We appear to reach a point in our development that I think of as “calcification,” wherein opinions harden and new information cannot penetrate consciousness. I suppose it happens to all of us, and I have either experienced it and do not know it, or am in line for the event. Nonetheless, I will operate on the assumption that at this point in my life, I can be reached and persuaded with new evidence, and that information can be assembled and reassembled to yield new and better explanations than those I currently rely on to make my world view seem coherent. The world is immense and complex, and we experience so little of it no matter how much we read and pay attention. We have to be open to new ideas!
I say this because my blog discussions yesterday, here with Swede and at 4&20 with Turner and Craig Moore, are with people ahead of me in line. All three seemed impenetrable, that is, they stand poised with baseball bats to swing at anything thrown their way that might interfere with calcified opinions of … what – 40 years in Swede and Craig’s cases? Turner, confronted with new information that did not match his existing explanations of events, got up on a high horse and said “prove it to me.” I told him to use his computer, fingers and brain to investigate for himself, to which he suggested I not be condescending.
That is probably true. I do that. If it is about changing minds, it’s a quixotic quest. My attitude is that minds cannot be changed by persuasion. Most opinions have been implanted by media, are not reasoned, and are constantly reinforced in the full spectrum of news, education and entertainment. They cannot be changed. People deviate a little from the herd, and then get pulled back in. Hardly anyone examines why they “know” things. To dislodge an implanted impression requires shock, which produces cognitive dissonance, which discomfort requires adjustment and realignment of viewpoints.
The normal reaction to shock, however, is what I call the “eye flash,” wherein a defense system put in place by education, news and entertainment deflects nonconforming information much as a baseball bat sends a ball off on a long trip. I first encountered that phenomenon with a young college student who was learning how to make movies. She wanted to do a documentary on the Armenian Holocaust, which she said was the first genocide of the 20th century. I suggested to her that perhaps the US treatment of tribes in the Philippines qualified for that honor, and I noticed an eye flicker. “Does not compute. US no do genocide. Only foreigners.” That flicker was the sign that the new information has been instantly dismissed, and was deep in the left field seats.
I have no duty to prove anything to anyone. Each of us is charged with observation and investigative duties. Over the years I’ve come to understand some things and have had to change my outlook on many, many occasions, and yet still have to wonder if anything I know is true. Here’s just a brief rundown:
- Education as we know it does not set us free. It enslaves us.
- Most people hate freedom. Hate it. They prefer security.
- Democracy only sort of works, and then only if there is a high level of organization, not currently present in our country.
- News media does not report news, but rather focuses our attention as leaders desire, on some things, away from others.
- Climate change might be real, might be an illusion. Individuals cannot affect it.
- Climate change should not scare us, however. We’ll survive, easily.
- Voting occasionally matters, usually on issues close to home.
- We’re not running out of energy. We can’t. There can be incalculable potential unlocked from the atom by cold processes, shown to us in a startling way on 9/11/01.
- In all political systems everywhere, real power is present but silent, and attempts to control all factions. Those that it cannot control, it attempts to destroy.
I got more and better stuff. We’re all unknowingly in a Stanley Kubrick film, and he’s hinting at us, poking ever so gently, because that was all he was allowed to do without himself getting killed. You think this world is strange? Oh yes, it is. Strange and fascinating. More so that we can fathom. And yet, comprehensible.
Long day, it was. But illuminating. Swede ended it on the proper note. Confronted with a comment longer than than one short paragraph, he said “Too long. Just skimmed.” “Go fuck yourself,” I responded, wanting to shorten the message for his attention span. I think he actually read that comment.