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Dissonance, Denial, and Danger

In the early days of the Occupy movement I was criticised for questioning the roots of the movement with the article The Occupy Together Movement- Collective Actions and the Need for Individual Thought. Although I wasn’t alone in that questioning, (and didn’t fully agree with the opinions of some of the others who were also questioning), I was accused of spreading disinformation and of trying to undermine the movement. As it was I felt I was presenting pertinent information and asking valid questions, questions which too few people were asking.

Realising the futility of my actions, I turned to providing information (Essential Information for Members of the Occupy Movement) of the kind that would allow activists to identify and deal with potential manipulation by individuals or coordinated groups that might use techniques like NLP and Miltonian Hypnosis, in a way similar to methods used by known organisations like Common Purpose. The reaction to that was much the same, so I decided to step back and keep an eye out from the sidelines.

Recently I spotted what I felt was a serious potential security issue in the form of facilitators from the Tavistock Institute running dream-focused psychological workshops in various Occupy groups around the world. This post contains an overview of the issue and links to additional information about the Tavistock Institute.

Following the discovery I communicated my concerns over various Internet networks. With my mind boggling at the naivety/stupidity of this modern protest movement, the responses to my messages shocked and dismayed me more than I can describe.

I’ve been personally and professionally engaged in research in a variety of areas for over twenty years. For the last five years that research has been focused toward the production of a novel, Psyclone. Woven within the narrative is a blueprint with the potential to transform our world, literally. Every piece of information and fact conveyed through internal and external dialogue in the novel with one exception is based on facts and information expanded on and linked to in an 85-page appendix. The sole reason for writing Psyclone was to connect people with data in that section.

As much of the information in the appendix is potentially new to many readers and might challenge previously held beliefs, I included an Appendix II – A Word on Cognitive Dissonance. Briefly, cognitive dissonance is a subconscious mental state often triggered by new information which conflicts with the person’s worldview and beliefs. Because I encountered a pattern of behaviour in the responses to some of the information in Psyclone, I investigated the phenomena and afterward decided that people needed to be made aware of this aspect of themselves. If humans are good at one thing, it’s self-induced blindness, and there’s none so blind as those who won’t see.

So once again cognitive dissonance rears its ugly head, and I’m encountering the serious problem of resistance to new and challenging information, shown this time by people I expected to know better.  (I prefer, and it’s more constructive, to see the responses as a sign of dissonance than a sign of conceit, despite the rhetoric leveled at me.)

Encountering skepticism among ‘normal’ people isn’t such a surprise. By ‘normal’ I mean not ‘alternative’, an ‘alternative’ position being one that’s been consciously adopted by a person with regard to social, spiritual, political, etc awareness and/or practice; a perspective that’s different from that resulting from mainstream programming by education, media, and religion. Move deeper into intellectual and/or ‘alternative’ circles though and that skepticism quite quickly becomes pathological.

The term ‘pathological skepticism’ is used in the article Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Skepticism, a rebuttal of the article titled Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science by Dr. Robert L.Park, a spokesman for the American Physical Society. Here I take the liberty of paraphrasing extracts from the article, which makes some very valid points, but does so within the focus of the rebuttal when the statements are equally valid outside that context.

The progress of knowledge depends on a finely tuned balance between open-mindedness and skepticism. Be too open minded, and you’ll accept wrong claims. Be too skeptical, and you’ll reject genuine new information. Proper skepticism must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Unfortunately, much of what masquerades for honest skepticism these days is not proper skepticism, but all-out, fundamentalist disbelief. Such skepticism can be called pseudo-skepticism, pathological skepticism or bogus skepticism.

The first and most obvious of the warning signs of bogus skepticism is that the Skeptic has reached their skeptical opinion not after careful research and examination of the information, but simply based on media reports and other forms of second-hand knowledge.

In both instances mentioned above, the material I presented, which included links to other data sources and recommendations that readers do their own research, wasn’t considered. Had it been, the attacks wouldn’t have occurred. There are of course trolls, those sad types who like to derail conversation threads with negative comments in one form or another, but some of the responses were from sources I could identify as not being trolls.

In the article Cognitive Dissonance – a hidden danger to us all, which is Psyclone’s Appendix II cut-and-pasted online, I used an image and paraphrased a warning that was well known around the time of WWII.

Beware, Ears Have Walls

In 1941, the Nazis invaded Lithuania, imprisoned the Jews of Vilna into a ghetto, and started killing thousands of them in a pit outside of the town. After a while, a woman managed to stagger back to the ghetto after only being wounded at the shooting pits. The doctor who treated her became convinced she was telling the truth, and tried to warn the rest of the community about the fate the Nazis had in store for them. He found it extremely difficult to persuade people – not because they’d done any research of their own to discredit the story – but because psychologically it was too difficult to consider. Needless to say, everyone was eventually killed save those who hid or fled to the forests.

The modern day parallels shouldn’t need pointing out.


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