How America Lost Its Mind
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13-08-2017, 12:20 AM
RE: How America Lost Its Mind
Given that this is the nation that gave us the Scopes Monkey Trial, and that fell in love with eugenics and seances in the arly part of the century, I think pegging the 60s as when things went to shit is overly optimistic.

Here's what I think. The root problem is a lack of critical thinking and careful reasoning. That didn't come into being in the 60s. That's been indoctrinated as a virtue in this country since the First Great Awakening, at least. (Nah earlier even than that.)

What happened in the 60s was a cultural rejection of authority, partially as a backlash to the stifling conformity of the 50s, partially in sync to the protest movement for civil rights and against Vietnam, and partially because, well, 60s.

People started questioning and abandoning the old batshit crazy religion, or adapting it out of all recognition. But just because they'd left the old crazy behind, didn't mean they had the epistemic tools to recognize and avoid a hundred new forms of crazy.

This is just a new set of symptoms for a very old disease.

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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14-08-2017, 05:11 AM
RE: How America Lost Its Mind
(13-08-2017 12:20 AM)Reltzik Wrote:  Given that this is the nation that gave us the Scopes Monkey Trial, and that fell in love with eugenics and seances in the arly part of the century, I think pegging the 60s as when things went to shit is overly optimistic.

Here's what I think. The root problem is a lack of critical thinking and careful reasoning. That didn't come into being in the 60s. That's been indoctrinated as a virtue in this country since the First Great Awakening, at least. (Nah earlier even than that.)

What happened in the 60s was a cultural rejection of authority, partially as a backlash to the stifling conformity of the 50s, partially in sync to the protest movement for civil rights and against Vietnam, and partially because, well, 60s.

People started questioning and abandoning the old batshit crazy religion, or adapting it out of all recognition. But just because they'd left the old crazy behind, didn't mean they had the epistemic tools to recognize and avoid a hundred new forms of crazy.

This is just a new set of symptoms for a very old disease.
In a sense it is, because you can always arrive at the bedrock understanding that human beings are saddled with evolutionary mental constructs that make us think and do dumb things. So you can say that the 60s hippie culture and its antecedents in 50s beatnik culture, were just a new expression of that enabled by postwar prosperity. I think the article's contention isn't so much that we were inherently sober realists before that point, as that we cast off certain implicit restraints that were actually what was keeping us in our lane so to speak and on some kind of generally improving trajectory. Most importantly, we discarded any respect for the notion that one can approach a proper apprehension of reality through systematic examination of evidence.

Sure, we had the Scopes trial, pentecostalism, slavery and a host of other creepshows in our past, but as a whole society we seemed at least to be firmly entrenched in the Enlightenment tradition that would lead us generally away from those extremes and correct them in real time. What we're seeing now is a regression to medieval notions, where magic is what will save us from ourselves.
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14-08-2017, 02:03 PM
RE: How America Lost Its Mind
(11-08-2017 11:51 AM)mordant Wrote:  This interesting and worth-reading thought piece puts the origins of our alarmingly casual relationship with actual reality, not on the church, but on the youth revolutions of the 1960s and particularly the Esalen Institute. That is a think tank in Big Sur that was the late 1960s ground zero of the counterculture. Thinkers behind the movement openly stated that what they were after was nothing less than the deconstruction of the "state religion of science".

The Esalen Institute is the origin of much of what we now recognize as New Age thought, so it still comes back to religious faith but not in a particular theological dogma so much as in the belief that vaguely defined counterculture principles of love, freedom and openness to alternative realities and perceptions (with the aid of drugs if necessary) will usher in some (also vaguely defined) nirvana in human society and relationships.

TL;DR key quote:
Quote:The American experiment has metastasized out of control. Being American now means we can believe anything we want.

An influential book cited (the title tells it all) is Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge.

We Atheists (understandably) tend to pin all this on religion, particularly our religion of origin, which is often fundamentalist Christianity, and which provides us our most entertaining foils. But is the real problem in the present day, that New Age woo and Fundamentalist / Inerrantist / Literalist religion are now mutually reinforcing without really realizing it?

I do think we need to expand our problem definition beyond the "usual suspects" and that it is broader than the dominant religion.

Thoughts?

We had the Great Cult Scare. Moonies, Scientology, Children of God, and many others. Deprogrammers and lawsuits galore.

We had the rise of new age nonsense, crystal suckers and seekers.

We had the rise of pseudosciences. The recrudesce of astrology, self proclaimed witches, Geller gawking, remote viewers, aura viewers, iridology, parapsychology, homeopathy and more. And the rise of organized skepticism, CSICOP and others.

We saw the rise of creationism, reborn when Dr. Henry Morris revived that moribund subject and made creationism a pseudoscientific political movement.

We had the rise of the religious hucksters, Jim n' Tammy. The Crouches, the 700 club and other large media empires from the trash religious culture swamps. Moral Majority and other fundamentalist organizations peddling far right Christianity. Or insane prosperity religions. Robert Tilton and his ilk. Swaggert and others.


We had the rise of the right wing talk show empires, Faux and Rush Limbaugh.
We had the Reagan revolution. The fringe became the GOP leaders. So many things to point our fingers at.

When I shake my ignore file, I can hear them buzzing!

Cheerful Charlie
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14-08-2017, 03:33 PM
RE: How America Lost Its Mind
(11-08-2017 11:51 AM)mordant Wrote:  An influential book cited (the title tells it all) is Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge.
Paul Feyerabend was around for a fair piece before the "New Age" got its feet under it. Against Method came out in 1975, and may be one of the most misunderstood books in the philosophy of science Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. New Agey-types have glommed on to out-of-context phrases from these like they have co-opted the word "quantum".

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14-08-2017, 03:35 PM
RE: How America Lost Its Mind
(11-08-2017 12:26 PM)mordant Wrote:  Or as Trump put it when asked whether he regretted spreading a particular falsehood, "What do I know about it? All I know is what I read on the Internet".

I thought that was his reply when asked what America's foreign policy should be.

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14-08-2017, 03:38 PM
RE: How America Lost Its Mind
(11-08-2017 12:40 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  New Age thinking was just a symptom of this basic ontological misconceptualization. We've got to get rid of the idea of infinite progress.

Hell, it's not even as subtle as "new age thinking" anymore.
The whole basis of urban planning and economic management these days is predicated on the idea on infinite growth.

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15-08-2017, 05:16 AM
RE: How America Lost Its Mind
(14-08-2017 02:03 PM)Cheerful Charlie Wrote:  We had the Great Cult Scare. Moonies, Scientology, Children of God, and many others. Deprogrammers and lawsuits galore.

We had the rise of new age nonsense, crystal suckers and seekers.

We had the rise of pseudosciences. The recrudesce of astrology, self proclaimed witches, Geller gawking, remote viewers, aura viewers, iridology, parapsychology, homeopathy and more. And the rise of organized skepticism, CSICOP and others.

We saw the rise of creationism, reborn when Dr. Henry Morris revived that moribund subject and made creationism a pseudoscientific political movement.

We had the rise of the religious hucksters, Jim n' Tammy. The Crouches, the 700 club and other large media empires from the trash religious culture swamps. Moral Majority and other fundamentalist organizations peddling far right Christianity. Or insane prosperity religions. Robert Tilton and his ilk. Swaggert and others.


We had the rise of the right wing talk show empires, Faux and Rush Limbaugh.
We had the Reagan revolution. The fringe became the GOP leaders. So many things to point our fingers at.
Religion in general and fundamentalism in particular is so intertwined with all this in the US that's it's difficult not to settle on fundamentalist Christianity as arguably the biggest problem to attack, but sloppy or outright deluded thinking doesn't require fundamentalist Christianity, it can thrive apart from it. Believing in invisible all powerful beings is no different than believing in any other throughly discredited notion that is nevertheless attractive to be attached to. Trickle-down economics, demonizing and criminalizing addiction, xenophobia, or any number of other demonstrably failed and fundamentally flawed ideas can be "defended" just as vigorously as the existence of gods. Sometimes even by atheists.
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15-08-2017, 07:02 AM
RE: How America Lost Its Mind
It's the Chicken McNuggets what done it!
Go to 7:40.


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15-08-2017, 11:01 AM
RE: How America Lost Its Mind
(12-08-2017 11:10 PM)Jeanne Wrote:  Interesting discussion.

Like this quote: "And if the ’60s amounted to a national nervous breakdown, we are probably mistaken to consider ourselves over it."

Indeed, I think we will be paying for this period for a long time to come. They from that "revolution" are the ones in power these past few years and years to come.

The phenomenon of Identity Politics has helped to create groups of citizens that seem to have lost their minds to the collective. The collective is a difficult creature to alter and I don't think they will be phasing out any time soon.

"Identity politics" is the new right wing phrase the alt right pundits are using to deflect away from the fact they are the party that campaigns on hate and fear.

Our history of slavery and genocide of native Americans and denial of women's right to vote is not something that can be glossed over nor should it be ignored.

Those on the right should be happy that they didn't have to start a women's movement or a black movement or an LGBT movement. Those "identities" didn't start those movements to say they were anti white, but to say "we exist as well" "we are equal too".

We saw "Identity politics" before, in WW2 Germany and it is not something the west should repeat. Unfortunately 45 is taking a page out of that very same playbook. Selling hyper nationalism and himself being the only savior to bring the nation back to it's glory days. Well, I find nothing glorious about segregation, or denial of women's right to vote, or discrimination against LGBT.

The Nazis were purists and monochromatic, both in political party and race identity.

Now for those on the right who say, "I don't do that". Still not the point, Just enough numbers exist en mass that are holding that party hostage. If you vote GOP and say "I am not a bigot", I don't care, it is not up to those fighting those bigots to stand up to them, it is up to everyone to do so, not just the left.

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15-08-2017, 03:45 PM
RE: How America Lost Its Mind
Identity politics has been an invention of the white Americans for a long time. We had slavery and then segregation and Jim Crow. We had the hatred of the Irish, the rise of anti-Semitism, and anti-Chinese racism. We had women fighting for their rights, and more.
But when people fight against such things, it gets labelled as identity politics. As if people should just shut up and allow their rights to be curtailed.

We would not need identity politics if these wrings did not exist and needed to be fought.
When I read some conservative moaning about Identity politics, I know that person is obviously a fool. As long as their is racism, sexism, and bigotry, we will have identity politics. This fact should be obvious, but for many, somethings cannot be so obvious they will understand that obvious truism.

When I shake my ignore file, I can hear them buzzing!

Cheerful Charlie
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