Mind Control 101: The Basics

Remember this? Youre still doing it wrong.

Remember this guy? He's still doing it wrong.

by Luna Flesher

We have explored what thought reform is not in Mind Control 101: Myths of Brainwashing.  But what is it? What force can shut down people’s minds and get them to do things they otherwise would never consent to?

Cult Conversion Walkthrough (Storytime!)

No one is immune from mind control.  And contrariwise, mind control doesn’t always work. It takes the right combination of factors; specifically trust, common ideals, and receptivity.

Cults are a good place to study mind control because the changes they effect on people’s lives are extremely obvious.

Pretend for a moment you are having a difficult time in your life: a recent tragedy or major transition.  Maybe you’ve just gone through divorce, lost a loved one, you’ve moved to a new town, or have recently been fired.  You’re feeling alone, scared, depressed, ashamed, or desperate.

One day you encounter someone who is nice to you.  Either it’s a friend or associate, or even a complete stranger.  Maybe it is someone handing out pamphlets, or speaking to a crowd.  Who ever it is, he has kind eyes, and you feel a little better when you’re around him.  He also seems to share your values.  Maybe he wants to help the poor, or he talks about the power of love, or God, or protecting animals.  Imagine your greatest value, and he also shares that value with a level of passion you admire.

He invites you to a meeting or a party.  Once there, you find a room full of people who say nice things to you, lifting your spirits.  They are involved in a cause you wholeheartedly endorse.  They take care of the sick or collect food for the poor, or educate kids about capitalism, or share the message of God to the world.

Being around these people makes you feel good.  You feel as if you belong.  You quickly forget your personal problems and begin spending more time with this group, working towards making the world a better place.

They have won your trust.

Now you are fairly receptive to what the leader may tell you.  He will use this time to win more of your trust and make you more receptive.  If you’ve had niggling doubts about your new friends or their beliefs, they are easily explained away.

Slowly, you are introduced to new ideas you may not have accepted at first.  Over time, more is required of you.  More money, more time, more sacrifices.  Your behavior is slowly restricted.  Maybe you are required to dress a special way, eat or not eat certain foods, show up at a certain number of meetings, be so busy you don’t get proper sleep or nutrition.

Now the grip tightens.  The leader teaches you doctrines to instill phobias about the outside world.  You learn that your group has many enemies to fear.  Those enemies are not to be listened to because you will be unable to resist when they try to lead you away from the love of the group.  You are given thought-terminating cliche’s, phrases or words that help you easily dismiss criticism.  You are elite, one of the chosen to help save the world from political error, or one of the blessed of God.  Your very language is altered, as your words become “loaded”. This prevents you from properly thinking about certain concepts, and from properly communicating with people outside the group.  You have become dependent upon the group for your emotional well-being, and you are possibly even physically or financially dependent.  You are isolated, if not physically, then mentally, because there are many sources of information you are taught to distrust.

When you think about the group and its teachings, you are filled with a sense of euphoria.  Thinking about outsiders or criticisms makes you feel anger or confusion.  The thought of leaving the group or “switching sides” makes you feel guilty, ashamed, or afraid.  If something is not going as promised, you blame yourself, not the group.  There are no gray areas left in your world view — things are either good or evil, left or right, pure or tainted, full of life or death.

You now automatically reject any criticism, no matter how valid it is.  You reject any fact that goes contrary to your beliefs, because your beliefs have become more important than reality.  Certain words are now triggers that cause you to reject specific ideas before you even have a chance to hear them out.

You feel yourself to be perfectly rational, far more enlightened or intelligent than those with opposing views.  Yet instead, your brain has been crippled from the mind viruses you voluntarily made part of you.

What Just Happened?

Here is the process:

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Published in: on September 15, 2009 at 2:50 am  Comments (12)  
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PAX 2009 Live Blog

Penny Arcade eXpo is an annual gaming convention in Seattle, WA. It hosts approximately 30,000 people. Any type of game is covered here, video games, tabletop, pen and paper RPGs, board, card, hand held, console, and PC games.

Our PAX Posse includes Luna, Roland, Joci, John, Danielle, and teens Betsy, Tori, Stephan, Meadow, and Judah. Whew!

Roland and I will be liveblogging the event in this post, meaning, check back periodically, as this post will be updated every few hours.

(For anyone waiting for the next Mind Control 101 entry, I’ll write it soon. PAX comes first! XD)

Friday

10:11am Luna: At PAX. Glad we pre-reged early. All badges are of course sold out. I wonder where they will have PAX next year, since the Washington State Convention Center is the largest venue in Seattle (to my knowledge).

Now standing in line for swag bag and lanyard. This line is far, far the longest line I’ve seen at a con. Guessing twice as long as the Adam Savage line at Defcon.

See how this line wraps over and under itself

See how this line wraps over and under itself

10:27am Roland: This line is more awesomely long than any con line I’ve ever been in, and everyone is already registered!

11:02am Luna: OMG the exhibit hall has spilled out into what last year was the LAN room. Swag bag came with full copy of LOTR: Mines of Moria. We were all playing LOTR plain last year. We could start again, and rope the kids into it. Make them our own personal gold farming slaves.

Bag also holds a mouse pad, t-shirt, buttons, stickers. Program guide looks like a retro NES game manual. Awesome job, PAX swag committee!

11:40 Luna: spotted a Reverse-Scalper at the entrance. The poor guy is offering $100 for a three day pass. Planning to sew the kids’ badges to their clothing so they don’t lose and/or get pwned out of them.

1:46pm Luna: Sitting at the AION panel. I hadn’t really heard of this MMORPG until now. Looks maybe cool. Most of the audience is in closed beta and they apparently love it.

1:54pm Luna: iPhone users, be sure to check out the PAX iPhone app to check schedules, events, and other information. (Assuming AT&T lets us have any bandwidth.)

Do not Access this from the Apple Store. It awesomely installs from the web. So browse to this link in Safari:

http://pax.expojunkie.com/#_home

Oh, and Gmail is down again. Weird.

5:37pm Luna: John says he’s disappointed with the racial ratios in the Pax crowds. Mostly white and Asian.

I was greatly disappointed with the booth babe at Atari’s booth. Nothing against her, just against Atari for putting a paid model who seems to have zero interest in games, standing scantily clad with the sole purpose of attracting male gamers. Just like EA at Comicon, you guys have no understanding of the changing gamer demographic – not only are there more women gamers, bur more if the guys want smart gamer girlfriends, not just pretty naked bodies.

Speaking of girls, there seemed to be fewer women this year. That could have something to do with the time of day. My jury is still out till tomorrow.

I didn’t have time to finish the walk of the expo hall. But here are the games I’m excited about:

Machinarium
Lego Rock Band
Beetles Rick Band
Elemental: War of Magic
Tales of Monkey Island

I had a great time at the Stardock / Impulse booth. We are constant fans of that company. Their Gamer’s Bill of Rights was a long time coming. I love a company who believes at it’s roots their customers should be treated with respect, not suspected as thieves.

Stardock staff recommended a game I plan to check out: Kitten Sanctuary

6:28pm Luna: Watching in fascination as the nVidia numbers game unfolds. Saw this happen two years ago. The game works this way: nvidia booth hands you a button. Your button has a number and presumably, someone else has another button with the same number. Find your match. Then you can spin a wheel or something, and the grand prize everyday is some snazzy top of the line expensive graphics gear.

At this stage, we’re watching the beginnings if self-organization. Some people are content to labor away, walking around and manually looking at buttons. But already, people have scrawled their numbers in 5″ on lined paper and ink pen. Hashtag #nvidia and your number on Twitter so others can search you.

It should be interesting to see if the final stages of this look anything like two years ago.

7:52pm Luna: Watched the Bioshock 2 preview.  Wow.  Leave it to Bioshock to force me into upgrading my video card again.  Now I’m more motivated to win one. ;)

It doesn’t just look like another version of Bioshock with new graphic overlays over the same old gameplay.  For one thing, it seems a little more like a zombie game.  Since you’re playing a Big Daddy, not much can hurt you, so you generally get ganged up upon.  You’re trying to protect a Little Sister, so I sincerely hope the game doesn’t end up being the world’s longest escort quest (I hate escort quests!)

Storyline is still immersive.  Big Sisters are fucking scary.  Graphics?  Well, let’s say it’s impressive when the ocean floods into the room, water beads up on camera, and then you’re walking around with floating chairs and murky ocean goo floating around you.

Yeah, I see a new GPU in my future.

Gameboy Music

Gameboy Music

Earlier, we walked past the Gameboy Music people outside.  They are much, much better this year.  Not only is the novelty of the instrument cool, they’re actually starting to sound good.  I stayed to listen just because I actually liked the sound.

In the Console Freeplay room on floor 5, you can play with a Microsoft Surface. I’m always excited about these paradigm-blowing new technologies.

Surface of course is a table a few feet across.  4-6 people can sit comfortably around it.  It has a touch-sensitive screen.  Actually, I learned it’s technically a camera, and touch sensitivity is approximated. You drag elements around on the screen.  So if there are dots or icons flying around, you can touch to add new dots, drag them places, etc.

There is also a chip system, where coded chips can be placed on the screen.  They have various functions — like gravity, springs, solid objects, and so on.  So if you have dots flowing across the screen, and place down a gravity chip, it can attract or repulse the dots.  My intuitive impulse was to twist the chip, and I quickly learned twisting one way created a stronger and stronger repulse reaction.  Counterclockwise twists created stronger and stronger incoming gravity.

Another application showed you a little better how the camera was working.  I could lay my arm across it, and it “saw” my arm down to the last eyelet on my fancy sleeves, in a sort of black-and-white “negative”.

There is also an identity card.  You lay it on the surface, and it recognizes you.  This can be used in a variety of applications.  For instance, in gaming, it tracks your score, movements, etc. When you leave for a break, you take your ID with you, so no one can cheat. :)

Another app uses your ID to show Twitter and Facebook details of the people sitting at the table.  Twitter messages can be moved around, sorted, etc.

Surface seems to bring social back to computing.  This should be a strange interface when used with Natal. That will bring not only facial recognition for the purpose of identification of multiple users of the same surface at the same time, but also emotion and body movement recognition.

This plus some of the augmented reality apps, like are being developed for iPhones now, make me very excited to see what the near-future holds in terms of computer interfaces and how they will change the way we think.

Surfaces are currently being marketed for commercial use only, as each one costs about $12,500.  However, the Microsoft rep said Windows 7 was build with touch interfaces in mind, so we’ll soon start seeing these types of interfaces in the form of laptops, tablets, and monitors.

9:00pm Luna: Merchants of Deva are doing an alcohol-infused fund raiser for Child’s Play, tomorrow evening 5pm-9pm at The Baltic Room on 1207 Pine. http://www.merchantsofdeva.com for more info.

Published in: on September 4, 2009 at 5:09 pm  Comments (2)  
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Mind Control 101: Myths of Brainwashing

Mind Control - ur doing it rong

Mind catrol - ur doing it rong akshully

by Luna Flesher

I’ve studied a lot about mind control over the years.  My interest piqued shortly after I left a rigorous and restrictive religion.  I wanted to better understand how I had willingly allowed myself to be controlled, all the while believing and protesting loudly that I was free.

These methods are deceptive and unethical, tricking the mind rather than persuading through honesty and reason. Knowing this, I now have a very unique perspective on American politics.  I can see these techniques used all the time, by politicians, media, and regular people.

This is not owing to a vast conspiracy. It doesn’t take an evil mastermind to notice certain approaches work better to persuade. These methods have always worked and will always continue to work, and so they perpetuate through society.  Some who study memetics might even say they self-replicate.

This post begins a series called “Mind Control 101”, which precedes its non-evil step-twin, “Logical Fallacies 101”.

Please do not use this as a How To!  I address this topic not with the intent that you try to take over the world. In instead wish to make you better able to defend yourself when your mind comes under assault.

Let’s begin with the myths.  The entire subject of brainwashing is “loaded”.  Loading a word is itself, fittingly, a mind control technique that limits thought by giving you preconceived and highly incorrect notions. I’ll start “deprogramming” you by showing where your existing understanding of the topic is probably far from reality.

When I say these words, “Thought Control” or “Brainwashing”, you no doubt envision a wild-haired hypnotist swinging a silver watch, while a stern doctor injects your arm with a strange serum.  In the background, hooded figures chant, and soon your eyes begin to glaze over.  All the while you are helpless to resist because you are strapped to a chair.

This is all complete fantasy.  The great secret is that while being brainwashed you feel in complete control of yourself.  A much more accurate term is “coercive persuasion“, because you are persuaded to want the same thing the manipulator wants, to believe as he wants you to believe.

Those who have been thusly persuaded never know they have been brainwashed.  Conversely if you think you’ve been brainwashed, you probably haven’t been.

So let’s dispel some myths, shall we?

Thought reform does not require physical restraint.

Scientists used to think this, back in the 1950s, when American POWs returned from Korea singing the praises of their captors.  But coercive persuasion in our free society requires a little more skill.  No force is required.  All it takes is listening to someone who is talking.  It also requires that you trust them, at least a little bit.  If they do their job right, you will go willingly.

This picture is totally photoshopped

It does not involve hypnotic disks.

Hypnosis is a broad word that means any varying state of consciousness other than the one you’re probably experiencing now.  Various levels of hypnosis, trance, and meditation are sometimes used by cult groups, but this is never, ever a requirement.

No drugs, truth serums, elixirs, or magical incantations are used in brainwashing.

Other than a few 60’s cults that were using drugs anyway, I’ve never come across any thought reform involving chemicals.  Nor does it have anything to do with Satan.  No demonic possession, summoning of evil spirits, or worshiping pagan gods is required.

Brainwashed people are not glassy-eyed, drooling zombies.

Most actually appear quite normal.  In fact, I would venture to say everyone ends up brainwashed to one degree or another, at some point in their lives. Our brains seem wired to accept manipulation and deception. It seems logical that humankind would have better survived those very dangerous first 100,000 years of pre-history by following a leader without question. Thought control merely capitalizes on those build-in survival skills we are all born with.

There is absolutely no way to know that you’ve been brainwashed.

That’s exactly the point. If you knew you were being controlled, you wouldn’t like it very much, and you wouldn’t stand for it.  The manipulated fully believe they are making their own choices, that they are completely free to act in any way they choose.

A good deal of brainwashing involves setting up trigger thoughts, little tricks and traps that help you deflect any incoming facts, beliefs, thoughts, or feelings that would make you suddenly stop believing the lies you’ve been duped into.  Part of this series is going to be identifying those traps, so you can avoid them in the first place.

(I could say “…and so you can escape if you’re already brainwashed.”  But you see, if I were to accuse you of being controlled, you would immediately become defensive and protest, thinking, “There is no possible way!” That is exactly what I’m talking about.)

There is no “one size fits all” method of mind control.

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, you can control some of the people all of the time, or all the people some of the time, but you can’t control all the people all the time.  Manipulators throw out a line with some bait to see what bites.  Sometimes it’s you, but usually you will laugh at their crazy ideas.  Everyone is ripe for being manipulated at some point in their lives.  Someone has something to say that will appeal specifically to you. You will always be able to see how other people are being brainwashed, but you won’t necessarily notice when it’s happening to you, because you will like it.

There are a lot of mind control tricks, but not all are required.

There isn’t a checklist that says, “Must meet all 50 requirements to be considered mind control”.  To control, you only need to do what works.

Brainwashing is not total.

It is possible to be partly brainwashed.  You can be brainwashed about certain topics but not others.  You can be brainwashed to the point of doing or believing almost everything the leader wants, but not quite. Victims of mind control can eventually be freed.

This image is actually pretty accurate.  NOT!

A completely staged, totally unrealistic depiction of a typical brainwasher. (Note the evil eyebrows.)

Brainwashers are not creepy, bizarre, crazy, mean-spirited men who ooze evil and darkness from every pore.

Images of cackling, sneering, British-accept-wielding villains were created for the drama of movie fiction, not to reflect reality.

If you’re going to be good at manipulation, you’ve got to be likable. To persuade, you must be charismatic. To convince, you must be, well… convincing. I listened to old recordings of Jim Jones recorded just before the infamous Jonestown kool-aid mass-suicides and he sounded sincere, kind, loving, and wise.

Furthermore, controlling groups or ideologies work best when believers are taught to use brainwashing techniques themselves.  That’s right. In almost every case, the controlled end up controlling.

No one is immune from mind control.

Not even me, not even after all I’ve learned about it. I can build up defenses, but even then I will be susceptible to it at some point.

Conclusion

Now you know what mind control is not, which gives you an advantage over most people.  In the next post I will, in the most basic of terms, describe what it is. Later on, I will delve into the details each technique so you can learn to recognize these methods in the wild.

Published in: on August 29, 2009 at 4:25 am  Comments (11)  
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Right On: Anti-Racism on CNN

by John Lindsey

Tim Wise, an anti-racist writer and speaker, was recently on CNN to comment on the racial subtext present in much of the opposition to Obama and his domestic agenda (we also covered this in “American Idiot: Obama, Socialism, and the Soft-Pedaling of Racism“):

Unsurprisingly, he received some less-than-friendly feedback which he recounts on his blog (the first one is downright cordial compared to others mentioned):

‘How dare you say this is about racism!’

And a pleasant Monday to you too sunshine, I thought, as I stared at my computer screen this morning, reading over the first e-mail of the day.

It was from someone who had apparently seen my presentation on CNN last night, in which I explained why racism is indeed a driving force behind the outpouring of anger we’ve been seeing…”
Read the rest in “Racism, Right-Wing Rage and the Politics of White Nostalgia

While you’re there, check out his other two excellent articles on the subject:

Hopefully, Tim will get more opportunities to speak in the mainstream media; it’s past time we had  articulate anti-racists on the news. I’ve seen him in action many times over the years, and he’d tear the average race-baiting talking head to shreds.

American Idiot: Obama, Socialism, and the Soft-Pedaling of Racism

by John Lindsey

Bill Maher thinks we’re stupid. He’s almost certainly wrong. That being said, if he is claiming that too many Americans don’t know their asses from their elbows when it comes to knowledge about the rest of the world, their fellow citizens, or even their own government, well, that’s hard to deny.

Obama = SocialistTake the “Obama’s a socialist” claim popular with – well,  just about anyone on the far right – but most recently with the anti-health reform protesters. Now, the anger of these people is apparent, but the very act of calling the corporate-friendly Obama a socialist (apart from making actual socialists laugh) is to publicly declare that you wouldn’t know socialism if Karl Marx personally beat you over the head with it.

This is ignorance; but it is misguided (if not also ignorant) if we respond to these people as if what they’re saying has anything to do with whether or not Obama is a socialist. It doesn’t. If their anger is genuine but their accusations aren’t, it’s logical to suspect that the anger is probably coming from somewhere else.

Granted, Obama’s not the first politician to be called a socialist; nor is the use of class warfare by politicians and monied power a new tactic. Throughout our history, it’s been a highly successful method to persuade otherwise rational people to become hostile toward their own economic interests and their natural allies.

For example, many protesters of health care reform are older (and incidentally, predominantly white). Of this group, aprotest0709 substantial portion are on Medicare – a socialized, single-payer insurance system. Indeed, many of these folks would be destitute without it, which was the purpose of the institution in the first place. Why, then, would they protest a premium-driven public option? After all, they already enjoy a much better system for free. Oh, right – because it’s “socialism”. Or a “government takeover of health care.” Or – probably more accurately – because it’s “Obamacare”.

“Obamacare”, in the minds of many of these protesters, holds a stigma; because Obama himself has been (to them) successfully stigmatized. The demonization of Obama began during election season, and while vilifying political opponents is not new, the manner in which it has been applied to Obama is unique, for obvious reasons.

Whereas Democratic presidents are often portrayed as far-left advocates of causes and institutions that have become associated with people of color (e.g., welfare, Affirmative Action, discrimination in housing, and so on), Obama has been portrayed not just as a champion, but as a direct infiltration of these causes (it should be noted that forms of welfare not currently associated with people of color have no such stigma: unemployment insurance, Medicare, Social Security, etc.)

Hence:

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The Culture War at Defcon 17

dc-logo
by Roland Lindsey

For seventeen years, Defcon has been a home country to society’s misfits. Geeks, nerds and hackers of all stripes make their yearly pilgrimage to the Holy City of Las Vegas to reconnect with friends and family from all over the world, and for one weekend, they are the normal ones. The mundanes cautiously pace through the halls wondering what happened to the rest of the retirees and beautiful people. Once they realize that an Evil Hacker conference is commencing at the hotel of their choosing, they utter a prayer for mercy and have nightmares amidst restless sleep about the 5 character glyph “PWN3D” being carved upon their virtual faces.

But even though the hackers seek the company of each other as a means to feel connected to others, there are further divisions within the group. One black presenter offered one way to remember who he was: “I’m the black presenter at Defcon, lol.” And although attendance of women is noticeably up, the “sausagefest” jokes can be found on the Twitterstream with great regularity.

One group that has sought to provide a meetup for another segment of Defcon society runs “Queercon” every year. It is as brash and uninhibited as its name, and most find it to be the most delightful gathering of friendly, fun people. In fact, although there are many parties where dancing is available, Queercon is usually the only one where you can expect to see a roomful dance all night long.

Being gay and geek is not exactly the most harmonious combination in the hacker space. This is most evident in the de facto insult in geek circles, which is typically some variant of “gay” or “fag” (“g4y” or “f4g” if you prefer.) It is one thing to be an outcast because you are gay in a straight society. It is another thing to be an outcast because you are gay and a geek in a straight and mundane society, and because you are gay in geek society. Unless you are a hot lesbian, in which case you will be drooled over, ogled and patronized all at the same time.

This year, I was very much looking forward to Queercon. I strode down the hall confidently, knowing a night of fun and dancing awaited me. Ahead I saw the Rainbow flag, and I smiled, and then looked again. The Rainbow flag was draped over the American flag on a flagpole. Uh oh.

Some geeks tend towards encyclopedic knowledge; whenever they see something they don’t understand, they look it up and add it to their mental files. As I noticed the flag, I mentioned to my girlfriend: “I don’t think that is quite legal.” She amended that it was technically legal, but against US Code. I examined it further. Apparently, they had some difficulty figuring out how to fly the flag, and in desperation had affixed some wire to the top of the flag and attached it to the Rainbow flag.

I decided it was unseemly, but not unforgivable, and regardless would likely not offend anyone bound for that end of the hallway. I didn’t mention it to anyone at the party. I probably should have, because I was wrong about whether or not someone would take offense.

Another geek, himself a former member of the armed forces, arrived at the party and pulled down the Rainbow flag. He gave the flag to those near the door and stated, “I don’t appreciate this flag being hung over the US Flag. It’s not right.” As he walked out, someone from the back of the party yelled out, “Hater!”

The former soldier returned thirty seconds later. He asked, “Are you calling me a hater?” He claimed the other only had the right to have a Queercon because he had fought for those rights overseas. There was disagreement. The argument escalated. The other persisted with the ad hominem, perhaps thinking if he said it enough, his opponent would say, “You’re right, I do hate you!” Eventually, the former soldier gave up and left.

The mood at the party was temporarily broken. Dancers stopped their gyrations.

If there is anything the geek community has learned from life is that mainstream society tends to reject us, and we have had some hardship as a result. We are misunderstood, underappreciated, and abused. We agree that this is not a good thing.

And yet, for all of our enlightenment and lessons learned and struggle together, we do it to each other. But then again, we have always done it to each other. What remains to be seen is if we can change any better or faster than the mainstream society that fears, misunderstands, hates, ignores all of us.

Published in: on August 5, 2009 at 5:22 am  Comments (1)  
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Email Rebuttal: Muslims Are Taking Over Europe

I get a lot of forwarded political email, mostly of the sensationalist right wing bent.  These are often nonfactual or overly-alarmist, so I take time to point out these mistakes when I can.

I recently received one which was factually correct:  Yes, demographic studies are predicting that by sheer force of birthrate (helped a little by immigration), Muslim populations will be in the majority in most European countries in a few short decades.

I disagreed however with the tone of the email, which implied all Muslims are anti-Western extremists who support suicide bombings, building of nukes, and flying planes into buildings.  This kind of blind generalization is dangerous.

Just as with Christianity, there are those in the extreme and those
in the middle.  There are those who are fundamentalist and those who are secular.

The only real difference is that at this moment in history, the extreme factions of Islam happen to have state power in much of the Middle East.  For this reason, we make the assumption that all the people in these countries are in full agreement with their dictators.  But in fact, the people are often very unhappy about being oppressed.

Obama alluded to this a couple of months ago in his highly-criticized Cairo speech.  At Cairo University, home to many secular-leaning Muslims, he made an appeal to those many people in the middle-stream of the Muslim world.  They are unhappy about their situation, unhappy about being ruled in theocracies.  And more often victims of extremist bombings than we are, they are unhappy about terrorism.  Obama was speaking to them, yet he was criticized by the Right who blamed him for being too “soft”, too lenient on a people who supposedly are unanimous in their hatred of the West.

A few short weeks later, we go to see the faces of many Muslim men and women who are completely unlike this mass of thronging evil we’d love to hate.  In Iran, millions of people rose up against oppression by President Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Ruler Khamenei.  Over the ensuing months, thousands of peaceful protesters were arrested, tortured, and even killed, simply for walking in the streets or publishing unapproved content.

When we are blinded by hate against a generalized concept of Islam, we are aiding those who prefer an extreme form of Islam.  We prove to the extremists that the West is adversarial.  We prove to them that we do not understand them.  We prove to them that we only want violence for them.

We perpetuate the fight, we escalate the violence, we continue give them reasons to hate us as much as we hate them.

If we could instead realize that Muslim people are just people, just like us, with families, hopes, fears, beliefs, misconceptions, and regular lives, then we can meet in the middle with those Muslims who also want to see past their hate to understand us.

The majority of them do not hate us as much you believe.  Does a majority Islamic population in Europe mean Europe will have to change? Absolutely.  But if you want an Extreme Muslim Europe, you will continue to hate Muslims.  What we want is a two-way flow of cultural understanding.  We want the non-extreme, moderate Muslims to carry the cultural majority within the Muslim world.

I’d highly recommend reading about the Iranian struggle against their government.  It goes on to this day, and they still need our well-wishing and support.  I have gained a love for the Iranian people, and a better understanding of Muslims in general.  There are many tear-jerking stories of brave people making very courageous acts that are reminiscent of our own country’s struggle for freedom.  You will find that a majority of Iranian Muslims are not unlike ourselves — the only difference is they completely lack the freedoms we so enjoy.

Published in: on July 29, 2009 at 5:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Free Your Mind Using Good Mental Habits

by Luna Flesher (cross-posted from lunaverse.blogspot.com)

The world is full of many ideas and belief systems. Many of these ideas are contradictory, and they can’t all be true. It is obvious that believing something does not mean it is reality, no matter how many people believe it, no matter how good those people are.

Yet a lot of people are motivated to convince you to believe like they do. Many of these people are highly skilled in the arts of persuasion, and we’re all at risk of believing a lie.

So how can you sort fact from fiction, truth from lies? It’s not always possible, but good mental habits can increase your odds. Ultimately, the best judge of reality is you. If your goal is like mine, to bring your beliefs as close to reality as possible, then read on.
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Published in: on October 23, 2008 at 7:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cognitive Dissonance and This Election

by Luna Flesher (cross posted from lunaverse.blogspot.com)

Let me preface this by stating I am a pragmatic libertarian, meaning I am civilly liberal and fiscally conservative. I add “pragmatic”, because every situation is complex, and should be looked at from all sides, where “principle” is only one factor — reality is another.

I’ve done a lot of reading over the years on how people are persuaded, and how beliefs work in the brain. Most of my studies focused on cults and mind control, but it gives me an interesting perspective on societal dynamics as well.

There is a psychological theory called Cognitive Dissonance/Consonance. A cognition is defined as any thought, belief, feeling, experience, idea, or other mental “thing”. We have tons of cognitions, and they all add up to be our total belief system. Our brain is motivated to more or less keep these cognitions in harmony. When we encounter a new cognition that confirms our existing cognitions, we feel consonance. When something goes against our existing cogntions, we feel dissonance.
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Published in: on October 20, 2008 at 7:21 pm  Comments (2)  
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