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Fri, 24 Mar 2023
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Science of the Spirit


The Six Degrees of Evil Kevin Bacon

six degrees kevin bacon boxer shorts
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to understanding the nature of human evil is the tendency to think everyone is the same: like you. Reading some of the socialist philosophers of past centuries, one can't help but smile at their quaint oversimplifications of human nature and naive utopianism.1 If only we could eliminate all private property, break the parent-child bond, and (in many socialist utopias) just share each other's wives (or better, get rid of "oppressive" marriage and just make women communal sexual property),2 well, then everything would be golden. All the world's evils would disappear (or at least be easily dealt with). Everyone would live in harmony, thinking the right thoughts (because parents and priests would have no influence on the children) and sharing all in a brotherhood of man (well, there might be a few holdovers who refuse to give up the old ways, but there's always slavery or death for them). Treat everyone the same, and everyone will turn out the same — the way we want them to.

It's kind of difficult to grok how men so seemingly intelligent could have been so profoundly stupid. It's like the story of Aristotle (probably apocryphal, but who knows), apparently convinced until the time of his death that men had more teeth than women. As Bertrand Russell once quipped, he could have cleared up this misconception very easily by simply asking his wife to open her mouth. You don't need to have had children to see it, but for those who have it's obvious that even from a young age, the same tricks don't work on everyone. There's a very simple reason: people are different. Some are so rebellious that even a heavy hand won't dissuade them from causing trouble; others so compliant that even the hint of a criticism is enough to change their behavior and inspire a lifetime of neurosis.


As English Goes, So Goes the U.S.

English Library
© unknown
English Library
By undermining the Western canon in the 1990s, leftist academics paved the way for today's 'woke' hurricane.

When I finished graduate school at UCLA in 1988, I believed that English sat at the top of the academic heap. The department claimed nearly 1,700 majors; the nonmajor survey courses I taught during the year after I filed my thesis had more than 400 students each; and professors and administrators across the quad were eager to know what this thing called "deconstruction" was. The department required of every major a yearlong survey course, from Beowulf to W. H. Auden, with a syllabus that proclaimed, "This is English, the full sweep!" Earlier, in 11th-grade English, I got the same thing for American literature, a grand patrimony from Hawthorne to Hemingway, implying the country's own grandness. English was where you found the meaning of the past. Without a flagship English department, a university could not be a tier-one institution.

People 2

The Traumatic Foundation of Male Homosexuality

loneliness man desert
© kwest/Shutterstock
As a psychologist treating homosexually oriented men, I've watched with dismay as the LGBT movement has convinced the world that "gay" requires a revised understanding of the human person.

The psychological profession is much to blame for this shift. Once, it was generally agreed that normality is "that which functions in accordance with its design." There was no such thing as a "gay person," for humanity was recognized as naturally and fundamentally heterosexual. In my 30-plus years of clinical practice, I have seen the truth of that original anthropological understanding.

Homosexuality is, in my view, primarily a symptom of gender trauma. Although some people may have been born with biological conditions (prenatal hormonal influences, inborn emotional sensitivity) that make them especially vulnerable to such trauma, what distinguishes the male homosexual condition is that there was an interruption in the normal masculine identification process.

Comment: An unpopular view in these times.to be sure, but the conclusions dovetail nicely with those of another astute observer of the homosexual population (among other things), Josh Slocum.

MindMatters: Kicking the Cluster B-hive with Joshua Slocum: Queen B's, Homosexuality & Dealing with Narcissists

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MindMatters: Kicking the Cluster B-hive with Joshua Slocum: Queen B's, Homosexuality & Dealing with Narcissists

Joshua Slocum is back! Not only is his Disaffected show bigger and better than ever, Josh has recently launched a new consulting service for all those poor, unfortunate souls dealing with high-conflict people in their lives. And he's back to tell us all about it.

Today on MindMatters we ask the big questions: What do you do if someone close to you has a serious personality disorder? What are the possible links between borderline personality and homosexuality? And perhaps the biggest question of all: why do gay men like Madonna and Disney villainesses? So join us as explore these controversial topics and more, in style.

Running Time: 01:54:11

Download: MP3 — 157 MB


Ponerologist's Log, supplemental: Rounding Out the Picture of Mass Formation

totalitarian authoritarians soldier citizens
For my previous summaries and commentary on Mattias Desmet's The Psychology of Totalitarianism (PT), see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

I liked Desmet's book, and I recommend reading it. But I have a few criticisms in addition to the ones already mentioned in parts 1-5 of my review (like his dismissal of psychopathy) — mainly aspects he neglects. If you haven't yet read Andrew Lobaczewski's Political Ponerology (PP), consider this post a supplement to Desmet's PT, a kind of "10 More Things You DIDN'T NOTICE About Totalitarianism S03E22!" Except there probably won't be ten points.

First, there's his sources. I've read books with more pages of footnotes than actual text, books where the footnotes were more interesting than the actual text, and scholarly books with relatively few or even no footnotes whatsoever that were nevertheless were amazing, and didn't need them. Heck, the original manuscript of PP itself barely had any. So I don't mean to be pedantic. However, I think Desmet would have benefited from a wider reading of the existing literature on the topic.


Cosmic Information Transducers: On the meaning of life in its broadest sense

Forgemaster universe
© Brandon Moore
I recently started hearing about the work of the Russian polymath Vladimir Vernadsky. The guy was a brilliant scientist - he was the founder and first president of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, so not exactly a fringe thinker in his time. Vernadsky took Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's concept of the noosphere and grounded it in his own deep appreciation of biological, geological, and chemical processes - which was a profound understanding indeed as he pretty much invented the field of biogeochemistry. His views seem to have gone far beyond the Gaia hypothesis, probably ultimately inspired by his writing, that was popularized well beyond his death, which merely posits that the biosphere achieves a high-level homeostatic equilibrium.

Full disclosure: I haven't actually read Vernadsky, so everything that follows is just me riffing on what I've gathered from a few podcasts and blogs. I first heard of the man's work from that brilliant lunatic Clif High (see for instance here), the conspirasphere's bald old mountain wizard; while I take everything Clif says with an extra helping of salt, he's consistently one of the Internet's most interesting people. Matthew Ehret's study group has also been getting into Vernadsky recently.
What the heck is life for?

Eye 1

The Psychology of Totalitarianism Part 4

For previous installments of this series, see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Chapter 8 of Mattias Desmet's The Psychology of Totalitarianism (PT) continues his discussion of the nature of totalitarian leadership, specifically his contention that the causality of totalitarianism is not best explained by either greed or deliberate conspiracy.1 Rather it is a complex process, the results of which may be conditioned by certain facts on the ground (e.g. technocratic ideology), but which are not intended in the manner many may suppose, i.e. a grand plan agreed upon by a group of conspirators and rationally and systematically put into effect, the results matching more or less with the original goals.

Desmet starts the chapter with the example of the Sierpinski triangle — a fractal where a type of order emerges from seemingly random steps. Here's a video demonstration of how it works:

Comment: See also:


The Serpent and the Staff: Symbols of Safety and Security in the Propaganda of a Global Medical Tyranny

Caduceus Grunge Symbol
© Nicolas Raymond is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Caduceus Grunge Symbol


Understanding the bizarre social and economic transformations afoot in the world today requires a considerably wider view of history than is presented in contemporary corporate media. In this present era of an emerging Bio-Nano Age, we can see, if we squint at history, the faint contours of ancient cultures practicing mystic rites, medicine, and alchemy. It is hardly a stretch of the imagination to witness traces of the mythological past expressed in the present and to see the use of symbols as integral to such practices.

Mass consent to these radical changes is due, in large measure, to powerful forms of propaganda and the effective use of key symbols working on populations terrorized consistently by authority figures issuing ominous warnings of certain societal doom. Why are signs and symbols in the hands of power structures so elemental to a particular social order?

Public consent in democratic societies necessitates that power and authority manufacture or maintain the significance of symbols that will, in the popular imagination, help regiment perception, thought, and behavior. The people must be conditioned to recognize and perceive in the symbol shared meanings, whether consciously or unconsciously, and think about or respond to them in the approved and appropriate ways. This is the job of integration and agitation propaganda — to agitate emotion and enfeeble human reason to sufficient degrees so as to integrate the mass public into approved plans of acceptable social practice.


Why Fukuyama was right all along

protesters Minneapolis
© Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
War is hell but peace is boring
Long dismissed as liberal hubris, The End of History accurately predicted that the West's greatest threat comes from within.

The American political philosopher Francis Fukuyama has become, perhaps unfairly, something of a punchline in recent years. Written immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union, when global pre-eminence was unexpectedly thrust upon the United States, his National Interest essay The End of History?, later elaborated into a bestselling book, has become a shorthand for liberal hubris. Its central argument, that liberal democracy had essentially won the battle of ideologies and that the arc of history seemed to bend inexorably towards the liberal order, seemed to embody the triumphalist optimism of the 1990s and 2000s, establishing the framework for the politics of the era.

Now that history has returned with the vengeance of the long-dismissed, few analyses of our present moment are complete without a ritual mockery of Fukuyama's seemingly naive assumptions. The also-rans of the 1990s, Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilisations thesis and Robert D. Kaplan's The Coming Anarchy, which predicted a paradigm of growing disorder, tribalism and the breakdown of state authority, now seem more immediately prescient than Fukuyama's offering.

Yet nearly thirty years later, reading what Fukuyama actually wrote as opposed to the dismissive précis of his ideas, we see that he was right all along. Where Huntington and Kaplan predicted the threat to the Western liberal order coming from outside its cultural borders, Fukuyama discerned the weak points from within, predicting, with startling accuracy, our current moment.


Mindfulness meditation reduces pain by separating it from the self

© iStock
For centuries, people have been using mindfulness meditation to try to relieve their pain, but neuroscientists have only recently been able to test if and how this actually works. In the latest of these efforts, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine measured the effects of mindfulness on pain perception and brain activity.

The study, published July 7, 2022 in PAIN, showed that mindfulness meditation interrupted the communication between brain areas involved in pain sensation and those that produce the sense of self. In the proposed mechanism, pain signals still move from the body to the brain, but the individual does not feel as much ownership over those pain sensations, so their pain and suffering are reduced.

"One of the central tenets of mindfulness is the principle that you are not your experiences," said senior author Fadel Zeidan, PhD, associate professor of anesthesiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. "You train yourself to experience thoughts and sensations without attaching your ego or sense of self to them, and we're now finally seeing how this plays out in the brain during the experience of acute pain."