Friday 22 January 2016

First Fix your Fundamental BelieFs (Or: Facts won't save us. Or: No, Not the Red Pill)

This is the priority for the Mass Majority of Modern Men.

(OK, I'll quit the above annoying alliteration...)

One of the many problems with the Red Pill meme on the secular political Right is that facts won't save us - not even hate facts; because the problems lie much deeper than that.

The problem is that the way modern people structure reality is what keeps them trapped - and not the specific facts slotted into that framework.

People can be fed fact upon fact, but it makes no difference - since the facts just slot into their pre-allocated places among the fundamental beliefs - and in the end nothing changes (or, at any rate, not those things which need to change).

While a Christian revival is the priority - it is likely that this is not possible with the current set of mainstream fundamental beliefs. (Which, indeed, is exactly the ultimate reason why people hold these mainstream fundamental beliefs.)

And these beliefs are mostly unconscious - sheltering behind our (bad) habits of though which have been inculcated, reinforced and sustained by The System - public discourse, the mass media, mass education, the bureaucratic octopus...

So long as people continue to believe - deeply, reflexly, habitually and unconsciously - that we live in a dead and unconscious universe where everything that happens is either mechanically-caused or 'randomly' undirected - and 'just happened'; a universe which is going nowhere of relevance to humans, and has no meaning of relevance to humans; in which we know nothing and cannot really communicate with anybody or anything...

So long as this remains our 'bottom line' thought structure - then even Christianity can't make much of a difference, because it will be so partial and superficial as to be really just a form of words and social practice rather than a living and transforming and motivating faith.


David said...

Can the 'bureaucratic octopus' be destroyed? I know that you have previously advocated a kind of media detox before (probably the only realistic hope for individuals) but I wonder, as a thought experiment, what would happen if the media circus suddenly shut down over night (perhaps by divine intervention), no TV channels, no radio, no CNN, bbc, only technology required to fly planes and keep food going to supermarkets and other essential ammenities, etc? Probably chaos and meltdown in the first instance as people panic when they can't go online or use Facebook or be told what to think; but then they could only talk to friends and family or cross the road to speak to neighbours for the first time in their lives, but no mass media hyped panic on Facebook. Of course, the Octopus has its tentacles in quite a few places such that in effect this would almost inevitably be to cause an economic crash of unpresidented proportions; after all there would be no 'on line' economy any longer, for example. But maybe once the dust settled, if civilisation did not collapse when God turned off our media access, like a parent who has lovingly restricted a teenagers video game allowance, we could start to wake up as individuals or en mass and realise the absurdity of our addicted, distracted little lives and finally question whether what we are told to believe or think by the Octopus is fundamentally true or not. Of course one could take the traditional approach of becoming a hermit or a contemplative instead, but at times I wonder if cold turkey might be the best or only thing for many of us to wake up. Trouble is though I suspect if you try and kill the Octopus it will probably destroy us all with it out of sheer malice. It is after all evil and that is how evil works. So I wonder if even God himself could remove the spreading tendrils of this astrocytoma of media brainwashing and addiction in the western soul without killing the patient.

David said...

There again not all media is bad, it depends on the message:

As someone prone to ask too many questions I would still maintain that some questions are worth asking, such as, "Am I really right about thinking there is no God and everything is meaningless and without purpose?" (Or just questioning ones metaphysical assumptions). Clearly lots of people all over the world do not think that life is meaningless and there is no creator, and *that* feels powerfully motivating...or as one women put it in this video (paraphrasing) "who wouldn't want to be part of that?" (With reference to Christian world view that we are part of a divine family with an individual destiny and purpose in the scheme of creation). I'd take that over atheism or nihilism any day, despite my doubting days (days of too many or wrong questions). And that is why I want to be a Christian and still keep living in hopeful faith and try to grow that deeper faith in that glorious vision of how reality actually can be understood instead of the dead materialistic one we have inherited in the west.

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - If present trends continue, everybody will be paid as bureaucrats except for one man who will do all of the productive work that gets done...for a while. Until he is required to spend all his time engaged in form-filling, attending course on health and safety and child protection, and self-monitoring and attending audits. At which point everybody will die of simultaneous starvation, thirst, exposure and cholera - still wondering what it was that went wrong.

Stiltdancer said...

Scott Adams has been writing a lot about Trump and persuasion. He is pounding in the point that facts don't matter. Belief does.

Persuasion Stack
-Identity (best)
-Analogy (okay, not great)
-Reason (useless)
-Definition (capitulation)

For example, the National Review says that Trump is not a true conservative. Worthless argument.

Trying to argue facts after an emotional appeal leads to the Backfire Effect, where people double down in rationalizing their belief.

Observing said...

I'm not clear on why the Alive Universe is the answer. While I subscribe to the Panpsychic view myself, it's not clear what's the next step or why that is so critical as a foundational belief.

If we know the universe is alive, or even in your other formulation we know it is all part of God and so we are, where do we go from there?

In my experience what then happens is you can communicate in certain ways through what might be termed psychic functioning.

However in that realm there still lurks the Adversary, blocking the main intention from manifesting. So back to square one.

eirinikos said...

People who are christians mostly adhere to this shallow psychological framework that is reduced to a strictly binary status of "saved" or "not saved". It's completely devoid of any real transformative mission other than to get people to say some canned prayer so their status changes to "saved". Jesus said faith would lead to greater miracles than those he performed. Whatever happened to that?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Stilt - Adams is, of course, extremely insightsful. (I get the impression he is actually writing about BHO in a coded way - or that he recognized these interpretations from contemplating BHO.) On the other hand, Adams is himself an example of someone with incoherent and nihilistic foundational beliefs - i.e. he is arguing from an assumed-mutual 'common sense' perspective which cannot be defended without religion.

I did the same myself for about twenty years up to becoming a Christian - and as political correctness gathered force, it was palpabale how what began (in the 1980s) as a reasonably effective counter-strategy that gathered support, ended by being regarded by the late noughties as (so far as other people were concerned) evidence of some kind of odd psychopathology as soon as it was used as a basis for public discourse and resistance.

I had a couple of very public disputes myself - and several of my friends had serious PC witchhunts against them - and although all common sense was on our side, there was near zero support for them, and what there was had zero traction -- and we all lost (i.e. got sacked, or otherwise punished - on top of the internationl media firestorms, which are harder to cope with than might be supposed).

If or when Scott Addams is made a victim of such a witch hunt (and he is now very much the kind of person that they go for) he will find that common sense arguments are regarded as evil and dangerous in our inverted world.

@eirin - There are miracles still, for those whose world view allows for miracles. Most are designed for the person they happen to, and few or none are found convincing by the mass majoity of people - after all *any* miracle, no matter how spectacular, can be dismissed, in the end, as some kind of mass hallucination or collusive lie. If one believes that miracles are *impossible*, therefore *never happen*, then they will *always* be dismissed - by one means or another, and it doesn't much matter which.

The binary 'saved' or 'not saved' structure has been responsible for innumerable fruitful conversions by evangelicals over the past three hundred years - so I don't knock it too much. However, clearly it doesn't work for most people, and it is limited with respect to 'what should I do next?' - and it leaves the 'meaningless modern world' perspective intact - and therefore alienation is not much helped.

@Obs - One point I wished to make here was that the reason it is so very difficult to convert modern people to Christianity is that *many* of their fundamental beliefs exclude the possibility of truth, purpose, meaning, and Christianity. Fixing one, or even a couple, of these fundamental 'errors' is not enough, but all the others are still keeping the person locked into the horrible alienation that is modernity: me isolated in my head, my thoughts being a mixture of arbitrary and passively caused, unable to communicate reliably etc.

A whole taken-for-granted and mostly unconsciously-absorbed world view needs to be detected, analysed and replaced - not easy.

Misanthropist said...

I agree that there is a limit to how much inconvenient facts can be used to change perceptions of reality. That is because people have a tendency to interpret evidence on a 'heads I win, tails you lose' basis. And much modern ideology and belief systems are based on this kind of hermetically sealed, non falsifiable worldview. The best example is probably climate change alarmism.

It is not enough to simply bring up inconvenient facts. It is necessary (though probably not even enough in itself) to point out the dogmatic, non falsifiable nature of the belief system and the real motivation behind the belief system.

Clear Waters said...

"The problem is that the way modern people structure reality is what keeps them trapped - and not the specific facts slotted into that framework."

Many make the mistake of thinking our problems are down to ignorance, that people don't know 'the truth!', and this is the rallying cry of conspiracy theorists who put our current state down to secretive cabals of Jewish transhumanist lizard men. They don't see the problem is man's spiritual state and orientation, not any cognitive shortfall.

Bruce, there will be a podcast going up on Social Matter this coming week, in which I feature and discuss the greater spiritual decay, as well as touching upon some observations of Christianity's state going forward. Might be of interest.

ajb said...

"The problem is that the way modern people structure reality is what keeps them trapped - and not the specific facts slotted into that framework."

I like this language. People - most of the time - just slot things into pre-existing parts of their cognitive structure.

Two people can be given the same data, and arrive at very different interpretations of it, based on the slots they have.