- Jul 2022
as members of society, we tend to identify with one or another “immortality system” (as Becker calls it). That is, we identify with a religious group, or a political group, or engage in some kind of cultural activity, or adopt a certain culturally sanctioned viewpoint, that we invest with ultimate meaning, and to which we ascribe absolute and permanent truth. This inflates us with a sense of invulnerable righteousness. And then, we have to protect ourselves against the exposure of our absolute truth being just one more mortality-denying system among others, which we can only do by insisting that all other absolute truths are false. So we attack and degrade–preferably kill–the adherents of different mortality- denying-absolute-truth systems. So the Protestants kill the Catholics; the Muslims vilify the Christians and vice versa; upholders of the American way of life denounce Communists; the Communist Khmer Rouge slaughters all the intellectuals in Cambodia; the Spanish Inquisition tortures heretics; and all good students of the Enlightenment demonize religion as the source of all evil. The list could go on and on.
Once we give ourselves over absolutely to a cultural immortality belief system, that is when our complete identification can emerge a self-righteousness so powerful that any other mortality-denying system that claims to be the truth and therefore threatens ours, must be eliminated.
- May 2022
Chinese scientists call for plan to destroy Elon Musk's Starlink satellites
This is another example that our culture has reached an inflection point, when we begin to divert previous time and material resources on conflict because we are not wise enough to cooperate, instead of more urgent problems affecting us all.
The journey of civilization to a technological modernity places us in a precarious position. The fundamental misunderstandings arising from a toxic mix of different political, religious and cultural ideologies threatens to destabilise the human project. We are spending ever increasing resources on defensive and offensive technologies to protect our ingroup against perceived outgroups instead of technologies for defending against the destruction of the global commons which e ourselves have brought about and which threatens our entire species.
By so doing, we create a self-reinforcing feedback loop of antagonism which increases the likelihood of violence.
This underscores the urgency for deep inner transformation, trapping into our deep Humanity to mitigate the social antagonism that is so destructive to global society.
- Sep 2021
One last resource for augmenting our minds can be found in other people’s minds. We are fundamentally social creatures, oriented toward thinking with others. Problems arise when we do our thinking alone — for example, the well-documented phenomenon of confirmation bias, which leads us to preferentially attend to information that supports the beliefs we already hold. According to the argumentative theory of reasoning, advanced by the cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber, this bias is accentuated when we reason in solitude. Humans’ evolved faculty for reasoning is not aimed at arriving at objective truth, Mercier and Sperber point out; it is aimed at defending our arguments and scrutinizing others’. It makes sense, they write, “for a cognitive mechanism aimed at justifying oneself and convincing others to be biased and lazy. The failures of the solitary reasoner follow from the use of reason in an ‘abnormal’ context’” — that is, a nonsocial one. Vigorous debates, engaged with an open mind, are the solution. “When people who disagree but have a common interest in finding the truth or the solution to a problem exchange arguments with each other, the best idea tends to win,” they write, citing evidence from studies of students, forecasters and jury members.
Thinking in solitary can increase one's susceptibility to confirmation bias. Thinking in groups can mitigate this.
How might keeping one's notes in public potentially help fight against these cognitive biases?
Is having a "conversation in the margins" with an author using annotation tools like Hypothes.is a way to help mitigate this sort of cognitive bias?
At the far end of the spectrum how do we prevent this social thinking from becoming groupthink, or the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility?
- Jul 2021
Bressan, P. (2021). Strangers look sicker (with implications in times of COVID-19). PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/x4unv
- life science
- cross-cultural psychology
- infectious disease
- behavioural immune system
- cultural psychology
- emotion regulation
- cognitive psychology
- psychological adaptation
- pathogen avoidance
- behavioural science
- facial resemblance
- social science
- Mar 2021
Šrol, J., Cavojova, V., & Mikušková, E. B. (2021). Social consequences of COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs: Evidence from two studies in Slovakia. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/y4svc
- Feb 2021
Atkisson, C., & Finn, K. (2020). Redundant relationships in multiplex food sharing networks increase food security in a nutritionally precarious environment. ArXiv:2011.12817 [Physics]. http://arxiv.org/abs/2011.12817
Cruwys, T., Stevens, M., Donaldson, J. L., Cardenas, D., Platow, M. J., Reynolds, K. J., & Fong, P. (2021). Perceived COVID-19 risk is attenuated by ingroup trust: Evidence from three empirical studies. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/94sd3
Kramer, P., & Bressan, P. (2021). Infection threat shapes our social instincts. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/pbf4d
- Aug 2020
- ideological symmetries
- social distancing
- outgroup flouting
- ideological responses
- public health
- ignored public health guidance
- ingroup flouting
- breaking rules
- Western democracies
- Sep 2016
Another oft-overlooked aspect of biblical apocalypse is its (doubly) utopian nature: the triumph of God’s faithful over Lucifer’s followers at Mount Megiddo is to result in Satan being confined to hell, ushering in Christ’s millennial reign on Earth—a period of peace, plenty, and harmony. The devil will then escape for four years before suffering a final defeat, at which time the dead are to be resurrected and the final judgment of souls will take place. Mass annihilation is therefore only the beginning of a process that will allow the righteous to enter into the ultimate, eternal Utopia, heaven, and the unjust to be sent to that dystopia par excellence, hell. Thus apocalypse, even in its scriptural source, is inextricably tied to the concepts of utopia and dystopia
This interpretation of Christian eschatology, based on futurism, presents a utopia is exclusive by its very nature. There isn't just the battle of good vs. evil, of Yahweh vs. Ha-satan, but also a final judgment and the annihilation of "unsaved" souls.
But like I stated previously, even modern concepts of utopian societies are exclusive in at least some, or many ways. There is something that we have to sacrifice or give up, or communities/groups that we have to exclude, in order to achieve the ideal. Then again, what is the ideal? In ancient literature the utopian society is metaphysical in nature, based largely on the concept of an afterlife. Within the context of an afterlife there is no human experience or condition, so the ideal, whatever that may be, can be achieved. If it's an afterlife, and one often depicted in Western literature, film, art, etc., then it is devoid of the trials and tribulations that make the human condition what it is, and make us what we are: imperfect.
But in the real world, outside a utopian afterlife, the human condition is alive and well. Conflict and struggles persist. There is an aspect of control earth-based utopian societies, and one could even say the classic heaven-based utopian concept is not without its own set of rules governed by Yahweh, Jesus, et al.