BFP Roundtable Video 4– Why People Believe Stupid Things

From the official story of 9/11 to the drug war narrative to Omidyar's hope and change, people allow themselves to believe the most transparent lies and propaganda. But why? On this edition of the BFP roundtable, James Corbett, Guillermo Jimenez and Sibel Edmonds ask (and attempt to answer) the question of why people believe stupid things.

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  1. somewhat disappointed by this discussion. “Those” people are using exactly the same mental process the 3 of you are using. We make judgments intuitively 1st and then we reason to justify what makes us feel good. You dad encouraged “free thinking” or “critical” or some such feeling process.
    Jonathan Haigt “The Righteous Mind” will make this more clear. And, you can following their world wide ethics study and compare how close you are getting to seeing reality and thinking closer to what is. But, you take care of your feelings and support that 1st judgment with reasoning. It is how our brains and hearts work. Ya gotta quit saying and thinking “them” – “us”

  2. There is a lot of good stuff here. Digging for this big answer to a fundamental problem. What came up listening to this was people are afraid to engage in the important things in our lives, duh? Most people are fundamentally motivated by some type of fear. But here’s the get…those of us who want to know more are actually more afraid of not knowing and so we engage, and the majority of people will shift when they too are more afraid of not knowing and understanding than they are of knowing. I don’t believe this will happen quickly, probably several generations of suffering are needed, but I am open to being very wrong on my timing estimate!

    • alm3texas says:

      Agree…totally. Everyone wants to see only “short” one liners about the “state of things.” Otherwise, it is too depressing to 98% of people, including my own kids who are men already 39, 36, and 31 yrs. old. At times I want to just go splurge and “forget” about this disaster of a country we’ve got going here, but then I pull back and say, ” If I don’t keep sharing this information, who will?”
      Some of us have to at the risk of being alienated. Plenty of that around. Pictures of food, friends and family on FB will keep us safe. I am sure of it…….

  3. Lots of stuff within this round table. On people and their reticence in tackling the truth within the accepted explanations. I’ve been dealing with the problem of reaching people who are fleeing the truth for a long time. Like was discussed, I’ve come up with no easy solution, no fast and loose method of talking, or set of words that will make people see. I’ve come to the belief that the government uses the nature of cognitive dissonance, the confusion and fear that can be caused by the conflicting nature of issues as reported by the MSM and the alternative news community. They use this to shock people into apathy, inaction on these basic issues in an effort for people to “just get by”, and to “make it through the day”. I’ve heard so many people, upon realizing the scope of what I am saying, will flee from the knowledge, afraid to confront the truth. Whether its someone I care about, or a casual chat waiting in line somewhere, I’ve pondered how to reach people. The only thing I’ve concluded is that you’ve got to make it part of their daily lives. If you can translate the truths into things that directly affect people on a daily basis, without even the overarching conclusions and reasons for the issues. By bringing things down to people’s daily lives many are willing to entertain knowing some truths. An example is my trying to discuss what really happened on 9/11 with a friend. He continually denied that anything other then the official narrative occurred. By switching tactics and beginning to discuss how atrocities like the Patriot Act have limited, and even ended many freedoms that Americans have enjoyed for centuries. By discussing how the politics of fear have enabled the rabid anti-gun conspiracy theorists to advance their agendas and further encroach on people’s ability to defend themselves from law breakers who seek to do them harm. By changing the focus I’ve been able to reach some people that I’d formerly been unable to talk truth to. Obviously this doesn’t work with everyone. Like was discussed when it comes to what makes truth seekers “the way they are” when they were raised alongside others who are happy in their “accepted explanations” matrix. The smallest things can totally alter how a person sees the world, and what greatly impacted your development, may not influence me much at all. I feel our root personalities have a lot to do with how we react to things. I think this is one area where the government doesn’t know as much as they think they do.

    Sorry if this was disjointed and made little sense. It’s something I’ve been pondering for some time. When I try and explain it in a format like the comment sections, it becomes hard to limit my thoughts and ideas to a small space, so I’ve tried to say as much as possible in one post.

    • alm3texas says:

      Agreed! The general response is a dumbfounded look and then:
      “Well, now, how has all of this affected you directly?” they will ask.
      REALLY?
      (Gasoline was $.30 gallon in 1971)
      Keep sharing……I hope at least 1 mind a day will open up when I share an article such as the one on this site regarding our “corporate domestic enemies.” Great info. and sickening all at the same time.

  4. Sibel, you mentioned Common Core. It’s another thing that’s effecting us all whether we have children or not. Because its going to have an effect on generations of children who will become the people who report on issues, who comment and analyze topics and even who make political decisions that the world then has to deal with. Teachers are being told that Common Core will strengthen students academic standards and make higher test scores and greater learning opportunities a reality for progressively younger children. Many people have recognized that the educational system has degraded people’s ability to think critically and to rationally discuss matters that happen in the world. Charlotte Iserbyt’s work has done much to expose these mechanications. But I think that Common Core, like many government initiates, ends up having multiple results, multiple effects and consequences. Just like the In-Justice system, the educational system is broken and I don’t believe it can be reformed by the current political system. They are just too corrupt and too influenced by corporations, lobbyists and special interest groups. I’m not sure how the people can make education act in our children’s best interests, but its certainly a large issue for me personally.

    • alm3texas says:

      In Texas it is disguised as “C Scope.” This next set of “new” legislators had better get to doing something about it, that is for sure.

      Just back from Louisiana and they are fighting Common Core right now….Yard signs appearing to alert people of it…Hopefully since more is emerging they will be able to. I have talked to my son and daughter in law regarding IT’S plan and they are in their early 30’s. It will affect their 2 babies so if we know we must share the dangers and information, regardless of the responses. Thankfully, I think they were listening…..Now they must vote accordingly.

  5. Important discussion. At about min 11 Sibel is spot-on in my opinion. I thought about a similar question: “Why do we think in the first place” And I came with two fundamentally different modes of thought that can be coupled to the left and right hemispheres of our brain.
    See: http://www.geopoliticsandcognition.com/WhyWeThink.html

    The left, rational, hemisphere is the small/closed box hemisphere in which certainty is possible as long as the living environment is kept within manageable bounds by authorities. I call this the coping mode of thought. The rational/coping mode of thought does not like challenges of its authorities because these erode all existential certainty. It is this mode of thought that is speaking in people who dislike crazy conspiracy theorists without wanting to listen to their arguments.

    The right, relational, hemisphere is able to deal with an open world and can become the authority of the left hemisphere, but, in our Western societies, it usually does not. This mode allows for pervasive optimization (optimizing everything in the context of everything else), but that requires a very broad understanding of the world. However if — due to curiosity, open-mindedness, and/or a challenging life course (like Sibel’s) — one develops such a broad understanding, one does not need (flawed) external authorities anymore. As such one becomes, quite naturally an anarchist. The coping mode is the fall-back mode of the pervasive optimization mode, the coping mode has no fall-back mode other than a highly emotional fight-for-life-whatever-it-takes attitude.

    Why some people develop to the broadness of understanding and others do not is a topic of one of my scientific papers:
    http://www.frontiersin.org/Journal/Abstract.aspx?s=196&_name=cognitive_science&ART_DOI=10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00766 . It is dense but fairly accessible. I hope it serves some purpose. This is a fruitful terrain of science and I expect more articles to come.

  6. Avery Easter says:

    Neat discussion,
    I think the 1 neg comment above has a point, the ‘us vs them’ or the ‘2 kinds of people in the world’ or the ‘they are stupid’ approach. It makes it easy but as James mentioned it wasn’t until 2006 that he realized that he’d been believing a pack of lies. Even though he felt predisposed to questioned authority. how much harder for those without the natural predisposition. But James at that point broke the spell and then kept going further and further down the rabbit hole. Sibel’s story is similar, you believed the system ‘worked’ until you ran into head on, at turn after turn. You had few warnings and no map, If you hadn’t hit those walls yourself, do you wonder how open you’d be to someone like yourself talking to you out of the blue about the horrors you know of? You weren’t “stupid” then, you were just ignorant and believed the wholesale and retail force fed stream of lies that we all have been consuming since childhood.
    THAT …IMO… is the 1st barrier that we hit when talking to folks about these issues. People are INCREDULOUS that the gov’t and large corps would systematically steal, would calculatingly kill innocents, would not do justly, would systematically lie, would not obey the laws it writes, would be completely hypocritical, at least not “my party”. The Idea that gov’t or corps are truly corrupt and mafia like in areas goes against EVERYTHING we’ve been taught in school and every news report we hear every political speech ever given. “we are a nation of laws, truth justice etc etc” the constant lying makes it easy to be lulled and reassured. Hearing “some nut” “ON THE INTERNET” showing clearly the emperors have no clothes on, now and then might shake some a little bit, but as long as we’ve got the bread and circuses and another unexamined lie can be laid on to cover the “supposed” or “anomalous” nakedness. Then the “nut” can be properly laughed off. ” At best they are making a mountain out of a mole hill…. That ONE incident is not PROOF of a whole systematic problem… and anyway …that’s why my party has to be elected!” .
    the stream of lies apon lies forced though peoples heads is a real barrier and a comfort to most IMO.

    Then there’s the issues of social/intellectual/political acceptability. Just as some people seem born to question others seem born to go along to get along. To see the “real world” of social/cultural/economic acceptability as the highest good and to roll with it no matter the smell of death. Being part of the in/dominate crowd is MORE important than “the truth” to many.
    Even if they believe you, and think it’s truly horrible. They WOULD NOT mention the issues in polite company, less they be thought intellectually or politically unfashionable. Or not part of the program, In their minds EVEN IF it is true and they know it, it’s so far out of the mainstream that there’s nothing to be done about it. At least not by them. They aren’t going to put themselves on the line for what they consider a hopeless cause. When they can get something done elsewhere by being “practical” “what good would it do anyway if they did admit that the gov’t killed Kennedy?” Is literally what i was told by someone like this. That attitude is frankly more frustrating than someone who’s has NO real logical defense for NOT accepting the truth presented to them but desperately and passionately deny it for whatever reason. That person is going down fighting trying to protect their view of reality. the other is an subtle accomplice to the problems.

    But i agree that the fear factor you all mentioned is real as well, I hesitate to try label it’s source because it seems to be multifaceted.

    But IMO the Western CULTure, like any CULTure, creates people with certain superstitions and foundational beliefs. These foundations are hard to shake. The cultural glasses are bolted on and if uncomfortable truths hit and crack those glasses it makes some people question reality itself, makes others angry, most seem want to just clean or fix the glasses and keep moving.
    But as you say, others are more naturally curious. And start to question the glasses.
    For most it takes a while. And again, as you all mentioned, you never know what bit of info will be the rock of truth that cracks the cultural/media/political/ms-edu BS. And you never know how far some people are willing to go. the rabbit hole is DEEP and there are few guides (like yourselves) and a lot of false trails, it’s not that easy… to not be stupid.

    that’s my 2 cents
    Thanks for the conversation
    Peace, and Blessings on your good work.

    • alm3texas says:

      Agreed again. I keep trying to remind myself that the huge mess we are currently in began more than 100 years ago. Although most of us have been little by little jolted into starting to pay closer attention, I am of the opinion that most didn’t “get it” until the mid 2000’s or 2008 when the House of Cards really came down. I was slow to accept the notion that our “government” that I had always trusted could kill people and get away with it as we have been exposed to more and more in the last 10-12 years. I rejected that idea and most in my family still do…Others in the family say that we shouldn’t discuss politics, religion, etc. Well, holy cow, if not now then when?

  7. Avery Easter says:

    Appreciate the quote
    “If is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”
    Upton Sinclair

    here’s one from MLK
    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    I think i may be helpful to think about peoples reasoning and attitudes about slavery in the early1800’s .
    How many people REALLY saw slavery for what it was, to the point of speaking against it or wanting to do something about it , In the South was it “practical” to even speak against it? It wasn’t REALLY as bad as all that right?
    Even white women who were the wives of slave owners who knew their husbands were raping female slaves and having children by them did not speak up against the practice of slavery.

    What people are willing to ignore and make excuses for to keep up appearances and the maintain the status quo is incredible.

  8. Positive feedback, causing endorphin releases, can be experienced through introspection, perceived self image, and input from the outside world. When we feel good about our reflection in the mirror, we strategically attempt to repeat this feeling. Same goes for that feeling we get when we are connected, helpful, meaningful to the other. The surface image is reinforced constantly through media culture and tends to overwhelm other feedback if we allow it.

    The more we realize the motivations of propaganda aimed at drowning out the positive feedback from interdependence, the more we understand divide and conquer. The more we understand the parts we play in the system that tears apart our communities and families, the more we see the importance of throwing off the chains of vanity, as they become corrupted with this realization and no longer cause endorphin release.

    So, what brings about the difference in the fates of biological siblings, raised in the same family? Just the patterns, the habits we’ve all built. They start so subtly, and just by chance we encounter experiences at key moments, which cause us not to accept reality, but to dig a deeper hole, looking for that golden endorphin in the mirror. Or, by chance, we experience the thrill of stopping a fight or saving a kitten or watching the pain of others relieved by what we have done somehow. Or the pure rush of standing up to a bully.

    Through the habits we keep, we increase our chances of key experiences that lift or crush us. No one really begins by smoking a pack a day, after all. But, can a smoke help concentration, relieve stress? Intelligence and ignorance in every drag.

    • I remember walking home from school when I was 9. As I left the playground, I laughed out loud to myself. It struck me that I had sounded like a friend laughing, when I laughed. Then, for about 15-30 seconds my brain went into deep space as I realized everything I ever did I had learned from someone else, and asked myself what was left, what was I? It was pretty scary at the time, as if my whole personality just slipped out of my hands and disintegrated. There wasn’t anything left when it did. Nothing solid in the middle that was “me”, when all my learned traits were gone.

      It seriously choked me up and I finished my walk home just trying to normalize. And while I have forgotten the feeling at times, the understanding is there forever. The unique place we hold in the universe and unique combination of relationships defines us more than some soul or core, in my understanding.

      All of this has affected my view about individualism, that it’s a lie at the core. We are not isolated in a natural state, even if it’s not other humans which we relate with, our identities are developed through relationships. I think that freedom is attained by creating a context for it to exist. We feel liberty – we notice it in relation to others. This is my “Why are hard-line promoters of individualism and privatization of everything so stupid?!!!” issue, though I understand why. We have been propagandized since birth about being separated from our relations.

      In general, I would say that moments of transcendence, epiphany, revelation, whatever you want to call them, are a sign that someone is open-minded, interested in learning, going to be called stupid by our distinguished panel less often, maybe. There are a few other gems in my life that have lasted and helped me remain sane through different stages of life. Do noticing these have something to with the question at hand?

  9. bowsers says:

    My theory is that moral/ethical actions and political consciousness is the greatest obligation of all. And that is why it is so rare. I, like James mentioned, was born like that, so those qualities were closer to the surface and my life experience opened up that understanding quicker than it would for others.

    Being human with consciousness, automatically comes with endless series of tests of your qualities; test of one’s character, self honesty and choices. There is a massive denial of realisation obligation, that almost all of us will shut out to make ones short term life easier. The pain of reality and self reality by an individual, is too much pain to bear. So shut down, tiny bubble world it is.

    Those above obligations ( to name just the big 3 ), require compulsory and constant ; hard work, thinking about the suffering of others, admission of past and current cowardice and propaganda for evil, isolation from many fellow humans because of one’s principles, confrontation with others about politics, acting on your principles, a less material life, constant self doubt and self criticism… and on and on.
    How many people do we know that think like that ?

    William Blum relays what people tell him when he tries to explain the US Empires atrocities. The answer is always, ” but people wouldn’t do that “. I was like that myself for a long time. I think we are all born like that, first unconscious of evil, and then rejection of it, because it too painful to think about and even more painful, as the individual realises their own history supporting that evil, and rejection of the life change needed, to act to help stop evil.

    The thing is, the Elite have a pretty good understanding of this and expertly use it against their victims.

    This issue for me is the Nu 1 issue forever. The Elite will always be around trying to dominate as much as they can, but fightback by enough of the people will determine has bad or good it is for the rest of us. Since it’s mostly a battle for the mind, ( and we’re loosing badly ) we need tools of the mind to improve our situation. It really begins there.

    I am severely critical of most of the people. There is no excuse for voting, propagandising for, endorsing and condoning; mass murder and mass torture. Along with class warfare, racism…well fuck, I could go on forever. A lot of people are complicit with an endless series of horrors.

  10. mariotrevi says:

    I think that getting at the truth (closer to it) takes both time and effort on my part. I became cynical/disullasioned about US through Iran/Contra deal, Gary Webb’s book “Dark Alliance”, a book a long time ago about Watergate. To me, being loyal to Canada, I can still try and look at the good/bad done by Canadian people and companies.
    After some reasonning with “stubborn” people, my attitude and thinking veer towards: “Who he/she trusts, is up to him/her, so I won’t waste my time.”

  11. thymesup says:

    thanks for this show and the thoughtful in–depth comments here. in the nineties sometime a friend gave me a book, that he found at the dump of a navy yard-lending it some credibility in my mind- called “the report from iron mountain, on the possibility and desirability of peace.” then anonymous, which purported to be the report of a roundtable/think tank of leaders from many fields,. they examined the question of what would happen were peace to ‘break out.’ someone discussed the function of war in helping to keep population levels down and examined alternative means by which to do this, chemical sprays or some such being one possibility, if i remember correctly. the footnote led to this: “experiments such as are now being carried on in south east asia.” this was during the viet nam war.” was this agent orange to which they referred?

    though the book’s first edition was presented as supposedly fiction and a hoax, i believe later additions credited lewis lapham and john k. galbraith with some part in it. maybe a warning impossible to sound as nonfiction when it first appeared. the described roundtable sure sounded like a real bureaucratic operation. this opened my eyes and after i finished gasping, i would often question friends: ‘would you put this past your government.?”
    i had sadly to admit i could not. (this, esp after our horrible shenanigans and killing sprees in central america during the eighties when i cursed reagun nearly as much as i later did bush. )

    i was not a radical in the sixties; indeed, ashamed to admit during college and viet nam war i never even read the paper. talk about stupid and apolitical in the worst sense. even later married a poor ($ wise) viet vet/underdog who had tipped over the ‘peace table’ in anger at those protesting the war during which he lost so many buddies.

    during first gulf war i was so angry i turned off the radio (no computer at that time) and never listened to it (and never had any ) for an entire year. only listened to two cds with much wisdom and hope inherent, over and over: joni mitchell’s cd which incorporates verse from bible: ‘when i speak in the tongue of men and angels and have not love, i am nothing.” the other, an early bob marley album with equal amount of insight, which i can’t momentarily remember.

    the point,:it was a gradual awakening,until 9/11 and the anger and sadness then at approaching war were dismal. going to ny and dc before to be with like minded folks and see how many were actually against it helped, (as does trying to educate re 911 and false flag, etc.) except anger at media for not reporting numbers at protests in this country AND EVERYTHING ELSE they ignore or lie about.

    . and i share all the same troubles as you above who try to talk with family/friends and feel ignored and ridiculed./or at least looked at askance. share the news and views and facts and if others don’t read, it’s their problem. keep trying. write letters to editor.try not to be angry, be polite and thank people who are open minded. don’t be apologetic about the facts, be ‘matter of fact.’ that is coming a long way for me. when they thank me for handing them (as yet unread literature on 911 truth), i respond, “no thank YOU! it’s not easy or happy information, but very important. lynn bradbury
    love bowsers’ comments, esp.

    • Just curious if you had comments about the Iran/Contra era in your story. That news really opened my eyes. Especially the part about the US putting an embargo with ships around the country and telling them to have an election, where only one of the candidates would break the embargo by winning. Then called it “fair” after they won. Oh yeah, and that other stuff about black ops illegal arms and drug trade, lying to congress, nothing is as it seems, etc. If anyone was paying attention back then, they would have been suspicious on the day of 9/11, IMO.

  12. thymesup says:

    ie, never had any tv.

  13. Peter Sloterdijk wrote an exellent analysis of the psychology of the germans during the “Third Reich” in his book “Critique of Cynical Reason”.
    I think it can given an important contribution to the actual debate. His book written 30 years ago pointed directly to the situation of today when the Corporate Empire is pushing the world toward suicide.

    Bo Modén

  14. thymesup says:

    thanks, bo; shall look it up. lb

  15. alm3texas says:

    You know what is so great, Sibel? That these awesome articles are finally getting great replies from your readers. If everyone on this site has NOT read your “Classified Woman” book, they are missing the very best of you and your life here. I heard you first on Alex Jones, and your expertise on foreign affairs as it relates to these nutjobs we currently have dismantling our country piece by piece, is beyond the greatest!

    Thank you so much for all that you do and for having the smartest writers on this site.

  16. Don Shewmake says:

    Hopefully I’m not going to write a dissertation like others here, but here it goes. I’ve not had “cable” for 8 years, and I’m currently raising two children with my wife in an atmosphere that will never have it. What the atmosphere will contain is the need to find truth, regardless of what their curriculum will teach in school. Critical thinking and questioning authority will be a healthy and positive staple of our mental diet. Psychologically, I struggle everyday with shrinking family and friends support of my interest in things like Sandy Hook, 9/11, and oldschool ops like JFK, etc…….. I have asked myself the questions you are putting forth, the most burning being how do I ease people I love and want to come on the journey with me into discovering “the matrix” we live in. The answer for some of my family and friends has been to get them to admit that certain “wild conspiracies” have highly compelling evidence to suggest another truth from what they believe from the mainstream media. I have used this site, people respond well to James in his, no offense, “nerdy” straight forward approach. To quote James “intellectual, rigorous, logical”, which I believe is exactly what helps the most ,up front ,when trying to acclimate really intelligent open-minded individuals to the idea there is a “veil” to real info. I love Sibel, but at my bookclub meeting going over Classified Woman, those that were being introduced to the topic of not only whistle-blowing, but of our governments ability to manipulate public opinion and the lengths they will go to control situations, some thought Sibel was “whining” like a disgruntled employee. I argued that if they went through what Sibel did, would they be able to remain diplomatic, clear headed, and with little emotion?? Anyways, for what its worth, I have had some recent success pulling intelligent individuals into a more “awake” reality, and the three of you with Peter B have been a HUGE part of it. I guess if all of us who subscibe can get 3-4 people each at a time, and they can get 3-4 people, maybe we can sell common household goods under the Boiling Frogs brand and eventually have enough underneath us to be filthy rich!!!!! Seriously though, I’m tired of the bad rap questioning things around us gets, I feel the pain of this conversation, and this IS the closest thing to church/therapy/what have you that I have, but it will be better tomorrow. Thanks for what you do, I promise to bump to $100/year upon renewal.

  17. borrado says:

    All societies have their bigotries and conceits. They are tribal remnants. American tribalism is all pervasive. We not only have the loudest war drums that relays our propaganda far and wide and incessant, but the mass unslaught of weaponry to back it up. We are comfortable in our insularity, immune to the upheavals on the outside and more than willing to drink the kool aid. Perceived injustices pass us by as though we ar looking out the window while on a jaunt through the countryside. It won’t strike us as uncomfortable until we are stopped at a roadblock upahead and searched for no apparent reason. A few see that as imminent, less as self evident. Most imagine the next stop will be to take a leak while gassing up.

  18. Maybe we need LSD added to drinking water, instead of flouride? BTW, wasn’t there a city in the US considering adding lithium?

    • There is a program of pacification/dumbification carried out, wittingly and unwittingly, by public health, public schools, the MSM, and the controlled opposition pseudo – alternative organizations. So we should factor that into the equation.

      • I find this story to be bullshit. I would wager that the chances of someone with access to LSD-25 “lacing” meat with it, would be right around zero – what would be the point? Beyond that, LSD-25 is not very stable and I do not believe it could withstand the heat required to prepare those steaks.

        Here is a more plausible theory IMO. Apparently, LSD is also an abbreviation for the statistical analysis of Listeria. Apparently, if listeria affects the proper parts of the brain it can cause hallucinations. There is allegedly a report of auditory hallucinations induced by listeria abcesses. So the idea is, that some cop may have read the medical report, reading LSD530, describing the listeria infection but the hallucinations caused them to conclude LSD-25 (not that anything past the letters LSD would mean anything to law enforcement). The newspapers, of course, did their due diligence by not investigating further and ran with the headline – Killer LSD Laced Meat Epidemic Taking over the Southeastern US! – or whatever…

        I suspect the real cause will be buried deep in the bowels of the newspaper, long after the last copies are sold on the LSD hysteria headlines.
         
        Sorry to continue the off-topic direction. I just prefer to head off any disinformation regarding [mostly] harmful molecules.

        • I agree Andrew. BS. I posted as humorous after coincidentally seeing it right after my (also meant to be humorous) public water supply dosing image. Thanks for making sure nobody took it seriously. Could have scared someone unnecessarily.

          • For the record, I wasn’t implicating you in any nefarious activities and mostly understood your reasons for posting it – just wanted to clear the proverbial air.

  19. CuChulainn says:
  20. Charles Crummer says:

    To engage in Critical Thinking the most important thing to practice is to STEP BACK and just observe. Observation precedes any theory. Perhaps the most important thing to observe is ourselves. What emotions did we have at the time? Could these emotions have colored our understanding (theory)? Before I heard any theory at all about 911, I thought, superficially, that the floors of the towers had pancaked, like the first government theory. When I saw WTC7 collapse, however, my first thought was controlled demolition. When I saw the Pentagon damage, I immediately knew that no commercial airliner could have done it. Days, if not weeks, later, I found out how the WTC buildings were actually constructed and only then did I begin to wonder what happened to the huge core columns of WTC1&2. Much later than that, I found out that the collapses on 911 were the first times in history that such buildings had fallen like that. Since then, I have gone back to plain observation of the original events.

    More than one person in the 911 truth movement has made clear the distinction between observation and theorizing. With both the JFK assassination and the 911 disaster, there was a very short time between the observation of what we all saw and the theoretical explanation provided by the AUTHORITY, i.e. the government. Things unfolded so fast that all we could do was watch. The Zapruder film of the JFK assassination, the real-time video coverage of 911, these things all happened so fast that we had no time to formulate theories. Our minds were open to suggestion and the first ‘fully certified’ theory is the one that took root. It was only later that some of us began to look back and compare the Common Wisdom with what we all actually saw. For others, the dialog between the ‘conspiracy theorists’ and the Official Version supporters are just “He said, she said” and therefore they just stick with the official version.

    I saw the Zapruder film and saw Kennedy’s head snap BACK and the grisly red cloud shoot to the rear. Years later I watched Mark Lane’s film and saw the independent interviews of the attendant doctors. All but one of the 7 or 8 doctors agreed that the fatal shot came from the front and the last said that that was his diagnosis at first but he thought he must have been mistaken after he heard the Official Theory.

    For these events it is very useful to step back and ask ourselves why we believe what we do. That takes introspection and honesty. After all these years, a lot of details have been made available and they must be considered. Perhaps we do not know what caused the collapses and damage, but we can know what did not. It’s high time we moved on to a grand jury investigation and indictments.

  21. Hi Charles,

    you made some important observations (like many other in this important thread).

    We indeed need “to step back and ask ourselves why we believe what we do”. However this requires independent and critical thought. We need to do this be placing a myriad of (initially) unconnected and often unreliable facts into a larger consistent world-view. This requires two well-developed modes of thought.

    McGilchrist’s “The Master and its Emissary” describes the gradual over development of the rational left-mind over the relational right-mind in our Western societies (I highly recommend this book). For the strengths of each mode of thought see:
    http://www.geopoliticsandcognition.com/TwoBrainHemispheres.html#leftversusrighthemisphericstrengths

    To come back to the topic “Why People Believe Stupid Things”. One answer is straightforward: they believe stupid things because they have not thought it all through with both sides of their minds. This leads to highly predictable fallacies.

    Left-mind “rational” fallacies (short selection):
    – Accepts external authorities (of any sort) as sources of credibility
    – Prefers a closed world and may jump to conclusions on the basis of local consistency and authority support
    – Actively suppresses (ignores) the unfamiliar and prefers the familiar
    – Can connect pieces but has difficulties in connecting these into a consistent whole
    Overall: this mode leads to a fragmented consensual understanding of the world (typical of the Western newspaper reader)

    Right mind “relational” fallacies
    – More able to think independently, but also able to create a highly idiosyncratic world-view
    – Open to new ideas, but may accept these even if they lead to local inconsistencies with facts
    – Has the capacity to put facts and events in context, but is imprecise in judging the quality of the facts
    Overall: this mode leads to an integrated but not very reliable understanding of the world (typical of the western new-age adepts)

    Only a proper combination of the strengths (and not the weaknesses) of the two modes of thought leads to an integrated and reliable understanding of the world. BFP helps with that because it forces me to critically examine why I believe what I believe.

    • Very good summary. I think these apply to introspective thought as well. And I’d also say that using the strengths, not weaknesses, is developed through learned behavior, and networking is so important.

    • Charles Crummer says:

      Tjeerd: I have a suspicion that the limbic system is very important in the formulation of understanding. It is the system that is active all the time. We turn and look across the room, walk over and open the door. I don’t think we cogitate with either right- or left- brain. It is the limbic system that is functional when a master martial artist deals with an attack. The motions and responses to the attack stimuli are just too fast to have been processed by either side of the higher level brain. I think it’s the limbic system that instantly says, “Hey, children, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s goin’ down?” It’s the limbic system that is the first level of filtering of information.

      When I saw the towers fall, the images were outside of anything I had ever seen. My first interpretation (right- and left- brain) was the so-called “pancake” theory. I didn’t hold this firmly. It was still a wonder to me. The first thing that really rang my bell was the Pentagon. When I saw the damage I had no preconception of the cause. Later, when the official story came out that it was an airliner, I was very shaken because as I recalled the image of the damage, I knew it wasn’t. That one realization shook me to my core and I’m still appalled at the implication.

      I also think, however, that James Corbett is correct to say that we should move on from these scientific discussions and see to it that prosecutions take place.

      • Hi Charles, yes the limbic system definitely plays a role. And yes it is the first (or second) filter of the input that attaches basic emotions (action readiness according to Frijda (1986)) to stimuli. Yet the time scale of decision and deliberation of news events is very slow compared to the martial artist timescales. That entails that the left and right cortex have ample time to add their interpretation to the mix that lead, among other things, to emotion regulation.

        Depending on which hemisphere is dominant you get a different mixing/regulation result. And like Xicha pointed out, the strengths of the hemispheres have to be developed, otherwise they contribute only their weaknesses. That paper of my (that I alluded to way up in the discussion) proposes ways why some people end-up with particular strengths and weaknesses in their thoughts. (But in quite general terms)
        http://www.frontiersin.org/Journal/Abstract.aspx?s=196&_name=cognitive_science&ART_DOI=10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00766

        IMO the waking-up process that you describe is in the root a (partial or better) liberation from your external authorities and a retaking of control (i.e., an internalization of authority) that, i claim, is only possible by the right hemisphere.

        • Very interesting again, both of you. I wonder if basic ambidexterity training might also be valuable, as the psychomotor is an essential piece of the learning pie, maybe linking back to the limbic integration? Or karate lessons? I suppose a soft style is more right brain integrated, or a hard style done right even (martial arts). Think karate vs kung fu or tai chi. Then we can contrast those with American football or NASCAR racing for possible motivations of them being promoted cultural norms. Which brings us to being spectators. Sorry for rambling 😉

  22. CuChulainn says:

    not unrleated to McGilchrist cited above is the _The Dopaminergic Mind in Human Evolution and History_ by Fred Previc

  23. Marcus Packard says:

    Where there is a will there is a way. The main reason people don’t take responsibility to inform themselves and then act accordingly is fear. Us rational thinkers often don’t realize that intention is actually what shapes events. If you want to get information across, you must really want to and imagine it is possible. Often in order to define our personality we chose not to be understood, simply because we fear failure in trying but not succeeding to reach out to people, largely because we have had already many disappointments in trying to relate with others.
    If others feel they will be undermined by us if they take have one opinion or another, they will stand their ground on whatever position is opposed to ours simply because we are imposing something on them. This may not be obvious to us because we may speak softly and politely but, real emotions are not being hidden and they see what we really feel about them.
    Hugs

  24. Marcus Packard says:

    Often in conversation we feel offended and take a defensive position ourselves. When we do this, we no longer try to get information across, instead, our intention is to condescend or prove that the other is wrong in being condescending to us. This is a different intention than getting information across. Others will always resist being proven wrong. They will never resist new information if they feel that you will not place yourself above them for having provided them that information.

  25. As a 73 year old “oddball”, it gives me comfort to see you 3 oddballs(Sibel is my favorite oddball, hands down!) struggle with a question that can lead one, suddenly, into a very mysterious and infinite realm. Tjeerd is heading in that direction. The thalamus gets first shot at any sensory information(olfactory bulb is a primitive exception). It sends impulses to the so-called “limbic” area(neurologists are still debating this term) and the amygdala, in particular, receives input BEFORE it is sent to the prefrontal cortex(PFC). The prefrontal cortex is composed of the ventro-medial PFC and the so-called “executive center”, the dorso-lateral PFC. This all happens in millisecond and is completely sub-conscious. And there are many areas of the brain at play.

    I am not a neurologist. However I had to study this stuff in order to get a handle on one of the most important questions a person can ask: Namely, what am “I?” Is there a self ? Who or what makes a “choice?” This is now a serious debate and has been for some time. Ancient mystics asked it. Language(written or spoken)can’t fully handle the topic. Any discussion will lead to “we have yet to do further studies.” Ironically asking one’s brain, so to speak, any questions about the nature of self, etc., will automatically make an individual an oddball of the first order. Religions forbid such inquiries, because of course we have “free will” given to us by our creator, right? Wrong–free will is up for grabs. Even “choice” is iffy.
    All right, where is this leading in terms of people “choosing” to shoot themselves in the foot rather than accept brute fact? This is where the amygdala comes in. The amygdala is a more primitive part than the PFC and it is the major brain component that sends FEAR to the PFC. An organism carries out a seemingly stupid act because the PFC in now fear- driven. This, of course, happens in milliseconds, is sub-conscious, and “stupid” action results. Fear/emotion(limbic) trumps the rather small PFC every time! Hence, unless oddballs such as we come to grips with this neurological fact, we will forever misunderstand why people cannot see the facts right is front of them and “accept reality.”.
    So do we give up and become a nun or monk in a forest? None of us can wholly grasp this stuff except liars-gurus, priests, bankers, and politicians who understand zero.. Besides being ridiculously absurd liars, they manage to have gigantic followings. Well, that’s another topic: why do humans need alpha figures?

    Camus said something like this” In the face of a totally absurd non-answering, silent universe, the only thing left to do is act.”

      • No. The “what am I?” question never hit me all at once. I started asking myself ever deeper questions at about 18. I do remember standing outside in a cold night staring at a full moon and I became overwhelmed at the awesome existence of the infinite mystery in which I was somehow embedded.
        Your experience in some consciousness circles(e. g., so-called 4th Way work)is known as a “shock”. No one has any decent explanation for such moments–they are “accidental” yet are related to infinite cause and effect. And yours, obviously will remain with you forever.
        IMO, everything is connected. That became very clear to me when I studied quantum physics and Einstein. At the quantum field level your physical body goes to infinity. But in our limited macro-world things seem separate. My wish for you is that you consider viewing your life as a continuing flow–a “practice” that may be temporal , yet always infinite, eternal.

  26. Charles Crummer says:

    In re: Why people believe stupid things.

    We would not have evolved as a languaging species if we didn’t suspend disbelief, at least initially, when listening to language. Our minds open and images are created… outside of our control. Then, since we have the most highly developed brains in all of creation, we can choose to investigate the situation. We can get other people’s opinions, analysis and information. We can also examine more closely the information we got directly from observing.

    It seems to me that belief becomes possible only after the suspension of disbelief. When a person goes to a magic show, this suspension of disbelief, at least until she leaves to go home, is what allows her to enjoy the show. We go to magic shows to be fooled, to be lied to. We may or may not ever find out how the tricks were done but we know a priori that the lady wasn’t really sawed in half. The difference between a magic show and events like the JFK assassination and the horror of 911 is that before the show starts, we know we will be lied to. However, even though we know that it lies to us, at least sometimes, when a story comes out of the government, we are pretty much programmed to at least to take it as something that can only be supported or refuted. Like the lady being sawed in half, the lie is there, it exists. The difference is that no one believes the lady was really sawed in half.

    We all saw the collapse of towers 1 and 2. As I was watching, disbelief automatically suspended and before any of the conspiracy theories were implanted in my brain, I created a crude pancaking theory in my mind. Then I saw the pictures of the damage to the Pentagon… and the Official Story of the airliner producing it. Then WTC7. This wasn’t a magic show, it was an insult to anyone’s intelligence. Then after many years, a lot of detailed investigation produced credible analysis. One doesn’t need a weatherman…. Also, one doesn’t need a theory to recognize that serious, official investigation has to happen. First analysis, then synthesis into a theory.

    • “Humans think they are smarter than dolphins because we build cars and buildings and start wars, etc. and all that dolphins do is swim in the water, eat fish, and play around. Dolphins believe that they are smarter for exactly the same reasons.”  ~ Douglas Adams, writer, dramatist, and musician (1952-2001)

  27. Charles Crummer says:

    We will never be dolphins though. In the meantime, what can we do? I think we have to start to teach ourselves and our children the art of critical thinking so they can cope with the avalanche of lies and misinformation that threaten to bury us all. Most of the devices of persuasion were even known by the ancient Greeks. There is a lot of literature already available on the subject of rhetoric. Someone has said that we only use about 1% of our brains so there’s a lot of potential there.

    • I think we have to start to teach ourselves and our children the art of critical thinking so they can cope with the avalanche of lies and misinformation that threaten to bury us all.

      Well said. I also tell my children that it’s okay not to know everything. That we don’t need to force ourselves to choose between the options presented to us. That many people are uncomfortable with the unknown, and this causes them to believe things that aren’t necessarily true. This seems to help, when the other children on the school bus are saying that we must go to church or we will go to hell (a big hole in the ground with fire in it). It’s amazing to consider how much pressure is applied to very young children and, you’re right, we need to promote critical thinking to help them handle it. Otherwise, they are left vulnerable and defenseless.

      • Charles Crummer says:

        Xicha, I couldn’t agree more. Not knowing is very important, and recognizing that fact is crucial to learning. If you already know something, it’s pretty hard to learn it. Someone has said, “It’s not what you don’t know that’s a problem, it’s what you do know that is just wrong.” Part of critical thinking is to recognize when you don’t know something. For example, when I look at the damage done to the Pentagon, I do not know exactly what caused it, although my mind runs wild with suppositions, but I do know that it wasn’t an airliner.

  28. chris bagg says:

    So are you two suggesting that we should be comfortable with not knowing the truth about important events? This seems to be a new meme. As Adam Gopnik says in his fulsome New Yorker article on the JFK assassination: “..an imbalance between the flood of information and the uncertainty of our understanding – the sense that we know so much and grasp so little, and that reality becomes an image passing- does seem to have begun then: the post modern suspicion that the more we see the less we know….the tendency to look harder for a pattern than the thing looked at will ever provide, became the motif of the time.” Gopnik falsely goes on to proclaim that “When Kennedy died..the mystery of his death began…” In fact a great many of the mysteries surrounding his death have been resolved. We do know, thanks to researchers like John Anderson( in his book Harvey and Lee), and many others, that Kennedy’s murder was an elaborate conspiracy carried out by the US state security apparatus, the CIA, FBI, and the Secret Service. This is well worth knowing.
    Likewise, it is well worth knowing what really happened on 911, at the Gabby Giffords shooting, the Aurora theatre shooting, the Sandy Hook school shooting, and the Boston Bombing. All of these events involve a myriad of unexplained loose ends that I fear we are being encouraged to accept as “unknowable”, much like the ‘unknowable’ fate of the ‘lost’ Malaysian airliner. Right on cue guys, no? Don’t fall for this nonsense.

    • Charles Crummer says:

      Chris,
      I didn’t mean to imply that some things are unknowable, although there are such. But we can’t know which they are. I meant to say that when we do not know something, it is good to be aware of that fact. That way, we are free to investigate and find out (or not). If we are sure we already know but really don’t, we won’t investigate further. Look at the attempts to “debunk” the work of, for example, the Architects and Engineers for 91 Truth. Kurt Gödel proved that there are propositions in logic that are true but for which no proof exists. The thing is, we can’t know which propositions they are so we continue to investigate. For hundreds of years people tried to prove the famous “last” theorem of Fermat. For all anyone knew, it was one of these undecidable propositions. Thing is, a guy named Andrew Wiles finally found a proof. One of the things that was important before his discovery is that he knew there wasn’t a proof yet. The search for truth is never-ending.

    • In between stimulus and response, there is a space. To behave as if you know something, before you actually do, means that you are not taking advantage of that space, to apply critical thinking.

      (i.e. “BFP is blocking my dissenting comments.”)

      • Charles Crummer says:

        I agree completely. I don’t blame people though. The manipulation of news by using buzzwords and spin is hard to detect. It takes practice to learn how to step back with an open mind and watch how you are being influenced by words. Wordsmiths are not stupid. I haven’t read Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine,” but from what I know about it, I think she’s really onto something. While we are still in shock, our minds are open to suggestion. That’s when the spin doctors leap in and before you know it, you are talking about “Death Tax” and loaded phrases like that as if the emotional content is real.

  29. Douglas Faxon says:

    We’ve identified at least two reasons here that people don’t “want to know” – bio-survival anxiety (having to work like dogs to maintain their lives), and laziness.

    I know I often feel lazy after a long day’s work. I imagine I’m similar in that regard to a significant proportion of working Americans. (And Yes, it does seem like the game is stacked to keep us that way). But I do set aside a significant amount of time most days to educate myself with reports from this site and several others in order to gain a clearer picture of what’s happening in the world, and WHY. I guess I’m different from a lot of folks who watch ten minutes of FOX over dinner and feel informed. Yet I still don’t have TIME to be more involved, to take more action than I do in my own little ways. I would have more time if I were independent financially.

    This got me thinking: if laziness isn’t a Constant, if people’s lack of interest, education, and involvement are directly related to the hours they spend working for money to maintain their lifestyle (a big variable in itself, I grant), then freeing people of their toil for existence might afford many to take the time to be more involved in the larger world. You can’t decrease laziness without increasing independence (and granted, with some folks, maybe not even then)..

    I read that Bill Gates is worth $38 billion. If such a man could find a way to live on only $37 billion, he could create 1,000 millionaires overnight. Maybe he could have a game show, where he receives applications from contestants with good ideas, or great research-oriented educational podcasts (ahem), or some other worthy goal toward the betterment of humanity, and picks among them each week to create a millionaire. This batch of new millionaires would suddenly have much more time to become involved in their world, to educate themselves and others, to take action and to have an impact. His measly $1 billion would stake a show like this for 19 YEARS.

    Maybe a million is too much – maybe he gives $100,000 to ten people, instead of making one millionaire. If people could pay down their mortgage, they could have more free time. Or they could start or improve an existing business, employ more people, circulate more money into their local economy, and maybe be more rightly-employed.

    Is it possible that just one of these 1-percenters could be persuaded to make a relatively-small sacrifice that would spread positively through the world in the form of happier, self-actualized people, who would inspire others with their level of involvement in their world?

    Maybe they just don’t want to hear from the “stupid” middle-class anymore.

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