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Dr. David Bohm: “I think ethics has this inherent difficulty, if you make it absolute it … becomes dangerous, and if you make it relative, it becomes dangerous, and if you say, everything is relative, that’s an absolute statement, again, a contradiction, so, we appear to be in a difficult situation there. Now, I think there is nothing that can replace clarity, you see, if people are not clear, if they’re incoherent and confused, then whatever you say is not going to work. And that, in fact, has been the situation for the human race, that people have been very unclear about ethics, so, I think we have to say that our first priority is clarity.”
from an interview
Editor's Note: This article is part of a series; see the 8 link-icons below - each is best reviewed within a wide corpus of knowledge. My research, for 55 years, attempts to get at what's real and true. Concerning priority of the topics, there's a song-lyric, "love changes everything" - so it is with the scientific evidence of the afterlife; its reality changes everything.
Editor’s note: Fitzgerald is asking, “Can you live with uncertainty?” People ally themselves with groups, political parties, religions, materialistic scientific camps, and other cultish affiliations, and, in so doing, surrender autonomy to a “strong father figure” who promises safety and security in a hostile world. Instead of this, Fitzgerald would demand, “Can you avoid rendering judgment and conclusion in matters, presently too high for us, for which the data is incomplete?”
Editor's Essay: Higher Creativity: Liberating The Unconscious For Breakthrough Insights
One of my college instructors, Bob Morton, spoke of a book on errors in logic: "How To Think Straight (1932)" by Robert Thouless.
As a young man I was eager to learn of actual rules of thinking clearly. I sought out an ancient copy of the book. It opened a new world for me.
What is the nature and essence of a 'first-rate intelligence'?
There is so much bad thinking in society. The greater part of what you hear is nonsense. While "clear thinking" is a massive subject, I knew I wanted to say something about this as it strikes directly at many of my article topics.
I wanted to get at the core problem. What is the real cause of all this mental cacophony - bordering on forms of insanity - that passes for thinking?
For several years, I'd been collecting ideas that might serve as basis for an article. During most of that time, I envisioned the writing discussing various mental errors, "games people play," slips in logic, and the like. All this has its place in the discussion.
However, only recently, almost 50 years after introduction to the topic, I began to see that faulty techniques and dishonest tricks of the mind do not approach the heart of the issue. One might memorize and avoid, or recognize in others, the dozens of errors of logic outlined by Thouless - and still be off-center.
content vs. structure
The stumblings of logic presented by Thouless represent "content" of the mind; but "content," the myriad forms and guises under which the Small Ego expresses itself, knows no end to its masks, which, as Elizabeth Barrett once warned, must be held up with both hands.
The central issue of the problem will not focus on content but structure.
when the law and the facts do not support your case, then pound the table and vilify the opposing attorney
The following proverb, sometimes called “The Last Resort Rule,” was not taught in Civil Procedure class when I was in law school; however, some attorneys do report of professors who mentioned it.
There are different versions of the aphorism, but it goes something like this:
“If you have a case where the law is clearly on your side, but the facts and justice seem to be against you,” advised an old lawyer to a young attorney, “urge upon the jury the vast importance of sustaining the law."
"On the other hand," the old lawyer continued, "if the law is against you, or doubtful, and the facts show that your case is founded in justice, insist that justice be done though the heavens fall."
“But,” asked the young man, “how shall I manage a case where both the law and the facts are dead against me?”
“In that situation,” replied the old lawyer, “talk around it - and, the worse it is, the harder you pound the table.”
a cool and cunning calculation portrayed as shocking outrage
Some variants of this sophistry conclude with, not just pounding the table but, attacking the opposing counsel, or yelling with outrage, or even shouting at the jury.
It's all cool calculation. In other words, when the law and the facts are not on your side – and if you lack any semblance of scruple -- you need to do something fast to divert attention from the poverty and lack of substance of your defense; you need to create a scene, manufacture some theatrical charade of moral outrage, produce your own little one-person “mob rule” incident in order to bully your way into a better tactical position – that is, if you want to have any chance of winning your case, and, again, if you lack any sense of moral rectitude and respect for the rule of law.
This article on “Clear Thinking” will help us better understand the disingenuities, the attempts to divert attention from the law and the facts by “pounding tables” and “vilifying opposing attorneys.”
The most egregious example of “pounding the table” and “vilifying the opposing attorney” is that of making the bold-faced claim that your opponent is guilty of the very crime that you are committing. It's the perfect smoke-screen for malfeasance.
I will speak to "structure" soon, however, because "content" is part of the problem, please consider a brief summary of "How To Think Straight," plus a few points of my own; a brief listing of primary errors of debate and logic - not just "errors," however, but slick-and-oiled propaganda tools by which sophists attempt to deceive the unwary:
#1 The use of emotionally-charged words.
Is it a dog or a mutt? Was he fanatically pressing narrow agenda or staunchly defending lofty principle? Was the enemy ruthless and savage or heroic and courageous? Did our troops commit atrocities or wise severities?
It's not wrong to convey a sense of conviction via emotionally-toned words, but this is best, and legitimately, done after objectively judging the merits of the case, rather than before, which can become a form of prejudicial thinking.
#2 Opportunistically redefining terms, claiming that “black” means “white."
A classic and simple example here is saying "all" when "some" is true: "All women are such-and-such"; "All men want this-or-that." Most "all A is B" statements cannot be true, as exceptions will abound. There is the temptation to fudge the truth with "all A is B" because "some" says so little while "all" strengthens one's position.
There are so many cases of the untoward redefining of terms. It's a favorite tactic of totalitarians who must cloak their power-and-control designs in noble language. George Orwell in his 1984 warned us about this: freedom means slavery, the Ministry of Truth is the Department of Propaganda, on and on.
We often see brazen attempts to redefine terms in politics. It's common now for the losing side of an election, nevertheless, to claim victory. They do this by redefining the meaning of "winning." In the refashioned version, "winning" now means "positioned for future gain" or "moral victory because we occupy the high ground" or effectively asserting that the electorate is stupid and didn't understand, or some such. "Winning" is redefined to include whatever allows the disingenuous to save face.
Another popular example of redefining of words is to change the meaning of “hate.” If a hopeful totalitarian cannot defend him- or herself in the open and honest sunny air of plain-speaking, the one who disagrees is called a “hater.” Hating, properly construed, is a devaluing of the essential essence of another human being. But we can disagree with another’s arguments without “hating,” without calling into question the value of that human being. But when you have nothing honest to say, and if your dark agenda is threatened by close scrutiny, then you employ the “attorney’s last resort rule” (see above) and vilify opposing counsel. You call them a “hater.” This ploy has been codified today as law, bad law, in the form of “hate speech.” It’s a form of censorship, of shutting down debate by appealing to a faux moral superiority, of hiding behind the law while, in fact, one attempts to undermine the stabilizing effect of society’s rule of law.
Another word that's lost its traditional meaning is "values." It's a word that once meant all that's dear and warm , a "mom and apple-pie" concept. But today it's been retooled by demagogues who would hide their malfeasance; for them, "values" is a code word for globalism, socialism, the trojan horses of totalitarianism.
Again, redefining terms is employed when there's much to lose by an open and honest presentation of the facts. In my investigations related to the "Evolution article," I discovered dozens or scores of these sleight-of-hand infractions committed by materialistic biology. Here's one concerning the famous experiment by Stanley Miller. "Life Created In A Test-Tube!" blares the headlines. Really? - or did we conveniently redefine "life" to create an illusion that something important was happening when nothing is going on? Is "life" a synthesis of amino acids? "Yes," they will insist, "amino acids represent such a short step to the production of proteins; which, given enough time, would surely be synthesized, as well." Never mind that proteins, even simple proteins, are so complex that chance-and-probability would require a duration of time equal to the lifespan of several universes. But this small detail is not mentioned in the furor. Instead, they redefine life in terms of amino acids, and then do a victory lap.
The unspoken premise of all this chicanery is, "you're stupid, you won't notice, we're the smartest people in the room and deserve to rule over you, and we can buy and sell you like a horse in the marketplace."
#3 Proof by carefully-selected instances.
There's a saying, if you go looking for evidence -- not for the truth but mere ammunition to support a philosophical position -- you will surely find it.
We build a case for or against a certain proposition by choosing examples which seem to support our contention, as we conveniently brush under the rug those which would defeat us.
Examples of this might be found every day in the fake-news industry. They will report part of what happened, or manufacture an alternate reality – some might call this “lying” -- and leave out, or edit, comments or photos which minimize their propaganda purposes. It's all they do.
Darrell Huff's classic book, How To Lie With Statistics
Raw data is message-neutral, but statistics represent an interpretation of the data. This is where the fun begins.
If you're a propagandist with a party-platform to sell or impose, it's not difficult to make the data appear as a rising or falling trajectory, or a flat line, whatever is required to offer "proof" for what you're selling.
#4 Evading refutation of one's argument by use of dishonest claim.
Someone says, "People of such-and-such race are inferior to other races." This is easily defeated by pointing out notable high-achieving examples. Answered by: "Those are just exceptions that prove the rule." But, exceptions do not prove that the general statement is true, but that it is false.
But let's speak in plain language about the "use of dishonest claim." It's so bad today that people will say anything, even when there's damning contrary evidence on video tape. But this doesn't matter. Today, more and more, the tactic is to make a big false claim, grab the headlines, throw your opponent off-guard, wear him down by having to defend a truckload of lies. We've never seen it as bad as it is right now in the US - which makes the days of the Soviet Pravda ("Truth") look good.
Editor’s note: One of the more outrageous examples of “evading refutation by dishonest claim” is that of accusing an opponent of that which the indicter himself is guilty. In some of these cases, the oppressor will charge “What have you got to hide?”; meaning, “You should surrender your rights to privacy (or some other personal liberty) if you have nothing to hide.” A good response here is: “I have nothing to hide but much to protect.”
#5 Diversion to another question, to a side issue, or by irrelevant objection.
How often we see this when politicians are asked questions. Often-times, they will not answer the question, but will divert attention to a non-essential or little-related issue. The tactic is to distract.
There are thousands of these distractions and irrelevant objections. A popular one today is made with studied ennui and faux sophistication: “oh, that’s so yesterday” or “where’s that from, the sixties?” or “we’ve heard that before.” However, truth does not go in and out of style like the latest empty fashion rage, and only the extremely shallow would suggest otherwise.
The issue is not “have we seen this before?” but - did you understand it when you first heard it?
Michael Faraday, the great English chemist and physicist, who invented the world’s first electric motor in the 1830s, in response to his envious critics, said it well: “Do not refer to your toy-books and say that you’ve seen that before. Answer me rather, if I ask you, have you understood it before?”
#6 Fastening on trivial error in an opponent's argument, making much of it, and then, in this inconsequential victory, suggesting that the rival has been defeated on the main question.
Again, an extremely common tactic of diversion and distraction. Look for it in almost every political debate; the shifting of subject matter away from the topic at hand.
- Editor's note: In Mark Twain's day it was, "Lies, damn lies, and politics." And today, regarding #5 and #6 above, we are plagued by a storm of what is called "fake news." This deception-technique is useful for propagandists to divert attention from inconvenient truths by simply lying and promoting prevarication as fact.
Editor’s note: In the excellent movie “Mr. Holmes” we find the 92 year-old Sherlock walking with a young boy. The lad Roger is worried that his mentor, preparing himself for death, might soon pass on, and encourages himself with the statement, “You’ll still live a long time. I had an uncle who lived past 100.” To which the aged logician countered, “There’s my point, precisely. What are the chances that you would know two old men who made it over the century mark?” Slightly miffed at this response, the 12 year-old lamely retorts, “Well, I didn’t exactly know him.” The ancient detective, wheezing and gasping, attempts to laugh. This is a small but spot-on example of shifting the argument to inconsequential element – as if knowing the two men under review were the dispositive factor in play. We smile at this well-intentioned youngster’s sleight-of verbal hand disingenuously misplacing the object of debate. But we commonly see this corruption of the truth-process everywhere, writ large, among egos grasping at hegemonic position. Look for it. It’s everywhere; we could almost say, there's little else.
#7 The employment of jokes, sarcasm, and cynicism to distract from, and to minimize, the impact of the real issues at hand.
This too is so common. Humor is good, we need more of it, but not when it becomes a place to distract us, to hide in, from the truth.
#8 Begging the question.
Also called "circular reasoning, "begging the question" occurs when a topic of debate is spoken of in terms suggesting that it's already been settled and verified.
For example, if one were to dispute the infallibility of the Bible, comments from an opponent such as "holy scripture" or "God's word" would be inadmissible as these phrases assume as fact that which is being contested. See the Evolution article for examples of this breach of logic.
Here's another example from recent news. A headline, meant to deceive the unwary, blasts: "Such-and-such famous politician refuses to surrender certain documents, despite a court order to do so." We're led down a garden path to assume that it's right and just that the documents be surrendered. Never mind that such request, in itself, is illegal, an invasion of privacy, and part of a "witch hunt" to create an illusion of wrong-doing, and that the person in question has no legal duty, according to long-standing precedent, to surrender such documents. But you're not supposed to understand all this; you're supposed to judge him as "he's trying to hide something."
#9 Argument by imperfect analogy.
This error in reasoning was discussed in the article "Reincarnation On Trial."
Analogies can be helpful in making clear a hard-to-understand point, but analogies, of and by themselves, do not constitute evidence, might be crafted to fortify any position, and cannot be used to conclusively support another arena of discussion.
#10 The appeal to mere authority.
"The Bible says..."
"Our chief-guru church leader or materialistic scientist preaches..."
"Everybody knows this is true..."
"Grandma and Grandpa believed this..."
The advice of competent experience should not be easily dismissed. When people have made themselves knowledgeable, with years and decades of careful study and investigation, we should take their counsel seriously. This would be an appeal to reasonable and studied authority; however, even here the wise course is to thoughtfully consider and not blindly accept anything on the basis of mere authority.
However, let's look at an especially diseased form of this principle - a showcasing, a window-dressing, an appeal to counterfeit and mere authority. People who wear "empty uniforms," posturing an authority externally bestowed but not earned - not reflective of one's character, talents, and knowledge - have no authentic authority, no right to speak, and no claim to a microphone. We see these hucksters in religion and politics all the time; and even in science. These imposters, like the Wizard of Oz, fulminate behind a curtain, hiding in smoke and mirrors, but now exposed by Toto.
- Albert Einstein: “Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”
Unthinking deference to Aristotle set science back for 2000 years, until Galileo found the chutzpah to ask himself, "What if Aristotle was wrong?" - which, in fact, he was.
And maybe Grandma and Grandpa always did believe such-and such, but that doesn't mean they had any better chance of being right than you or anyone else on the street; and maybe Grandma and Grandpa, if they have their wits about them now on the other side, are hoping and praying that you will be the one to finally break out of the encrusted habits of old mental errors that have long dogged and hurt the family.
for a thousand years, what we call 'the Dark Ages,' there existed only the faintest glimmer, here and there, of rational thought
In the direct-voice-medium facilitated lectures by Spirit-Guide Abu, we find him lamenting a period of history during which superstition and fear-and-guilt based thinking reached an apex (paraphrased from Abu’s lecture):
"For a thousand years, from the time of the fall of Rome to the beginnings of the Renaissance, humankind suffered under severe torment of superstitious thinking. We Spirit-Guides, during that time, would come to the Earth in search of willing hearts and minds through whom we might inform the general populace of the wonders and marvels of the afterlife. Essentially, we were wholly unsuccessful in our efforts. If we did happen to find a rare, open mind, and one with a measure of mediumistic ability, via which agency we might communicate the truth of Summerland, such enlightened person ran the risk of being judged a “devil,” or a witch, to be burned at the stake by Church authorities; or, in sense, an even worse fate might befall, as that open mind, in receipt of glorious visions of the next world, might now be deified and considered a “saint,” a god! - and in this mad kangaroo-interpretation of events, our efforts to spread the truth were dealt severe blows. These one thousand years, which your history, not without reason, terms 'the Dark Ages,' represent a low point in the evolvement of humankind, the long, sad journey upward from primitive mindset, due to the Machiavellian ways of the cultish Great Church, one of the supreme curses and sources of Evil in all the world and history."
Editor's note: During the Dark Ages the world backslid and lost much information, the scientific and philosophical advances of the ancient Greeks. But for this colossal intellectual set-back, I suspect, today we'd be colonizing other parts of the galaxy in a “Star Trek” universe of wondrous achievement.
Instead, the human spirit has been forced to endure the fear and guilt, the heavy hand, of Big Religion's stultifying influence.
the young girl who thought she had no right to question religious authority
Dr. Weatherhead tells the story of a religious girl who, bothered by certain doctrinal teachings, nevertheless, acquiesced to the fates of her life with a reluctant, "Who am I to question the church fathers, the great theologians of the past?”
I've presented several errors of debate in Robert Thouless's "How To Think Straight." Some of you might like to get his book and read all 34.
content vs. structure
It's helpful to become aware of Thouless's cataloging of the "dishonest tricks," as he calls them. We see them everywhere in society. It's virtually all we hear from many politicians, from Big Religion, from Facebook debates, from sales ads, on and on - but, especially, if we're not very careful, we find these "tricks" well at home in the privacy of our own minds, where they do the most harm, with the one who's the easiest to fool.
What can be done? Thouless offers a philosophical assessment: essentially, he says, "if we had enough public awareness, better education, we could all begin to think straight."
This problem, however, I believe, runs deeper than education, which is just more content. Some of the biggest violators of clear thinking are the most highly educated, and not even the captain of the Harvard debating team might be immune. We must look at the mind's disability in terms of "structure" not just "content." (See the articles below.)
#11 the disingenuity of "we say that, too"
Allow me to add an “eleventh commandment” to the list offered by Thouless. It’s another dishonest debating tactic, a form of fake-news.
To help us understand, let's bring to mind a proverb, “The Three Stages of Truth,” attributed to Schopenhauer:
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
Implicit herein is the maxim, as Shakespeare wrote, “The truth will out.” Eventually, that which is real, honest, and good will become known to all. But, during the “self evident” phase, as the new truth becomes popularly accepted as the right course, “The Lying Teacher” sometimes shifts gears and will now shamelessly try to “lead the parade” concerning that which it once vilified and tried to stamp out!
"The Lying Teacher" will brashly suggest that it knew about this new truth all along; further, it will declare, “We say that, too! We always said that! There’s nothing new here! We’ve been teaching this for a long time! In fact, if it weren’t for us, there’d be no new truth.”
the Fraticelli, slaughtered lambs of Big Religion
If we put our minds to it, we could come up with a great many examples of “We say that, too.” But, here’s a famous – and most disgusting – example from history.
Francis of Assisi, that most gentle soul who loved animals and all of nature, renounced materialism in a dramatic way with his “vow of poverty.” After his death, his followers, the “Fraticelli,” seeking to perpetuate Francis’ disdain for mammon, were condemned as heretics – and burned at the stake! -- by the worldly and thuggish Great Ecclesia, already part of the international banking system. Later, the so-called “Church,” finding itself on the wrong side of history with the growing popularity of Francis’ humanistic legacy, suddenly adopted him as one of their beloved own, canonized him as a saint, and acted like Francis’ success couldn’t have happened without their blessing.
See historian Kenneth Clark's discussion of Francis and the RCC.
But here’s another example of "We say that, too," one as egregious, but less dramatic.
More and more scientists are accepting “Consciousness,” not matter, as the basis of reality. Materialism is under attack as never before, and its adherents feel quite threatened.
Recently, I reviewed a video produced by materialistic science having to do with the nature of reality. I was surprised by the open discussion of “Consciousness” as key component of reality. However, there was less here than meets the eye.
coming to terms
Reviewing the “fine print,” I discerned that their version of “Consciousness” was just an extension of materialism; for them, it’s a product of “upward causation,” composed of subtle matter.
It’s just a form of “We say that, too.” In effect, their purpose in suddenly accepting Consciousness as a respectable point of science discussion becomes, “We know all about Consciousness. We talk about it, too. There’s nothing new here, nothing about this that you can’t get from us!” -- this, from those who have long vilified any mention of the subject.
It’s a dishonest form of debate. When you see that the old tricks aren’t working anymore, then you try to “lead the parade” and say, “We knew it all the time. We say that, too” But look at the sleight-of-hand. They "accept” Consciousness – not to thoughtfully consider and to search for the truth – but to marginalize the term, to make it part of materialism, so as to control the debate from another angle. Consciousness is redefined in materialistic terms and made to be something it could never be.
It’s just “The Lying Teacher” on a field day.
#12 beware of euphemisms
A euphemism (literally, “good speech") employs a sweet-to-the-ear word displacing the din of harsh reality. In its darkest form, euphemism is just another technique of deception and propaganda, it's a "how can we fool'em today" strategy. Those of ill-intent cannot stand in the open sunny air and forthrightly declare what they’re really up to. Instead, they cloak the monster heart with fine words; but, as the British say, fine words “butter no parsnips.”
Beware, said British historian Paul Johnson, of those who deliberately subvert language:
"When we are dealing with concepts like freedom and equality, it is essential to use words accurately and in good faith... beware of those who seek to win an argument at the expense of the language. For the fact that they do is proof positive that their argument is false, and proof presumptive that they know it is. A man who deliberately inflicts violence on the language will almost certainly inflict violence on human beings if he acquires the power. Those who treasure the meaning of words will treasure truth, and those who bend words to their purposes are very likely in pursuit of anti-social ones."
Beware of legislative enactments which, in their titles, proclaim “safety” or “security” or "prosperity" or “for the people” or "save democracy" or “fairness.” None of these, upon inspection, will offer a particle of safety or prosperity or fairness to the people, but assuredly will allow a ruling elitist cabal to solidify its power, finance its chicanery with a check from the Treasury, and to quash the voice of opponents.
Beware of those who laud themselves as desiring to “make a difference.” This phrase is code language for “I am a needy Little Ego who craves attention, notoriety, and the baubles of fame.” Rest confident that the “difference” they intend to make will not accrue positively to your account.
Beware of those who call dissenters “dangerous”. The modern day William Wilberforce, bringing reform to the nation, insisting upon personal liberties, is said to be fraught with “danger”, so much so that the fervent enthusiasm expressed at public patriot-gatherings is akin, they will say, to a "Hitler rally."
But, we must ask, a danger to whom exactly?
Certainly the proposed reforms will be no danger to the rights of tens of millions of unborn children presently slain upon the altar of convenience and expediency. There will be no danger to accurate and fair reporting of the news. There will be no danger to an open, honest, and free election process. There will be no danger to properly-labeled legislative bills and enactments. There will be no danger to peer-reviewed and open-forum debates of scientific proposals. There will be no danger to an educational system devoid of political intrusion. There will be no danger to law-enforcement and judicial processes devoted to the rule of law, due process, and hallowed precedent.
We could go on. Yes, who are these threatened ones now under siege of the decried “danger”? That would be the Orwellian totalitarian interests, a grasping and duplicitous elite, a brutal and prevaricating force, intent upon imposing their power-and-control designs upon the rest of us. They, indeed, are in “danger.”
Beware of the euphemism “progressive.” It’s the latest con-job word hiding an agenda of how can we make atrocity sound like a sunday-school outing, how can we grab more power to ourselves under the threadbare cloak of claim to altruism.
Can you be content, quietly living as an unknown, uncelebrated non-entity? - until burgeoning competence, an ability to skilfully serve, inevitably brings you to public awareness - whether you want it or not?
As a young man at Bible college, though it was not my original purpose in attending, I quickly fell into the group’s dysfunctionally competitive spirit of attempting to win a ministerial post. If I quiet my mind just now, and cast myself back, 50+ years ago, to the energies coursing through my person at the time, I can still feel the churning and seething neediness of that young man. I wanted to be noticed. I needed someone to tell me I was competent and able. I craved a Dear Leader’s stamp of approval in order to feel good about myself.
As such, beware of "religious servants", these "nice young men," who, as Shakespeare warned, will smile and smile, quoting godtalk-platitudes, wanting to "help" you - as they cloak an inner discomfiting perception of "I am not enough" and "I need you to affirm my sense of worth."
READ MORE on the "Spirituality, Part III" page.
Editor’s note: The most notorious, but clever, example of the beguiling euphemism will be found in the specially-constructed vocabulary of the Third Reich. It's famous for its oiled duplicity. The television miniseries “Holocaust” featured the legal-mind of Major Erik Dorf creating a battery of terminology to hide official dark and dystopian policies of Berlin. Words and phrases like “special handling,” or “final solution,” or “relocation,” or “the Jewish question,” or “resettlement,” or tidy procedure,” or “Paradise Ghetto,” and many others.
These were employed to sanitize, but also merchandize, atrocity with a pretty wrapper – not just to mislead world public opinion but to reduce the sting of conscience among party-faithful. On the WG site, I try to avoid oft allusion to the Nazis as it’s been overdone and, thereby, effectiveness as didactic aid has been reduced. Nevertheless, though a one hundred year anniversary of the Nazi rule is not far off, what happened then is still a fascination for many.
We can’t really believe that people could do such things - especially, those of the most cultured and sophisticated society of history! - the land of Beethoven, Gauss, Mozart, Schopenhauer, Einstein, Goethe, Planck, Heisenberg, Kant, von Braun, Schiller, Nietzsche, Brahms – we could go on.
Elsewhere I’ve written that none of the barbarity back then was an anomaly, not a one-time event, but an example of what the dark side of human nature is capable of doing if given near-unlimited resources. The seeds of that kind of burgeoning evil live in every human heart, not always unsprouted, but often lacking enabling means. In our time, politics has become more and more putrid and uncivil, crude and procrustean. Many of us wonder if civilization will survive this attack from “within.”
Case in point, euphemism-as-weapon flows freely from our own Ministry Of Truth. In the aftermath of modification of legislation which, in the last decades, has resulted in the deaths of 60 million babies! – 60 million innocent infants destroyed! -- far more victims than the “Holocaust” ever knew – we find gross production of euphemism to cloak a sewer-pit of malfeasance; not as cleverly constructed as that contrived by Major Dorf, but delivered with the same poker-face, faux moral piety, the same fake outrage: euphamisms such as “encroachment upon basic freedoms,” or “in the resulting healthcare crisis people will die,” or "abort the Supreme Court," or "choice is our human right" or “our democracy is under attack,” or “our Constitutional rights have been trampled,” and similar black-is-white, up-is-down drivel.
These euphamisms issue from criminal elements in pin-striped suits, echoed by their robotic minions, who, while hiding behind the law to effect their schemes, routinely break the law as their business-as-usual mode of operation. The attitude appears to be, “This is how we advance our dark agenda, they can’t stop everything we try, some of it will stick, our judges will endorse it, and so we win our totalitarian agenda by inches at a time, and we're getting very close now to full control.”
See the afterlife reports concerning what happens to those who cross over having killed their babies, and also the fate of those who live a life of deception and oppression.
Editor's note: Almost everyone is afraid of information about the afterlife. People don’t want to know about it, despite the wondrous nature of Summerland environment. There is, however, a “reason behind the reason” for this willful ignorance. Much of the aversion can be explained by the duping teachings of Big Religion: the terrible judgment to come, the angry god waiting to condemn – my dad and uncle, representing the average decent person in society, fell victim to this fake news, but had nothing major to worry about.
However, some do have much to worry about. Read about it on the “Sensibility page.” There are the hard-core criminals of this world, many of whom you see on tv every day with their big sloppy grins, who live to maliciously oppress and bilk society. Subliminally, they well know and fear their upcoming date with an “auditing committee.” Virtually 100% of them confidently profess that there is no afterlife. It’s a convenient and satisfying self-deception: no afterlife, no accountability for evil.
It’s ironic, though, isn’t it – in the end, their greatest victims of hoodwinking and bamboozling, of propaganda and deceit, are themselves. For the hard-core, a detention-time of hundreds or thousands of years in the sewer-pit rat-cellar will be their fate.
#13 the mask of piety, part 1
My friend Adrian coined this term. He speaks of it in his book, “A Prison For The Mind,” exploring the psychology of fundamentalism. It’s not what you think.
Like its synonym, cultism, it embraces all institutional power structures of the world – politics, corporations, religion, academia, materialistic science – but also power-play dynamics and oppression on the level of the family, one’s work mates, neighbors, small groups, or any other opportunity for dysfunctional egos to assert themselves.
What is “the mask of piety”?
All egos want something from you. They can’t help it. They’re too needy to avoid seeking for a victim. And when they do, they will cloak their rapaciousness in some moralistic wrapper. They will link their malfeasance to “doing God’s will” or “it’s for the people” or “for the greater good” or "to save democracy" or "to protect personal liberties" or "to save the planet" -- all of which is the demagogue's way of saying “we’re smarter, holier, than everyone else so it’s our duty to impose our will” or “we do what we do because no else is honest enough to do what needs to be done” or some other pseudo-sanctimonious distraction.
creates its own morality
Once you understand how this works, you’ll see it everywhere. “The mask of piety”, you will find, creates its own sense of morality. It works like this: “We are justified in harming others, breaking laws, committing what others consider to be atrocity, denying human rights, suppressing free speech, engaging in violence, calling facts 'misinformation' or doing whatever we have to do, because we’re morally superior, we’re better, we're God's chosen, we're the elect, we're needed to lead everyone to utopia, and this gives us license to impose our agenda on the plebs of the world.”
And many times this appeal to higher morality will be totally disingenuous, not even they believe it, but just a smokescreen to hide corruption and the power-grab that's really happening. Despotic leadership will adopt grandiose programs to "save our freedoms" and "help the people" but, as Elvis sang, "that was just a lie."
smug and disdainful elitism
This twisted reasoning and self-perversion, this trampling upon the dignity and liberties of human beings, this smug elitism and haughty disdain, will be found at the heart of every inquisition, smear campaign, kangaroo court, censorship effort, character assassination, every false report, slanted story and fake-news item, the dismantling of due process and rule of law, the undermining of true values, violence toward the weakest of society, a rewriting of history and disrespect for the founders, invasions of privacy, threatenings toward citizens, intimidation, injecting fraud into societal process, disregarding time-honored precedent, the destruction of the common good, and generally operating according to the precept "the end justifies the means."
Even the SS jackboots manning the concentration camps wore belt buckles proclaiming “God is with us” - their own version of "the mask of piety."
the mask of piety, part 2
Concerning “the mask of piety,” we’ve discussed that “this appeal to higher morality will be totally disingenuous, not even they believe it, but just a smokescreen to hide corruption.”
In almost every example of totalitarian effort, we will find this to be the case. However, it should be pointed out that when we say “not even they believe it” it should not be assumed that they see themselves as criminals. Yes, they will know full well that they deceive and oppress, brutalize and prevaricate, but, when they do, it’s part of their distorted sense of morality. On a superficial level, they might very well feel good about their sociopathic conduct. They do so because, in their own eyes, it’s all part of their “holy cause,” a war against “infidels,” a campaign to stamp out threats to their righteous agenda.
a mirror reveals the mask of piety not the face of a criminal
I believe that we often fail to recognize this self-delusion. What I mean to say is, when the totalitarian looks in the mirror, he or she tends not to see a liar or a criminal or a thug but, instead, they see a “mask of piety.” In other words, the sociopath justifies every point of malfeasance committed with a self-absolving “I’m doing this for the betterment of the world,” or “the cause,” or “the future of the country,” or “for the greater good.”
This is the moralistic wrapper stretched around acts of violence and abrogation of human rights. This is the justification. This is the mask of piety. And the hard-core true believer will sanitize the grossest evil, the most blatant attacks against civil liberties, in this faux moralism. They see themselves as saints, as martyrs for a just crusade, as “courageous” – they love to call themselves “courageous” – to do what the weak-willed are not willing to do for the establishment of utopia, the perfect democracy, the holy government of God, the new enlightenment, or whatever the self-hoodwinking slogan might be.
Be warned, when they use the terms "democracy" or "church" or "enlightenment" or "God", they inject their own private definitions, according to private agenda, and there will be little to no correspondence between these perverted definitions and reality.
We must look around us to see how this plays out; so much of history stands as witness to this deception. Notice how every dictatorship of the world creates a righteous name for itself, incorporating high-falutin terms, such as “the people’s republic,” or “the democratic this-or-that,” or some other reference to serving humankind; but it’s all window-dressing. Further, those who domineer the planet do not admit to themselves “I am a criminal, just a thug in pin-striped suit,” no, instead, they see themselves as saviors of the rabble in the street, God's agents to rule the world.
This perverted dynamic is not reserved to politics but includes ecclesiastical-government BlackRobes representing religious power structures. See how they call their churches after some biblical platitude, some pseudo-spiritual virtue, some allusion to the majesty God, often referencing the teachings of the apostle Paul, but which precepts stand opposed to everything Paul taught. See the Galatians commentary.
This process of posturing oneself as benefactor plays out in the corporate world, too. No matter how corrupt the dealings, how invasive to human rights the policies, corporate brochures and annual reports will laud programs of helping humanity, embossed with a smiley face. And the corporate heads, too, may well see themselves as servants, albeit, from a perspective of “I am better, I am above, we’re smarter than everyone, and so what we do is justified because we’re leading the hapless world to a totalitarian utopia.”
What are we to make of this duplicity? Why not just say, at least in one's private thoughts, "I want what others have, I want to take it, I'm willing to hurt whomever in order to get what I want, and I don't care if what I do is reprehensible." But that's not how the internal dialogue tends to unfold. It's too uncomfortable and disconcerting to one's own spirit to think that way - because we're being led to something better.
grating like sandpaper
We are hard-wired to do what’s right, to fulfill a destiny, to become more and more like God. We feel good when we believe ourselves to be accomplishing this lofty goal. But to count ourselves as criminals or defective or less than noble feels grating-like-sandpaper to the spirit.
This is why, no matter what totalitarians do, they always find a way to wrap their activities in a moralistic wrapper. To do otherwise, makes one feel guilty, tainted, and unworthy. And so they lie to themselves. They wear the mask of piety.
And for all of their deception, they themselves are their own greatest victims; and, as such, there's a "time of detention," of "mandated solitude," coming their way.
#14 'there is no evidence'
Very often we find hear the defense, the accusation, “there is no evidence.” The country may be reeling with the loss of personal freedoms, corruption at the highest levels, the rule of law sullied, but totalitarians will join hands to chant “there is no evidence” of problems of any kind.
We see this disingenuity at work, not just in politics and civil government, but in despotic religion, in materialistic science, in rapacious corporate policies.
“There is no evidence” that we are wrong, is to be translated as, “There is no evidence” which we will accept or confess to.
Here’s one small example, so common in the arena of scientific evidence for the afterlife:
A room filled with a battery of electronic sensing devices, monitoring every nuance of motion, heat, and sound, but the evidence is summarily rejected by radical skeptics.
Professor Eckhard Kruse reports of his investigations of physical mediumship. In an effort to preempt radical skeptics’ immediate charges of fraud, Professor Kruse employed an impenetrable array of high-tech electronic equipment.
Despite these sensing devices registering the slightest variation of movement or energy, those intent upon obfuscation immediately hide behind "there is no evidence" for the afterlife. See further discussion on this topic here.
#15 seeking refuge in the vague and ill-defined
Political smear campaigns readily indulge in this sleight-of-hand. Listen to the accusations: “She’s told 5000 lies”; or “He’s a white supremacist”; or “He promotes election fraud”; or “She’s a fascist”; and the like.
You will notice, in many of these tirades, we’re unlikely to be given factual information. The charges are indistinct and fuzzy, long on venom, short on veritas. The accuser takes refuge in the unclear and indeterminate.
The way to respond to these accusations is to bring it all back down to earth with a logic-jarring demand:
'give me one example'
You say he’s told 5000 lies; well then, give me one example of one lie.
You say he promoted election fraud; well then, give me one clear example of election fraud.
Yes - give me one example, and then we’ll look at the context, we'll carefully consider, what was actually said or done, and we’ll see if the facts corroborate the charge.
And if the facts are in dispute, then we’ll call in witnesses who actually know. And if the interpretation of the facts is questionable, or intentionally obfuscated, or presented in a one-sided manner, then we’ll employ cross-examining attorneys to search out the truth.
However, no flamboyant demagogue desires this kind of careful scrutiny of allegations. They're not interested in the truth. They’d rather keep repeating a lie, amplified by the fake-news media, in a propaganda effort to “poison the well” of public opinion. This is the diversionary tactic of "The Last Resort Rule" (see above).
All this duplicity is rather predictable conduct from those who cannot speak plainly about what they're up to, those who are willing to say anything, and do anything, to further their power-and-control schemes.
And the quickest way to pop this illusion of fluff-prevarication is to demand:
'give me one example'
See them head for the tall grass now. Kangaroo courts, in which only one viewpoint is allowed expression, come crashing down with penetrating questions.
Edmund Burke (1729-1797), Anglo-Irish statesman, economist, and philosopher. "Facts are to the mind, what food is to the body. On the due digestion of the former depend the strength and wisdom of the one, just as vigour and health depend on the other. The wisest in council, the ablest in debate, and the most agreeable companion in the commerce of human life, is that man who has assimilated to his understanding the greatest number of facts."
#16 'I was misquoted, my words were distorted'
About 30 years ago – the timeframe will be different when you read this -- corrupt totalitarians would disavow their statements and actions, even if they were caught, not just on a hot-mic but, on videotape. The strategy unfolded as – simply lie, deny it all, create a scene, claim entrapment, and unjust treatment. This is the “Attorney’s Last Resort Rule” in another mask.
Since that time, it’s virtually become standard fare for demagogues to flat-out deny and disavow whenever they're brought to task. So often now we hear, “I was misquoted, my words were distorted.” This disingenuity is all the more brazen and shameless, to say nothing of utterly devoid of honor, when the alleged misquoting is not a loose paraphrase of testimony but a direct reference to actual words spoken.
In other words, there was no misquoting or misunderstanding - the message was too clear - but instead a simple presentation of actual words spoken. Even so, the bold-faced lie, the diversionary “Attorney’s Last Resort Rule” becomes, “I was misquoted, my words were distorted.”
bite-sized packets of information
Providing a certain sequence of thought, the following sub-article writings, it is suggested, are best reviewed in the order presented.
please click on each link-icon
The reason behind the reason for what most people believe.
Why only the virtuous find the truth.
Why it took me 15 years to finish my research on the book of Galatians
I invented the term "pathological harmonizing" to describe my thinking as a fundamentalist
How did the ancient Greeks, a religious people, manage, almost single-handedly, to create what we call philosophy? Why is it that the beginnings of so many important modern fields of enquiry find their roots in the ancient Hellenic culture?
In contract law, agreements are unenforceable if entered into with "lack of capacity." This speaks to an absence of a "meeting of the minds," an inability to cogently negotiate agreements. In the unenlightened state, almost everything a person does or thinks constitutes "lack of capacity" - those who live in the dark can't see anything.
Bruce Lee: "Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. Be water, my friend."
The "utterly shameless" are not interested in clear thinking, in debating ideas, in determining "the truth." When encountering these base and vicious ones, you are wasting your time even talking to them. They just want to froth in their "madness maddened."
Immanuel Kant: raw sensory data, it's generally believed, shapes the mind - or does the mind shape the data?
Content versus structure: a common example of mind-imposed conceptual structure, the half-empty glass.
The most important information I would share on this subject: the essence of a first-rate mind.
the dishonest egoic mind, with its tricks and disdain for the truth, is but a temporary developmental stage in human evolvement
In various Word Gems articles, we’ve often spoken of the “true self” and the “false self.” Regarding this latter, a defining characteristic is the “monkey mind,” the incessant “chattering in the head,” which is just plain egocentric thinking. The egoic mind sees itself as the center of the universe, and all people and things coming into contact are evaluated in terms of labeling, comparing, sizing up, “better than,” “less than,” potential enhancement, or threat.
Thinking, by the egoic mind, will issue as base alloy, just mattress stuffing and filler, not much value to it. There’s no love for the truth in it, nor desire to find it; all the ego cares about is elevating itself. The 16 violations of “clear thinking” (above) constitute a dysinformation campaign by which the unenlightened mind seeks to protect itself against all others. The incessantly chattering “monkey mind” demands this call to arms, inspired by an inner whispering-mantra, “I don’t have enough” because “I am not enough.”
Good luck to us in finding “clear thinking” if we’re driven by these demons.
why things are arranged this way
How did this cerebral chaos come to be? Does not all this self-seeking, this self-serving thought, become the essence of Evil, all the suffering and pain that’s afflicted humankind? Did God/the Universe/Cosmic Consciousness/Intelligent Design make a mistake in allowing this mayhem to infect the world and all of history?
We certainly might be tempted to judge it this way; many have. However, as we evaluate the situation from a wider perspective, another view presents itself.
Ancient Spirit Guides, thousands of years old, inform us that we came to this troubled planet not fully constructed. Our minds and spirits, strictly speaking, we were not “individuated,” not whole and complete and separate persons, in their own right. The Guides say that we came here to become individuals – a true person; not necessarily, immediately, a “good” person; that’s step two, which might not even happen for many in this world. Summerland is a better place to enjoy that ratcheting up of virtue. Further, a way of healing has been provided to make us whole from our disastrous time on planet Earth.
just temporary scaffolding for a building under construction
And so, how does the “chattering monkey mind” fit in with this mega-view? The egoic mind, with its dishonest tricks and violations of “clear thinking,” is a temporary, developmental stage in human evolution. It's like scaffolding, there for a time, while a building is under construction.
We’re not meant to live permanently on the level of egoism. Selfish, self-centered, self-oriented thinking won’t win us the “Miss Congeniality Award,” but it is good for one thing – it can turn us into individualized persons; maybe not a “good” person, not right away, but it will individuate us. All of that “me-thinking” works well for creating a sense of individuality. Scaffolding isn't meant to be pretty.
It’s like making sausage: we might like the end product, but, as they say, don’t watch the process too closely, it might turn your stomach.
If the “monkey mind” is a temporary developmental stage in human evolution, what comes next? Well, a fish doesn’t know it’s in water, and those inundated by egoic thinking don't know how immature they are and can’t imagine anything else. What we need to understand and come to see is that ordinary thinking is only part of human intelligence; a minority interest. All true creative thought, all higher-level thought, any thought of great worth and value, comes not from egoic thinking but from accessing the “true self” deep within, which is linked to Universal Consciousness.
This is Individuality’s true home, true residence, where our spirits will live for the next million years and beyond.
'You have to be constantly sensitive to incoherence'
Question: How do we know when something is clear? - because for a long time it was ‘clear’ that Newton’s world was the final answer, and then something else was seen to be the clear way.
Dr. David Bohm: “Yes. You have to be constantly sensitive to incoherence. You see, it’s not that people should not have said that Newton’s world is clear but that this fits what we know, they simply said too much, you see, by saying ‘that’s the way it is.’ If they had said, ‘the evidence we have fits this idea,’ that would have been right. Now, there’s a tendency to go too far and say, it covers everything." see the interview
Editor's note: There's a tendency to go too far because the dysfunctional ego seeks for solace in certainty and absolutism. As Bohm, in another interview, said, the ego distorts reality to protect itself.
you can have it all laid out in front of you, but it won't make you think
Concert for George
Royal Albert Hall
November 29, 2002
Horse To Water
you can take a horse to the water but you can't make him drink, oh no, oh no, oh no, a friend of mine in so much misery, some people sail through life, he is struggling, I said, "hey man, let's go out and get some wisdom," first he turned on me, then turned off his nervous system, you can take a horse to the water but you can't make him drink, oh no, oh no, oh no, you can have it all laid out in front of you, but it won't make you think, oh no, oh no, oh no
listen to Sam Brown’s sensational version of “Horse to Water” at the Concert for George
'The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied... chains us all, irrevocably.'
STNG, season 4, episode "The Drumhead"
Western civilization at a crossroads; weapons of censorship now forbid discussing or questioning, reducing all dialogue to puritanical conformance versus non-conformance
Professor Mark Crispin Miller
Professor Mark Crispin Miller of New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development has taught classes on mass persuasion and propaganda for the last two decades.
He has been accused of “hate speech” in the course of explaining to his students the workings of deception and propaganda.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, on his site, reviewed the case of Professor Miller:
“Miller recently sued 19 of his department colleagues for libel after they signed a letter to the school dean demanding a review of Miller’s conduct. He points out that his course on propaganda is not focused on historical examples of mass persuasion but, rather, teaches his students to recognize and resist propaganda in real or recent times.
‘This can be quite challenging,’ he says. It’s rather easy to identify examples of propaganda that you do not agree with. It’s much more difficult when it’s something you care about, agree with or believe in; when it pushes your buttons. It requires you to detach, to take a bird’s-eye view and develop impartiality. You have to ‘make an attempt to think about it, critically,’ Miller explains, and to look at both sides of the issue.
Unfortunately, as noted by Miller, getting the other side of the story is now becoming increasingly difficult, thanks to Big Tech censorship, which oftentimes filters out or blocks all but one viewpoint… If this scenario strikes you as typical of the kind of intellectual and scientific censorship we’ve seen all around the world over the past year, you’re not alone.
Miller recognized it too, and created an academic freedom petition, which at the time of this writing has been signed by nearly 36,000 people. ‘All it asks is that NYU respect my academic freedom and set a good example for other schools,’ Miller says. ‘But I did it in the name of all professors, all journalists, all scientists, all doctors, activists and whistleblowers who have been gagged or punished for their dissidence, not just last year, but really, for decades.’ He goes on to list 'the censorship trifecta' — repressive tactics — that he was hit with:
1. ‘Assailing my students with non-evidence-based arguments.’ Basically, they accused him of being a ‘conspiracy theorist,’ which is ‘the oldest and most effective means of silencing inconvenient opinion,’ Miller says.
Indeed, the CIA weaponized this catchphrase in 1967 to discredit writers who questioned the veracity of the Warren Report about the Kennedy assassination. To learn more about how conspiracy theory became ‘a thing,’ read Conspiracy Theory in America by Lance deHaven-Smith.
2. ‘Hate speech and microagression,’ which are a form of ‘social justice puritanism’ that forbids discussing or questioning certain ideologies. Doing so means you’re mocking or ridiculing certain groups of people. This too is simply a way to shut people up and dissuade honest discussion that might reveal problems or chinks in whatever one-sided argument you’re told to blindly accept.
3. Spreading ‘dangerous misinformation.’ Presently, and since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, questioning any part of the official narrative, no matter how incongruent, scientifically baseless or socially destructive it may be, means you are putting people in danger. Of course, at any other time, ‘dangerous misinformation’ could refer to any narrative that the ruling class wants to maintain.
Part and parcel of all three of these tactics is the labeling of any science that deflates or disproves the propaganda narrative as ‘alternative science’ or ‘fringe science.’
Editor's note: This is why Dr. Sheldrake is often introduced as a "controversial biologist," and Wikipedia says that Dr. Mercola practices "alternative medicine." These are pejorative labels. It's a form of "poisoning the well," a subtle smear tactic.
It doesn’t matter if it’s published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. It’s still dismissed as unreliable at best and misinformation at worst, incapable of standing up to the wisdom of the Dr. Fauci’s of the world.
The Deeper Significance of This Case
The problem with normalizing these weapons of censorship is that it makes education impossible, it makes science impossible, it makes democracy impossible. Everything is reduced to compliance versus noncompliance.
As noted by Corbett, Miller’s case goes beyond mere freedom of speech, which everyone ought to have, it goes into the issue of freedom of inquiry itself — the freedom to ask questions and ponder an issue or problem from multiple angles. Without the ability to think freely and express those thoughts, life itself becomes more or less meaningless.
You Can’t Resist Propaganda if You Can’t Recognize It
‘I can’t imagine a more important moment for the study of propaganda than the present,’ Miller says, because we are bombarded with it every moment of every day now. Once you learn to recognize it, you’ll find there’s hardly anything else. ‘I used to think it was vulgar to compare the contemporary American media with Dr. [Joseph] Goebble’s practices [editor’s note: a German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945],’ Miller says. ‘I no longer think so. I don’t think that’s a stretch at all. The daily dissemination of absolute 100% falsehoods by The New York Times on every single page, and by CNN and the rest of them — it’s breathtaking to me.’
To learn more about the journalistic failures and staggering fabrications published by The New York Times, read The Gray Lady Winked by Ashley Rindsberg. Miller wrote the foreword to this book.
‘We have to talk back,’ Miller says. ‘We have to take the bull by the horns and say, ‘Yes, we’re conspiracy theorists if the alternative is swallowing this preposterous narrative you’re trying to push. That’s a badge of honor as far as I’m concerned. It’s people like us, who insist on telling the truth, who are really essential to the survival of not just democracy but humanity itself. I know that sounds a bit grandiose, but I sincerely believe that now, because we are at a very dire crossroads in the history of Western civilization and have got to fight back for our children’s sake and the sake of everything we hold dear.’”
the education of a free man or woman
ancient Greek pottery, “Phlyax Scene,” depicting a master (center, long tunic) and a slave (short tunic)
Many years ago Mortimer Adler helped me to understand the meaning of the common term “liberal education.” “Liberal” in this context has nothing to do with political leanings but, in its classical sense, speaks to “liberty.”
A liberal education is one befitting a free man or woman. Slaves in ancient times were treated as chattel, as things, belonging to a master. Instruction for a slave was limited to training, the acquisition of skills in relation to tasks to be performed for the benefit of a master.
However, the education of this latter, a free person, was very much different in kind. It was liberal in orientation, that is, pertaining to freedom, and centered upon clear thinking and developing the mind -- for its own sake, as an end in itself, and not as a means to something else or someone else’s private agenda. Most views of education down through the centuries have not been "liberal" in any meaningful sense but were crafted in service of a master, some Dear Leader - a government, a church, an ideology, a cult – with little regard for the individual. It's been this way for many thousands of years and not much has changed (also see Dr. Adler’s essay and my own “1-Minute essay”).
People often wonder about their purpose in life. There are “outer” purposes which vary from person to person; however, as our time on this planet is very fleeting, none of this matters overly much. It is the “inner” purpose which takes on cosmic significance, and this purpose will be the same for every individual – it is the call to “wake up,” to open our eyes to who we truly are; it is a beckoning to freedom, to an activation of the sacred “true self.” A great many articles on the Word Gems site address this universal summoning to action.
Without a mind calibrated and tuned to the sweet melody of freedom, we will fall prey to those who strut and prance and proclaim themselves to be our saviors. Look around you – almost every institution, every ideology, every belief-system of the world, if we have eyes to see, exists to make you its pawn; if you let them, if you have not yet discovered who you are.
the education of the founding fathers
It’s probably true to say that the extent of decline in the quality of today’s education cannot fully be known until we compare it to pedagogical standards of 250 years ago.
I would strongly encourage you to at least skim the article on “the education of the Founding Fathers.” Our plunging descent into scholastic mediocrity, and worse, since that time is breathtaking.
Almost none of us would qualify to enter the universities of that day. And the college degrees issued in our era would count as near "kindergarten level" compared to the rigorous intellectual achievements of those who produced the US Constitution and the Declaration.
We have no idea.
And yet, with all their stellar cognitive accomplishment, those luminaries were not perfect. Not all, but many, or some, of them believed in slavery, the status of women as second class, and the right of churches to oppress us with Medieval cultism. While there may have been others, Thomas Paine, John and Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and I'll include Abraham Lincoln, as ones born out of time, reflected some of the best we've seen in human development.
Editor's note: See discussion on the "favorites" page, in an inset-box, concerning slavery and the Founders.
On this page we’ve discussed the essence of a first-rate mind, but even some of the Founders - representing pinnacles of brain-power in history - become examples that intellectual success is far more than “content” and necessarily extends to “structure.”
"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Why is it that many people will hate you just for disagreeing with them? They cannot hear you – even if reasonings are cogent and information is accurate.
Many are so identified with an ideal that, if you disagree with it, they will hate you, and some, if they could, would try to kill you.
Why the vitriol? Why not just believe what you want to believe and turn away and not say anything? But today, more and more, we see the venomous political attacks, the vicious statements on social media, the hate-filled rhetoric of those who disagree -- and with an air of moral superiority.
the inability of true-believers to hear you is an expression of allegiance to Dear Leader
When we thoroughly identify with a thought-form, an ideal, a mental picture of utopia – especially, a vision promoted by a Dear Leader, who wears a “mask of piety” claiming moral superiority, stoking the anger of a purported victim class – then the true-believer followers will feel justified to commit any atrocity in support of said utopian vision. The great psychologists call this sense of permission the "divine numen", ie, the approving "nod" from on high.
And what does it mean to “thoroughly identify with a thought-form”?
The dysfunctional ego is led by dark perceptions of “I don’t have enough” because “I am not enough.” And because it feels itself as “not enough,” it will seek for a “strong father figure,” a Dear Leader, under whose mantle the ego seeks for safety and shelter in a hostile world. The ego will “identify” with this external authority, that is, it will “make itself equal to” this faux authority, will psychologically attach itself to it.
And this is why we meet so many people who are so angry when they’re disagreed with. To them, it’s not just an argument to be lost, but it feels like they’re fighting for their lives. They’ve attached their existential sense of worth, and of life itself, to precepts issued by Dear Leader. It is the sought-for security of the little child finding refuge in the shadow of a godlike parent.
'I can't hear you'
Children play the game of "I can't hear you" with a mock, sing-song voice, and then pretend to create a barrier of noise with "la, la, la, la..."
Adults do this, too, when they block you out and can't hear you. It happens when they fully identify with some external authority.
In his seminal and prophetic work, 1984 (published 1949), George Orwell coins a term, “ownlife.” Totalitarians encourage their subjects toward a servile docility, an identification and psychological attachment. Those who resist such sublimation of autonomy are accused of clinging to “ownlife,” an insistence on individualization - and as such are deemed to be “dangerous,” “insurrectionists,” “domestic terrorists” by the dystopian autocrats.
a terrorized mind is incapable of listening
This state of total identification with an external source of salvation, a surrendering of self and critical faculties, is fueled by a terrorized mind – a dysfunction which believes “I don’t have enough” because “I am not enough.” This fearful mental state makes one incapable of living freely, incapable of listening, incapable of opening oneself to the messages of life.
a terrorized mind will block anything that threatens its security and safety
This is why, when you meet a true-believer such as this, you cannot talk to them; no matter how cogent your reasonings, they are incapable of listening. The fearful true-believer did not accept his or her beliefs on the basis of rational argument and careful weighing of evidence, and so they won’t be “argued out of” their mental positions by careful reasoning, either. More information, more content of the mind, will not help them, but only an upward shift in consciousness will solve this problem.
they can't hear you
The terrorized mind of the "inner child" blocks out anything that might threaten safety and security, which they believe will be secured by obediently following the dictates of Dear Leader as "strong father figure".
READ MORE on the "true self" page.
Editor's last word:
Alexander the Great, personally tutored by Aristotle, sophisticated enough to conquer the world, could not rise above his own version of “local nomos.” Will Durant comments: Alexander "remained to the last a slave to superstition… before the battle of Arbela he spent the night performing magic ceremonies." Can we transcend our own cultural programming, the little voice in the head, that seeks to mute and scuttle rationality?
The Queen of Hearts, and her practiced belief in impossible things, represents society’s indoctrination of children, which, with a wink, we call education.
But there is no true education in “believing” anything, no true education in memorizing and repeating the "right answer," but only that which allows one to follow the evidence, faithfully and honestly, toward more refined, ordered, and closely-approximating perceptions of reality. Welcome to our quantum universe of probabilistic answers.
F. Scott Fitzgerald explains it to us
Helping children to stand on their own, to face unafraid the ambiguities of clear thinking, is a requirement of a life well lived. While we wait for more data to offer crisper definitions of "the truth," we must purposefully endure any cognitive dissonance, courageously accept incomplete, tentative, or seemingly paradoxical answers.
we are cautioned against worshipping the idol of certainty
Those who do, like Peter Pan, remain perpetual children.
This is what Fitzgerald is warning about. People are frightened of living with uncertainty. We want solid and firm answers. We want to “believe” and proclaim that we’re “right.” And it’s this desire for an immediate absolute knowledge that drives us into the cults, in various forms -- dogmatic politics, materialistic science, religion, academia, the corporate world.
Instead, we must grow up, put away childish fears, and acknowledge that living with uncertainty, to a degree, will always be with us. It’s unavoidable. Reality itself, quantum-based, is founded upon uncertainty. There’s no escaping it.
nature is not at war with itself, there are no real contradictions
As Fitzgerald puts it, we must be willing to entertain seemingly contradictory information. Of necessity, this sense of the incomplete is inescapable because we will always possess only part of the truth, and, until we come into more complete views, a perception of “opposed ideas” will confront us. But this dichotomy is only apparent, not real. Nature, in fact, is a coherent, interlaced whole and is not at war with itself; there are no real contradictions, no real paradoxes, once we perceive a larger picture. Niels Bohr was on the right track with his "complementarity principle."
try to offer one example, from all of history, where uncertainty has been totally defeated, where 'happily ever after' continued undisturbed
We can't do it because absolute "certainty" does not exist in the external 3-D world.
To begin to achieve this enhanced "totality," this larger view of "certainty", demands a maturity as product of "going within"; it requires an abandoning of childish fears seeking for fairy-tale conclusions of "certainty", all loose ends wrapped up neatly with a definitive "the end"; moreover, in practical terms, it becomes a refusal to run to the cults and their Dear Leaders who offer “certainty.”
In the history of the world, there has never been an altogether conclusive "the end" to anything - but fearful children ever seek for this comfort.
the mark of a first-rate intelligence
Instead, we are to embrace Bruce Lee's sentiment, the “quietly alive, aware and alert”, ready-for-anything, mental life of a free man or woman - without identifying with "strong father" symbols who offer the faux certainty of "infallible laws", absolutist pronouncements, or final-word solutions - none of these exist in Nature, in an evolving, quantum universe.
All this addresses the primary existential issue of "structure," not "content," as avenue to greater sentience; in other words, more information, more content for the mind, per se, will not make us feel safe and secure but only an altering of "structure," an upward shifting of consciousness.
This is what’s most important, this is the foundational mindset of the truth-seeking, mature individual - this is the mark of a first-rate intelligence.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
Earth's crammed with Heaven
And every common bush afire with God
But only he who sees takes off his shoes