Ron Unz lays it all out

About a decade ago, I happened to be talking with an eminent academic scholar who had become known for his sharp criticism of Israeli policies in the Middle East and America’s strong support for them. I mentioned that I myself had come to very similar conclusions some time before, and he asked when that had happened. I told him it had been in 1982, and I think he found my answer quite surprising. I got the sense that date was decades earlier than would have been given by almost anyone else he knew. (American Pravda: Oddities of the Jewish Religion)

This piece from Ron Unz is a must-read for serious thinkers. ABN

Suggested further reading:

Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years

Mountebank’s Monster and His Mom: a peculiar resurrection

There are two story types and one of them is being vastly overplayed

The one being overplayed is decently represented by the Hollywood plot, a sixty-scene, ninety-minute story based on primary emotions with a twist or two.

This kind of story also relies heavily on archetypes of human behavior.

In life, this story type is the personal ego or persona. In psychology it is theories about the personal ego or persona, including most therapies, most of the DSM, and much of the way psychometrics are used (tautologically).

The story type that is underplayed are the real stories of real minds and spirits. These are almost never simple archetypal, Hollywood plot-like stories.

Hollywood plots work as communication packages, semiotic bundles that almost anyone can unwrap and enjoy with little or no effort. Archetypal stories can be carried around. They can be easily held in the working memory, easily told to others.

This is why they communicate so well and also why they can only communicate so much. They are limited by a formula based on how many people can understand the story and how many will be able to keep it in working memory.

Stylistically, they are tautologies much like psychometrics. We measure what plot techniques lots of people like and are able to understand and then discover that these plot techniques are indeed what lots of people like and understand.

What archetypal stories leave out is what most of real life is.

Real life rarely turns up Hollywood plots. They can and do happen, but even when they do the Hollywood side of the story is typically a simple interpretation of an event which in reality is much more complex.

In Buddhism, thusness is the real thing, the irreducible uniqueness of each moment, each life, each karmic path. Thusness is a story that is much harder to tell precisely because it is true, unique, one-of-a-kind, never-to-be-repeated, authentic real-life.

Archetypes, psychological theories and classifications, Big Fives or Sixes, and all editions of the DSM added together cannot give you thusness. Instead, they will cover it over. They will cover it over because they are too easy to communicate.

So how do you access and communicate your story(s) with someone else? You have to have a technique like this. You really have to work at not doing archetypal stories about yourself and others.

Archetypes and Hollywood plots are population-wide measurements like BMI or psychometrics. They have value when describing or communication with whole populations. This is why we are exposed to them almost exclusively in public media. The real story of you is not there.

There are two types of speech and one is being grossly ignored

The two types are public and private speech. Private speech is the one being grossly ignored.

Well-groomed Mike Pence is a metaphor for public speech. He signals conscientiousness, loyalty, and we hope honesty.

Anyone sitting in their kitchen in their underwear with their SO or best friend is a metaphor for private speech. Private speech is rich with emotion, subjectivity, psychological importance.

Public speech is also rich with those features but its richness is different. It is more formal, based on expected norms, and error-avoidant. Most of us work hard at getting public speech right because our place in the world is dependent on it. We try hard to learn the best rules for it.

Private speech in your underwear in your own kitchen seems to need no rules. Indeed, that’s the whole fun of it—no rules, no conventions, freedom to say what you want with the assurance that your words will not be misconstrued or be brought into the public realm.

The problem with private speech is it often is misconstrued and sometimes even aired in public. It is often misconstrued because we have no rules for it and aired in public for the same reason.

What rules do we need for private speech? Since above all private speech is psychologically rich, we need rules that will maximize this richness. Rules that will help us avoid misunderstanding what we are hearing or being misunderstood for what we are saying.

(Obviously, it is also necessary that private speech be kept private by both parties.)

Public speech issues from the persona, the formalistic face we present in public. Private speech does not need rules of this sort. Indeed, we actually want to refrain from bringing the persona into private speech.

Unfortunately, due to lack of rules for private speech, almost all people do bring their personas into private speech. This, in turn, greatly reduces the scope and power of private speech. And this, in turn, greatly diminishes overall personal and interpersonal psychological awareness and understanding.

FIML is rules for private speech. It is designed to optimize private communications for clarity, honesty, effectiveness, and interpersonal satisfaction.

By optimizing private speech, FIML also optimizes our psychologies. FIML has no content except its basic rules for how to capture and analyze speech as it is actually functioning in real-time, real-world situations. FIML does not tell you what to think, believe, or feel.

In the How to do FIML page, I describe the basic FIML query and show how it relieves a fundamental psychological problem. That is the main thing basic FIML does.

Beyond that, FIML can do much more. Once the basic FIML technique is understood and can be done correctly, a wide range of psychological and spiritual matters will become available for fruitful analysis and discussion.

By removing needless interpersonal error and by providing a greatly enhanced array of interpersonal subjects, FIML first cures us of experiential neuroticism and then optimizes our psychologies in whatever ways we choose.

Using truthful statements to lie

A recent paper explored the effects of using truthful statements to deceive others.

The authors of the paper call this behavior paltering and define it as “the active use of truthful statements to convey a misleading impression.”

The paper, Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others, says:

…we identify paltering as a distinct form of deception. Paltering differs from lying by omission (the passive omission of relevant information) and lying by commission (the active use of false statements). Our findings reveal that paltering is common in negotiations and that many negotiators prefer to palter than to lie by commission.

The paper tests the effects of paltering during business negotiations, but paltering can happen in many other contexts. Examples of paltering by public figures can be found in the news every day.

The concept of paltering is also interesting psychologically. I am going to speculate that individuals often palter to themselves concerning their own internalized autobiographies and reasons for doing many actions.

If we use our inner voices to palter to ourselves—that is use the best “truthful” description of our actions that also just happens to place those actions in their best light—then we are not living with full integrity even in the privacy of our own thoughts.

At the same time, we have to be careful about how we assess our own paltering. We might be right to use the best version of events because that really is the correct version.

The problem is there is no good standard for an individual alone to decide what is objectively right or wrong.

For example, if someone smokes pot in a state where it is illegal are they paltering by telling themselves the law is stupid so why follow  it?

FIML partners will want to avoid paltering at all times but especially in the midst of a FIML query. Properly done, FIML can help with internalized paltering because this sort of subject matter lends itself well to FIML discussions.

As with all moral questions, where we draw the line is not always easy. The more tools we have the better. Awareness of paltering and its effects on others is good tool to have.


First published 12/16/16

How great intelligence inevitably causes social problems

Very intelligent people are generally very intelligent all the time. They have access to more frames of reference and more ways of thinking all the time.

Socially, this means less intelligent people will not follow some-to-much of what they say. Thoughts with later points building on ones made previously may not be understood, while jokes based on situational meta-analyses may not be appreciated. Indeed, some  utterances of very intelligent people may even sound insulting to less intelligent listeners.

To make matters worse, very intelligent people themselves have a hard time understanding less intelligent people. They may laugh at associations a less intelligent person does not see, thus offending. They may see the end of a less intelligent person’s line of thought when it has barely begun. They may all too easily refute a conclusion that had taken the less intelligent person a long time to reach.

To make matters even worse, since very intelligent people are by definition unique, other very intelligent people may not understand them either. Unique people are unique in many different ways, while people closer to the center of the bell curve are more similar in more ways.

Of course very intelligent people also make many mistakes. Camaraderie with less intelligent people can appear patronizing and be boring to both parties.

All of the above causes social problems for very intelligent people. And this shows how difficult it can be for intelligence to increase in any society.

Indeed, there is some evidence that the general intelligence of first-world populations has been declining, a reverse Flynn effect.

This makes sense if we consider that first-world populations are larger and dominated more by the center of the bell curve than they were in the past. The center dominates more today not only because it is larger but also because media and public education amplify it much more than in the past.

This louder and stronger center surely makes it tougher for very intelligent people to fully develop. Social forces will tend to marginalize—even bully—them more than in the past.