- Last 7 days
- Aug 2023
Damanhur’s mock battles prevent the kind of burn-out you find when the most empathetic people in a community get tasked with dealing with the emotional needs of others, putting a lot a strain on the shoulders of a few.
- for: intentional communities, intentional communities - failure, cults
- This article does not seem to be aware of the controversy at Damanhur:
- Jul 2023
Both the cult of learning around Dante and the cult ofignorance around Newton are phenomena of the vicious spe-cialization of scholarship.
Hutchins seems to indicate that the "vicious specialization of scholarship" is in part to blame for the emergence of the "two cultures" delineated by C. P. Snow later in the decade.
- Feb 2023
According to Shulman, "Cargo-cult is a belief that mock airplanes made of manure and straw-bale may summon the real airplanes who bring canned beef. Reverse cargo-cult is used by the political elites in countries lagging behind who proclaim that, in the developed world, airplanes are also made of manure and straw-bale, and there is also a shortage of canned beef."
"Екатерина Шульман: Практический Нострадамус, или 12 умственных привычек, которые мешают нам предвидеть будущее". vedomosti/ (in Russian). Retrieved 24 June 2021.
A Note on the Cargo Cult of Zettelkasten
Modern cargo cults can be seen in many technology and productivity spaces where people are pulled in by exaggerated (or sometimes even real claims) of productivity or the general "magic" of a technology or method.
An example is Niklas Luhmann's use of his zettelkasten which has created a cargo cult of zettelkasten aspirants and users who read one or more of the short one page blog posts about his unreasonable productivity and try to mimic it without understanding the system, how it works, or how to make it work for them. They often spend several months collecting notes, and following the motions, but don't realize the promised gains and may eventually give up, sometimes in shame (or as so-called "rubbish men") while watching others still touting its use.
To prevent one's indoctrination into the zettelkasten cult, I'll make a few recommendations:
Distance yourself from the one or two page blog posts or the breathless YouTube delineations. Ask yourself very pointedly: what you hope to get out of such a process? What's your goal? Does that goal align with others' prior uses and their outcomes?
Be careful of the productivity gurus who are selling expensive courses and whose focus may not necessarily be on your particular goals. Some are selling very pointed courses, which is good, while others are selling products which may be so broad that they'll be sure to have some success stories, but their hodge-podge mixture of methods won't suit your particular purpose, or worse, you'll have to experiment with pieces of their courses to discover what may suit your modes of working and hope they'll suffice in the long run. Some are selling other productivity solutions for task management like getting things done (GTD) or bullet journals, which can be a whole other cargo cults in and of themselves. Don't conflate these![^1] The only thing worse than being in a cargo cult is being in multiple at the same time.
If you go the digital route, be extremely wary of shiny object syndrome. Everyone has a favorite tool and will advocate that it's the one you should be using. (Often their method of use will dictate how much they love it potentially over and above the affordances of the tool itself.) All of these tools can be endlessly configured, tweaked, or extended with plugins or third party services. Everyone wants to show you their workflow and set up, lots of which is based on large amounts of work and experimentation. Ignore 99.999% of this. Most tools are converging to a similar feature set, so pick a reasonable one that seems like it'll be around in 5 years (and which has export, just in case). Try out the very basic features for several months before you change anything. Don't add endless plugins and widgets. You're ultimately using a digital tool to recreate the functionality of index cards, a pencil, and a box. How complicated should this really be? Do you need to spend hundreds of hours tweaking your system to save yourself a few minutes a year? Be aware that far too many people touting the system and marketers talking about the tools are missing several thousands of years of uses of some of these basic literacy-based technologies. Don't join their island cult, but instead figure out how the visiting culture has been doing this for ages.[^2] Recall Will Hunting's admonition against cargo cults in education: “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”[^3]
Most people ultimately realize that the output of their own thinking is only as good as the inputs they're consuming. Leverage this from the moment you begin and ignore the short bite-sized advice for longer form or older advice from those with experience. You're much more likely to get more long term value out of reading Umberto Eco or Mortimer J. Adler & Charles van Doren[^4] than you are an equivalent amount of time reading blog posts, watching YouTube videos, or trolling social media like Reddit and Twitter.
Realize that reaching your goal is going to take honest-to-goodness actual work, though there is potential for fun. No matter how shiny or optimized your system, you've still got to do the daily work of reading, watching, listening and using it to create anything. Focus on this daily work and don't get sidetracked by the minutiae of trying to shave off just a few more seconds.[^5] In short, don't get caught up in the "productivity porn" of it all. Even the high priest at whose altar they worship once wrote on a slip he filed:
"A ghost in the note card index? Spectators visit [my office to see my notes] and they get to see everything and nothing all at once. Ultimately, like having watched a porn movie, their disappointment is correspondingly high." —Niklas Luhmann. <small>“Geist im Kasten?” ZKII 9/8,3. Niklas Luhmann-Archiv. Accessed December 10, 2021. https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/zettel/ZK_2_NB_9-8-3_V. (Personal translation from German with context added.)</small>
[^1] Aldrich, Chris. “Zettelkasten Overreach.” BoffoSocko (blog), February 5, 2022. https://boffosocko.com/2022/02/05/zettelkasten-overreach/.
[^2]: Blair, Ann M. Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age. Yale University Press, 2010. https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300165395/too-much-know.
[^3]: Good Will Hunting. Miramax, Lawrence Bender Productions, 1998.
[^4]: Adler, Mortimer J., and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. Revised and Updated edition. 1940. Reprint, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972.
[^5]: Munroe, Randall. “Is It Worth the Time?” Web comic. xkcd, April 29, 2013. https://xkcd.com/1205/.
Choose only one of the following and remember you may not need to read the entire work:
Ahrens, Sönke. How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers. Create Space, 2017.
Allosso, Dan, and S. F. Allosso. How to Make Notes and Write. Minnesota State Pressbooks, 2022. https://minnstate.pressbooks.pub/write/.
Bernstein, Mark. Tinderbox: The Tinderbox Way. 3rd ed. Watertown, MA: Eastgate Systems, Inc., 2017. http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/TinderboxWay/index.html.
Dow, Earle Wilbur. Principles of a Note-System for Historical Studies. New York: Century Company, 1924.
Eco, Umberto. How to Write a Thesis. Translated by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina. 1977. Reprint, Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2015. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/how-write-thesis.
Gessner, Konrad. Pandectarum Sive Partitionum Universalium. 1st Edition. Zurich: Christoph Froschauer, 1548.
Goutor, Jacques. The Card-File System of Note-Taking. Approaching Ontario’s Past 3. Toronto: Ontario Historical Society, 1980. http://archive.org/details/cardfilesystemof0000gout.
Sertillanges, Antonin Gilbert, and Mary Ryan. The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods. First English Edition, Fifth printing. 1921. Reprint, Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1960. http://archive.org/details/a.d.sertillangestheintellectuallife.
Webb, Sidney, and Beatrice Webb. Methods of Social Study. London; New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1932. http://archive.org/details/b31357891.
Weinberg, Gerald M. Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method. New York, N.Y: Dorset House, 2005.
- rubbish men
- shiny object syndrome
- cargo cults
- Ekaterina Shulman
- productivity porn
- reverse cargo-cults
- cultural anthropology
- unreasonable productivity
- zettelkasten overreach
- Niklas Luhmann
- zettelkasten why
- manuals on note taking
- zettelkasten cargo cults
- Dec 2022
- Sep 2022
It could also have been a center of some religious cult, where rites of passage or rituals connected to the time of year were performed.”
There's an irony here in that this "cult" may have actually been a cult of teachers and students. Should the broader thesis bear out, we're going to have lots of references to these cults of teachers lingering in the literature....
- Jun 2022
why is the moment you ask someone is a woman as electable as a man how come the moment you ask that everything changes yeah this is this was one of those really remarkable we didn't do this 00:21:01 research so i can brag about it right right it's regina bateson this is really fantastic research looking at gender bias in politics right because it's unbelievable 00:21:14 like women are so underrepresented in intellectual politics it's just you can't it's but like here's the thing like it's important to understand what's driving that and and for sure let's just be clear just straight up sexism 00:21:27 certainly is involved sometimes like that that's certainly the case but what what uh dr bateson found what i think was really fascinating is that given our winner-take-all um like sort of two-party system 00:21:41 so much is dependent on what the gatekeepers think who who because now like if we were doing something like ranked choice voting it doesn't really matter i don't have to care what i think anybody else thinks right but in a winner-take-all system i 00:21:54 have to do a little bit of guessing about who do i think most people are going to vote for right because otherwise my vote is quote unquote wasted right if i take a flyer on that so what was interesting is if you look at how women perform when they are 00:22:08 nominated in general elections women win at the same rate as white men it's just so i suggest obviously it's not a general election problem and what what she found was that it was like 00:22:20 party leaders especially donors right they're like well wait a minute i'm not sexist but i think most people in the party are so i don't think you're going to be able to win and so they don't get the support they don't get the the 00:22:32 resources and it becomes self-fulfilling it's so clear when you put it that way how that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy but there there is so much pressure within certain groups to say this the the dominant ideology and just 00:22:44 like don't like if you can't it's like a cult right because like the second you question maybe you're like what does the evidence actually show they're like you're out you're not being loyal um wow 00:22:57 yeah so that's it's actually um in the book i i was looking at what i call these conformity traps like these these three kinds of situations where you are likely to slip into blind conformity and you are quite likely to do that 00:23:10 under an illusion to begin with and you know this this sort of identity trap where you've got these groups that matter so much to who you are right and and especially when it's just one group that group has cult-like power 00:23:23 over you
In summary, women don't do well in politics (and probably business) due to a collective illusion effect of the gatekeepers who believe everyone else thinks that they are rocking the boat.
Groups can influence a cult like power on individual group members.
- Nov 2021
Context: Sonia was watching Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath: Season 3: "Episode 1" and had previously been watching a documentary One of Us about people who had left oppressive seeming Hassidic Jewish communities.
I can't help but that that every culture could be considered a "cult" in which some percentage of people are trapped with comparison to all other cultures on Earth. Based on one's upbringing and personal compass, perhaps living and submitting to one's culture can become oppressive and may seem particularly unfair given power structures and the insidiousness of hypocrisy.
Given this, could there logically be a utopian society in which everyone lives freely?
Even within the United States there are smaller sub-cultures withiin which people feel trapped and which have the features of cults, but which are so large as to not be considered such. Even the space in which I freely live might be considered a cult by others who don't agree with it. It's only the vast size of the power of the group which prevents the majority who comfortably live within it from viewing it as a bad thing.
A Democrat may view the Republican Party as a cult and vice versa, something which becomes more apparent when one polarizes these communities toward the edges rather than allowing them to drift into each other in a consensus.
An African American may think they're stuck in a broader American cult which marginalizes them.
A Hassidic Jew may feel they're stuck in a cult (of religious restrictions) with respect to the perceived freedoms of broader American Culture. Some may feel more comfortable within these strictures than others.
A gender non-comforming person living in the deep South of the United States surrounded by the Southern Baptist Convention may feel they're stuck in a cult based on social norms of one culture versus what they experience personally.
What are the roots of something being a cult? Could it be hypocrisy? A person or a broader group feeling as if they know "best" and creating a rule structure by which others are forced to follow, but from which they themselves are exempt? This also seems to be the way in which authoritarian rules arise when privileging one group above another based solely on (perceived) power.
Another potential thing at play here may be the lack of diversity within a community. The level of cult within a society may be related to the shape of the bell curve of that society with respect to how large the center is with respect to the tails. Those who are most likely to feel they're within a "cult" (using the broader definition) are those three or more standard deviations from the center. In non-diverse communities only those within a standard deviation of the norm are likely to feel comfortable and accepted and those two deviations away will feel very uncomfortable while those who are farther away will be shunned and pushed beyond the pale.
How can we help create more diverse and broadly accepting communities? We're all just people, aren't we? How can we design communities and governments to be accepting of even the most marginalized? In a heavily connected world, even the oddball teenager in a small community can now manage to find their own sub-community using the internet. (Even child pornographers manage to find their community online.)
The opposite of this is at what point do we circumscribe the norms of the community? Take the idea of "Your freedom to strike me ends at my nose." Perhaps we only shun those extreme instances like murder and pornography, and other actions which take extreme advantage of others' freedoms? [This needs to be heavily expanded and contemplated...] What about the over-financialization of the economy which takes advantage of the unprivileged who don't know that system and are uncapable of the mathematics and computation to succeed. Similarly hucksters and snake oil salesmen who take advantage of their targets' weaknesses and lack of knowledge and sophistication. Or the unregulated vitamin industry taking rents from millions for their superstitions? How do we regulate these to allow "cultural freedom" or "religious freedom" without them taking mass-scale advantage of their targets? (Or are some of these acculturated examples simply inequalities institutionally built into societies and cultures as a means of extracting power and rents from the larger system by those in power?)
Compare with Hester Prynne and Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.
- Sep 2021
Inside the cult of crypto Debate? No thanks. Doubts? Not welcome. How the world of cryptocurrency diehards really works
The tunnel far below represented Nevada’s latest salvo in a simmering water war: the construction of a $1.4 billion drainage hole to ensure that if the lake ever ran dry, Las Vegas could get the very last drop
Deep Concept: Modern America is mostly corrupt from it's own creation of wealth. Wealth is power, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely! Money and wealth have completely changed the underlying foundation of America. Modern America is the corrupted result of wealth. Morality and ethics in modern American have been reshaped to "fit" European Aristocracy, ironically the same European aristocracy America fled in the Revolutionary War.
Billions and billions of tax payer money is spent on projects that could never pass rigorous examination and best public ROI use. Political authoritative conditions rule public tax money for the benefit of a few at the expense of the many. The public "cult-like" sheep have no clue how they are being abused.
The authoritative abusers (politicians) follow the "mostly" corrupt American (fuck-you) form of government and individual power tactics that have been conveniently embedded in corrupt modern morality and ethics, used by corrupted lawyers and judges to codify the fundamental moral code that underpins the original American Constitution.
The Uncomfortable Truth is the Difficult and Unpopular Decisions are Now Unavoidable.
Topic is relevant across a span of global issues. Natural resources are Finite.....period! Timely decisions are critical to insure intelligent use of resources. DENIAL is the enemy and 800lb gorilla in the room. Neoliberisim and social dysfunction feed on any cognitive dissonance and poop it out as "crap". True believers of American Capitalism (yes there is a difference) have become "cult-like" and drink the fluid of the cult to the very end, human consequence is of no concern.
Point being: Reality is always elusive within a cult controlled (authoritative) mindset. Cult members are weak sheep, incapable of individual logic/reason. Authority can not be challenged. -- Denial, a human defense mechanism has been and is the common denominator in all personal and global conflict. Denial can be traced throughout modern history and rears its ugly head whenever the stakes are high.
- modern morality and ethics
- climate change
- european aristocracy
- public tax dollars
- human defense mechanism
- uncomfortable truth
- Lake Mead
- finite resources
- american capitalism
- modern America
- Oct 2014
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND HOW PROBLEMATIC THIS IS. IT'S ALMOST THOUGHT TO BE IMPOSSIBLE. WHAT HAS ESSENTIALLY HAPPENED IS THAT WE HAVE TAKEN A CULT BEHAVIORAL APPROACH TO DISCUSSION AND PHILOSOPHY - NORMALLY A REALLY DIFFICULT THING TO INSTILL INTO PEOPLE AND REQUIRES ISOLATION, DIRECT PROGRAMMING AND FULL-ON CULTURAL SEPARATION - AND TURNED IT INTO SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN CASUALLY LEARNED ON THE INTERNET'S PROVERBIAL STREETS THROUGH THE ORGANIC PROCESS OF BEING A PART OF VIDEO GAME'S MOST TOXIC SUBCULTURE. THIS IS ONE OF THE SCARIEST THINGS HULK HAS EVER SEEN.
- Sep 2014
But when their martyr's death never came despite several decades of opportunity (and after Ti died of cancer), Do did what any self-chose second coming would: Cover a manifesto in word art, stick it on the internet, and SEO the shit out of it.
I'm just going to assume from now on that anyone who emails me offering SEO services is actually a cult leader.