Tag Archives | Psychology

Conspiracy Theory and the Failure of Certainty


In the culture wars that are being waged to define our communal values, the rhetorical arms race has generated a healthy stockpile of words and phrases that are often deployed in linguistic combat. Amongst this arsenal, few terms weave together so many cultural threads as “Conspiracy Theory.”

From such seemingly disparate threads as the philosophy of language, epistemology, political philosophy, history, journalism, psychology, and sociology, a Gordian tangle emerges that tie all of these subjects together.

This writing will endeavor to briefly:

  • contextualize the epistemological difficulties of attaining certainty
  • examine the tenuous nature of news and history with a focus on its manipulation
  • enumerate a truncated list of historical conspiracies with the purpose of underscoring their unexceptional nature
  • examine the historical and contemporary usage of the term “conspiracy theory”
  • leave the reader with a general approach to sidestepping the pitfalls of rhetorical obfuscation and semantic misunderstanding

I: “Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position.

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The Godly Colonel Kurtz



I’m cruising east up Market, away from downtown. It’s just me and Citizen’s Cab #137 fishing for fares, as we cross the brink into the Loin…

There’s a dude flagging me up at the corner of 7th, at a red.

Olive skinned with broad shoulders, in his mid 30s, my potential fare is semi-buff and sports an expensive black leather motorcycle jacket unzipped over a Hawaiian print shirt unbuttoned low enough to boast two highly-toned pectorals. Dude’s neck is ringed by a white coral choker framed by semi-greasy dark, wavy shoulder length locks that are pinned back from his face by a pair of wrap-around sunglasses sitting perched atop his head. He is semi-good looking, despite the badly faded navy blue shorts and worn white tennis shoes.

Dude’s casual.

Why not?

I pull over.

But before entering my taxi, my passenger bends humbly into my shotgun window to verify that I am actually agreeing to pick him up.… Read the rest

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No one should ever work. Workers of the world… *relax*!


Bob Black, “The Abolition of Work” via Primitivism:


No one should ever work.

Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you’d care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.

That doesn’t mean we have to stop doing things. It does mean creating a new way of life based on play; in other words, a *ludic* conviviality, commensality, and maybe even art. There is more to play than child’s play, as worthy as that is. I call for a collective adventure in generalized joy and freely interdependent exuberance. Play isn’t passive. Doubtless we all need a lot more time for sheer sloth and slack than we ever enjoy now, regardless of income or occupation, but once recovered from employment-induced exhaustion nearly all of us want to act.

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Blame it on biology: how explanations of mental illness influence treatment

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Every mental health problem has a biological dimension. How could it not? All our experience and behaviour, normal or abnormal, is founded on our neurobiology.

Researchers have taken great strides towards understanding these foundations and the public has taken note. Increasingly, we explain our problems as products of heredity, brain disease and chemical imbalance, rather than life experiences, adversities and ways of thinking.

Regrettably, these scientific advances have a dark side. As a recent review shows, people who hold biogenetic (biological and genetic) explanations of mental health disorders tend to have some negative perceptions of those who experience them. They view these people as relatively dangerous, unpredictable and unlikely to recover, and seek greater distance from them.

The consequences of these perceptions extend beyond stigma; they also have troubling implications for treatment.

The “therapeutic alliance” between clinician and client is a key ingredient in successful treatment, responsible for better clinical outcomes and lower rates of dropout.… Read the rest

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A Cute Political Theory

I woke up with cable this morning, in a hotel room, with a few free hours before work. I haven’t had cable in a while. This, coupled with the absence of clothing and the abundance of toy commercials aired during cartoons, led me to form a completely unremarkable political theory.


There wasn’t anything on any of the seven Showtime channels. I found my way to Cartoon Network. I was content letting my mind wander to animation, but then the commercials started, and didn’t stop. Toys, toys, toys. A plastic Mario on a ‘hovering’ plastic car. Another toy commercial, for a creepy mask and Spiderman web shooters. Two for the girls: fluorescent comb-able plastic ponies and collectible princess dolls.

While their parents are sleeping, reluctant to let go of the tasteless bliss of dreamless sleep and return to the land of dental plaque and insurance premiums, children are bombarded by footage of euphoric children intercut with the faces of facsimile animals and their favorite cartoon pals.… Read the rest

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Mindful Dishwashing Can Increase Mental Stimulation and Decrease Anxiety

According to a new study, mindful dishwashing can decrease nervousness by 27% and increase mental inspiration by 25%.

via Psyblog:

Mindful dishwashing can decrease stress and calm the mind, a new study finds.

People in the study focused on the smell of the soap, the feel and shape of the dishes to help them enter a mindful state.

Doing the dishes in a mindful way also increased the pleasurable feeling of time slowing down, the researchers found.

Mr Adam Hanley, the study’s first author, said:

“I’ve had an interest in mindfulness for many years, both as a contemplative practitioner and a researcher.

I was particularly interested in how the mundane activities in life could be used to promote a mindful state and, thus, increase overall sense of well-being.”

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How Hacktivists Will Break Corporate Control of Information Within a Decade


Jake Anderson via Activist Post:

Sci-fi author and information rights activist Cory Doctorow appeared out of the dusty heat of the 2015 Burning Man in a gray jumpsuit and a pair of Adbusters Black Spot sneakers. In his hand he held a small black moleskin, which he glanced at intermittently while delivering an electrifying, albeit head-spinning talk on the future of the Internet of Things.

Doctorow, who recently re-joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), contextualized theInternet of Things as an information rights struggle that requires an end to patent laws that forbid jailbreaking digital locks. Concordantly, he and the EFF have an ambitious plan: To dismantle the draconian Digital Rights Management (DRM) laws currently protected by the DMCA Section 1201. Doctorow and the EFF seek to counter this oppressive legislation with the Apollo 1201 initiative, by which they will strategically pick cases that can clearly demonstrate Congress violated the Constitution when it passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998.

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How Sacred Science Addresses What Modern Physics Ignores

Tom Bunzel via Collective Evolution:

In a recent attempt to understand how conventional physics “explains” reality, I began to read Lawrence Krauss’ A Universe from Nothing

Krauss is one of those famous scientists like Richard Dawkins who doesn’t find anything strange about the fact that existence IS.

Instead he takes EVERYTHING for granted and attacks, like Dawkins and Bill Maher, the low hanging fruit of organized religion and its dogmatic, unproven Gods created in our image.

When I tried reading his book I got a bit frustrated and then checked the index for the word “consciousness,” and when I did not find it, I put the book aside.

The question really is – “what” exactly is “nothing.”

First and foremost it is a concept.  Nothing does not exist.  What exists is, well, everything.

Nothing is the word or placeholder we use for null – similar to zero in math – but in both cases (words and math) they are human abstractions or interpretations of Nature. 

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Scientists Asked the Stoners: What Type of Pot Helps You Sleep Better?

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Agata Blaszczak Boxe via Braindecoder:

People use various tricks to deal with sleep problems — some like to have a cup of chamomile tea before bed, while others count sheep or rewatch Planet Earth.

And then there are those who claim the best way to get quality Zzz’s is to smoke some pot.

Managing sleep issues is indeed one if the most commonly cited reasons for the use of medical marijuana, research has shown. But while pot may help promote sleep in some insomniacs, the extent of this potential benefit and the exact mechanisms involved are not clear.

What’s more, various types of marijuana may have different effects on sleep. To understand this better, in a new study, researchers look at the types of medical marijuana that people prefer to use for sleep problems like insomnia and nightmares. After recruiting 163 adults who purchased medical marijuana at a California dispensary, the researchers looked specifically at whether the people were using sativa, indica, or hybrid strains of pot.

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