Sociopathy versus truth

This video* is fascinating. It shows a deluded martial arts master in Japan being summarily defeated by a real MMA (mixed martial arts) expert.

The first part of this video shows some footage of the deluded master’s students being thrown around by his “ki” alone, without being physically touched. To me it appears that the student are in a sort of “sociological hypnotic state” in that they want so much to believe in their master’s abilities, they will consciously or not fake being impacted by his ki. The students and the master are all self-deluding; they are all in concert deluding each other.

The next part of the video shows an MMA expert coming to fight the master, who has made a public bet of $5,000 thatt he can beat any MMA expert in the world. This shows that the delusion of the master’s students has fully reinforced his own delusions to the point that he believes he can beat anyone in the world.

The next part of the video shows the master being badly beaten by the MMA expert. In their first exchange, the MMA expert lands a blow to the master’s face and then politely, respectfully asks him if he wants to quit. The referee repeats the offer, giving the master a chance to bow out. He chooses not to and is more seriously beaten in the next part of the video.

The fight proves decisively that the master and his students were deluded.

I want to coin a new word here. We all know that a psychopath is an individual who lacks empathy and reasonable behavior toward others. The word sociopath is often used as a synonym. I want to repurpose the word sociopath to mean any group of people that lacks empathy toward other groups, or that lacks a rational basis for their behavior. In this sense, the master and his students are sociopaths—their beliefs are not true and can lead to their members or members of other groups being harmed.

If you were in the master’s group before the fight shown in the video and if you had said that you thought his ki powers were bull and continued to argue the point, you would have been rejected by the group. In psychological terms, that group would have branded you as someone with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). The truth, of course, would have been that you were right and the master’s group was wrong. They were actually suffering from what might be called antisocial sociology disorder (ASSD) because their sociology was based on harmful lies.

This distinction can be found all over the world. Throughout history most groups have had ASSD. That is, most groups are selfish and harmful. Their core beliefs cannot be justified in an objective way and their core positions cannot, to them, be falsified. In short, most groups in history do not adhere to a Rawlsian ehtical position.

I do not see any other rational, ethical or reasonably justifiable foundation for any group of people except a Rawlsian one. Only a Rawlsian social basis can be reasonably called rational, objective, and falsifiable.

The kiai master in the video above was confident or foolish enough to have his position falsified, but most groups do not have such simple positions and few of them will openly permit anyone to falsify their fundamental tenets.

To take this one step further—I want to propose that any group that does not take a Rawlsian position vis-a-vis other groups is sociopathic, as defined above. The very basis of their group cohesion is harmful to other groups as well as their own members, and therefore other groups and/or outlying individuals have moral license, if not a moral duty, to oppose them in equal measure to the degree that they are sociopathic.

This is easy to see if we are talking about the sociopathy of North Korea, but harder to see if we are talking about the sociopathy of groups closer to home. If any group (and this means almost all of them) bases its existence on unfalsifiable beliefs that are harmful to others, it is a sociopathic group.

Most people in the world are members of scociopathic groups.

It is my belief that the core meaning of delusion in the Buddha’s teachings is not different from what has been said above. If any person believes that their allegiance to a socoiopathic group is justified or necessary, they are deluded.


*In case the link is lost, it’s title is Kiai Master vs MMA and you may be able to find it through a search on YouTube.


Biology is the study of living organisms. Yet we also use this term to talk about the biology of the foot, say.

Psychology is the study of the mental functions, behaviors, and emotions. Yet we also use this term to talk about the psychology of employees, say.

In like manner, semiotics is the study signs, symbols, meaning, and communication. Yet we can also talk about the semiotics of automobiles, say. When we do this we mean all the signs, symbols, semantics, pragmatics, psychologies, and so on that can be meaningfully and significantly understood in terms of semiotics.

When we use the term semiotics in this way, we find that we can say interesting things about how people communicate, or fail to communicate. We can invent a term like “semiotic bundle” to indicate the rather messy tangle of signs, symbols, feelings, words, and so on that comprise some identifiable class or type of “meaning.” As in the example above, we can talk about the semiotic bundles that involve automobiles—racing cars, motorcycles, electric cars, small cars, trucks, etc. Each of these entities is a semiotic bundle that has identifiable clusters of meanings and psychologies associated with it.

You can study any semiotic bundle in great detail or you can move the whole mass around in your head in a way similar to how you may move the semiotic bundle of Chinese history around in your head. In Buddhist terms a semiotic bundle is empty, dependently originated, dependent on conditions, impermanent, and subject to delusion.

A problem with semiotic bundles is we become caught in them and can’t escape from them, especially on interpersonal levels. And this happens because the words we speak are always referring to one or more semiotic bundles; they are always right next to semiotic bundles, are generated out of semiotics bundles.

If I am not able to get you to explain what the semiotic bundle that underlies your words is, then I cannot know your meaning reliably. I have to guess. Go ahead and ask your partner or friend a question about the semiotic bundles underlying their words. You will almost always find their their semiotic bundle was not what you had thought. Your guess was wrong. In interpersonal/emotionally-charged communications, this is a crucial mistake.

Even if your guess is only sometimes wrong, it can produce big problems. If your interpersonal communications are not cleared of wrong guesses (mistakes), you will begin to have interpersonal problems based on those mistakes.

It follows, then, that clearing up mistakes as quickly as possible is of vital importance to a successful interpersonal relationship. If we don’t clear up the mistakes quickly enough (usually within a few seconds), we will forget the origin of the mistake. By ignoring small interpersonal mistakes, we force ourselves to depend on unexamined semiotic bundles. These bundles may be public (known to many people) or private (known only to you). Either way, if they are mistaken, the interpersonal relationship in question will become less true, more deluded, less satisfying, more dangerous.

There is no way around this because this is how language and semiotics actually work. They don’t work in some other way.

Science, Buddhism, and FIML

In some ways FIML practice is a science.

Partners seek the best data available to determine what is being said and/or how they are communicating with each other. Their communication becomes highly objective in the sense that each partner trusts the other’s description of what they said more than their own subjective/emotional impression of what they think they heard. Based on this data, partners are able to continuously upgrade their understandings of each other.

FIML uses an extrinsic formula—the rules of FIML practice—to make this happen, and in this it also resembles science. FIML has an objective, clearly stateable and testable method or procedure for attaining its results. FIML results are also objective in that great satisfaction and better communication are measurable. FIML can be falsified by having many partners do it and not get good results, and in this it is also scientific.

In some ways, though, FIML is turned 180 degrees away from science. This is so because FIML does not have any extrinsic belief or value system that requires submission of the intrinsic, individual, unique mind of either partner. Partners who do FIML can only look to themselves to free themselves from the constraints of extrinsic beliefs, values, semiotics, behaviors, ideas, concepts, and so on. (This does not mean abandon the extrinsic, but rather become free of the constraints of the extrinsic. FIML practice, by paying close attention to speech moments, will help partners do this because they will see precisely where the rubber of extrinsic values meets the road of their self expression and/or listening.)

The FIML method gives partners the tools they need to perceive the thusness of their unique individualities. The thusness or suchness of being cannot be apprehended through extrinsic semiotics, but can only be experienced by the individual.

Science, in general, does not give us insight into our suchness. Yet FIML practice and Buddhist practice, by using methods that are similar to those of general science, can. FIML differs from science in that it does not make any claims about what is objectively true “out there.” But FIML does claim that partners will vastly improve their communication with each other, and following that vastly improve their understanding of their existence, theĀ  suchness of their unique being.

FIML may constitute an improvement on traditional Buddhist practices because FIML uses objective rules to unite two people in the pursuit of truthful communication. It is different from the traditional practice of one person pursuing “truth” alone in that FIML provides the means for each partner to constantly check his or her work against the other partner. An individual alone is easily subject to fantasy and illusion. FIML is also different from traditional group practices where a group is led by a master or guru. In these practices, the master may be subject to the limitations of solitary practice while the group may be misled by that. Additionally group members will have a very strong tendency to base their understanding on extrinsic semiotics provided by the master, not the true suchness of their individual being.

Snowballing in FIML practice

FIML practice may seem easy if you just read a simple description of it.

A simple description, however, communicates as much by what it leaves out as what it says.

Many FIML discussions do begin and end with a simple query about what one partner meant and a simple answer that leaves no loose strings. A resolution is found almost immediately. That kind of FIML discussion is extremely important and common, but it is also very basic. It can be thought of as an important tool in your FIML tool chest, and also as a simple model for more complex FIML discussions.

Experienced partners will find that many FIML discussions quickly generate secondary contretemps, or mix-ups, as we sometimes call them. A contretemps, as we are using the word, means some sort of discrepancy between what is said or heard leading to a mistaken interpretation in one or both partners’ minds.

When secondary and tertiary contretemps appear in a basic FIML discussions, it is important that partners recognize what is happening. It can be frustrating and unproductive to try to explain a primary contretemps when your partner is reacting to a secondary one that followed quickly upon the first.

The best rule of thumb is to avoid emotional reactions while trying to understand where and when the speech, listening, or meaning got lost.

The basic FIML query is a model for all FIML practice. If you and your partner find yourselves becoming confused as contretemps accumulate and start to snowball, do your best to stop everything and go back to the beginning. Then in a neutral state of mind try to explain to each other how your discussion got off track. When a FIML discussion becomes confusing, you will almost always find that more contretemps followed quickly upon the first. By the time you notice what is happening, it is very unlikely that both of you will remember everything with enough accuracy to gain a perfect resolution of all that happened.

What you can do, though, is see the rough outlines of how your discussion got off-track. Use this understanding as the basis for your resolution of the snowball that you just stopped. Realize that what happened will happen again. Contretemps can come fast and furious, especially as confusion mounts and feelings get out of hand.

Always remember, contretemps are part of language and communication. There is absolutely no way that you and your partner will not experience a great many contretemps. They are completely inevitable and entirely natural. In my experience, it is common for an hour of conversation between two people to generate five or more contretemps. Of course, there can be great variations in this figure depending on the subject matter and the moods of the participants.

Main point is contretemps absolutely are going to happen to everyone with great frequency. FIML practice is designed to help partners understand how and why they happen and how to fix them. If you don’t fix them, you will bring about suspicion, shallowness, or some other sort of unpleasant and destructive weirdness in your relationship with your partner. Fixing contretemps is very fulfilling and enjoyable. Not fixing them leads to suffering. I do not think there is any way around this. It is built into language and how we humans use it.