one particular group, one particular race is responsible for all of the progress, all of the insights in the total flow of history. And the theory that another group or another race is totally depraved, innately impure, and innately inferior.

In the final analysis, racism is evil because its ultimate logic is genocide. Hitler was a sick and tragic man who carried racism to its logical conclusion. And he ended up leading a nation to the point of killing about 6 million Jews. This is the tragedy of racism because its ultimate logic is genocide. If one says that I am not good enough to live next door to him, if one says that I am not good enough to eat at a lunch counter, or to have a good, decent job, or to go to school with him merely because of my race, he is saying consciously or unconsciously that I do not deserve to exist.

To use a philosophical analogy here, racism is not based on some empirical generalization; it is based rather on an ontological affirmation. It is not the assertion that certain people are behind culturally or otherwise because of environmental conditions. It is the affirmation that the very being of a people is inferior. And this is the great tragedy of it.

I submit that however unpleasant it is we must honestly see and admit that racism is still deeply rooted all over America. It is still deeply rooted in the North, and it's still deeply rooted in the South.

And this leads me to say something about another discussion that we hear a great deal, and that is the so-called "white backlash." I would like to honestly say to you that the white backlash is merely a new name for an old phenomenon. It's not something that just came into being because shouts of Black Power, or because Negroes engaged in riots in Watts, for instance. The fact is that the state of California voted a Fair Housing bill out of existence before anybody shouted Black Power, or before anybody rioted in Watts.

It may well be that shouts of Black Power and riots in Watts and the Harlems and the other areas, are the consequences of the white backlash rather than the cause of them. What it is necessary to see is that there has never been a single solid monistic determined commitment on the part of the vast majority of white Americans on the whole question of Civil Rights and on the whole question of racial equality. This is something that truth impels all men of good will to admit.

It is said on the Statue of Liberty that America is a home of exiles. It doesn't take us long to realize that America has been the home of its white exiles from Europe. But it has not evinced the same kind of maternal care and concern for its black exiles from Africa. It is no wonder that in one of his sorrow songs, the Negro could sing out "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child." What great estrangement, what great sense of rejection caused a people to emerge with such a metaphor as they looked over their lives.

What I'm trying to get across is that our nation has constantly taken a positive step forward on the question of racial justice and racial equality. But over and over again at the same time, it made certain backward steps. And this has been the persistence of the so-called white backlash. In 1863 the Negro was freed from the bondage of physical slavery. But at the same time, the nation refused to give him land to make that freedom meaningful. And at that same period America was giving millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest, which meant that America was willing to under-gird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor that would make it possible to grow and develop, and refused to give that economic floor to its black peasants, so to speak.

This is why Frederick Douglas could say that emancipation for the Negro was freedom to hunger, freedom to the winds and rains of heaven, freedom without roofs to cover their heads. He went on to say that it was freedom without bread to eat, freedom without land to cultivate. It was freedom and famine at the same time. But it does not stop there. In 1875 the nation passed a Civil Rights Bill and refused to enforce it. In 1964 the nation passed a weaker Civil Rights Bill and even to this day, that bill has not been totally enforced in all of its dimensions. The nation heralded a new day of concern for the poor, for the poverty stricken, for the disadvantaged. And brought into being a Poverty Bill and at the same time it put such little money into the program that it was hardly, and still remains hardly, a good skirmish against poverty. White politicians in suburbs talk eloquently against open housing, and in the same breath contend that they are not racist. And all of this, and all of these things tell us that America has been back-lashing on the whole question of basic constitutional and God-given rights for Negroes and other disadvantaged groups for more than 300 years.

So these conditions, existence of widespread poverty, of slums, and of tragic conditions in schools and other areas of life, all of these things have brought about a great deal of despair, and a great deal of desperation, a great deal of disappointment and even bitterness in the Negro communities. And today all of our cities confront huge problems. All of our cities are potentially powder kegs as a result of the continued existence of these conditions. Many in moments of anger, many in moments of deep bitterness, engage in riots.

Let me say as I've always said, and I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I'm still convinced that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. I feel that violence will only create more social problems than they will solve, that in a real sense it is impractical for the Negro to even think of mounting a violent revolution in the United States. So I will continue to condemn riots, and continue to say to my brothers and sisters that this is not the way, and continue to affirm that there is another way.

But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.
And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity.
Elan: So genocide is the logical extension of racism. We talked a lot about the Paris shootings today and the Islamophobia that we're seeing being ramped up in the form of policies and the attacks of mosques and Muslim groups in France in particular. I think we can look at all these things in the broader scope of history and the war on terror and see where all this is going without exercising too much imagination.

Harrison: I think we can end it there for today. We'll be back next week. We were planning on talking a bit more about Martin Luther King today, about the assassination, but we didn't, so we're going to put that off and make it our third week in a row talking about Martin Luther King.

Caroline: We can make it Martin Luther King month.

Harrison: Yeah, he deserves a month. Thank you to all our listeners, to Shane for calling in.

Caroline: Thanks for your patience while we got our technical problems sorted out.

Harrison: And I can confirm that was Blog Talk Radio's fault because when we signed in with Skype, everything went fine apparently.

Elan: It's a conspiracy.

Caroline: It is. You're not supposed to get the message (whispering).

Harrison: That's a confirmation bias. Thank you everyone.