Continuing with this theme of being prepared for battle in the political world, today we will be looking at straw man arguments and how governments themselves, who traditionally view themselves as puppet masters, are usually deluding themselves. What I am closing in on is the question of control. First we will look at some of the science behind the brain, in particular delusions and how psychological illusions function, as it is vital to see through events to their true source as it is only here we can find a solution. To begin this, we will ask two very important questions:
What is control? Does it even exist?
Change Your Point Of View
Dominance and submission, to many this is the name of game. To become the alpha leader and assert their control over a given situation. The desire for power; ambition blended with guile. How does this match up with objective reality though?
To understand this let's take a look at a classic relationship between that of man and his beloved four legged friend, the humble dog. What is the objective difference between a master and his pet? From the point of view of the master, he defines what the pet can and cannot do. This is what it means to be master.
If this is the case though, doesn't the pet define what the master can do equally? For example, the pet demands to be fed, cleaned bathed, taken for walks, petted, played with, etc. We can argue that the master can withdraw from these activities, thus has the upper hand in the relationship, in an effort to define behavior of the pet but this ignores that the behavior of the master has also altered. It can be equally said that the pet has modified its behavior to elicit said behavioral response from the master. The fact that this may negatively impact the pet is not really central to the issue.
What we observe in this is Dominance and Submission are a matter of perspective, rather than an objective reality. In objective reality, it is a bound system of interactions between two or more entities with no clear center of control, or at least one that appears to move fluidly throughout the bound system.
So what is control itself? It does not appear to be something anyone holds, just yet another perspective of the observer. I have discussed before how we are blind to the nature of our behaviors, how this implies that we rationalize our actions based upon feedback rather possessing an objective view. It would seem that control is just one of these rationalizations rather than anything real. So, when anyone seeks control, are they not seeking a delusion?
From this analysis, it would seem what we subjectively define as control is nothing more than correlation from which we have derived meaning. Correlation, in this sense, is merely a complex random coincidence. An alignment of forces, or flows, through a system which the observer takes to be the effect of their actions, intentions or will.
In short, an ego trip.
It is here we are touching on two major theoretical topics. The first is Consensus Reality and the second, Consensus Theory of Truth. Both these theories are intricately bound with learned behaviors. Dealing with the Consensus theory of Truth first, we can understand how we came to hold the idea that control exists as this notion holds with the observation of almost all individuals. Consensus reality, or agreeing upon what is real, is the recognition that with some aspects of reality, we as a species have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction as we figure things out as we evolve with time. Whilst we have always recognized control to be a subjective experience, the fact that this perception is a delusion had eluded us.
This is further backed up by science itself. If we consider a moment frozen in time at the point of collision between two bodies, who is to say what is cause and what is effect? In a similar way, if we take a moment of time in any scenario we define as control, can we objectively define where the control resides? The answer is no because we cannot discern cause and effect.
This now raises an opportunity to define control in the context of the present being referenced against a memory. This is important when we consider how the human brain derives 'meaning'. It references a memory to the present, or to another memory. This reference, or link (an association), when scaled to every concept we can comprehend is how we make sense of the world. The most powerful psychological illusions, or delusions, map erroneous memories to either the present or to other memories. This causes confusion, or a distorted perception of the world and the sheer nature of 'sense' changes. This is also the underlying mechanism of what we would call madness and what happens in a dream state. In these states the implausible seems perfectly fine.
Does this mean that our reality is merely correlating with our thoughts and sensations of volition? Or is it the opposite, that our thoughts and sense of volition are molded by our experience of reality?
If we return to my point about cause and effect being indiscernible at any given moment in time, it tells us we will never know the answer to this question. More importantly, it clearly states there is no difference. That is, both views are simultaneously true. This said, causality in our perceptions is always maintained because we reference the present against a memory which is in the past to us.
Now that we understand this, let's return to a clip from the Mentalist Derren Brown and use this information to explain what is happening here.
Derren is a practical hypnotist, just like every other hypnotist. Whilst people like himself know how to achieve the effects, the underlying reason as to why this works is something that is subject to scientific debate. That is, nobody was exactly sure why and this is something I will correct here.
As discussed above, the brain functions by associating a memory to an event, or chain of events, in the physical world, or to another memory. In the beginning of this video, Derren quickly establishes an association between the position of his hands and the concepts of doubt and acceptance. From Derren's perspective, his right hand side and corresponding touches to the subject's left hand side are associated with doubt. His left hand side and touches to her right hand side are associated with acceptance. The important part to this was first establishing an area of existing doubts (her doing better in school), then using that to locate the switch between doubt and acceptance (moving his hands to the left, making her feel better).
It is important to understand that the key to this is her ability to identify patterns and build associations very quickly. Whilst there is a general perception such people are gullible, its really a case of her subconsciously comprehending the world better than other people. She has a super human gift of accelerated learning that when used correctly manifests as genius. It just takes information to be structured properly during education to unlock. That said, whilst she has accelerated learning capability, it has its exploits as Derren is about to demonstrate.
The brain's circuits have identified the pattern, but this does not travel up the stack to the conscious mind. That is, there is no decoding layer between these circuits and the conscious mind that can explain what they have identified. So, she is oblivious to this fact which prevents her conscious mind from stepping in an arresting the process. If you want to understand what is happening here at a biochemistry level, this will start you off on the right path. In short, Derren is leveraging these circuits that identified the pattern to switch genes on and off. Interestingly, these genes are connecting input given to the conscious mind across a wide range of physical areas of the brain. This may point to centralized control, or some form of hand over process that governs learning or synaptic plasticity.
Derren now leverages this identified switch of doubt and acceptance by being highly consistent. Anything he wishes her to accept is placed to his left, along with a corresponding touch. Anything he wishes her to doubt is placed to her right, again with a corresponding touch. Items held in the center will be perceived as neutral. The touch is useful, as it makes people feel uncomfortable which is a distraction. This distraction merely prevents her conscious mind from rejecting the notion by quickly flushing part of her short term memory.
So, going back to how I described control as being referenced against the perception of the present or a memory. We can see that Derren is calling into question her memory of the color and replacing it a new one. This changes her sense of color. By the end of the process, at 3:13, we can see how Derren has guided her through rewiring her perceptions and memory.
The next part is the most interesting part. At 3:27 he takes the woman to view her car. Note how she says it is her car, but it is the wrong color. Obviously she is still physically seeing red, but she associates that with black, but the memory in her head has not changed, nor has the color association. That is, the red car in her mind is not been now being viewed as black. This tell us the brain has independent concepts of colors for every memory and does not rely on a single central concept.
From an evolutionary standpoint this makes sense, as it allows the brain to recover from injury and reconstruct an accurate world view. We use the same process in computing and it is called RAID striping.
If you ever wondered whether hypnosis was real, you should now know that the answer is yes and its not just a case of people playing along. Effects like this one demonstrated by Derren are temporary, as they focus on a very narrow aspect of association that will quickly break down as new information is processed and memories are accessed. The brain will in time correct its own errors and achieve consensus.
From this we can begin to understand why electro-shock therapy works. In response to this, the brain attempts to adapt by introducing new pathways to compensate for noise. These new pathways, when combined with a process of learning and a temporary suppression of old memories, assists the process of restoring sense to the brain. It also assists with emotional disorders such depression, by rerouting chemicals in the brain away from areas which are subjectively felt as being depressed. Current electro-shock therapy is global and crude, but fine-grained stimulation and suppression, alongside structured learning, holds the promise of a better future for at least some people with certain mental disorders. It also holds the key to boosting intelligence in adults.
Obviously, there is a dark side to this. In that this same methodology can be leveraged to perceive the world or events in the wrong way. That said, this 'RAID-like striping' would suggest that such practices have a limited lifetime and any electrical interference to the brain will generally cause intellectual improvement in the long term. This just needs to be guided with a sense of ethics and proper education.
Further, if we go back to the notion that we lack a decoding layer between patterns the unconscious mind identifies and the conscious mind, then it becomes critical that we learn these methods of programming the mind from a very early age as a form of national defense. This way we can recognize such attempts and allow our conscious minds to filter the information.
With all this information we now address the issue of control in any form of society. Regardless of the nature of the 'ism', or combination of 'isms' that define a nation, we know from the above work that control is nothing more than an illusion of perception. Any society is nothing more than a correlation and thus our view of any nation, social system, event, etc., is merely meaning derived from the memory of a continuous sequence of correlations.
Obviously, this view of society is drawn from a snapshot of a moment. Its not a surprising view given that all this occurs within the context of quantum mechanics. We must then apply a dynamic nature which reveals group activity at the quantum and classical levels of physics. This view of the universe sees motion, or the interaction of fields and forces applied to the system, a tweening between moments. It is only here, where cause and effect becomes discernible due to what is known as the 'arrow of time' and it here where we develop this notion of control and the broader concept of power.
That is, what we define as control is an emergent property of spacetime as a construct and human perception. Energy is routed through each of us and our subjective biases then determine where control is based upon our memory of the apparent source. The ultimate source is obviously at the start of the universe, it just so happens that this energy is routed through a particular person or group, which much like a waterfall flows to other people. A person may feel that they directed this energy in some way, but they themselves are a product of the physics of the system molded by the flow of energy in it. So, it is truly random, even if you feel there is 'meaning' to your actions or that you had 'intent'.
But what of free will? Surely free will is a form of control. The fact is that whilst we have free will, most people do not employ it. Study any set of interactions and what you will notice that the behavior can be traced to a combination of the inputs and the flow of that energy as it moves around the brain. Most of what we call decisions, are nothing more than the dominant energy flow found in the brain. The exercise of free will is to be able to reject this and that is a rare event.
I know what most are thinking at this point. Rubbish, I can move left, I can move right, I can pick up a pen. But would you have tried that if I hadn't called into question your free will? Are you not simply responding to an input? Keep in mind that the brain also creates the illusion of freewill by keeping you blind to the activity of the neural circuits. If it didn't, then social behaviors would not function and the species would rapidly die.
The brings us to Entropy, a very important concept in physics, but one not often recognized as being critical to understand in human nature and, indeed, politics. Think of fire extinguisher, how the white powder fills a room and does not do the reverse. This is the increase of entropy of a system. Its just a fancy way of stating that forces move in a particular direction and our observation of that is what we have named the flow, or arrow, of time. What I have mentioned before in this column is that everything we do happens within the context of the physical world, within the context of chemistry and physics. What this means for humans as a whole is that our societies are subject to physical laws, that would include conceptual constructs such as our various 'isms' as our rationalization, or sense of the world, is constructed from physical relationships.
In practice this means that things like communism, capitalism, etc., have a finite life span and there is no turning the clock back. They are subject to both Entropy and the Second Law Of Thermodynamics. When an old social system does re-emerge, it will be because it is referenced against a new collection of memories, a new sense of the world. This Entropy also effects broader social constructs such as stability and conflict. We know from our history, our observation of weapons development that as time progresses 'isms' either vaporize peacefully in a transition between 'isms' (i.e. Soviet Union to Russian Federation), or attempt to expand forcefully often with very high body counts (i.e. WWII Germany). With 'isms' there is no prolonged central ground that can be sustained. Thus, it becomes imperative to monitor 'isms', project that data and reshape them so that they don't go through the forceful expansion stage.
So, what does this mean for our Politicians, common agendas and society as a whole. It is very simple, the current social systems are nothing more than a correlation, driven by past events that will lead to new events, thinking and rationalizations. It seems obvious, but many attempt to seek control or power then arrest change to retain that. Or they make the mistake of trying to mold the system in a direction that is not physically possible. Regardless of the rationalizations, it is a fool's errand, it must evolve naturally as what is really happening has nothing to do with your rationalization of society, it is a system maintaining an energy budget. Those who develop master plans to retain control or seek national immortality are very much like this guy:
Understanding the role of physics in life makes you less suggestible...
What does this mean for the control in the sense of a leader, such as the President, or a group of lawmakers such as Congress. Well, if we go back to the comment I made earlier about the conscious mind lacking a decoding layer to the patterns detected by the unconscious mind, it means that attribution of the source of concepts, and thus corresponding world views or sense of the world, is not always in alignment. What this means is the we are not always sure why we hold particular views, we can speculate at those reasons, we only know for sure that we do. Going further, those views may lead to consequences that we do not intend because they are ultimately a rationalization that drives our social behavior which we do not have an objective view of.
I suppose that is a complex apology for government not knowing what its doing. All said though, its not life life comes with an instruction manual and we, as a species, are left to deal with the repercussions of eons of poor decision making and lack of scientific knowledge to guide us.
At some stage, we will need to make a break from the old ways and integrate what we have learned into our society's social behaviors. A looming paradigm shift that will take us away from the politics of the last several thousand years towards a world where the social structures work for us, rather than constantly tempting us to take the wrong path.
Breaking The Cycle
In the last article of this series, the second half dealt with decomposing an event and analyzing the various layers as a worked example of how to evaluate a given piece of news information. Today, we will do something similar but we will focus on the response to a given event. The entire point of this is to improve decision making in complex scenarios by revealing basic errors which will assist individuals and groups in getting to the heart of an issue very quickly. If you haven't read the first article, please go ahead and do so before reading the next section as it will place it in context.
With yet another terrorist atrocity upon us, this article probably could not come at a better time.
As with the last article we will use these concepts of 'levels of thinking' when we come to approach responses to events. Firstly, it most be noted that with any tragic event making decision whilst emotionally compromised is a bad idea. It often leads to rash decisions that only compound the situation. This section will be geared towards responses to terrorism, but the same principles apply to any situation.
First level thinking will always be 'Lock 'n Load'. Surrounding this will be solutions about tracking down those who hold a particular ideology, or religious viewpoint, regardless if that ideology or viewpoint is broader than the event itself. For example, some will call for people to be tested to determine their support for Sharia law. Supporters of Sharia law, are not necessarily supportive of the violent actions of ISIS or Al-qeada. Even amongst this group, such activities are considered extreme. Others will blame Islam in general, mainly out ignorance but some of it will be simple intolerance. These are what we call 'Straw men' arguments. 'Straw men arguments' are designed to distract from real issues, valid grievances and replace that with a simple argument that can dismissed by any reasonable person. It is a form of manipulation. The truth is much more complex and very simple statements such as this are a hallmark of either the stupid, or those who build their mandate from the stupid. Are you stupid?
Let's see where this will lead. Looking at Wikipedia's list of wars involving the US, we can observe that the page has been clearly written by a propaganda team at the US DoD. The facts are a lot different. Most wars over the last 50 years involving the US have not been classed as victories. This is especially true of the wars of the 21st century which have only resulted in cascading the conflict to other areas. Let's provide the true picture of America's military might:
Bay of Pigs Invasion (1961) - Failure - President Rejected Invasion
Simba Rebellion (1964) - Failure - UN forces captured the region and forced Moise Tshombe into exile
Dominican Civil War (1965–1966) - Truce - Brokered by the OAS Peace Committee
Vietnam War (1965–1973[a], 1975[b]) - Defeat - Victory for North Korea
Communist insurgency in Thailand (1965–1983) - Truce - Amnesty declared on 23 April 1980 when Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda signed Order 66/2523
Korean DMZ Conflict (1966–1969) - Truce - Push into North Korea failed
Shaba II (1978) - Truce - Brokered by U.S. and Cuba
Lebanon (1982-1984) - Failure - War continued until March 1991 when parliament passed an amnesty law
Invasion of Grenada (1983) - Success - But an illegal intervention into a civil war
Invasion of Panama (1989–1990) - Success - Another illegal intervention, using similar logic as applied by Russia in Crimea
Gulf War (1990–1991) - Failure - Resulted in the Iraq war of 2003, increasing global terrorism
Somali Civil War (1992–1995) - Failure - War is still ongoing as of 2016
Bosnian War (1994–1995) - Truce - Croat-Bosniak war officially ended on 23 February 1994 - On 18 March 1994 a peace agreement—the Washington Agreement
Kosovo War (1998–1999) - Truce - On 3 June 1999, Milošević accepted the terms of an international peace plan to end the fighting
War in Afghanistan (2001–2014) - Failure - Spawned global terrorism, country still at war
Iraq War (2003–2011) - Failure - Increased global terrorism, country still at war
War in North-West Pakistan (2004–present) - Ongoing
2011 military intervention in Libya (2011) - Failure - Increased global terrorism, country still at war
War on ISIL (Operation Inherent Resolve) (2014–present) - Ongoing - Part of the war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc. - Branded separately to hide the failures of major theatre operations and neo-con policy
So, what have we learned from the above apart from the delusional nature of the US military on its effectiveness and that if your a small Island of about 100000 people then you probably can't take on the US? Well, that most wars will end in failure or a truce. Failures tend to arise when the wars spread beyond the narrow remit of the US forces. Obviously, this is either intentional and forms part of an 'agenda', or is the result of the US public sick of seeing dead bodies coming home. A success will only occur when the opposing force is very small and contained within a small geographic area. Truces occur when everyone does what they should have done at the beginning, sit down and talk.
Obviously, in many cases conflict is a necessary evil just to bring parties to the table. That said, in the case of modern terrorism there is no public debate about what that table should look like nor is there a public push for such action. This 'war', if you could even call it that, is nothing more than aimless wholesale slaughter without end.
Thus, 'first level' thinking in this scenario will only serve to compound the problem and alternative approaches are required.
'Second level' thinking is the first to introduce the concept of an end goal. What does peace look like? Is this capitulation by the enemy? If so, this is not supported as a realistic objective given the history of US wars. Looking at the outcome of such conflicts over the last 50 years, the obvious solution is to seek a truce. Such an event requires peace talks, which is difficult with a leaderless organization (if it can even be described as an organization - as it lacks this characteristic). Are we talking many peace agreements? The establishment of a new nation? This is obviously the debate we need to be having, rather than focusing on revenge.
'Third level' thinking is all about how do we prevent this happening again. What were the real factors, rather than the whitewashed version presented to the public? What changes can we make to our society and social structures that would make such events very hard to initiate? What factors were involved in the middle-east? What can we do to ensure they never arise again? If it ends up that we create a new nation, how do control its military capability in a peaceful and cost-effective manner? Some extremely difficult questions and even tougher solutions to both develop and implement.
'Forth level' thinking is moving towards the nature of war itself. What are the factors involved in this? Why do nations go to war? How can we shut this down globally? What changes can we make to global society that make war unprofitable and unfeasible? Obviously, if our current social behaviors make it tempting to start war, then there should be a workable solution that has the opposite effect. It is just a question of discovering that and transitioning our societies. This 'forth level' of thinking will obviously need to account for the factors outlined in the first half of this article, how to address the problem of control.
I think we all know what needs to happen on many different levels in our society. We resist such change as it invites trouble, upsets apple carts, etc., but there comes times in this world when change is urgently required.
For the first time in history, we have the opportunity to work together as a species with all the tools and knowledge at our disposal to deliver upon that change and it is something we need to learn. Manipulation, exploiting the limits of each person's cognitive capability and knowledge is simply not working. The future that awaits us under such a system will see the end of us all.
We need to look past the end of our own noses, our own selfish wants and needs and see the needs of our kids, grand kids and generations to come.
How do you want to be remembered? The asshole who started another war, or the person who changed the world.