Some people wonder why I condescend to materialists. This is why. (from The Atlantic):
“How widespread is this promiscuous devotion to the untrue? How many Americans now inhabit alternate realities? Any given survey of beliefs is only a sketch of what people in general really think. But reams of survey research from the past 20 years reveal a rough, useful census of American credulity and delusion. By my reckoning, the solidly reality-based are a minority, maybe a third of us but almost certainly fewer than half. Only a third of us, for instance, don’t believe that the tale of creation in Genesis is the word of God. Only a third strongly disbelieve in telepathy and ghosts. Two-thirds of Americans believe that “angels and demons are active in the world.” More than half say they’re absolutely certain heaven exists, and just as many are sure of the existence of a personal God—not a vague force or universal spirit or higher power, but some guy. A third of us believe not only that global warming is no big deal but that it’s a hoax perpetrated by scientists, the government, and journalists. A third believe that our earliest ancestors were humans just like us; that the government has, in league with the pharmaceutical industry, hidden evidence of natural cancer cures; that extraterrestrials have visited or are visiting Earth. Almost a quarter believe that vaccines cause autism, and that Donald Trump won the popular vote in 2016. A quarter believe that our previous president maybe or definitely was (or is?) the anti-Christ. According to a survey by Public Policy Polling, 15 percent believe that the “media or the government adds secret mind-controlling technology to television broadcast signals,” and another 15 percent think that’s possible. A quarter of Americans believe in witches. Remarkably, the same fraction, or maybe less, believes that the Bible consists mainly of legends and fables—the same proportion that believes U.S. officials were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.”
A senior physician at one of America’s most prestigious university hospitals promotes “miracle cures” on his daily TV show. Cable channels air documentaries treating mermaids, monsters, ghosts, and angels as real. When a political-science professor attacks the idea “that there is some ‘public’ that shares a notion of reality, a concept of reason, and a set of criteria by which claims to reason and rationality are judged,” colleagues just nod and grant tenure. The old fringes have been folded into the new center. The irrational has become respectable and often unstoppable.
Our whole social environment and each of its overlapping parts—cultural, religious, political, intellectual, psychological—have become conducive to spectacular fallacy and truthiness and make-believe. There are many slippery slopes, leading in various directions to other exciting nonsense. During the past several decades, those naturally slippery slopes have been turned into a colossal and permanent complex of interconnected, crisscrossing bobsled tracks, which Donald Trump slid down right into the White House.
Not long before Esalen was founded, one of its co-founders, Dick Price, had suffered a mental breakdown and been involuntarily committed to a private psychiatric hospital for a year. His new institute embraced the radical notion that psychosis and other mental illnesses were labels imposed by the straight world on eccentrics and visionaries, that they were primarily tools of coercion and control. This was the big idea behind One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, of course. And within the psychiatric profession itself this idea had two influential proponents, who each published unorthodox manifestos at the beginning of the decade—R. D. Laing (The Divided Self) and Thomas Szasz (The Myth of Mental Illness). “Madness,” Laing wrote when Esalen was new, “is potentially liberation and renewal.” Esalen’s founders were big Laing fans, and the institute became a hotbed for the idea that insanity was just an alternative way of perceiving reality.
These influential critiques helped make popular and respectable the idea that much of science is a sinister scheme concocted by a despotic conspiracy to oppress people. Mental illness, both Szasz and Laing said, is “a theory not a fact.” This is now the universal bottom-line argument for anyone—from creationists to climate-change deniers to anti-vaccine hysterics—who prefers to disregard science in favor of his own beliefs.
Look, I’m sort of saying the same thing I said earlier in the week here, but I don’t know what to tell this douche. It’s nice to say you’re being rational with this position that spirituality shouldn’t evolve with time, but wait. Oh yeah, every single aspect of our lives has changed incredibly rapidly because of technology, but we still have pretty much the EXACT spiritual beliefs we had 2,000 years ago. They haven’t evolved at all. Hey, I had a lucid dream last night. Mr. Scientist, what are lucid dreams? Oh, you have no idea. Why? Because you haven’t really studied this stuff extensively. Why? It doesn’t fit the capitalist narrative. Got it.
Look, there are all kinds of weird phenomenon that all point to the fact that the human imagination has seemingly limitless potentiality. Some of them aren’t even controversial, just inarguable facts. Nobody’s going to say that hypnosis isn’t a thing or that psychedelic drugs don’t make certain people talk to aliens. We truly have zero explanation for what schizophrenia is exactly, we just figured out a way to drug the people that have it into relative conformity, which sort of works…some of the time. It’s nice to say, oh these crazy people believe in aliens, but the reality is that tons of people have experiences they don’t understand and mainstream science offers them zero cogent explanations whatsoever, only callous condescension.
Which is what I’m giving you. Fuck off you bootlicking piece of shit. Seriously, your entire thesis here is that the problem in American politics stems from those pesky people who pursue alternative spirituality and don’t believe the mainstream war mongering, billionaire creating narrative. Yep, this has nothing to do with those psycho Christian right wing billionaires and their aggressively expanding propaganda empire. There’s no question these people infiltrated conspiracy culture, Alex Jones was at the Republican convention for Christ sakes. Roger Stone watched the election on his show. Look at the little birdie. This obviously has nothing to do with the mainstream media outlets that gave Trump 4 times the coverage to boost their ratings and spewed wealth worshiping reality TV bullshit into the collective unconscious for years (after being deregulated). The hippies are the problem, clearly. It’s Esalen’s fault.
By the way, the headline? You ripped it off from fucking Cracked.com, on an article they did before the election that got over 7 million hits. What an amazing talent.
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