SMSD Disorder

Curious to know what exactly is SMSD Disorder? You will not find the definition in an electronic software manual today nor will you find it in the DSM-5 or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. At least, not yet. However, after almost 28-years, the last ten being the most disturbing illuminating, there will probably soon be a SMSD Disorder officially entered in the psychiatric DSM-5. I will answer your curiosity later. Meanwhile, allow first a preamble.

I watched a provocative, telling interview segment earlier this week on PBS NewsHour with Judy Woodruff and Jeffrey Brown. Brown was asking author Jia Tolentino to introduce and summarize her new published book entitled Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion.

The book and interview caught my interest primarily because of my under-grad studies and work background in psychology, particularly my previous work-experience at an inpatient Psych/A&D hospital. Self-delusion in psychology is a mental-illness I am familiar with firsthand while employed at the hospital. But the NewsHour segment also caught my attention because of its now greater relevance with the deplorable events surrounding the January 6, 2021 attack by domestic insurrectionist on our U.S. Capitol building and Congressmembers. The insurrection was undeniably incited by the former President and planned on a host of social websites days/weeks prior.

Jia Tolentino is a staff writer for The New Yorker as well as a contributing editor to several popular acclaimed publications. Jia’s newest book is a collection of nine essays addressing our nation’s critical problems with and our reckless consumption-digestion of mass social-media platforms. The specific topics Tolentino examines in those essays are the “scammer culture,” and our intellectually gullible internet culture over the past decade. It also examines one of Jia’s personally resonating subjects: modern feminism. Here is the PBS NewsHour 5-minute Now Read This segment with Jeffrey Brown and Jia Tolentino:

Yes, the internet’s magic Jia states. Due to the relentless, now one year lasting COVID pandemic kept alive by hundreds of thousands of Americans defiant and indifferent to masks, to public health and safety, to the safety of coworkers, and to their own family members, the pandemic has been continually given steroid shots to remain here taking more American lives for the foreseeable future. Those rebels have fueled this killer virus by spreading it and feeding it non-stop with their social contempt.

Besides surpassing the death-toll of all modern U.S wars combined, excluding at the moment the Civil War, another consequence has been the unprecedented number of confined Americans pushed online and onto social-media platforms for much, much longer timespans. Tolentino says this current internet’s virtual world and its …weird currents of aggression and loneliness [are] evidence of the way that the Internet is, at best, kind of a poor simulacrum of real life.

I have to say, “a poor simulacrum” is a soft benign way of describing the sheer potency and addictiveness the online social-media platforms hold on us. Their software algorithm-machinery’s ability to move us, incite en masse thousands of naïve, internet addicts, many of whom possess poor critical-thinking skills—let alone a modest legal understanding of our Constitutional (elected) democracy operating within a tri-equal branched government—and possess an inability to distinguish what is reliable, factually-based, verified data, news, or knowledge versus what is not. This politicized condition of scientific biological ignorance has reached alarming, lethal manifestations made glaringly visible Jan. 6 at the Capitol.

The vicious jargon was apparent the 9-weeks following the Nov. 3rd elections. The former fake President vomited daily unfounded, unproven claims/Tweets (and over 60 lawsuits) of widespread election fraud, all of them empty. The days following the Georgia state Senate runoffs in which their legal, multiply-verified results injected continued insane, inflammatory conspiracy theories spewed from the White House and echoed on extreme Right social-media platforms. The Twitter fiasco reached unparalleled volume and frequency not seen from any POTUS in American history. Trump and his ardent vassals supporters suffer from SMSD Disorder.

Attention moderate, sane, middle America, you… the vast and sensible majority of this country, it is past time to wake-up to the Coup-sirens! This disturbing, domestic, self-deluded thinking and behavior is no longer sporadic. No longer is it a tiny, trifling gecko lizard. It is a full-blown Godzilla and he is obscenely pissed and hungry. What is distressing though, is that the symptoms of the cyber-disorder in a shark’s tank with many shark’s teeth has been observable and rogue for several internet years. The once captivating Information Age is now The Disinformation Age.

Arab Spring vs American Winter and Free-Speech

Between 2010–2012 social-media was a catalyst for The Arab Spring throughout North Africa and the Middle East. It was widely held that the anti-authoritarian, anti-government protests were in large part the result of “free speech” over social networking platforms. The armed rebellions promoting free elections, regime-dynasty changes, democracy, and a number of other sociopolitical virtues were jubilantly celebrated in the U.S. Many in the West characterized these fights for freedom as evidence of global change for human rights and self-determination. The Arab Awakenings were praised in the West as reflections of the free world with free-enterprise producing technology for an imagined better, more informed, autonomous life as we live in the United States.

In the end and as a whole, only modest changes occurred in the regions at the estimated cost of 61,080 people dead. To this day, countries affected by the Arab Spring are greatly divided between those preferring the status quo and those who seek democratic transformations. Violence and hate-speech actually weakened and undermined the hope most ordinary Arabs envisioned for their country.

What took place in America November 2020 and leading up to Jan. 6th, 2021, an American Winter if you will, cannot be compared to The Arab Spring, not in an already democratic context. An Authoritarian regime fighting for its preservation is not an American Winter fighting for civic virtues and sovereignty it already possesses and was established almost 245-years previous. What is arguably identical between the two “people’s protests” was the violence, hate-speech, and the unrewarded loss of lives to murderers. And finally, all the erroneous screaming about censorship, Second Amendment rights and free-speech are only an individual’s right as an American when it is on outdoor public squares or on public property. It does not, nor has it ever applied to the private sector or privately owned social-media companies. The radical Right is sorely lacking in its comprehension of Constitutional Law. They have slipped into nothing other than very perilous, poisonous Populism disguised as the Republican Party.

Monetize the FUCK Out of Personal Internet Identities

As Tolentino was saying, the internet is magic.” But it has become more. It is now as much white-magic as it is black-magic. Both are exploited by hungry internet consumers. Social-media has become a dopamine addiction for people craving human connection. It was further amplified by COVID-19’s necessary constrainments for public safety and health.

Image credit: Research Hubs

The evolution of the internet from Web 1.0 (1999) to the currently operating Web 3.0 we engorge today provide almost unlimited avenues of profit/revenue for the corporate tech-industry because they monetize the bejesus out of your personal data and tracking your browsing activity and GPS movement. The consequence for many American internet addicts and gullible consumers is what is now emerging. I would like to coin it as SMSD Disorder: Social-Media Self-Delusion Disorder.

The Web can give something back that was not previously known. Web 3.0 learns and understands who you are and gives you something back.

Gian Gonzaga, Ph.D. and Senior Director of Research and Development at the dating site eHarmony

Like Tolentino, Dr. Gonzaga also gives another soft benign description of the dopamine fix of the social-media drugs for consumers with SMSD Disorder. However, when does too much liability and criminal accessory, let alone the loss of moral and democratic principles, outweigh or justify excessive monetizing greed? When is too much, too much? Did Twitter, Facebook, and the other social-media companies wait too long to ban the former President? Did he have special, profit-generating privileges for Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube subscribers that thousands of other banned members did not have and could not generate?

Internet social networking is in some ways a marketplace of Human Futures for Corporate drug-dealers. In other words, the cyber history and personal tracking database are the commodity and consumer attention spans are the revenues and products targeted by the social-media companies. The gullibility of the American internet consumers with unbeknownst, undiagnosed addictive personality risks have been exceptionally depicted in the Netflix tech-opic/documentary The Social Dilemma.

One of the computer scientist interviewed and consulted for The Social Dilemma tech-opic documentary was Stanford University grad Tristan Harris. He is a former Google employee who pioneered Google Inbox that quickly rocketed the tech-Giant into the stratosphere. But while Harris was at Google from 2011–2015 he felt all the American social-media tech-Giants should “feel an enormous responsibility to make sure humanity doesn’t spend its days buried in a smartphone.” They listened, but did nothing. If you can spare a brief 17-minutes, watch this online Collision Conference presented by his cofounded and present non-profit organization the Center for Humane Technology, a progressive group addressing the ethics of consumer technology, governance, and the fate of society as we now have it:

Has history taught us nothing? America is losing many Gen X’s, Millennials, and now Generation Z’s to a plethora of phone apps and addictive cyber-networking algorithms. The mental-disorders growing among these three generations—not surprisingly a timespan covering the internet and tech-boom from Web 2.0 to 3.0—are proportionally associated with social-networking platforms. This is our history ignored for the sake of hyper-monetization.

Is it past the time to regulate, monitor, and hold accountable the social-media megabots before they turn into a repackaged Nazi propaganda machine for megalomaniac Authoritarians? Has our collective memory suddenly taken a nose-dive off the cliff of reason and rationale thought? Can we not, or at least the vast majority of us, no longer recognize and stop a treacherous direction, a cult, its Cult of Personality, and their utilization of any and all mass media platforms to pervade gullible brains. History’s deadliest, most sinister, covert, power-hungry cults of personalities are littered across our world continents within historical records of all cultures, including numerous dark times in our own U.S. history.

To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?

Marcus Tullius Cicero

When will we learn? When human symbols, alphabets, and writing were invented 5,500 years ago, news, political propaganda, sales and marketing, bookkeeping, fine arts, along with lies and half-truths among social groups began. When Gutenberg’s printing press was invented in 1440, mass publishing, at least on a quicker wider scale, more information began reaching individuals, not just kings, queens, and nobility. When the telegraph then AM/FM radio was invented in the 19th and 20th centuries, all of the above was magnified exponentially to the world, to nations, to any group, company, or family home that could afford such technology, including more political propaganda, sales and marketing, lies and half-truths. By 1933 Joseph Goebbels and Hitler’s Nazi Germany seized total control of all German radio stations in order to censor and hide their atrocities, genocide, and war crimes from the ordinary non-Jewish German citizens. Instead, Goebbels fed the people daily with blatant lies and half-truths for over a decade. The German people believed every fanatical, inspiring false word, to their demise in May 1945.

When the computer and world-wide-web (internet) were invented in 1989, everything aforementioned above was further disseminated, amplified, and exponentially multiplied, limited only by the number of homes which could not afford a computer and modem, later to become cable-internet or satellite WiFi/internet. The once unfettered Wild Wild West frontier of lawlessness in the early and mid-19th century America was reborn in the Wild Wild West of unstoppable, lightening-speed, mass information and insatiable consumption never before imagined. Like alcoholism or drug addiction, its moral-ethical consequences and impact could not have ever predicted or reeled in the speeding uncontrollable train train-wreck we have today. And yet:

We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.

George Bernard Shaw

When we do not pause, take a moment to think rationally after hearing or reading shocking information or news before speaking, acting/reacting, or writing, we risk and possibly deface or sacrifice our own integrity and dignity. When we impulsively blurt-out vocally an idea, thought, or reaction without first verifying or confirming its validity or without doing the required legwork/homework before speaking, acting/reacting, or writing, we risk and possibly deface or sacrifice our own integrity and dignity. Case and point:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., condemned “mob” violence after a day of protests at the Capitol building. McCarthy said, “It is clear this Congress will not be the same after today.” — NBC News

That was in the late hours of January 6, 2021. Today Rep. McCarthy has done a complete 180-degree reversal of his moral integrity and once again is an ardent Trump vassal. This is a symptom of SMSD Disorder of not only online conspiracy theories, but also of being enslaved associated, in bed with a Cult of Personality. Both are dangerous simpatico concoctions. Unfortunately, the same gullible American internet consumers forgive and forget repeatedly political offenders or criminals as long as they make a public apology, no matter how many apologies they’ve made in the past. Too many apparently suffer from chronic dementia when it comes to repeating offenders by public figures and government officials. What sort of precedent does that behavior set? Did Nixon or Reagan set it? Do American voters even know who Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan were?

The “Sexual Free-for-All” Promoted by Social-Media Platforms

In 1997 while inside an electronics store for televisions, stereos, etc., and crude computers by today’s standards, a salesman who was apparently a subcontractor by the store, approached me with a brand new, cutting-edge service called the world-wide-web. After his 3-4 minute sales-pitch, I told him it sounded fascinating, but no thanks. Why did I turndown his “ground floor bargain price“? I couldn’t honestly tell him what I thought at the time about his offer and the earliest concepts promoted of the world-wide-web, or internet, and its networking potential and perceived promises. However, I can say it here.

Depiction of the Roman Floralis Ludi, but of homosexual orientations.

What I thought back then in 1997 and have repeated ad infinitum, ad nauseum to this day is this. The internet is like a wild, 24/7, 365-day world orgy where seemingly limitless pleasure (dopamine & connection) abounds for everyone online, but without condoms, IUD’s, spermicides, and other protections from unwanted pregnancy and STD’s. The internet is a modern Roman Floralis Ludi, if you will. Is it wise to ignore all the risks and promote only the benefits? Some large number of social-media users are absent-minded, wear rose-colored glasses, and are reckless with those they engage and sleep with at the risk of very serious infections. Very little has changed, I think, since 1997. I still hold firm to my 24-year old assessment of online social-media given the rise and growth in America of the psychological SMSD Disorder.


Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always


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Truth, Denial & Phobia

This is the second part of Being Wrong & Feeling Right: Two Parts.

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Deborah Lipstadt is an American historian and author specializing in the Holocaust. In 1993 she published her book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory where she responds in extensive detail to rising, growing movements in Europe and parts of N. America challenging the veracity of the Holocaust during World War II and claiming it did not take place and was overly exaggerated by the European Jews. David Irving, a Nazi Germany advocate and controversial scholar, sued Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin Books Ltd in the U.K. for her characterizations of his writings and public speeches writing in her book he was anti-Semitic, preposterous, and barely a pseudo-historian.

Lipstadt and Penguin Books won their case by proving in the British court that her characterizations of Irving’s work and speeches were significantly true and not libelous to Irving. The judge’s decision was a paramount victory not only against Holocaust denial, but also a major victory against shotty, ill-founded denialism while further reinforcing credible, consensual, established academia and scholarship by some of the world’s most elite institutions of higher (highest) education and their renown experts and staffs.

In 2016 the film Denial dramatized these proceedings in British court, the case and the real-life characters, and was deservedly nominated for Best British Film in 2017. For these above reasons I highly recommend watching the movie. The official trailer:

When upsetting, distressing, or traumatic events and/or information arises that shake-up or shatter a person’s belief-system and/or our perception of life, our human brain and nervous system—and if we’re more fully comprehensive, our ego as well—can create a psychological coping routine, a mechanism that neglects and negates what is or has actually happened. Fear and anxiety over being wrong and confused or the potential of it, causes a large portion of the human population to simply deny those events/information exist(ed). For them it is easier to deny than walk the harder, troubling, longer road of learning to solve, adapt and cope. They will often seek out echo-chambers (organizations or groups) to further cement the psychological denial. Over time the repeated immersing into the neuro-cognitive pathologies and regular participation with echoing support-groups can and often do create long-term phobias.

Another powerful motive for denialism is self-interest, that prideful ego which convinces us we deserve favorable praise and inflated importance at the expense of reality and others. Self-preservation at any cost.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. — Upton Sinclair

Or when his image of power is threatened! Sinclair could not be more correct when considering a long, long history of prime examples. I will name only a handful of examples, but the list of overly inflated egos (some tyrannical), self-preservation, severe denial, and paranoia through atrocious brutality is long and always growing:

  • Henry Ford and the too little too late Model A — Henry Ford, Sr. was in Model T La-La land (denial) virtually until his death. He blamed worker unions for the plummeting sales of the 20-year antiquated Model T automobile. When he finally relented to production of the Model A, Chrysler-Plymouth and General Motors had seized the industry’s top market positions, leaving Ford to wither and struggle until World War II arrived.
  • Coca-Cola — a small number of taste-test participants influenced or contaminated Coca-Cola Company’s (un)controlled market testing (Project Kansas) of a sweeter formula being considered as the New Coke to boost sales and market share. The change was an utter failure/denial by Coke executives because the facts of market data showed for decades it was Coke’s brand-name that made and kept loyal consumers, not a newer formula and change.
  • DuPont — and their disposal (or failure to properly dispose) of chemicals used to make Teflon that leak or eventually leak into human or animal drinking water-basins. Well over 3,500 lawsuits against DuPont and/or Chemours still await trial. Both mega-billion dollar corporations deny their chemical or waste management directly cause major health-injury problems in at least 27 U.S. states. However, since 1961 DuPont’s own scientists knew their chemical wastes caused severe and lethal problems in lab animals, but intentionally concealed (denied) these studies from the public and EPA.
  • Lehman Brothers — and their asset overvaluation (denialism & greed) then subsequent bankruptcy in 2008, a major player/cause of the 2008 Wall Street crash then bailout by U.S. taxpayers via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • Joseph Stalin — the “Great Purge” between 1936 – 1938 when Stalin murdered around 750,000 political rivals and dissenters and over 1-million others he perceived as threats. These are conservative estimates.
  • Saddam Hussein — aside from the gassing of some 5,000 Kurdish Iraqis and wounding over 10,000 more in 1988, Hussein convened a public meeting of Ba’ath Party officials in July 1979. He ordered the gathering to be videotaped. Hussein read a list of 69 names of perceived “traitors” who were then escorted out in custody then executed by firing squad or given weapons inside a courtyard and ordered to execute each other or themselves.
  • Intel — for nearly 3 decades (60’s – 80’s) Intel reigned supreme in semiconductors, with their memory-chip and microprocessors both. By 1983 Japanese semiconductors had stolen a big chunk of that market. Intel was in a nose dive. Like Henry Ford, old vanguard CEO’s at Intel thought their long dominance in memory-chips were the future (denialism, skewed rationalism) whereas Gordon Moore and Andy Grove realized the ominous hard data, facts and stats overwhelmingly pointed to the microprocessor and PC’s as the future. Their decision to change the business model—amp up and expand production of microprocessors while cutting way back on memory-chips—saved Intel from looming bankruptcy. “Pentium” is now a household name.
  • ExxonMobil — one of the most blatant hypocritical cases of denialism for self-preservation has been ExxonMobil. Within almost 200 in-house publications between 1977 – 2014, the oil giant’s own scientists admitted (click here) that climate change was unequivocally occurring and caused by human discharge and/or waste.
  • Richard M. Nixon — though a number of U.S. Presidents clearly fall into this denial, truth, phobic examination, President Nixon is the poster-boy of denialism for self-preservation during and after the Watergate scandal in the early 1970’s. A new poster-boy President of blatant denialism and inflated ego may(?) be just around the corner.
  • Adolf Hitler — Duh, of course. No explanation necessary.
  • Should I name all the evangelical pastors or Catholic clergy?
  • R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. — in tandem with The Tobacco Institute and PR firm Hill & Knowlton, Inc., the tobacco industry launched a massive counter-attack against scientific and medical-health researchers determining and publicly publishing the negative impacts of smoking. Their counter-attack? “Doubt is our product.
  • Merck and their VIOXX — Before the FDA could approve Merck’s blockbuster pain-relief rofecoxib hit drugstore shelves, health professionals were finding and reporting in 1999, 2000, and 2004 the drug increased the risks of heart disease. With 88,000 – 139,000 heart attacks (30% – 40% fatal) attributed to rofecoxib, over four years later the drug was finally banned in November 2004. Merck executives knew of these reports, but misled physicians, the public, and the FDA.
  • USS Indianapolis Capt. McVay Tragedy — in the dying months of the Pacific War 1945 the naval heavy battlecruiser, while carrying the atomic bomb to eventually be dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, was headed for her next assignment. At 12:15AM 30 July 1945, the USS Indianapolis was fatally struck by two Japanese torpedoes and sunk in 12-minutes. Due to her top secret cargo and mission she was never reported missing even after 24-36 hours after her scheduled arrival in Leyte. In the end and after an official investigation into the tragedy, the U.S. Navy solely blamed Capt. Charles B. McVay III and court-martialed him, putting the 1,139 lost sailors on his head and in self-preservation of and abdication by the U.S. Navy rather than take the public shame and embarrassment for numerous mistakes in combat intel. For many years after McVay received hate-mail from families of lost Indianapolis sailors. Declassified naval documents now reveal (though too late) that Capt. McVay was in truth not to blame for any causes leading to the ship’s sinking. But in 1968 McVay committed suicide.

These 14 prime examples are a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to the modern refined art of denial, distorting the truth and reality. I am quite sure you could name off several more I did not mention, right?

Public Outcomes of Denialism, Phobia, and Untruths/Lies

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Immunization Non-Compliance
— Despite the remarkable declines or near eradication of measles, mumps, rubella, and pertussis across the U.S. and most of the world over the previous century and modern, universal availability of vaccines, resurgence of these diseases persist. CDC data for the measles:

immunization-us

click here to enlarge

Paranoia Over Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) — Despite the significant consensus by scientists, healthcare physicians, and bio-genetic engineers from many acclaimed prestigious institutions and universities across the world, who stake their lifetime careers and reputations on making these studies and publications, a large percentage of Americans are afraid and skeptical of foods that have been genetically modified. From the National Academies for Sciences, Engineering & Medicine:

gmos

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One such university, Purdue University’s College of Agriculture addresses the misinformation and conflicting media stories; click here for more details.

The Impact of Ignorance or Restricted Knowledge — Truth or fiction. Fiction or truth. Many selectively choose what they want to accept as factual if it aligns with their own political, social, or religious beliefs. They also choose what is fallacy or untrue, or will ignore the evidence/data when it doesn’t align, whether it is verified, confirmed, factual and true, or not.

9-11 and obama

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Ideological Divide On Climate Change — Despite the abundant evidence and facts over the last century measuring global climate change, there remains a deep ideological divide in the U.S. about whether it is very serious and harming people now.

climate change divide

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Holocaust Doubting and Denial — Despite the eye-witness accounts by thousands upon thousands of Allied liberating soldiers and their commanders at Nazi death or concentration camps across Europe in the last months of World War II, as well as the abhorrent physical and forensic evidence at the time, a noticeable population today believe the Holocaust did not occur or was greatly exaggerated by Jews and Jewish sympathizers.

holocaust denial

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Don Quixote: My lady

I am not your lady!…
I am not any kind of a lady! 

So of course I became,
As befitted my delicate birth,
The most casual bride
Of the murdering scum of the earth!
Aldonza

Don Quixote: And still thou art my lady.

And still he torments me!
How should I be a lady?

If you feel that you see me
Not quite at my virginal best,
Cross my palm with a coin,
And I’ll willingly show you the rest!
Aldonza

Don Quixote: Never deny thou art Dulcinea.

Take the clouds from your eyes
and see me as I really am!
Aldonza

Those are a portion of the musical lyrics from the song and scene “Aldonza” in the 1972 film Man of La Mancha. Though the beautiful, alluring, prostitute Aldonza is trying to convince Don Quixote that she is not the woman he imagines, it is clear for several reasons that he is not seeing it nor will he accept it. Such is the force of denialism lost in euphoric romance. Emotions have over-powered critical reasoning.

Recognizing Methods of Truthiness, Denialism, or Phobias

This will not be an exhaustive list, but I will spot-light more popular, modern methods of reframing, misdirection, or flagrant deceit by employing pseudo-science or pseudo-historicity (vs. accredited historicity & historiography) that an audience or people are so dazed by the audacity, they may doubt or question their own perceptions of reality. Here are five traits of denialism from the European Journal of Public Health by Paschal Diethelm and Martin McKee:

  1. Pinpointing emotionally based or controversial conspiracies and publicizing those opinions. This would include tainted or polluted peer review or checks-n-balances by other expert colleagues in the subject field. Inversionism is a variant of conspiracy theories which can be utilized.
  2. Employing fake experts or paper-vapor institutions to refute (and slander?) legitimate experts. The internet or world-wide-web is ideal for this tactic.
  3. Specifically isolating or cherry-picking support and sources while ignoring or overlooking exhaustive databases, research studies, and counter-reviews.
  4. Imploring near-impossible or ridiculous standards of confirmation, e.g. the Lenski Affair.
  5. Employing logical fallacies which might include red herrings, straw-men arguments, or false analogies.

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Attacking Intellectualism on the Rise

Why is the majority of the general public gullible and/or naïve to hyped or erroneous influences? Why do celebrity, charismatic personalities attract droves of people to ill-founded causes and misguided, immoral, unethical ideologies? When we are trapped by self-imposed fears and external turmoil caused and funded by targeted propaganda, it becomes easier to simply deny our imperfections and mistakes, as tragic as they might be, in order to feel right instead of the alternative:  shame or embarrassment.

Thomas Jefferson, one of our nation’s Founding Fathers and the 3rd President, opportunistically attacked intellectualism. John Adams, as well as Alexander Hamilton, got into heated debates with Jefferson about democracy and how it should be governed. Jefferson and his political party supported the wisdom of the commoners, a peer review, if you will, to hedge against tyranny and oligarchies or dictators. Adams Sr. and Hamilton, however, knew too well how poorly educated most commoners of that day were to con-men tyrants and charismatic persuasion by corrupt causes and ideologies. Yet, in today’s more advanced, more widely educated populations—primarily in first-world or advancing second-world nations—as opposed to 18th-century America, the mob revolutions in which Jefferson witnessed in his day occur less frequently due to informed early detection by the citizens.

In other words, today there exists exponentially more credentialed “experts” to police Cults of Personality and protect the less fortunate and more gullible against precisely the cunning tyrants Jefferson detested. One difference in today’s pool of experts is that they are all highly specialized in very specific fields of study, possibly two or three, maybe four on a basic level. But not ten or fifteen or more. Being a Nobel Prize winning expert or scholar in ten or more subjects is humanly impossible. Therefore, like it or not, we must… no, we have no choice but to rely on highly trained, vastly experienced professionals, the “intellectuals” in their fields of expertise. In this regard, even Thomas Jefferson fell short. Now, with all due respect to our 3rd President, if we commission a large pool of experts, ala a democracy of intelligent commoners(?), then we could hope Tommy would have approved.

Pessimistic or Vigilant?

Truth does matter. Truth backed up by incontrovertible, scientific or historical facts, repeatable ad infinitum, do indeed exist. In an interview about the movie Denial and her legal run-in with David Irving, Deborah Lipstadt said:

I try to be optimistic about things, but history teaches me that that is not always the case. There are people out there who are very much beguiled by these stories. When I see it seep into the general conversation of people not on extreme ends, that’s when I get worried. This is why it is so important to challenge liars about their lies. Challenge them with the facts.

deborah lipstadtI do have a lot of admiration and respect for what Ms. Lipstadt and her legal team showed and protected regarding accredited scholarship, freedom of speech, and the accountability one must always own in speaking or printing ideas or opinions as facts of science and/or history. She certainly deserves applause and recognition for protecting the atrocious reality of the Nazi Holocaust against saber-rattling, self-proclaimed, self-absorbed, charismatic trouble-makers calling them self a great leader, or reformer, or intellectual. Her victorious feat cannot be denied.

Ms. Lipstadt is Jewish by birth and by all available accounts and information it is reasonable to assume she is still active in practicing her Jewish faith. There is no easily accessible information to the contrary. This leads me to my own question for Ms. Lipstadt in regard to her quote just above.

There are increasing amounts of scholarly and scientific evidence and facts suggesting, even convincingly demonstrating that all three Abrahamic religions are based on beguiling stories which are indeed within general conversations of people not on extreme ends over 2-3 millenia that in the end are hoaxes, gross distortions of historicity, and the three religions worry and cause great concern for a large number of sane, reasonably intelligent secularists and humanists around the world. My question:

Have you or would you, Ms. Lipstadt, put your religious faith to the exact same rigorous scrutiny you afforded the defense of the Holocaust and put bogus Holocaust deniers through?

To my readers, followers, and visitors. Please feel free to share your thoughts, questions, or challenges. They could stimulate an invigorating discussion or debate!

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Being Natural

A brief interruption of my current, “serious” blog-series to get a little more… human. Natural.

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It is very simple. And you’ll never understand if you don’t get out and swim in the marrow of life.

There was a boy
A very strange, enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far
Very far, over land and sea
A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he

And then one day,
A magic day he passed my way
While we spoke of many things
Fools and Kings
This he said to me

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return. — Eden Ahbez

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Live Well — Laugh Often — Love Much — Learn Always

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