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Sat, 30 Sep 2023
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Towards building the American lyceum

american lyceum roman soldier modern background
© Nikolas Joao Kokovlis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
The collapsing of American higher education presents us with a unique and novel opportunity to begin to recover what has been lost, and to revitalize both our heads and our hearts.
"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." — Aristotle
American higher education, in its present form, is completely lost. There is no going back. That much is clear.

From Buckley, to Bloom, to Horowitz, to Sowell, to Boghossian, to Peterson, and others, the gradual degeneration of American academia has been well-documented, and for some time now; its death throes more spastic, comedic, and outlandish with each passing month.

Given the rapid, aggressive, and unremitting bleed-out of the Left's pernicious ideas and ideologies straight from the ivory tower directly into the rest of America's cultural institutions, an otherwise normal attitude of mockery and dismissiveness should now be replaced by one of stark seriousness and righteous indignation. The degeneration of American higher education tracks with the degeneration of the American citizen in general. And a republic lacking in the necessary attributes of proper education and proper citizenship cannot stand for much longer.

Accordingly, for those of us concerned about the next chapter in America's history, both with respect to the culture generally and higher education specifically, the crucial question now in need of proper answering is what comes next?

Eye 2

Reaching for the Mark of the Beast

Monkey to Man to the Machine

Evolution proceeds from Monkey to Man to the Machine
Authorities want to require vaccines in order to buy, sell, or trade. Christians are alarmed. Anyone else with a brain should be, too.

The new totalitarianism is getting a test run in the wake of COVID-19. Across the globe, every person must submit to "health and safety." So long as officials "can save just one life," any draconian policy is justified. In response, millions of Christians are refusing the 'rona vaccine for fear it's the Mark of the Beast. Their refusal has invited waves of weaponized condescension from dogmatic doctors and Rainbow Xians alike.

On September 9, Joe Biden demanded that the entire nation receive the jab — young or old, with or without natural immunity. Addressing unvaxxed Americans, the nominal Catholic warned, "We've been patient. But our patience is wearing thin."

For many Christians of all races and nationalities, the supposed president's aggressive tone carried the weight of prophecy fulfilled. They see present-day history as manifesting the Bible's symbolic structure.

Are they wrong?


Why the mental health of liberal girls sank first and fastest

depressed teen girl cell phone depression
© Inicio Marketing SMS, Un Recurso Muy Valioso
Evidence for Lukianoff's reverse CBT hypothesis

In May 2014, Greg Lukianoff invited me to lunch to talk about something he was seeing on college campuses that disturbed him. Greg is the president of FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression), and he has worked tirelessly since 2001 to defend the free speech rights of college students. That almost always meant pushing back against administrators who didn't want students to cause trouble, and who justified their suppression of speech with appeals to the emotional "safety" of students — appeals that the students themselves didn't buy. But in late 2013, Greg began to encounter new cases in which students were pushing to ban speakers, punish people for ordinary speech, or implement policies that would chill free speech. These students arrived on campus in the fall of 2013 already accepting the idea that books, words, and ideas could hurt them. Why did so many students in 2013 believe this, when there was little sign of such beliefs in 2011?

Greg is prone to depression, and after hospitalization for a serious episode in 2007, Greg learned CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). In CBT you learn to recognize when your ruminations and automatic thinking patterns exemplify one or more of about a dozen "cognitive distortions," such as catastrophizing, black-and-white thinking, fortune telling, or emotional reasoning. Thinking in these ways causes depression, as well as being a symptom of depression. Breaking out of these painful distortions is a cure for depression.

Eye 1

Amber Heards all the way down

Amber Heard
borderline personality disorder: BPD is characterized by emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, and cognitive-perceptual impairment. "Strangely enough, people with damage to the dorsolateral and nearby ventromedial areas can have normal intelligence but have no common sense — they are unable to make reasonable decisions." (Oakley, Evil Genes, p. 203) Subclinical borderlines seem to have greater executive control, possibly facilitating their success in the social sphere. As with paranoid personality disorder, some researchers do not consider borderline a valid personality-disorder construct. Many of its features are symptoms, not personality traits, making diagnosis inconsistent; some diagnosed with BPD have internalizing (neurotic) traits, others externalizing (antisocial); some respond to treatment, others don't; there are too many comorbidities; and its three main components are probably best understood as separate conditions: a genetic component linked to bipolar, and two others linked mainly to childhood abuse: emotional dysregulation syndrome and antisocial behavioral. It is also possible that psychopathy (especially in women) may be (mis)diagnosed as BPD (the two are strongly related in women). Colin Ross argues that BPD is a trauma response and should be grouped with the other Axis I disorders, perhaps as "reactive attachment disorder of adulthood."

In my previous post on ableism I wrote: "There is a substantial minority of people who are not reasonable." BPD falls into that segment of the population. Case in point:

Amber Heard defecated on Johnny Depp's side of the bed after an argument. Then denied it and blamed their tiny dogs. She gaslighted him repeatedly, abused him physically and emotionally — and then publicly accused him of doing all the things she had demonstrably done to him. I watched highlights from the trial above as it happened, and even my jaw dropped at times. Heard's behavior was audacious. It defied common sense.


Why is everyone so messed up? Carl Jung explains neurosis

bag lady
© Unknown
Neuroticism is "a tendency toward anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and other negative feelings," as succinctly defined by Psychology Today.

One thing you notice living abroad in certain (not all) non-Western countries, coming from the West, is the neuroticism differential.

Westerners in Bangkok, for instance, get super mad when the bus doesn't come on time. To cope, they verbally berate minimum-wage workers who have no control over the matter whatsoever. In contrast, the locals shrug their shoulders, chalk it up to fate or whatever, and take the punches as they come.

One comes away with the awful impression that the bus tardiness is not, in the ultimate analysis, the source of the farang's consternation ("farang" being local jargon for "white foreigner").

Carl Jung, famed psychoanalyst of posterity, agrees.

Black Cat

How consciousness in animals could be researched

Consciousness Study
© RUB, Marquard
While hardly anyone would dispute that their own cat subjectively feels pain, there are many species for which people are uncertain: do birds, fish, insects and worms have conscious perception?
Animal consciousness should not be thought of as a light switch, which can be on or off, Bochum philosophers say. They advocate a different approach.

There are reasons to assume that not only humans but also some non-human species of animal have conscious perception. Which species have consciousness and how the subjective experience of various species could differ is being investigated by Professor Albert Newen and PhD student Leonard Dung from the Institute for Philosophy II at Ruhr University Bochum. To do this, they characterise consciousness with ten different dimensions and work out which behaviours indicate the presence of each of these consciousness dimensions. They describe their approach in the academic journal Cognition, published online on 21 February 2023.

Consciousness is not like a light switch

There is a debate within research as to which animals have consciousness. There are also various views as to how consciousness can be expressed. "According to one view, consciousness is like a light switch, which is either on or off: a species either has consciousness or it does not," explains Albert Newen. A more refined idea is that consciousness can be thought of as a dimmer switch: it can exist in varying degrees.

Albert Newen and Leonard Dung do not agree with either of these theories. According to them, ten dimensions, or aspects, of consciousness can be distinguished, which cannot necessarily be placed in a ranking. These include, for example, a rich emotional inner life, self-awareness and or conscious perception. "It is not necessarily worthwhile to ask whether a mouse has more consciousness than an octopus," clarifies Albert Newen. "You may get a different answer, depending on the aspect of consciousness that you are looking at."

The researchers from Bochum suggest distinguishing between strong and weak indicators of consciousness and allocating each of these to certain aspects of consciousness. "We hope to ultimately make it possible to measure how the subjective experience of various species differs between species and compared to humans," summarises Leonard Dung.

Bad Guys

The essence of evil

© US War Department Archives
Hiroshima, Japan
I have probably used the word 'evil' more, in these last three years of Corona Fascism, than I had hitherto ever employed the term. It has been my way of attempting - not so successfully, as I will show - to explain how so many people can have been so blithely subjected to the genocide we are experiencing now, with its attendant consequences - consequences that include the subversion of long-standing ethical and medical principles, the inversion of the meaning of formerly well-understood concepts such as vaccination, and the facile depredation of human rights by State powers.

The perpetrators of the universal lockdowns, the imposition of useless masks, the destruction of businesses and livelihoods by these measures and then by the mandates to be inoculated with an unnecessary and dangerous medical intervention - these perpetrators are the people I call evil; and I call evil also those who, knowing better - doctors, for example - went and continue to go along with the horrific charade.

In a recent essay, Naomi Wolf writes that 'the madness we saw unveiled since 2020 could not have been brought about by normal history, or by ill-intentioned individuals, using human agency'. And in a recent book Matthias Desmet declares that this madness and the totalitarian measures that shut down the entire globe in short order were not the result of a conspiracy of power-mongers but rather of an organically developing process.

I disagree wholeheartedly.


Mental jigsaw - How AI carves out space in your brain

Mental Jigsaw
Our minds project the world around us. That doesn't mean it's not there

With the explosion of AI chatbots and their bizarre statements, media attention has focused on the machines. Google's LaMDA says it's afraid to die. Microsoft's Bing bot says it wants to kill people.

Are these chatbots conscious? Are they just pretending to be conscious? Are they possessed? These are reasonable questions. They also highlight one of our strongest cognitive biases.

Chatbots are designed to trigger anthropomorphism. Except for a few neuro-divergent types, our brains are wired to perceive these bots as people. With the right stimulus, we're like the little boy who's certain his teddy bear gets lonesome, or that the shadows have eyes. Tech companies are well aware of this and use it to their advantage.

In my view, the most important issue is what these machines are doing to us. The potential to control others via human-machine interface is extraordinary. Modern society teems with lonely, unstable individuals, each one primed for artificial companionship and psychic manipulation. With chatbots getting more sophisticated, even relatively stable people are vulnerable. Young digital natives are most at risk.


The spirit has left us

cleaning blood stained carpet
They always tell stories of the quiet unproductive or dissolute wasteful sorry debauched lives many of the heirs of the wealthy and powerful lead. The lack of ambition or corruption is not invariable or inevitable, but it is common. The "regression to the mean" kicks in especially strong by the generation at two removes and more from the great man who sired the line. Think of Paris Hilton. Et cetera.

The point of these stories is in part to let us, the readers, feel better about ourselves. We didn't have a stratospherically rich granddaddy, but at least we're not desperately leaking perverted sex tapes to regain waning attention.

The other part is the cautionary tale aspect: these stories are metaphors showing the majority of the high and mighty fall despite their best attempts to secure their legacies.

Comment: See also:


What is the Longhouse?

© unknown
The Longhouse
Something has gone wrong in modern cultural and political life. Only those hopelessly numb, or deceived by the academic parlor tricks of someone like Steven Pinker, can observe the state of things and not see serious problems on the horizon. The Great and the Good have become the mediocre and the lame. The conditions necessary for civic and personal virtue have steadily eroded. Even if a cataclysm never comes, a civilization contenting itself to die on history's hospice bed is crisis enough.

In certain corners of the online right you encounter a term that is at first glance puzzling, "The Longhouse." Maybe you have heard this term. Maybe you have wondered what it means. Maybe this term means nothing to you. Even for those of us who use it, the Longhouse evades easy summary. Ambivalent to its core, the term is at once politically earnest and the punchline to an elaborate in-joke; its definition must remain elastic, lest it lose its power to lampoon the vast constellation of social forces it reviles. It refers at once to our increasingly degraded mode of technocratic governance; but also to wokeness, to the "progressive," "liberal," and "secular" values that pervade all major institutions. More fundamentally, the Longhouse is a metonym for the disequilibrium afflicting the contemporary social imaginary.