Television networks and movie producers typically test audience reactions using tools such as pilots, movie trailers and surveys. Based on responses, they decide which scripts, characters and endings to release. Suppose that what we call the news and history are handled in a similar way?
Rather than having a single explanation of events, those who control events have several versions. They can release tentative versions in the media and gauge public reaction.
For example, in the recent Boston Marathon bombing, the following story was released about a Saudi man being questioned:
This is all very tentative, however. It remains to be seen whether this person will be blamed for the event. While we might take the straightforward explanation that it all depends on whether evidence implicates him, is it not just as likely that they are still trying to decide how to play the event?
Those who get their information from the alternative or “conspiracy” media should be aware that so-called conspiracy theories could also be included in releasing these “scripts.” They might orchestrate a few contradictory explanations for the same event, all of them fabricated.
This theory can also be applied to events such as the JFK assassination, 9/11 and other large scale events. You end up with so many conflicting theories that at some point they all end up sounding equally plausible or implausible.
How, then, do we know what is “true?” There’s no simple answer. Does this mean that the only reasonable reaction is total paranoia? Not necessarily. One can just as easily take the position of detached agnosticism –remaining skeptical and open to multiple possibilities without claiming to know the absolute truth.
A good lesson in this type of thinking can be found in the underground classic, The Illuminatus Trilogy, by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. This book is equal parts serious social commentary and tongue-in-cheek satire. In a world where almost nothing is certain, you have to maintain a sense of humor as well as a healthy dose of skepticism.
TED Blog Discussion on Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake
The current controversy between TED and Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake is interesting, but not very surprising if you’re familiar how the mainstream paradigm operates.
TED has become a trendy and popular forum for modern intellectuals, academics, artists and others to discuss various issues and theories. I’ve only watched a tiny portion of the TED Talks. It’s already become a franchise, with new talks being broadcast almost every single day. I have found some TED Talks to be quite thought provoking and have even linked to some of them on this blog.
One thing that becomes clear with so many TED Talks -you are going to have a wide diversity of opinions. So it might seem strange that suddenly two talks are singled out for “censorship.” Yet if you consider what both Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake represent, it’s rather predictable.
Both are on the cutting edge of what can be called (depending on your viewpoint) alternative science, the new age movement, fringe science or even pseudoscience (the latter term was actually used when TED took down their videos).
Graham Hancock has long been associated with alternative archeology, with books like Fingerprints of the Gods that re-examine conventional ideas about the origin of the pyramids and other ancient structures. More recently, he has become even more controversial with blog posts and videos discussing ayhuasca and other psychedelics.
Rupert Sheldrake, meanwhile, is best known for his theory of morphogenic fields, where he postulates a field of energy that cannot be measured by scientific instruments. His most recent book, The Science Delusion, discusses the 10 myths of the modern, materialistic paradigm. The very title of this book should give you an idea of how well it was received by the scientific establishment! The book was given a tamer title in the U.S. -Science Set Free.
People like Hancock and Sheldrake are the very epitome of what dogmatic atheists and materialists want to stamp out. So it’s no wonder that there was a public outcry when these controversial guys were allowed to speak at TED.
What I find most amusing is the way TED is behaving in the typical manner of a large, frightened bureaucracy that desperately wants to maintain its credibility and respectability (and funding, no doubt).
First they created a special forum for “special” types of talks like those given by Hancock and Sheldrake -TedxWhitechapel. This, however, wasn’t enough for some of the fundamentalists (of the materialist variety) out there, so TED went on to remove the videos of these talks. They also published a strongly worded criticism of the talks, labeling them “pseudoscience.”
This, in turn, provoked a backlash on the part of the alternative community, who decried this as censorship on TED’s part. So TED subsequently crossed out the statements condemning the two provocateurs! This is really quite amusing to see on their blog. It seems like something that might occur on a high school newspaper. Yet it shows what a bureaucratic entity TED has quickly become.
What I take from all this is that you have to take all large institutions with a healthy grain of salt. As soon as something reaches a certain size and level of popularity, it becomes vulnerable to the kind of conservative, wishy-washy behavior we’re seeing with TED.
I wouldn’t be so quick to use the “censorship” label. TED is a private entity and has the right to post/publish/sponsor whatever it wants. Censorship means that certain content is prohibited by law. I admire both Hancock and Sheldrake, but I wouldn’t say they have a “right” to be broadcast by TED.
I also would hesitate to condemn TED too broadly. There are thousands and thousands of TED Talks, representing a rather broad spectrum of ideas. I do think there is an overall tendency towards being gung ho regarding mainstream science and technology, but so what?
I tend to be a little skeptical towards these views (which are often motivated by financial factors), but that doesn’t mean they should be condemned overall. TED Talks are usually interesting and thought-provoking. What should be avoided is to view TED as an elite forum that broadcasts nothing but truth and brilliance.
In the final analysis, TED is just another channel out of thousands. Just like it’s reckless to condemn TV, “Hollywood,” or “the music industry” -as though every single product of these institutions were completely homogenous- so we can’t hold every lecturer at TED responsible for the doings of its board of directors (or whoever reigns at the top of the organization).
Institutions of all kinds are basically illusory. This includes nation states, corporations and organizations. Statements or beliefs about them are necessarily going to be slanted and distorted. So it really doesn’t make sense to worship or condemn them with too much enthusiasm. Best not to take them so seriously.
Hopefully, all this controversy will be good for both Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake. It should bring their ideas to the attention of more people. For this, we can thank TED, whether that was their intention or not.
Rupert Sheldrake is one of the most brilliant scientific minds of our times, though many people haven’t heard of him. His best known theory is concerning morphic fields, the belief that there are powerful but invisible fields that influence matter and energy.
Sheldrake uses this concept to explain many unusual phenomena, including telepathy. He claims that animals use these fields when they do things like find their way home hundreds of miles away (we often hear about dogs and cats doing this). Even birds’ ability to navigate is difficult to explain by conventional theories.
In his latest book, The Science Delusion (also called Science Set Free in some editions), he examines and criticizes some of the most widely held assumptions of modern science. He is not anti-science, only against the dogmatic materialism that has been dominant in the sciences in recent decades.
In this video at a TED Talk, Sheldrake gives a brief summary of this book.
A month after the Sandy Hook shootings, and there is an escalating media war going on. “Conspiracy” videos have quickly gone viral. Below is one of the most popular of them – The Sandy Hook Shooting -Fully Exposed.
It’s interesting how quickly skepticism formed over this event. The 9/11 conspiracy theories, while appearing soon after the event, took years to become widespread. Today, however, there are more and more people who are (understandably) skeptical about everything the government, media and other “authorities” tell us.
Today, Yahoo News prominently featured this supposed debunking of Sandy Hook conspiracy theories.
What’s interesting about this article is that its main focus is on psychoanalyzing the mentality of conspiracy theorists. This is the usual tactic taken by the establishment. It uses psychological theories to explain why certain people think in a certain way. This implicitly labels this group of people as pathological.
Granted, the article does mention a few specific issues brought up by the conspiracy theorists and attempts to discredit them. I’m not going to attempt to unravel this complex Sandy Hook issue here -right now I’m more interested in the overall dynamic that takes place and the way the media discusses and labels so-called conspiracy theorists.
Arguably, the very way the social sciences are set up encourages this type of thinking. Terms like “abnormal psychology,” “personality disorder,” “deviance” and other such terms marginalize and attempt to diagnose anyone who doesn’t conform to mainstream thinking, beliefs and behavior.
The author of this article, Benjamin Radford, is an editor for a publication called Skeptical Inquirer, a well known rationalist journal that often debunks the paranormal, supernatural and anything that veers from accepted scientific dogma.
The implication is that we should be skeptical of everything that hasn’t been given the establishment’s stamp of approval. Yet what about skepticism regarding what authorities tell us?
If you follow the logic of such articles, you would conclude that a mentally healthy, and socially responsible person would simply assume that what politicians, police, journalists and other authorities tell us is true. Is this really a rational, scientific or skeptical attitude?
How often has it been demonstrated that authorities lie to protect their own interests or promote a certain agenda? Examples of lies told by governments, leaders, corporations, the media and other institutions are everywhere.
The point here is not that the Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists are right. I haven’t yet studied this issue enough to make up my mind. The point is to be alert to people trying to intimidate you into thinking a certain way and to reject simplistic labels, even if they sound scientific.
One of the most radical results of the U.S. presidential election, which had nothing to do with either Obama or Romney, was the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington.
Marijuana is clinically classified as an hallucinogen, placing in in the spectrum of psychedelic drugs like LSD which are widely associated with 1960s American counterculture. However, their uses date back to antiquity and many cultures continue to use mind-altering substances in shamanic ceremonies today. In the western world, the introduction of psychedelics into popular culture represented a real threat to the established way of life and efforts were made to stamp them out.
This is ironic considering that these are nonaddictive substances that have caused far fewer medical, psychological or societal problems than alcohol, cigarettes, prescription pills and many other readily available legal drugs. Over the last few decades, LSD and other psychedelics have become less associated with evil and insanity but remain marginalized. And recently, there have been signs that research is being considered more seriously on this topic.
While we’ve had people like Terrence McKenna (who died in 2000) contribute a great deal to our understanding of human consciousness and the potential role of psychedelics in our evolution, on the whole these efforts have been confined to the outer fringes of society.
For example, Dr. Rick Strassman has been doing some clinical research on the effects of DMT on people. The documentary The Spirit Molecule gives some fascinating and hopeful insights into what this substance can unlock in our minds.
MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, has long been associated with the rave culture that began in the 80s. However, there is also evidence that MDMA can be effective at treating depression. See: MDMA and Depression.
One modern current researcher on psychedelics is Krystle Cole, author of the book Lysergic, which describes her experiences working in an LSD lab from 2000 to 2003 that was eventually raided and shut down by the feds federal government. She also runs an website, NeuroSoup, which has links to many videos and other resources that educate the public on psychedelics and related topics.
What follows is a short interview I conducted with Krystle (pictured above with some of her art).
LC – Have you noticed any change in public perception regarding psychedelics since you first got involved with them? Are people more open and tolerant to using such substances for therapeutic reasons or even recreational use? Do you think, for example, that recent steps towards marijuana legalization (however limited) may eventually extend to psychedelics?
KC -Yes. I believe there has been a change in public perception regarding psychedelics over the past 10-12 years. I think that academics and researchers are becoming more willing to look at the medical potential of hallucinogens. For example, MDMA in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder and ibogaine in the treatment of substance abuse disorders. Nevertheless, I think most mainstream folks still believe that hallucinogens are “bad drugs” alongside heroin and cocaine. Obviously, this is not the case.
I do think that the recent cannabis legalization in Colorado and Washington are a step in the right direction when it comes to drug law reform. And, technically, cannabis is classified as a hallucinogen. Since this hallucinogen has been re-legalized for some of us, I hope that other naturally growing hallucinogens like psilocybin mushrooms will eventually be re-legalized as well.
LC – What do you see as the most significant uses and benefits of psychedelics in the future? Do you think they have the potential to transform society in a fundamental way? Help people overcome psychological problems?
KC -As I mentioned before, I think that MDMA has real potential in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. I also believe that ibogaine and ayahuasca may be useful in the treatment of certain substance abuse disorders. Beyond these medical uses, I believe that the most significant benefit of psychedelics in the future will be their ability to assist in personal growth.
LC – Which substances, plants or “drugs” do you see as most promising for bringing about positive transformation in individuals and/or society? DMT and ayahuasca, for example, have shown promise in helping to cure addictions and helping people reach higher states of awareness. Are there any less known substances you would like to call attention to?
KC -I think that the substances with the most promise are already widely known, for example MDMA, DMT, LSD, ibogaine, and psilocybin. The newer hallucinogens, which are considered to be research chemicals, may also potentially be useful. That said, more research is needed in order to understand the positive effects and the negative effects attributed to the use of these newer substances.
This is an interview with Poof (as he calls himself) on coming changes in the world. There is more information about this interview on American Kabuki.
There is so much information out there in the alternative media that it’s hard to know what to believe. I like Poof because he’s always positive and solution oriented.
As someone who cares about the welfare of animals (humans included), I’ve often wondered about what part PETA plays in the way people perceive this issue. I am admittedly susceptible to conspiracy theories, and I have a suspicion that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is run, or at least infiltrated by the Big Food cabal.
Even if this isn’t the case, there’s little doubt that just about everything said by PETA (and other extreme animal rights activists) provokes a backlash that makes the average person feel more sympathetic towards the mainstream American junk food diet, meat included. Consider a story that came out today:
This is a silly story, to be sure. Whether you’re a vegetarian or meat-eater, “pardoning” a couple of turkeys is more of a publicity stunt than anything else. Yet if you click on the above article and read the comments, they are more than 90% anti-PETA and pro-meat.
It doesn’t take much to provoke a reactionary stance in the average American. Part of the cultural myth of America, in fact, is that it’s made up of fiercely independent people who don’t like to be told what to do or think. There’s at least a grain of truth in this, and I can sympathize with it. As a lifelong non-smoker, I nevertheless find many extremist anti-smokers more tedious than smokers.
There’s something about PETA that almost seems designed to push the buttons of the freedom loving majority who are naturally antagonistic to self-righteous moralizing and political correctness. In the above-mentioned article, for example, a PETA spokesperson compares the treatment of turkeys and other animals to oppressed minorities.
Equating animals with humans may have some validity in the realms of philosophy or spirituality, but in everyday discourse it’s a sure way to alienate the vast majority of the public. Aside from this, the tendency of PETA activists to condemn and ridicule those with whom they disagree is hardly the way to win new converts.
Many animal rights extremists don’t stop with being against animal experimentation and being pro-vegetarian. They insist that everyone become vegan, as they believe it’s exploitative to use animal products, even when the animals are treated humanely. Some are even opposed to people having pets, as this is “unnatural.”
Unlike many people, I don’t find these ideas completely crazy. I think in the ultimate scheme of things, we should value the dignity and freedom of animals. However, it’s also necessary to recognize gradations. Otherwise you end up putting someone who has a bee farm in the same camp as someone who abuses and tortures animals sadistically (or for profit).
This is the problem with all types of extremism, where zealots declare you are either with them or against them. Since most “reasonable” people are drawn to the middle, extremists often unwittingly (or not) harm their cause more than help it.
I’m not going to delve into my unprovable suspicion that PETA is secretly funded by the enemy, but it’s worth pointing out that when people’s buttons are pushed, they are likely to cling to positions that they might otherwise be willing to question.
Modern factory farming is a truly brutal and inhumane enterprise. It also presents extreme risks to human health, as movies like Food, Inc. have shown. Yet it’s all too easy for the average person, who doesn’t watch many documentaries or follow social issues too closely to associate such issues with the type of shrill and self-righteous outcries of the most extreme activists, such as PETA.
This is all too convenient for the fast food industry, Big Agra and factory farms. I don’t question the motives or good intentions of most animal rights activists. But if you’re part of this movement, you might want to consider toning it down a little and not making it so easy for the other side to stereotype you.
The Occupy Movement has been accused of being too unstructured, disorganized and lacking any type of practical plan. Now, however, some of them have come up with an interesting idea that they’ve already started to put into action. They are raising money to buy debt in order to relieve the burden on debtors.
It’s called the Rolling Jubilee project, and it’s an example of subverting the system by working within it. It’s a common practice for companies to buy debt for pennies on the dollar -in order to make a profit by squeezing money out of the people who owe the money. The Rolling Jubilee, however, is all about buying debt in order to abolish it.
This is a new idea, and only time will tell how much impact it will have. Yet what’s promising about it is that it’s potentially a way to make radical positive changes in people’s lives in a way that’s both practical and legal. According to the founders of the Rolling Jubilee, for every $50,000 they raise, they are able to abolish a million dollars worth of debt.
For this to work on a large scale, it will need the support of some wealthy individuals and organizations. It seems like a worthwhile effort, and perhaps the start of a (peacefully) revolutionary approach to economic problems.
This is the pilot episode of a TruTV series created by Project Camelot. The material is not brand new, but a couple of years old. One of the people featured in it, astronaut Bryan O’Leary, has died since this was made. Significantly, in the interview here he expresses fear for his life.
I recommend that if you are interested in these topics that you do more research. This show was done in a popular, hyped up way that somewhat detracts from its credibility. Bill and Kerry also mention in the video description that they don’t believe the testimony of Andy Basiago, who claims to have been teleported to Mars.
Finally, if you have been keeping up with the activity on the Project Camelot and Project Avalon forums, you will know that both Bill and Kerry have distanced themselves from David Wilcock, who is also interviews in this TV pilot.
The entire “conspiracy” movement is quite complex, with constantly shifting alliances. Still, this video should help bring these issues to a wider audience and for this it’s quite valuable.
On the eve of this presidential election, my main worry is that it’s never going to be over. No matter who wins, we’re going to have to hear endless complaints, demands of a recount, accusations of fraud, claims of how Hurricane Sandy distorted the results, etc., etc.
Considering how little is likely to change regardless of who wins, it’s an incredible amount of energy expended on a high profile, absurdly expensive public spectacle. I know it’s considered practically blasphemous to say this, but I just don’t care very much who wins. I just hope it’s settled without excessive whining, controversy and fanfare so we can move on.
To qualify the above comments, I’m not quite as cynical as I may sound. I think real, even radical change is very possible in the near future. I just don’t see it coming through the old guard political system.