The War on Consciousness // Graham Hancock at TED
Graham Hancock tells the story of his 24-year relationship with cannabis brought to an abrupt halt in 2011 after an encounter with ayahuasca, the sacred visionary brew of the Amazon. Along the way he explores the mystery of death, the problem of consciousness, and the implications for the human future of a society that wages total war on true cognitive liberty.
According to this article printed in tagesspiegel.de, not having a Facebook account should be the first sign that you are a mass murderer.
The article mentions the fact that in the US, people were subject to handing their passwords over to potential employers, which privacy advocates, Facebook, and the US government disagree with. But the article takes it one step further in claiming that not only did US employers have a legitimate point, but also suggesting that those who abstain from Facebook could be mass murderers.
As examples they use Norwegian shooter Anders Breivik, who used Myspace instead of Facebook (or as they put it, “largely invisible on the web”, haha @ Myspace), and the newer Aurora shooter who used Adultfriendfinder instead of Facebook. So being social on any other website isn’t good enough, it has to be specifically Facebook that people are using.
While it is already established that sites like Facebook and Google+ are no good for political activists, abuse survivors, and people in the witness protection program; abuse survivors will have to take a back seat while more and more insane articles like this come out.
There seems to be an insanity bubble around older people which has arrived after the initial Facebook boom that brought in the youth, where they see Facebook as a necessary utility; instead of a trendy website that will have passed in a few years.
(via Active Politic)
After running from Myspace years ago I deliberately avoided Facebook. If it wasn’t such an effective tool for keeping in touch or staying informed on cultural events and parties I may have never joined. Of all the social networking services, it’s the one I spend the least amount of time on. Too much silliness and advertising make it an eyesore.
I can feel it in line at the grocery store when the rush hour crowd hurries in. Their day is done, yet they speed on with unspoken stress seething beneath the surface. One can almost read the racing thoughts as easily as turning a page. How will I pay I bills? — I can’t keep the fridge full. — I have to finish those taxes. — I’m late on rent again. It’s horrifying for anyone really watching the chaos during these peak hours. And many of us share their worries.
We’re inundated by data overload, over-population, and over-medicated psyches to have any spirit left to really get down to what matters. I don’t know about you but I feel like we’re trying to live life with the ass end of the horse in front of our faces without so much as an improperly positioned cart to show for our strife. It’s madness.
Simplicity is sanity, and it begins with space. We shouldn’t have to struggle to create this in our hearts and minds. It has never been a challenge for me except when I accept my role or necessity in navigating society. I am torn between seeing the issues and a responsibility to channel change at the risk of losing my soul. I would rather relish the sweet open air and all things alive under the shade of night.
Would you post a letter dropped in the street, obey an order to electrocute another person, start a conversation with a familiar stranger or help a lost child?
Stanley Milgram was an American social psychologist who is most famous for his obedience experiments (see below), but he was fascinated by all aspects of social order, especially in the city.
Like me he wondered how city dwellers manage to live in such proximity to each other. He wondered at how orderly queues are and what happens when their delicate balance is challenged. And he wanted to see how interconnected people were in an age before Twitter and Facebook.
Here are eight pieces of his research which each provide insight into how society works.
How helpful are people? For example, who would fail to stop and help a lost child? No one, surely?
To find out Milgram decided to enlist the help of some 6 and 10-years-olds. They were sent out onto US streets (with an observer nearby for safety) and told to ask the first passerby: “I’m lost. Can you call my house?”
In the towns the reaction was relatively heartening: 72% offered help. In the cities, less so, with only 46% offering help to the lost child.
Beyond the bare numbers the stories were even more telling. In the towns even those who didn’t help were sympathetic, but in the city they ignored the child, swerved around or just pushed money into their hands. One New Yorker told the child: “Go into that restaurant. Your mother’s waiting for you there.”
Milgram considered the queue a classic example of how groups of people automatically create social order out of chaos.
But this social order can be fragile when faced with chaotic threats, like that of the queue-jumper. To test people’s reactions Milgram had assistants travel around New York to 129 different queues in betting shops, railway stations and elsewhere and barge into queues (Milgram et al., 1986).
Surprisingly people’s reactions were quite meek. On only 10% of occasions were queue-jumpers physically ejected from the line. And on only about half the occasions did anybody in the line do anything at all. Anything at all included, in this case, dirty looks or gestures as well as actual verbal objections.
For Milgram’s explanations, read: Do You Challenge Queue-Jumpers and Line-Cutters?
One of the most famous psychology experiments of all, Milgram’s obedience experiments tested how far people will go when an authority figure orders them to hurt another human being.
Participants in the study were ordered by a man in a white coat to give (apparently) lethal electric shocks to another person (the learner).
63% of the participants continued right until the end: they administered all the shocks even with the learner screaming in agony, begging to stop and eventually falling silent.
Do you think you would obey?
Milgram clearly showed the dark side of people’s tendency to cow to authority (for the study’s full details: Stanley Milgram: Obedience to Authority or Just Conformity?
Do you see the same people every day on the way to work or at the shops? People you’ve never talked to? Do you ever wonder where they work, what their story is and if they wonder the same about you?
Milgram wondered the same thing about people waiting for the train near where he lived in Riverdale, New York. So he had his students take pictures of all the people on the platform and then, a few weeks later, they got on the train and distributed the pictures to see who recognised who.
The results were fascinating: 90% identified at least one ‘familiar stranger’ and the average was 4 other people. 62% had spoken to at least one other passenger and almost half were curious about the people they travelled with. Unsurprisingly the most familiar strangers were those who stood out in some way.
He also discovered that people were more likely to talk to each other when they encountered that familiar stranger in unfamiliar circumstances, like when you see the guy from the train in another city.
Milgram was interested in the interconnectedness of human societies. What, he wondered, was the probability that two people chosen at random know each other? And if they don’t know each other, what is the chance that they know someone, who knows someone…(and so on)…who does know that person?
He tested this by sending letters to random people in Nebraska or Boston and asking them to forward it to someone who might be more likely to know the target person, who lived in Massachusetts (Travers & Milgram, 1969).
He found that on average it would take 5.2 intermediaries for his letter to go from the first person to its destination, via each person’s social network.
This suggests that society is highly interconnected (for the full story, though, see: Six Degrees of Separation).
Milgram wanted to measure people’s attitudes indirectly, not by just asking them what they thought, since people often lie. So he left stamped, addressed letters lying around in the street to see whether people would post them on depending on who they were addressed to (Milgram et al., 1965).
He found that 70% of letters that were addressed to the ‘Medical Research Associates’ were posted by random people who found them. But when the letter was addressed to ‘Friends of the Communist/Nazi Party’ only 25% sent them on.
This doesn’t just measure public opinion but also shows how helpful people can be, especially if it costs them little effort.
Subsequent research with dropping wallets in the street to test honesty has proved difficult as people immediately pick them up and return them to the researcher. People are often more honest than we might predict.
Have you ever joined a crowd of people without knowing why, but just assumed something must be going on so it might be worth sticking around?
Milgram was fascinated by how people join crowds for no readily apparent reason. He tested this by having a group of people stop in a busy street and look up to the six-floor of an adjacent office block where nothing whatsoever was happening (Milgram et al., 1969).
What he found was that 4% of passersby would stop to join a single person gazing up, but 40% would stop if there were 15 people already there. On top of this fully 86% of passersby would at least look up to see what all the fuss was about.
The last piece of research isn’t an experiment but a theory that tries to explain urban social behaviour.
Milgram thought that the way we behave in cities or busy urban areas is a natural response to information overload. In the city our senses are continually assaulted. There are too many sights, sounds and other people for us to process properly. This is both the attraction of the city and its downside.
City dwellers, therefore, try to conserve their psychological energy:
In the city the norm is anonymity and the unwritten rule is: I’ll pretend you don’t exist if you pretend I don’t exist. City dwellers aren’t bad people (as the lost child experiment might suggest), they’re using rational strategies to deal with information overload.
As Milgram once said:
“It may be that we are puppets—puppets controlled by the strings of society. But at least we are puppets with perception, with awareness. And perhaps our awareness is the first step to our liberation.”
espritfollet replied to your post: espritfollet replied to your link: “All this time…
Perhaps you should also do a bit more reading about gender equality, feminism and anti-oppression. I do not think it’s OK to have a sense of humour about the inherently sexist way that people perceive women’s intellect.
There may be a difference in opinion of what humor means here. When I say have a sense of humor, I do not mean, “Not give a fuck.” Having a sense of humor allows one to carry a much needed lightness and flexibility to the many challenges of being alive in this world. The sense in which I speak of the value in humor may be better likened to Dao philosophy.
“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”
“If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo.”
— Bruce Lee
Laughter heals and allows us to confront issues which some of us may be quick to dismiss or turn away from in fear, like sexism for example. When a man makes some offhand remark about how my looks might matter more than my intelligence there are a number of ways in which I could laugh at this. I could laugh at the man for his narrow and one-directional mode of thinking, but rather than attack or pity someone for being prejudiced I prefer to respond with a clever remark that rightly disproves this kind of behavior. And if it’s funny, all the better.
Laughter makes us stop within ourselves. The best comedians are the ones that get us to reflect on society through their gift. Comedians like Bill Hicks have been an endless inspiration to countless souls living in an “oppressed” world that may have never encountered a worthy source of such illumination.
When the instinct is to react and feel insulted, a valuable opportunity evaporates. Don’t let others define you, especially sexist assholes (or the notion thereof), that only affirms their power. And by giving them this power you do little to absolve persisting dilemmas. Lighten up and let go. Then respond, weave, create. It is from this space true change blossoms.
(by moshi moshi jonas)
I like to approach this holiday by reaching out for a big ephemeral hug. You’re all my Valentines. I mean it. Now go out there and spread the love. You don’t need to be manic about it. A warm smile or a lighthearted joke at just the right moment would suffice. But don’t stop with today, make it a daily practice.
This is my signature move when balance is needed. Be inclusive, not exclusive. It’s worked on ex lovers who didn’t know when to give up pet names or other emotional artifacts, and it’s worked on days like today when everyone “has something to say.”
I usually say nothing when the holidays come and go. I like seeing smiling faces and trust real people remain genuine in their approach. I commune with humanity when there is good will to be found.
But once in a while it’s worth kicking up a little dust on perspective.
The transcendental union between two beings is sacred and deserves to be celebrated in an intimate way, no? Why do it with everyone else on a pseudo Christian holiday with no solid historical connection? Once you get underneath all the tacky fanfare and reach those few questionably disconnected threads you find there was more than one Valentine on a path of bloody martyrdom. You can thank Chaucer for the medieval poetry further diluting fact into lore and those popular yet shall remained unnamed card pushers for the fluffy rhetoric.
This is something that has always bothered me about the major holidays. They have either been appropriated from preexisting cultures to assimilate opposing ideologies or have been entirely fabricated by corporations after the money in your wallet. Everyone just accepts these “special” parts of the year because they were spoonfed it that way from the cradle. The more interesting among us might add some flair along the way, but stay glued to these particular points in the ever churning cycle.
If you’re gonna love someone, then do it right.
I believe in the power of tradition, but only when we create it for ourselves.
“I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought. Others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don’t know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognise that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.
If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin, where it belongs.”
Orwell knew a thing or two, but that people do not care enough to understand what they hear is part of the trouble, that they are so distracted by the immediate sphere of life they do not look beyond their own actions too closely ensures the state of our decay. The truth, or the absense thereof, resides in the action our leaders take. It’s there to see for those who are willing to observe. In a perfect world politicians would speak succinctly, but it isn’t and they certainly do not. And it is because I agree with Orwell’s view of language that I must play devil’s advocate a little.
Is it the politician’s fault for using convoluted language so that the citizen cannot easily see the truth or is it the citizen’s fault that he does not pursue clarity in the midst of confusion?
It is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario. If one can transcend the paradox, this mental exercise illustrates that the answer ulitmately does not matter; both are responsible for the existence of the other. And so too is true for the politician and the citizen. It is not enough to begin within as Orwell urges us, we must endeavor to understand what we do not before we can gain the momentum to triumphantly put doublespeak to rest.
Consider “democracy”. Western governments enforce uniformity with violence to ensure the “public good”. And they define the “truth”.
While you are veering off into a whole other discussion of the many issues in democracy, I won’t contest there is much to say on that, but staying on topic, Orwell was speaking of language and how politicians manipulate it. The truths in question are the actual facts underlying events that are covered with lies through obscure language. Yes, politics defines the public “truth” — the faux truth we’ll place inside quotes. They shape it into a form that will be more digestible to the masses but they aren’t magicians who can undo what has been done. Every cover-up leaves behind the residue of its creation.
We certainly don’t have a perfect society here but we’re not confronted with prevalent military street violence like some unfortunate people in other areas of the world. At least not yet. And the sad thing is some of these democracies, ours, others, have had a hand in that violence. So unless you want to see that continue more of us need to get up and demand justice. And that begins by understanding the language orchestrating this public ignorance. Nothing is stopping us from digging deeper and taking it upon ourselves to get the full story rather than passively accepting what we hear from one or two mainstream sources as is common. And it is people who feel passionately such as yourself who must seize the opportunity and avenues of freedom left to us. You can comfortably rabble-rouse from your computer chair or you can shine light where it is needed most. We are not so powerless as they would have you believe.
Hang on tight while we grab the next page