A rather long post I wrote yesterday is gone, but not destroyed. I simply took it from public view with the idea that I can say as much with perhaps one-fifth the number of words. Writing long pieces is merely laziness on my part. It is much harder to be succinct.
“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” (Ron Paul)
“She’s not a girl who misses much.” (John Lennon, Happiness is a Warm Gun)
I put up a piece some time ago on Dave McGowan’s book, Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon. McGowan is a man with a sharp mind and wit. He might be the male counterpart Lennon’s friend above. Mr. McGowan also has a regular life and only writes in his spare time and not to pay bills. He spots anomalies and moves on. He is, however, a fun guy to read. He does not miss much.
A commenter, Mitch H, noted of that post
Delusional pattern recognition is known as “apophenia”. The human mind, which relies heavily on perceptual pre-processing to the point that anyone with any experience takes eyewitness testimony with a great deal of caution, is catastrophically prone to making connections where no connections exist. I’m about halfway through Weird Scenes, and the writer is one of those people of which The Police sang, “he knows all the suicides are faked”. I can sort of filter out of all the paranoid delusions an interesting narrative, but good lord! He makes Robert Anton Wilson seem a marvel of credibility and caution in comparison.
Several things are wrong with Mitch’s outlook, but first I need the antonym to “apophenia.” I choose the term “pastyfacedness,” defined as follows:
Pastyfacedness: Voluntary shutting down of the senses, considered an essential part of intelligence in an Empire of Lies.
In our Empire we can all see an event, whether real or on TV, and form our impressions. Then we listen to the talking heads explain it. After that, we file the anomalies away under “conspiracy theory.” Ours is an oppressive thought control regime, and lies are the norm. It is rare that anyone ever says something true. But to turn off one’s brain, to actually think that natural curiosity is a form of mental illness … is mental slavery.
Another John Lennon line: You’d better free your mind instead.” Voluntarily shutting down of the curiosity function, living in pasty-faced boredom, is thought control.
Eyewitness testimony can indeed be untrustworthy. That’s why people with sharp minds sort through it looking for patterns. It’s fraught with danger, so that a person engaged in pattern recognition in eyewitness testimony must use his or her brain.
Here is a common occurrence in our neighborhood – someone spotted a bear. Say that we have four “eyewitness” testimonies:
- “He must have been 350 pounds, was a boar, and was running down Cypress towards the east.”
- “It was a cub, maybe two years old, could not have weighed more than 200 pounds, and was cinnamon.”
- “I heard a noise and looked out and then there was a big thump. My bird feeder was knocked down.”
- “I was walking late at night, and there were noises and I knew I was being followed, so I hightailed it home. There was a bear out there. I felt it.”
A regular person of normal curiosity discounts the latter two statements, as they filled with speculation, and in the latter case, paranoia. However, it is reasonable to conclude that there were two bears seen in the neighborhood, and that they harmed no one.
Now take something that really happened on 11/22/63: An eyewitness in the crowd looked up, and in the sixth floor window of the book depository saw two men. One of them was [possibly Mexican or black].
a black man. After the shooting, three two employees went down the stairs and out the back door of the book depository, and were met by a large black man.
Significance: It’s Dallas, the president was shot, a [Mexican or] black man was seen in the window, and then later a large black man at the back of the building. People in Dallas in 1963 remember seeing black people. It’s natural.
Conclusion: It’s a lead. Follow it to where it might take you. What did the Warren Commission do? They ignored the sighting of the [Mexican or] black man in the window, and altered the testimony of the women make it a few minutes later. That way, they would have missed Oswald running down the stairs, which they would have seen had it happened, but did not.
That’s how we handle eyewitness testimony in the Empire of Lies. We either ignore it, or change it.
Eyewitness testimony is indeed reliable, but must be carefully sifted with allowance made for speculation and our desire to enjoy a moment in the spotlight. Police detectives, except in a high-profile case like the public murder of a president, seek out all the eyewitness testimony they can find. Then they sift, sort, look for patterns, and use their brains. A pattern becomes a lead, often a dead end. Often not. Any detective will tell you that there is never a shortage of evidence and testimony. The good ones are those who see the underlying patterns and follow them, using their brains in the process.
I cannot emphasize enough the need to turn off our TV’s and turn on our brains. The television is much like carrying a flashlight on a moonlit night – it creates more darkness than light. Without the flashlight the entire countryside lights up, and a whole world of images delight the eyes. It’s not apophenia. Far from it: It is being a sentient human with a functioning brain.