Discussion in 'Culture' started by Paul Stenning, May 10, 2017.

  1. Paul Stenning

    Paul Stenning New Member

    Hello Jerry, Joe and all readers.

    I am a recent convert to your wonderful podcast. I heard Joe speak on a few other shows and was naturally directed here. It is now one of my favourite podcasts.

    I do have a question/show suggestion for you.

    From my own experiences, I am well aware that the world is run in a way that the 'average' people have little control over. And of course we all know that we can only really control our own reaction or behaviour to a situation.

    With this in mind, I would like to request two elements for you to discuss.

    1) I think money is harder and harder to come by for the average person. We might not be average in the sense that we question and think freely, but nevertheless for younger people and somewhere between young and old like myself, money is very hard to come by once you detach from the system.
    I do think there is often an element of certain hosts or guests on shows who discuss controversial issues, not having to really worry about money. In fact, it is because they don't have to worry about this, or find ways to make it, that they can devote their time to such research. I think it would be useful for a practical show which could give us tips on how to 'make it' through this crazy world if we want to live off the grid. I am managing it but it is not by any means easy and "Think big" just doesn't cut it on a practical level.

    2) I'd like to hear a discussion over solutions to personable issues. I find people more apathetic than ever and so completely enmeshed in their own bubble. I'd like to hear ways in which we can encourage interaction with each other that is not limited to discussions such as this one, or online networking. So, how to disrobe a stubborn person intellectually, and also how to connect more deeply to those of a like minded approach, i.e. we want to seek the truth. Where are we all in everyday conversation?

    I believe the two issues above are fundamental to us being able to solve the problem of how we live in the modern society whilst fighting everything we need to. I know the game is rigged, but what can we do about it, not to change the world, but to change our surroundings and therefore ourselves?

    Would love to hear some feedback as well as a show about it. Hell, I'll even talk to you on there to ask some of these questions. I could even talk about oligarchs a little ;)
  2. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Welcome to the forum Paul.

    I agree that your second point is a big issue. I hope to post a couple links to articles on such in a little bit.

    One of them discusses the importance of having a thorough understanding of where the 'stubborn' people are "coming from" and then speak to their concerns - in a manner and terms they can identify with. Most of us, including me too often, are just prepared to go to war and thus everyone just talks past each other. An additional problem is the 'peeling the onion' aspect of discovering the way things really work. People having their first 'revelation' or two frequently are even more assured that they are now correct and fully aware, when in reality there are many layers to become aware of.

    Of course, that's a a great theory, and one article discusses a black man who has used such techniques to convert white supremcists. But is would be very helpful to have something focused on our issues. Another problem is getting people like us on the same page to agree what our issues actually are.
  3. Jerry Russell

    Jerry Russell Administrator Staff Member

    This one is also a huge issue, and Joe and I would be among those online commentators who don't worry much about money, and haven't really gone off-grid as to the system. We are both basically real estate operators.

    I have the impression that it's becoming more feasible to make a living by running a you-tube video channel or website. Jan Irvin seems to be doing it, and our forum guest Marcilla Smith mentioned that she got some sort of grant to make a video.

    We've never done much to build our traffic here, and I think we're making two or three bucks a month from our Amazon referral program.

    I wish I had more & better ideas about this.
  4. Paul Stenning

    Paul Stenning New Member

    Yes, if we wish to change both the present and the future, we need to find a way to get past this difficulty because otherwise there will be a huge swathe of enlightened people (if this is even achieved) and yet they will not have any economic means to maintain their means, or move beyond the mundane and necessary towards survival. In other words, whilst a revolution of thinking is critical and noble, it requires methods of sustainability which are very rarely discussed.
    Would running a YouTube site be considered just as potentially demeaning and just as likely to be withdrawn from us at any moment as "working for the man"?
    The trouble with even the likes of YouTube is overkill - much like e-books - quality can be drowned in quantity and thus, those who truly need the funds for useful subversive activities, get drowned out and may lose motivation and faith.

    I look forward to your articles Richard, your point about the layers of the onion is one that it takes so long to realise for most people that we find so many years have been wasted; years wasted learning what was factually wrong to begin with, then years unlearning it and trying to learn the right things, only to find out the right things are buried and confused so we never can tell. Even if we do, then what do we do about it?

    Though I asked the question above, I am, as you say about yourself, guilty of not having the patience or inclination to try and convert most people.
    I just wonder where the real thinkers are in the real world...
  5. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Here is one of the articles discussing the psychology we have to overcome. The next article will discuss a way that perhaps facts can change minds, once the proper factors are in place. Of course, today we are also having issues in society agreeing upon what are actually facts. These articles are case in point as well, as we are all forced to filter out the authors' 'consensus reality' references here and there.

    Below an excerpt from

    In 1975, researchers at Stanford invited a group of undergraduates to take part in a study about suicide. They were presented with pairs of suicide notes. In each pair, one note had been composed by a random individual, the other by a person who had subsequently taken his own life. The students were then asked to distinguish between the genuine notes and the fake ones.

    Some students discovered that they had a genius for the task. Out of twenty-five pairs of notes, they correctly identified the real one twenty-four times. Others discovered that they were hopeless. They identified the real note in only ten instances.

    As is often the case with psychological studies, the whole setup was a put-on. Though half the notes were indeed genuine—they’d been obtained from the Los Angeles County coroner’s office—the scores were fictitious. The students who’d been told they were almost always right were, on average, no more discerning than those who had been told they were mostly wrong.

    In the second phase of the study, the deception was revealed. The students were told that the real point of the experiment was to gauge their responses to thinking they were right or wrong. (This, it turned out, was also a deception.) Finally, the students were asked to estimate how many suicide notes they had actually categorized correctly, and how many they thought an average student would get right. At this point, something curious happened. The students in the high-score group said that they thought they had, in fact, done quite well—significantly better than the average student—even though, as they’d just been told, they had zero grounds for believing this. Conversely, those who’d been assigned to the low-score group said that they thought they had done significantly worse than the average student—a conclusion that was equally unfounded.

    “Once formed,” the researchers observed dryly, “impressions are remarkably perseverant.” ...
  6. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Here is the second one excerpted below and discusses "moral reframing".

    In a later study that’s currently under review, Feinberg and Tilburg University’s Jan Völkel found this even worked to get conservatives to dislike Donald Trump, and liberals to disavow Hillary Clinton. Conservatives were less likely to support Trump if arguments against him were presented in terms of his patriotism— “has repeatedly behaved disloyally towards our country to serve his own interests”—rather than a tendency to overlook the marginalized (“his unfair statements are a breeding ground for prejudice.”) Liberal participants, meanwhile, were more likely to be swayed by Clinton’s ties to Wall Street than by the incident in Benghazi.

    So if it’s so easy, why don’t more people—either in studies or in real life—try this strategy?

    “We tend to view our moral values as universal,” Feinberg told me. That “there are no other values but ours, and people who don't share our values are simply immoral. Yet, in order to use moral reframing you need to recognize that the other side has different values, know what those values are, understand them well enough to be able to understand the moral perspective of the other side, and be willing to use those values as part of a political argument.”

    Some people just can’t bring themselves to take that last step, he said, even if they know it’s more effective. And perhaps the reason it’s so difficult is because politics is so deeply intertwined with our personal values. When something is important to us, it’s usually for a reason, and it’s hard to break free of those reasons, even for political expediency’s sake. To do so would take an abundance of empathy, and that’s in short supply all around these days.

    What’s more, not every researcher buys that it is quite so easy to persuade ideological opponents in the current climate, where people are changing their avatars to “#Resist” and “#MAGA.” “This [research] assumes that both sides are rational and at least partially open to hearing a different point of view,” said Blair Kidwell, a Florida International University professor whose consumer psychology research was cited by Feinberg and Willer. He says Trump is spearheading a “war on facts and even information itself,” which is causing many conservatives to distrust anyone but a fellow Trump supporter. “This is something, in my opinion, that cannot be fixed simply by appealing to conservative’s authority, purity ,and duty,” he added. ...
  7. Jerry Russell

    Jerry Russell Administrator Staff Member

    If our view of things, or our agenda for social change, ever catches on as an influential movement -- then I think of necessity, most of the adherents & activists will be sustaining themselves economically in more or less ordinary ways, as part of the "grid" or "working for the man". I don't see a necessity for us to build an entirely independent economic system.

    I saw this article the other day, discussing how the younger generation in Europe has become very receptive to radical ideas. According to a survey of 1 million Europeans ages 18 to 35, 89% agreed that "Banks and money rule the world", and 92% believe that either some or virtually all politicians are corrupt. More than half (53%) said that they would "actively participate in a large scale uprising against the generation in power if it happened in the next days or months."

    We wouldn't exactly agree with the statement that "Banks and money rule the world", inasmuch as we think that religion, secret societies, propaganda and divide-and-conquer tactics are also important factors. But the point is, there's already a lot of enlightened discontent out there, if it could be harnessed into a movement. (The source of the article, the 'world socialist website', isn't having much luck organizing such a movement; perhaps because they're tainted by the legacy of Marxism, and perhaps partly because their analysis is also chronically incomplete? Anyhow, I often find their reporting very interesting.)
  8. Paul Stenning

    Paul Stenning New Member

    I'm relieved you say that. I find it worrying when we are persistently told we need to create a new currency, or use something currently fictitious. There is no reason why real jobs and moeny cannot still make us prosper.

    Yes, I think the problem with this kind of rhetoric is that we need to completely understand where the 'movement' is coming from and who is behind it. I have socialist principles for instance, but would not call myself a socialist per se, because of all the baggage attached to it. It seems too throwaway these days and too predictable for young people to agree we are ruled by the wealthy. It is true, of course, but I think there is danger in even making this statement. By making it we are automatically assigning ourselves to the powerless. Thus the need for a movement, but how and where it emanates is very important.
    I am English and I live in Cyprus so have a distinctly European background. [I'd love to question the 8% who think that very few politicians are corrupt and wonder why they believe so.] The danger in European countries is often a temptation to quickly descend into anarchy and consider this a rebellion. These sort of poll results worry me and encourage at the same time. What exactly would a "large scale uprising" consist of?
  9. Paul Stenning

    Paul Stenning New Member

    This is such a good point and is certainly the reason we lose patience or interest in trying to convert opinions. They are formed quickly and as you point out here, often baselessly. Unless someone is prepared to at least consider their opinion could be wrong, there is a mountain to climb.
  10. Paul Stenning

    Paul Stenning New Member

    Isn't it often the case that those who wish to affiliate with one particular political side will generally defend their views and only align with like-minded thinkers?
    This is actually an ironic point considering my original post. I'd like to encourage friendships and connections with free thinkers. In the process of doing so, I have to allow them to occasionally, or often, disagree with my current opinions or thoughts. This is not a particularly pleasant thing to do. But actually, if you can agree to respect each other and listen yet not judge, it is incredibly liberating. When we think of like minded people, we are really saying (not always but as a human trait) that we can agree on most viewpoints. To actively encourage disagreement, in order to formulate discussion which in turn can open up thinking and possibilities, might actually be beyond the scope of the majority of people. I don't think it is because they are incapable, they have just become so heavily indoctrinated into choosing sides and therefore choosing preordained opinions.
  11. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Perhaps the biggest problem you are talking about is getting good access to capital, in order to properly establish oneself in a sustainable small business. Secondly is that, at least in the USA, I am not aware of much, if any, rudimentary business skills education that occurs at the secondary school level. And getting an MBA at a university is targeted towards the corporate world. Between the two problems one sees individuals constantly opening small businesses doomed to fail, and thus wasting what little resources they had to begin with.

    One solution to the second problem would be free online courses like Khan Academy provides (I have not tried them out, but I've heard good things about the program).

    In the third world private microfinancing has become a phenomenon, and the borrower does not have to give up 50 percent or so of their business in the process as with venture capitalists. While this model, because of the scale, would not suit more advanced areas, perhaps the general principle needs to be explored more. It used to be that so-called community banks were a good place to go for small loans, but today it seems that any bank is the last place an individual can go for such, especially if just starting out.

    Somewhere on the forum I've also discussed the principle of worker owned co-operatives, of which the granddaddy is Mondragon (?) in Spain, started after the civil war there (by a Catholic priest). From what I understand there are more and more of these being established in the USA.
  12. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Yes, and then one also ends up consuming only media that supports one's bias, thus reinforcing the problem.

    When one looks at just how easily many people fall into sports team affiliations, perhaps we are observing the same general phenomenon. The word 'fan', after all, comes from 'fanatic'. Some devoutly religious people are ecumenical and open minded, while others are convinced that theirs is the ONLY WAY.

    Of course, there is profit for some in convincing the crowd that their way is the only way, and thus they put their thumb on the scales.

    I like to think of myself as a 'free thinker', but I once sent a friend of mine to attend the local free thinkers' group and she was very dissappointed in how pigeonholed and doctrinaire most of them were. In the USA, 'freethinkers' seem to have become identified with a rather narrow viewpoint such as Randian libertarianism (of which I once was). And thus whoa if you think outside their box. And as I have discussed on the site, the inspiration and motivation of hard line libertarianism is rather suspect, as was Marx's controlled opposition construct.
  13. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    A British couple has also started the Sunday Assembly movement across the USA, which is a secular response to the social benefits provided by churches, but without the dogma and conformity.
  14. Paul Stenning

    Paul Stenning New Member

    This is absolutely a problem, everywhere it seems. To some, linking to and being associated with a group - any group - is more important than the definition of what the group entails.
  15. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    It's partially that, but also many of these 'free thinkers' are now convinced that such as Ayn Rand (and the Austrian School of Economics) was a divine oracle. Thus there is no need for a balanced approach to economics, or anything for that matter. Elsewhere I have called this the Trojan Horse of Mont Pelerin (the revenge of the Holy Roman Empire).

    But they are also dogmatic on other issues as well, such as atheism vs. agnosticism.
    Last edited: May 16, 2017

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