April 06, 2005

Lethal passivity

Posted by Mary Madigan

Via Instapundit: Former UN human rights lawyer Kenneth Cain describes Kofi Annan’s “passive capitulation to evil” in his Sunday Observer article, "How many more must die before Kofi quits?"

Before I met him in Liberia, that CAO, Krishna Gowandan, had been knocking around West Africa for years in various UN jobs, always mired in corruption, never disciplined, always promoted and reassigned - a pattern all too familiar at the UN - during which time the head of personnel was Kofi Annan. (Gowandan was eventually indicted by US federal prosecutors in New York for $1.5 million worth of fraudulent kickbacks on UN construction jobs. He has since died.)

What kind of leadership would tolerate this conduct 10 years ago? The answer is: precisely the same leadership that, 10 years later, permitted the oil-for-food scandal and the sex-for-food scandal. Why did it take everyone 10 years to figure this out?

The second searing irony for me is that the American neoconservative right has occupied the moral high ground in critique of Annan, outflanking the left, which sits on indefensible territory in his support. But if prevention of genocide and protection of the vulnerable are not core priorities on the left, then what is?..

I guess only the Left can answer that question. What are their core priorities?

Cain, co-author of the book "Emergency Sex (and Other Desperate Measures): A True Story from Hell on Earth describes the contrast between Annan and the people who work for him.

Our book is often criticised by fellow travellers on the left because we hold Annan and the UN accountable. As head of peacekeeping then, and as secretary-general now, Annan's power to effect any change on the ground, our critics remind us, is constrained by the interests of the Security Council (the US and France didn't want to intervene in Rwanda, the French again in Bosnia, and China and Russia now in Darfur). Therefore it's unrealistic to argue that Annan should risk his job by exhorting his Security Council bosses to do the right thing in the face of genocide.

Our response? Annan asks - no, orders - unarmed civilians to risk their lives every day as election observers, human rights monitors, drivers and secretaries in the most dangerous conditions all over the world. They do it, heroically, every day. And, in the service of peace, some pay with their lives; others with their sanity. How can he then not ask of himself the courage to risk his job in the cause of preventing genocide? At the very least, he could go down trying to save lives, as opposed to going down trying to explain why he didn't.

The question is, what are the core priorities of the UN? Cain believes that saving lives and preventing genocides are core priorities, but if that were true, Annan would have been fired a long time ago. In fact, preserving peace and stability is the UN’s goal. The tolerance of genocidal regimes and the massive casualties that result is in line with that goal.

If ensuring worldwide stability and preventing or avoiding involvement in any military action against a sovereign nation requires a passive capitulation to evil, Kofi Annan is more than willing to passively capitulate. He’s doing the job he’s being paid to do - as will the person who replaces him.

Posted by Mary Madigan at April 6, 2005 08:44 PM

Comments

The core priority of the Left: destroy the wealth that unequal capitalism creates. In the name of equality.

See Bush hate, Jew hate, Success hate

The destructive sin of ENVY. The PC comrades justify their violence because of "social injustice".

The world needs a world policeman to stop genocide. It needs to be based on democratic countries, only -- the UN structure excludes this.
Perhaps an expanded NATO based Human Rights enforcement group HReg

Posted by: Tom Grey at April 7, 2005 12:43 AM

I guess only the Left can answer that question. What are their core priorities?

1: USA-critique.
2: USA-aly critique.
3: Defend everyone else in the entire world from any critique that doesn't have a but related to points 1 and 2 or wich isn't an extension of points 1 and 2. (Why doesn't 1 or 2 stop... /1 and2 doesn't stop .... because there's no oil ot be had etc)

Posted by: Rune from Oslo ,Norway at April 7, 2005 05:20 AM

The Left, semm to me, under the sad impression that a beuracracy designed to be responsible for others is better than individuals being responsible for themselves. All of their hopes and dreams appear to require a government institution to be the best and greatest hope for the individual.

Yet, this panacea has never materialized. The League of Nations appears to have been a sad, sad farce and the United Nations may only have held things together for the length of time it has, because too many nations understand MAD. Federal programs such as Medicare and Social Security appear to be straining under fatal flaws and the UN was just shown to be a toothless Lion, whenever they oppose the US.

"The Left" (whatever sort of broad meaningless label that is), has a disconnect between their reality tunnel, which holds some truths to be self-evident (like government healthcare will save us from corporate bastards). These truths do not appear as though they are withstanding the stress of time and unforseen occurances.

Every time a widely accepted reality-tunnel begins to flounder, the beliefs and dogma seem to stand in harsh relief to reality. Sombunall people will recoginize the difference between the reality they knew, and the different reality they are now seeing. They tend to adjust and enter a different perspective, or "reality-tunnel". Others, can't seperate the dogma from the facts on the ground.

It may not be the "evil" lefties that are "morally bankrupt". Stuff like that seems simply ad hominm. I appears to me that we may be seeing a shift of reality, and anyone very embedded in a reality-tunnel tends to have a tough time adjusting. The same appears true of any group that becomes so sure that it IS right and that it KNOWS the TRUTH. Once the house of cards that they may have built to support their beliefs crumbles, they're left with neurolinguistic ghosts in their brains. If a human believes strongly that something is true, the neural pathways seem to require time to accept new information and change. If new information is coming too quickly, or if it supports the exact opposite of your reality-tunnel, the change becomes even more difficult.

Consider, for a moment, the issue of Marijuana. Every official study, by any government has come to the same conclusion. Marijuana is not addictive, it's not a gateway drug, its not the cause of psychotic outbreaks (except in rare cases where the person already has serious psychological problems, but then alcohol acts in a similar way), almost everything that the "official" reality-tunnel of US Drug policy teaches us about Marijuana is contradicted by any scientific study they undertake. Recent studies believe that 1 in 4 Americans have at least smoked Pot occasionally.

Yet, there are many people who will still hold to the reality-tunnel that Pot makes you a useless lump, that it leads to heroin, that it causes cancer, etc. etc. etc. The US Government has all of these studies, but their reality tunnel doesn't make it easy for them to change.

"After all", they may reason, "if people realize that we were wrong about Pot, will they trust anything we say."

Is that any different from the Democrat who fears to give Social Security or the UN a proper burial, because "If we were wrong about these, who will believe anything we say?"

Reality is what you can get away with. If you can't get away with it, it just ain't real.

;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at April 7, 2005 10:06 AM

Liberals would gladly sacrifice freedom for peace.

Posted by: spaniard at April 7, 2005 04:57 PM

Mary - maybe your outrage stems from the fact that you still think you can distinguish between good and evil, while the internationally minded multiculturalists have already given up on that notion. It must be the little Catholic in you. :-)

I am such a major link abuser but I can't help myself and to tell the truth - it's one reason I actually read comments threads because I follow links. Anyway - following up on your previous post about Pope JPII - this is quite long but I think well worth reading. On a previous thread I was very enthusiastic about the neo-Marxist "Baran-Wallenstein" thesis as an explanation for much of leftist pathology these days, but this Laurence Auster article added to my understanding of what is going on with the left and with multiculturalism and by extension - with the U.N. So I admit that all the connections are rather diffuse, but I am beginning to connect alot of dots and I found this article (from a very traditional conservative) rather enlightening in connecting them...

Liberal Christianity and One-Worldism

Perhaps I should more bluntly surmise that the U.N. - as a global one-world government of sorts - does not make the same sorts of moral distinctions as you and I do and that the insanity we see is all part and parcel of the same process?

Posted by: Caroline at April 7, 2005 05:10 PM

Ratatosk - Only one in 4 Americans has smoked pot occasionally? That number seems kind of low. They must not have polled in the New York area.

Some people have trouble adapting to new information, but some don’t. Extremists, journalists and politicians seem to have the most trouble with change. It’s true, people who have made a career out of being right all the time are the least likely to admit when they’re wrong. But, as Dan Rather discovered, if you’re really, really wrong, the truth will come out eventually.

Posted by: mary at April 7, 2005 08:42 PM

Caroline - Looking back, I don’t think I ever was much of a Catholic. When I was little, my folks bribed me with ice cream to go to church. When I could afford to buy my own ice cream, no more church.

While most religion offers a sense of community and some moral guidance, all religions, including atheism, also promote an us-vs.-Them attitude. Catholics feel obligated to oppose liberal Christians. Liberal Christians oppose Catholics with a very unliberal vehemence.

A genuine humanist tradition, or a ‘cult of man’ would oppose Islamist fundamentalism and Shariah laws because these laws encourage crimes against humanity. A genuine humanist/liberal Christian wouldn’t loathe Catholics and fundamentalists. But they do.

Liberal Christians and atheists don’t oppose Islamist fundamentalism. They’ve only been taught to hate Catholics and fundamentalist Christians, they probably don’t know much about Islamic fundamentalism and they don’t want to know. Fundamentalists and Catholics are the “other” to liberal Christians, the enemy, the only team they know how to properly oppose.

Although I don't agree with most fundamentalist or Catholic views, they have spoken out about slavery and the genocide in the Sudan - a lot more often than the 'liberal' Christians.

Posted by: mary at April 7, 2005 09:06 PM

"Only one in 4 Americans has smoked pot occasionally?"

Mary, I glanced at the report again and the 1 in 4 was reported in 1980. At this point, the report states, almost 40% of Americans polled admitted to regularly smoking pot at one time.

That seems like a lot of people, yet the nation as a whole still appears to have a level of cognative dissonance about the reality of Marijuana. The Democrats cognative dissonance doesn't seem much different to me (from a mental programming standpoint), it's just about bigger issues.

People who hold beliefs, seem to build each belief upon other beliefs. Its sometimes seems as if they file everything they believe to be "True" in the same filing cabinet. For someone to threaten something in the cabinet, may, to them, threaten everything in that cabinet.

If you are under the perception that everything you hold to be True is being threatened, is it surprising that you may act in a psychotic manner?

Sombunall Democrats, over the past 4+ years, appear to have behaved in a classical pattern of cognative dissonance, a psychotic reaction. They seem unable to accept any facts that will threaten their world view (their reality?).

Of course, handcuffing parapalegics to their bed, just for smoking an herb proscribed by their doctor (and legalized by the citizens of the State) sounds a bit psychotic too.

Its just the way human brains seem to operate, to me. Consider the cognative dissonance of the Deep South about slavery. Consider the nationwide cognative dissonance about Native Americans. Go worldwide, consider how many times we've heard someone officially apologize for some injustice that was done in the distant past. It took the Vatican centuries to recoginize some of its mistakes. Every group that holds strong beliefs seems capable of completely ignoring the obvious, once their reality gets threatened.

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at April 8, 2005 07:22 AM

Tosk - I understand what you're saying, and I totally agree on the pot issue, but when you ask: If you are under the perception that everything you hold to be True is being threatened, is it surprising that you may act in a psychotic manner?

I have to say that yes, it is a little hard to believe that people will go to near-psychotic lengths to deny that their "truth" is false. It's also hard to believe that this aberrant behavior is based on 'normal' brain chemistry.

On the other hand, it's a proven fact that people will go to near-psychotic lengths to achieve and maintain a comfortable, secure existence. That seems to be a more probable explanation.

Posted by: mary at April 8, 2005 11:26 AM

Mary,

cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon which refers to the discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you already know or believe, and new information or interpretation.

More interesting and perhaps applicable:

Beyond this benign if uncomfortable aspect, however, dissonance can go "over the top", leading to two interesting side-effects for learning:

if someone is called upon to learn something which contradicts what they already think they know — particularly if they are committed to that prior knowledge — they are likely to resist the new learning. Even Carl Rogers recognised this. Accommodation is more difficult than Assimilation, in Piaget's terms.

if learning something has been difficult, uncomfortable, or even humiliating enough, people are not likely to admit that the content of what has been learned is not valuable. To do so would be to admit that one has been "had", or "conned".

REF: ATHERTON J S (2003) Learning and Teaching: Cognitive dissonance [On-line] UK: Available: http://www.dmu.ac.uk/~jamesa/learning/dissonance.htm

There are many examples and studies that indicate that the human brain may be quite like a computer.

Do you really think the rank and file terrorists believe that they are doing wrong?

Do you think that every member of the Inquisition was an evil bastard?

Jehovah's Wittnesses have, on quite a number of occasions, proclaimed the date (roughly) of The End.

Every time it doesn't show, they simply continue on, maintaining that they are right and "only a few considered the end to be X"... even if its in their own publications. My parents are perfectloy happy in their reality, where every news report, every world event confirms their world view. I had a manager once, who was a born again evangelist, he had his own world view and everything he saw in the news confirmed his reality. No matter what the news, issue or fact he (and my parents) simply don't consider the possibility that it may be evidence against them... after all if they have the TRUTH, how could any evidence contradict it.

Cognitive Dissonance

Ratatosk

(PS Enjoying the conversation :) )

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at April 8, 2005 12:28 PM

Cain believes that saving lives and preventing genocides are core priorities, but if that were true, Annan would have been fired a long time ago.

If preventing genocide is a core purpose of the UN, it is remarkably poorly constructed for that purpose. The only way to prevent genocide is to wage war on the genocidal and arm the victims of genocide. The UN has the power to do neither.

Now, if we would like to change the UN to give it that power, I'd be willing to discuss it. But the responsibility to intervene (or not) lies with those who have the power to intervene -- the countries of NATO, essentially -- not with an organization which does not.

The Left has been begging for years for attention to be paid to the Sudan. We excoriated Clinton for his failures, and we reported the horrors to Bush, who was not interested. You may also note that similar horrors are taking place in the Republic of the Congo, and they are being documented by lefty organizations in the hopes that someone with power will eventually care.

Posted by: Kimmitt at April 8, 2005 12:45 PM

Another good discussion of CD with exxamples:

http://skepdic.com/cognitivedissonance.html

My favorite quote:

When we determined which trials involved glucose and which involved fructose, there was no connection between ability to resist and whether the volunteer was given the "good" or the "bad" sugar.

When these results were announced, the head chiropractor turned to me and said, "You see, that is why we never do double-blind testing anymore. It never works!" At first I thought he was joking. It turned it out he was quite serious. Since he "knew" that applied kinesiology works, and the best scientific method shows that it does not work, then -- in his mind -- there must be something wrong with the scientific method.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at April 8, 2005 12:46 PM

Tosk - re cognitive dissonance - just one question we might ask ourselves about it and which doesn't appear to be addressed by the theory itself - namely - WHY is it difficult to hold simultaneously conflicting cognitions? There is ample evidence that it is uncomfortable and that people will do what they can to avoid it, but why?

Personally I think the explanation is EGO. Because EGO - or the cognitive concept that one holds of ONESELF - is the "ultimate cognition" as it were. A coherent (cognitive) EGO depends on coherence among its constituent parts (thoughts, beliefs, identifications and so on). Lack of coherence among the parts essentially spells death for the coherence of the whole. And threats to the integrity of the (cognitively constructed) EGO - are subjectively experienced as DEATH. In other words, it isn't so much physical death we fear as it is death of the EGO because we experience the EGO as REAL (even though it isn't - it's just a construction of thought, which is ultimately a material process). The Buddha recognized this error. I think Jesus did too, although that is not usually how his death and ressurection are interpreted.

Anyway - I guess my point is that when you witness the attempts that human beings go to in order to prevent "cognitive dissonance" - it is important to recognize that you are in some sense literally witnessing a life and death struggle as it were. That's why people cling so fiercely to their beliefs in the face of evidence to the contrary.

Posted by: Caroline at April 8, 2005 02:06 PM

Tosk – the ability to learn new things, to adapt to new and changing circumstances is an essential part of human biology. If it were human nature to suffer from the sort of cognitive dissonance you describe, we’d still be living in trees.

In the old days, saber toothed tigers took care of the extreme sufferers of cognitive dissonance. Now, they don’t. We can cope with the rising population of CD sufferers by ignoring them and by refusing to give them any power. Hence the powerlessness of people who believe that communism is a really good idea, in theory.

When CD sufferers become a danger to themselves and others (ie. terrorists) they have to be dealt with more harshly.

But when it comes to extremely bad behavior, the simplest explanations are usually the best. Sometimes, people do bad things because they want to do them and they think they can get away with it. It’s always best to try out the simplest theories first.

Posted by: mary at April 8, 2005 02:17 PM

An extremely useful survival skill is to be able to fool other people into doing what you'd like them to do. But we have gotten pretty good at noticing when other people are lying. So a useful survival skill would be the ability to fool yourself into thinking that other people should do what you'd like them to do. That way you don't set off people's lie detectors.

Hence, cognitive dissonance.

Posted by: Kimmitt at April 8, 2005 02:27 PM

Kimmitt - that is a rather bizarre evolutionary biolical perspective of CD. You must be an atheist to come up with that explanation. But your explanation doesn't account for why people would cling to beliefs that don't advance their biological survival. And as history is replete with such examples, how do you explain them?

Posted by: Caroline at April 8, 2005 03:03 PM

Mary: "While most religion offers a sense of community and some moral guidance, all religions, including atheism, also promote an us-vs.-Them attitude."

Having steeped myself in Krishnamurti's (among other eastern philosophical) writings for almost a decade (the 90's in particular or no doubt I couldn't have gotten away with such utopian isolation in my thinking about the world) I thought I had come to terms with what you are describing - which is the absurdity of an "us vs them" mentality. But then I am clearly a child of the post-modern liberal west. Live and let live seemed a rather obvious and enlightened approach to reality. But then 9/11 happened and it became clear that approximately 1.5 billion human beings hadn't heard the message that the rest of the world took for granted. Idealism crashed hard into reality. That's what I'm still trying hard to come to terms with - along with millions of other (former?) liberals. I had long ago abandoned my Catholic upbringing as oppressive and irrelevant. Now I'm looking at the west as a whole civilization and trying to understand what might have held it together from a cultural and civilizational POV and trying to figure out if there's anyway to put Humpty Dumpty back together again - understanding full well that I have contributed to breaking the fragile egg. I found the Laurence Auster article very helpful in sorting some of this out but I have also found the articles of the pseudo-anonymous "Spengler" at atimes.com very useful. What is interesting is that both Auster and Spengler trace a common turning point for the West to Vatican II. Mary - you asked me if I had been to the vatican - yes - I lived near there as a child and went to school there because my father was involved with Vatican II (some laypersons were). So maybe that makes it more personal in some way. All I can say from personal experience is that the west had something really great roughly coinciding with my personal historical lifetime and somehow my own generation seems to have pushed that something right off the cliff as if it meant nothing, thereby opening the door to something much much worse and not liberal at all. Yet the far left is colluding with these illiberal forces as if there's no problem. Hell - count me confused. It's rather hard to care that much about tax policies and other such stuff when major historical/civilization changes of greater consequence appear to be unfolding right underneath our noses. I am certain that there's no way to understand such large scale shifts without paying attention to the Catholic Church as an institution. It's been a major glue for Western civilization. Good thing the Pope died when he did so idiots like me could wake up and start paying attention. On a similar note, in retrospect I am in some respects glad that 9/11 happened when it did because it woke the West up to historical trends that had been quietly unfolding for over 30 years that many people had paid no attention to whatsoever. I guess that's what it means to say that every cloud has a silver lining.

Posted by: Caroline at April 8, 2005 04:00 PM

You must be an atheist to come up with that explanation.

I . . . suppose. I could be a Buddhist. Or a liberal Christian. Really, anyone who is scientifically literate could probably do so.

But your explanation doesn't account for why people would cling to beliefs that don't advance their biological survival.

I don't posit that people don't make errors. I posit that when nearly every person in the world makes the precise same kind of error, there must be a reason for it. There's a bit more discussion here.

Look, this really isn't a great place to start getting into Evolutionary Psychology. I highly recommend Wright's "The Moral Animal" as a pretty decent place to get a handle on some of the highlights. There are a lot of people using extremely bad Ev Psych arguments for a lot of things, though; so much so that a term for them has come up ad hominid.

Yet the far left is colluding with these illiberal forces as if there's no problem.

I dunno if I'm the "far left" or not, but I can assure you that I'm not colluding with much of anyone lately, mostly due to my term papers.

Posted by: Kimmitt at April 8, 2005 07:24 PM

Liberal Christians and atheists don’t oppose Islamist fundamentalism. They’ve only been taught to hate Catholics and fundamentalist Christians, they probably don’t know much about Islamic fundamentalism and they don’t want to know. Fundamentalists and Catholics are the “other” to liberal Christians, the enemy, the only team they know how to properly oppose.

Uhm, Mary there ARE liberals and atheists (or liberal agnostics like me) who don't hate Catholics or fundamentalists...

Personally I good friends who are fundamentalist, even though I think they are basically crazy.

Where I break with the current crop of liberals is that I took the lesson of 1984 to heart early and refused to give up my belief in objective truth and (more or less objective) morality.

I'm interested in many cultures, but I'm not going to pretend that they're equally acceptable in all ways.

I think a lot of fools, rather than argue with the illogic in our own culture and in Christianity, decided to sidestep by pretending that logic and judgements never apply.

I can criticize Christianity without confusing it with Islam, for instance. I tend to think that Christians were ordered to be tolerant by Jesus, but that fundamentalist dogma has an internal logic that discourages tolerance, putting fundamentalists in a quandary that some navigate more easily than others.

But from my readings I would say that Islam is very clearly intolerant and that Mohammad's writings very clearly encourage hostility (and some the writings about him are evil beyond evil). I tend to agree with the Islamists that the verses that appear to promote tolerance when read out of context, really promote nothing of the sort when read in context.

It's the wish of the poor Muslims for more peace and less doom that makes them want to read some wisdom into what I think is the world's most foolish religion.

You've got to feel for these people. Mohammad himself committed genocide in Medina and ordered his people to be heartless, scheming conquerors (let alone plunderers and slavers) and translating those "values" to an age of WMDs is a recipe for suffering beyond measure and cruelty beyond any possible forgiveness - leading, probably, to mass extinction. Imagine what it must feel like to believe that God himself is giving you orders that (if you have any intelligence at all) you must know will lead to doom and suffering.

I started out my studies assuming the opposite about Islam, by the way, but I reading what Muslims were writing for themselves I couldn't deny what sort of attitudes I was encountering and their implications.

In the end I don't worry about Christians. If you disagree with them the worst they will do is tell you that you're going to hell and ostrasize you.

Compared with the worst that Islamists will do, that's all sweetness and light.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at April 9, 2005 06:59 AM

Kimit wrote:
An extremely useful survival skill is to be able to fool other people into doing what you'd like them to do. But we have gotten pretty good at noticing when other people are lying. So a useful survival skill would be the ability to fool yourself into thinking that other people should do what you'd like them to do. That way you don't set off people's lie detectors.

Hence, cognitive dissonance.

Very interesting. That would explain why someone with no skill in (and a deep distaste for) manipulation doesn't fall into cognitive dissonance easily. As an engineering type, I'm used to dealing with machines more that people, and there is no point trying to lie to computer. Your program either works or it doesn't and no amount of lying will cajole it into working.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at April 9, 2005 07:07 AM

That would explain why someone with no skill in (and a deep distaste for) manipulation doesn't fall into cognitive dissonance easily.

Heeuw. Maybe. People compartmentalize pretty well. We all know the guy who's a fantastic thinker at work and a grotesquely awful thinker, say, on a date.

If you disagree with them the worst they will do is tell you that you're going to hell and ostrasize you.

Unless you're an abortion doctor. Or gay. Or Irish Protestant. Or Irish Catholic. Or a Bosnian and/or Kosovar Muslim.

Posted by: Kimmitt at April 9, 2005 12:04 PM

Kimmitt: "Unless you're an abortion doctor. Or gay. Or Irish Protestant. Or Irish Catholic. Or a Bosnian and/or Kosovar Muslim."

Oh how I wish for the days when this was all we had to worry about. I think one could reasonably describe what you refer to as a "law enforcement problem". Bring on John Kerry. Roll back taxes on the top 1%. Happy days are here again (I seriously mean that). I do hope you aren't representative of the Democratic mindset generally in supposing that Christian fundamentalists represent a threat to the liberal values of the west even remotely equal to the threat posed by Islam.

Posted by: Caroline at April 9, 2005 12:26 PM

The fighting in Bosnia had a total death toll of approximately 278,000. I don't think that "law enforcement problem" describes the issue well.

Posted by: Kimmitt at April 9, 2005 01:07 PM

Caroline and Mary,

Indeed, Death Of Ego seems to be part of CD. However, it also seems as though there is a deeper issue.

When a human takes on a hard belief, a dogma, they seem to embed this deeply into their brains. It becomes a core tenant of their reality (and by this I mean their perception of reality). Once an individual has accepted a number of linked dogmas, it seems as though they develop an interlocking house of cards which is called a Belief System (BS). The BS of the Democrats seems to require the success of the UN and failure of unilateralism. Without those, their entire load of BS may fall apart.

It seems similar to the position that some Christians are in. if presented with compelling evidence that, at the very least, some parts of the bible may be less than accurate (perhaps even plagerized). Sombunall Christians, even when presented with evidence simply fail to recoginize the possibility that they may be wrong.

My Grandma used to be very upset because my family had become Jehovah's Wittnesses (Now there, is a load of BS). Mostly, because we failed to celebrate Christmas. When she finally got into a discussion with my Dad about it, he told her that it wasn't Jesus' birthday and was in fact an old pagan holiday. Grandma responded that it was too his birthday and said so in the Bible. She told Dad that she would prove it and Dad agreed that if she could prove her beleifs, he'd leave JW's and she said that if she was wrong, she'd leave her church.

She asked her preacher to help her find the correct scriptures to prove Jesus was born in December. He told her that Jesus was not born in December, in fact he was probably born in the early fall, but that we celebrate his birthday in December because he "is our savior". This explaination was good enough for grandma, and by the next christmas, she was, again, talking about Jesus' birthday.

Was it Ego? Maybe. However, it appears, based on some of the books I've read, the larger problem is that the brain seems to have trouble removing deeply ingrained ideas. Once a brain has determined that something IS TRUE. The brain may occasionally have serious trouble realizing that True is not always Truth.

Mary,

RE: Monkeys in Trees.

Most psychologists seem to think that CD comes from parts of the brain that became more defined in the mellinia following our life in trees.

Dr. Leary seems to have listed the four basic consciousness levels as follows:

1. Bio-Survival - This invertebrate brain was the first to evolve (2 to 3 billion years ago) and is the first activated when a human infant is born. It programs perception onto an either-or grid divided into nurturing-helpful Things (which it approaches) and noxious-dangerous Things (which it flees, or attacks). The imprinting of this circuit sets up the basic attitude of trust or suspicion which will ever after trigger approach or avoidance.

2. Emotional Circuit - This second, more advanced bio-computer formed when vertebrates appeared and began to compete for territory (perhaps 500,000,000 B.C.). In the individual, this bigger tunnel-reality is activated when the DNA master-tape triggers the metamorphosis from crawling to walking. As every parent knows, the toddler is no longer a passive (bio-survival) infant but a mammalian politician, full of physical (and psychic) territorial demands, quick to meddle in family business and decision-making. Again the first imprint on this circuit remains constant for life (unless brainwashed) and identifies the stimuli which will automatically trigger dominant, aggressive behavior or submissive, cooperative behavior. When we say that a person is behaving emotionally, egotistically or 'like a two-year-old,' we mean that s/he is blindly following one of the tunnel-realities imprinted on this circuit.

3. The Dexterity-Symbolism Circuit - This third brain was formed when hominid types began to differentiate from other primate stock (circa 4-5 million B.C.) and is activated for the linear left-lobe functions of the brain, determines our normal modes of artifact-manufacture and conceptual thought, i.e., third circuit 'mind.'

It is no accident, then, that our logic (and our computer-design) follows either-or, binary structure of these circuits. Nor is it an accident that our geometry, until the last century, has been Euclidean. Euclid's geometry, Aristotle's logic and Newton's physics are meta-programs synthesizing and generalizing first brain forward-back, second brain up-down and third brain right-left programs.

4. Social-Sexual Circuit - The fourth brain, dealing with the transmission of tribal or ethnic culture across generations, introduces the fourth dimension, time.

Most issues where we have "beliefs" and "dogmas" seems to happen in the fourth circuit, dogma and assured beliefs seem most likely to appear in a social situation (religion, political gorups, scientific intelligencia). If Dr. Leary was correct, the reason that we didn't have CD earlier (in the trees) may simply be because our brains hadn't yet "built that program"(the 4th circuit). I think this may have had a lot to do with exactly the issue you mentioned. When one is concerned about survival, shelter and food, they don't have time for dogma and beliefs. Once society develops enough bio-survival convieniences, perhaps our brains then have the extra time to confuse themselves with belief, dogma and CD.

Or not.

;-)

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at April 10, 2005 07:04 AM

>>That would explain why someone with no skill
>>in (and a deep distaste for) manipulation
>>doesn't fall into cognitive dissonance easily.

>Heeuw. Maybe. People compartmentalize
>pretty well. We all know the guy who's a
>fantastic thinker at work and a grotesquely
>awful thinker, say, on a date.

Kimit, what you wrote was about social intelligence not cognitive dissonance, so it's just irrelevent. Your example nerd may not have the practice in social situations to act "intelligently" in them but that doesn't in the slightest imply that he's prone to cognitive dissonance.

In fact your "arguement" is a mere nonsequiter and so poorly formed that I have to wonder if there's some cognitive dissonance leading you to look for any excuse to disagree no matter how illogical.

>>If you disagree with them the worst they
>>will do is tell you that you're going to
>>hell and ostrasize you.

>Unless you're an abortion doctor. Or gay.
>Or Irish Protestant. Or Irish Catholic.
>Or a Bosnian and/or Kosovar Muslim.

This answer is as badly wrong as the previous one. Gay's main problem with christians is ostracism, not (as it was in Afganistan) being killed. And there's no international conspiracy with trillions of dollars behind it to kill abortion doctors... You just can't compare the scale of the problem of Islamist terrorism to that of anti-abortion extremists.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at April 10, 2005 09:28 PM

Joshua,

I agree that the scale, bredth and depth of the two issues do not seem the same to me either. However, the mental process, the ideology, the DOGMA appears almost identical. Person X believes that they know what the Big Invisible Stone Age Deity wants. In fact, they believe that the BISAD wants them to kill person Y because person Y has a different view of the BISAD. This same proccess of thought seems to permeate history, when some group allows dogma to dominate their reality-tunnel. One may find at the end, that there appears a strong likelyhood of a leader, not as tied to the dogma, but more than happy to exploit those who are.

The United States, thankfully has built in protections to make this sort of garbage the exception, not the rule.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at April 11, 2005 07:42 AM

Very interesting thread - good links Tosk.

Here is a lengthy and interesting POV on cognitive dissonance in relation to brain injury. It is the avoidance of pain that drives the individual to seek consistency by eliminating contradictions. One way to reduce Cognitive Dissonance involves distorting the truth, which can cause wrong decisions. The drive to regain cognitive consistency or consonance among beliefs, ideas and attitudes motivates us to do whatever we find is easiest to eliminate or reduce inconsistency in our mind. We may not necessarily seek truth, only consistency.

And this sounds like the blogosphere to me:
Dissonance often leads to:
misconception or misinterpretation of the fresh information,
rejection or refutation of the new information,
seeking support from those who agree with your convictions,
and attempting to persuade others to accept your belief.

I've come to the point where I don't accept anything as Truth anymore - I question everything. The human race knows essentially nothing about anything - much, much less than we pretend to know anyways. Truth is relative. God is Truth - Joseph Campbell took care of that one for me. Truth of Good versus Evil - how is it that a person who had some "evil" inflicted upon them states that it was the best thing to ever happen to them because it made them much stronger or changed their life around, etc. As the human race collectively learns more, the more the theories and ideals of Truth are discredited, crumble, evolve, or are found to be lacking in some way. I don't worry about Truth anymore and instead focus on my few (possibly faulty) beliefs: freedom/self-determination, compassion, and the attitude that happiness is a choice.

Why are happy people "happy?" It's because they choose to believe a lot of BS and false truths about themelves, the world, and about life. But they are happy - the techniques work. Unreality isn't necessarily always a bad thing. I recommend to everyone to read Seligman's book Authentic Happiness (www.authentichappiness.org). Great stuff.

Posted by: markytom at April 11, 2005 09:23 PM

Ratatosk, of the pretentious name, you're also deeply wrong. While there are some similarities between Christian and Islamic dogma, such as a God who will judge, reward and punish Islam adds some extreemly important new problems.

Under Christianity, christians (according to some versions) are expected to attempt to convert people by prosthelatizing.

Under Islam - non-Muslims are considered enemies of God. The Muslim community has a duty to invade and overthrow the non-Muslim world and individual Muslims are (according to some versions) required to hate non-Muslims. Worse versions (the Saudis and the Palestinians, these days) explicitly state that God won't reward Muslims with a second coming until Muslims do their duty and commit genocide against the Jews.

It's revealing that the quotes often used to show that Islam opposes violence, are taken out of context. The most famous one, about killing being like destroying the world, in context is aimed at Jews who are characterized as causing trouble not at Muslims at all.

There's a HUGE difference between believing that God judges and is against unnecessary violence as the Christians believe, and believing that God wants global warfare - and that God has specifically stated that Muslims are evil scheming people who will always conspire to harm Muslims. That God has stated that the only wisdom is warfare against them. It's true that older versions of Islam allows the existance of Jews and Christians (BUT NOT ANY OTHER RELIGION!!!) but only in the case that Jews and Christians live under Islamic rule as degraded serfs - basically Warsaw getto conditions where a Muslim can kill a Jew or Christian without punishment. Temporary peace is also allowed if Muslims are too weak to invade and if tribute is paid.

You're an idiot to think that people who think God has pointed to an enemy and yelled "kill the scum" is equivalent to Chritianity.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at April 12, 2005 12:34 AM

Many typos the worst should read:

and that God has specifically stated that nonMuslims are evil scheming people who will always conspire to harm Muslims.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at April 12, 2005 12:45 AM

You're an idiot to think that people who think God has pointed to an enemy and yelled "kill the scum" is equivalent to Chritianity.

Seems that history paints a different picture. Weren't the Crusades about killing the heretics "kill them all, God will know his own" - what's the difference between "kill the infidels" and "kill the heretics?" Link here for a list of examples of how religion is the cause for so many past atrocities, and not surpisingly, Christians have done their share of killing in the name of God.

It's always interesting to hear people explain how their religion is the "correct" religion, that their God is the one "right" God. And when evils are done in the name of Christianity, those evils are easily rationalized away. After all, evil acts of men, including Christians, only confirm teachings from the Bible, right? And how does one know that the Bible is the Word of God? Hmm.

Posted by: markytom at April 12, 2005 08:37 AM

markytom ahh but the picture "history paint" is just that history, long dead. The Church of the crusades is long gone. But my statements about Islam are the Islam taught by most clerics today. You should be ashamed of basing an arguement on such a falicy.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at April 14, 2005 03:30 AM

Joshua - Catholics versus Protestants fighting in Northern Ireland? Christians fighting Muslims in the Lebanese civil war? Ancient history? I think not.

Plus I hear Crusades-type talk today about how Muslims are evil - just go to the freepers site.

I'm not a big fan of Islam - I agree with most of what Caroline has said about it in her posts.

Unfortunately for the world, religion has been used effectively as a tool by evil people again and again to convince good people to perform evil acts "in the name of God." Maybe religion could be considered a WMD?

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