Dalai Lama says ‘too many’ refugees in Europe

BERLIN: The Dalai Lama said in an interview published Thursday that Europe has accepted “too many” refugees, and that they should eventually return to help rebuild their home countries.

“When we look into the face of every single refugee, especially the children and women, we can feel their suffering,” said the Tibetan spiritual leader, who has himself lived in exile for over half a century.

“A human being who is a bit more fortunate has the duty to help them. On the other hand, there are too many now,” he said. (Source)

This statement shows the beauty and wisdom of Buddhism. What the Dalai Lama said is obvious and true, so he said it. That is right speech. ABN

Edit 5:55 PM: Compare to the Pope’s comments on this subject a few weeks ago.

Neocons and American foreign policy

Kevin MacDonald penned a very interesting analysis of what appears to be a potential sea-change in American political thinking—An Anti-Neocon Revolution in GOP Foreign Policy?

The first few paragraphs of his article:

One of the big stories coming out of the Trump campaign is the intense hostility he is getting from the neocons, a major part of which is that they would be out of luck when it comes to positions in a Trump administration.

But that implies a huge vacuum in the area of foreign policy for Republicans. After all, neocons have dominated the GOP foreign policy establishment since the Reagan Administration and achieved unrivaled power in the George W. Bush administration.

But with the Trump campaign, the neocons are on the outside looking in, which is a major part of why they are defecting to Hillary or plotting a third party candidacy — anything to derail Trump.

You may not agree with every word Kevin MacDonald writes, but I do not think it is possible to understand 20th Century American and European history and current events without understanding him.

MacDonald has written several books and many essays. His main work is The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements. The Kindle edition of this book is free today (not sure how long that price will last).

IMHO, if Trump can end neocon interventionist war policy, secure our borders against massive immigration, and really make trade deals that benefit the USA, he will be one of the greatest presidents in US history.

He might not deliver, but we absolutely know that a Hillary, Bernie, or Biden will destroy the USA by handing it on a platter it to globalist powers. ABN

Scientists think they know what stopped Mongol hordes from conquering Europe

The researchers found that the climate in Hungary and its surroundings was unusually cold and wet for about three years, from 1238 to 1241. The extra moisture and early spring thaw turned the Hungarian plains into marshes and swampland — unsuitable terrain for moving the thousands of horses the Mongol armies relied on for transportation and warfare. (link)

Computational psychiatry

Computational psychiatry is a fairly new field that

…seeks to characterize mental dysfunction in terms of aberrant computations over multiple scales….

….Aberrant decision-making is central to the majority of psychiatric conditions and this provides a unique opportunity for progress. It is the computational revolution in cognitive neuroscience that underpins this opportunity and argues strongly for the application of computational approaches to psychiatry. This is the basis of computational psychiatry. (source)

One important computation that I believe is missing from our current understanding of human cognition is the high rate of interpersonal communication error.

Interpersonal communication error is especially significant psychologically because so much of human psychology is based on and grows out of interpersonal communication.

If we are making a lot of mistakes when we communicate with friends, family, spouses, and so forth, it follows that our psychological make-up will be burdened with errors that contribute to mental illness and poor functionality overall.

My considered guess is that most people make several serious mistakes in speaking or listening every hour.

In normal interpersonal conversation, most people  mishear, misspeak, misinterpret, or misunderstand several times per hour.

These mistakes can be very serious. Often they snowball to produce strong emotional reactions that have no basis in fact.

The day will surely come when we will have technology that measures mistakes in communication. Before then, we have to use special techniques to find and correct communication mistakes.

Firstly, we have to recognize that such mistakes are common. Secondly, we have to understand that even a single small mistake can cause big problems. Thirdly, we need a technique to find and correct our mistakes.

FIML or something very similar to it is the technique we have available today. FIML is based on the idea that communication mistakes are common, serious, and have very significant psychological ramifications.

Over time, FIML practice completely changes the way we view communication, self, and other.

Donald Trump’s style of speaking

This video has an excellent analysis of Trump’s speaking style.

One thing I can add to this explanation is he has been married twice to non-native speakers.

If you spend a lot of time with non-native speakers, your sentences will tend to shorten and you will tend to emphasize important words more.

At the same time, rhetorical flourishes, complex sentences, subordinate clauses, and less common vocabulary words will tend to be left out.

A good essay on framing, reading, and thinking

The essay A Framework for Reclaiming Reality is a great example of good reading on the Internet today.

The author, Jonathan Revusky, skewers a good deal of what passes for thought and analysis in modern society. Whether you agree with every point he makes, his case is a strong one and surely mostly correct.

A lot of the fun of articles like Revusky’s comes in the comments section. For essays like this, I usually read most of the first comments plus all of the author’s replies, but skip a good deal of the back-and-forth between commenters.

Revusky is concerned with macro-societal-and-history-level BS and he nails a lot of it. A good deal of what he describes is the same as what I often describe as “public semiotics,” political positions (and others) which function more as social signals than real thought and that often are dead wrong.

If you can see Revusky’s point on the macro scale, you should be able to also see that we all do a lot of that sort of thing on the micro and meso scales of interpersonal communication and belief.

I have categorized this post under “Buddhism” because I believe a good deal of what the Buddha meant by delusion is falling for BS public (and private) semiotics.

The brain as a guessing machine

A new approach to the study of mental disorder—called computational psychiatry—uses Bayesian inference to explain where people with problems are going wrong.

Bayesian inference is a method of statistical reasoning used to understand the probability of a hypothesis and how to update it as conditions change.

The idea is that people with schizophrenia, for example, are doing a bad job at inferring the reasonableness of their hypotheses. This happens because schizophrenics seem to be less likely to put enough weight on prior experience (a factor in Bayesian reasoning).

Somewhat similarly, “sensory information takes priority [over previous experience] in people with autism.” (Bayesian reasoning implicated in some mental disorders)

Distorted calculations — and the altered versions of the world they create — may also play a role in depression and anxiety, some researchers think. While suffering from depression, people may hold on to distorted priors — believing that good things are out of reach, for instance. And people with high anxiety can have trouble making good choices in a volatile environment (Ibid)

The key problem with autism and anxiety is people with these conditions have trouble updating their expectations—a major component of Bayesian reasoning—and thus make many mistakes.

These mistakes, of course, compound and further increase a sense of anxiety or alienation.

Like several of the researches quoted in the linked article, I find this computational approach exciting.

It speaks to me because it confirms a core hypothesis of FIML practice—that all people make many, significant inferential mistakes during virtually all acts of communication.

In this respect, I believe all people are mentally disordered, not just the ones who are suffering the most.

I think a Bayesian thought experiment can all but prove my point:

What are the odds that you will correctly infer the mental state(s) of anyone you speak with? What are the odds that they will correctly infer your mental state(s)?

In a formal setting, both of you will do well enough if the inferring is kept within whatever the formal boundaries are. But that is all you will be able to infer reasonably well.

In the far more important realm of intimate interpersonal communication, the odds that either party is making correct inferences go down significantly.

If we do not know someone’s mental state, we cannot know why they have communicated as they have. If our inferences about them are based on such questionable data, we are bound to make many more mistakes about them.

Repost: Fetishized semiotics

On this site we have often employed the idea that human instincts function within a “semiotic realm,” rather than a realm of “nature” that is external to us.

In line with this idea, we have used such concepts as “public semiotics,” “social semiotics,” “private semiotics,” “semiotic wells,” and “semiotic networks.”

A semiotic network is a connected web of semiotics that exists privately (or idiosyncratically) within a single mind or publicly within a culture or society made up of many minds.

A semiotic well is a “gravitational well” within a semiotic network; a gravitational well is like a solar system of semiotics that revolves around a semiotic-sun that defines it and holds it together.

Individuals can create their own semiotic wells within their own idiosyncratic semiotic networks, but most people most of the time import their semiotic wells from the public semiotic network(s) they find around them.

A good example for all of the above might be the American cultural value (now shared by much of the world) of owning your own home.

Most Americans gradually assimilate to (or import) this value, or semiotic well, as they grow up. As they become young adults, many Americans start planning to buy their own home. And many of them imagine all sorts of other things—children, community, picket fences, coffee in the morning, etc.—that go with the semiotic well of home-ownership.

Depending on how strong or weak the gravitational force of this semiotic well is, an individual who entertains it may be more or less “healthy.” If the desire for a home is “excessive,” consuming more time and resources than are “appropriate,” this semiotic well will be “unhealthy.” If the desire is reasonable and doable, it may be considered “healthy.”

Readers can define the words in quotation marks in the paragraph above however they like. It is really up to you, and your partner/family if they exist, to decide what is “excessive” and what is not.

In this context, an “excessive” fixation on owning a home can become a fetish. A semiotic fetish.

If someone believes that they simply cannot be happy until they have a home of their own, they have probably fetishized home-ownership. When such a person gets their home, they may find it is not making them happy or that they cannot share their happiness or that their happiness is based far more on what they have than what they have.

It is my contention that all of us do stuff like this all the time in many areas of our lives. In fact, I do not believe anyone who does not do FIML or something very much like can escape fetishizing many parts of their life in this manner.

A fetish is a “displacement,” “replacement,” or “misplacement” of something richer and better with a symbol. When we replace emotional contentment with the fetish of owning a home, we have misplaced our contentment.

When we replace constructive, honest communication with the prideful fetish of social “status,” we have misplaced communication.

When we misplace our sense of who we are with an excessive fixation on physical vanity, we have fetishized the natural sense of being-a-body-in-this-world with a semiotic well that can take on a life of its own.

Why do I say that FIML practice or something very much like it is essential to breaking this pattern?

The reason is semiotics tend to become static. We need semiotics to think and communicate, so semiotic stasis is necessary in many ways and often a good thing.

But we do it too much and we misplace how we do it. Thus, we get emotions, instincts, values, and beliefs all mixed into a few simple semiotics, a few signs and symbols.

One may be able to see this intellectually and even be able to capably analyze this process, but that can never be a substitute for seeing how our fetishized semiotics—our unique semiotic wells—actually function in the world.

Once you do see that, your whole view of what constitutes human psychology will change. And with that will change how you view culture and what you want out of life.

Consider how many common concepts that we take for granted can be or can become fetishized semiotics. Our understanding of what it means to have a “personality,” a “personality trait,” a “soul,” “no-soul,” a “need,” an “instinct,” a “hobby,” an “addiction,” a “psychology,”and so on can and often are fetishized semiotics that distort how we perceive our “selves,” the world, and the people that we know in it.

Consider also how easily our fetishes and semiotic wells can be manipulated by news and communication media.

Are we living in a world where other people communicate authentically with us or are we living in a world where other people communicate with us through fetishized semiotics?

Without FIML, how can you know?

The psychological value of micro-feedback

Normally, we get very little detailed psychological micro-feedback.

This is especially true of psychological micro-feedback in real-time real-life situations. Psychologically, such situations are the most important for mental and emotional growth.

Real-life psychological micro-feedback (PMF) happens whenever someone reacts to one of our acts of communication.

Most PMF reactions are not detailed because an explanation rarely accompanies them and even if there is an explanation it is almost certainly not going to include the real details of the actual communication act itself.

Rather than provide detailed PMF, almost all humans almost all the time provide only opaque responses based on their own guesswork, or presuppositions.

If there is any detail in the feedback it is almost always of a general nature that completely excludes the actual act of communication itself.

This happens because humans almost always process and use language at the phrasal level and normally never provide PMF in real-time during real-life situations.

Real-time real-life is where human psychology really lives.

By always avoiding real-time real-life PMF and follow-up analysis, humans are forced to rely on general categories and ideas to understand themselves and others. It is not possible to do this and gain a deep understanding of human psychology.

When we ignore detail in any other area of human endeavor—musical and scientific instrumentation, microscopy, art, science, engineering, etc.—we get poor results that are almost always surpassed by results that are based on greater detail.

FIML practice corrects the problem of poor detail in the study of human psychology by emphasizing the use of real-time real-life PMF.

By doing this, FIML greatly improves communication while also upgrading the general psychology of participating partners.

One of the hardest aspects of doing FIML practice is overcoming the ubiquitous human habit of fundamentally never wanting real-time real-life PMF that is open to conscious analysis and correction.

This habit can be overcome by partners’ making an explicit prior agreement to do it.

FIML is like tuning a guitar, calibrating a scale, using a good compass, caring for a fine instrument.

We expect and demand very fine detail in almost all areas of our lives, save what we say and how we hear what others say.

I do not believe anyone can achieve a deep understanding of human psychology without having a way to perceive and analyze PMF in real-time real-life. To date, I know of no other way to do this but FIML.

Peter Brimelow interviewed on conservatism today and Donald Trump

Here is an edited transcript of the interview. The original audio can be found at the same link.

Well-worth reading, Brimelow makes a strong case for a “national conservatism” that actually supports the best interests of the American people.

This is now possible because neoconservatives are leaving the conservative movement due to Trump’s emphasis on the practical needs of American workers—jobs, fair trade deals, fewer wars, and an end to the open-borders policies of Obama and the neocons.

Whatever your thoughts on these issue, Brimelow has many interesting things to say.

Whole brain transformation through micro accumulations

Can we achieve whole brain transformation through an accumulation of micro inputs?

In other words, can we achieve deep transformation by gathering many small bits of information? Or by many small insights?

To ask is to answer. Most deep transformation happens this way.

We see something, see it from another angle, see it again and again, and eventually a transformation happens. It takes time.

We don’t usually make deep changes in a single moment with no prior accumulation of bits of knowledge or insight. What happens is the bits accumulate into a large enough mass of information and we “suddenly” change.

Changes of this type can occur within skill sets, within thought and emotional patterns, and within our general psychology.

An example of this kind of change happened to me recently.

For years, my partner had been telling me that I have a “positive neurosis” about some friends of ours. (A positive neurosis is an “overly-optimistic mistaken interpretation of something.”)

And for years, she tried to convince me that I was making a mistake. My mistake persisted for a long time because we rarely saw those friends.

Persisting for a long time was sort of good because it showed me how deep-seated this mistake was and that I have made it in many areas of my life.

My positive neurosis was that I thought these friends were extremely open to freewheeling discussions where almost anything can be said.

“No, they are not like that. You just think they are like that,” my partner said.

It came to pass that I found out she was right. Those friends do not like that sort of discussion. They do not even understand what the point of it could be.

So I changed. I made a deep transformation in how I see them, how I see myself, and how I see other people in general.

I now know that I have to be more careful in how I speak and in what I assume about others. Some people are discomfited by freewheeling talk and suffer from it. Not my intent! A positive neurosis to think otherwise!

This realization came about slowly—first through a long accumulation of bits of information coming from my partner and then by a more rapid understanding that what she had been saying was right when we had a chance to spend some serious time with the friends in question (who are still friends, I think).

My partner got me to see that through an accumulation of many FIML queries and follow-up discussions about those friends. Even though I never agreed with her, I did store her views away in my mind.

When circumstances were right, I saw she was right and I was wrong and changed.

I do not feel ashamed or sad or humiliated. I simply realize that I was wrong.

An accumulation of many micro bits of information caused a deep transformation in my mind as soon as conditions were right.

FIML shows us that finding out we are wrong about stuff like that is great, wonderful, the best thing.

I am going to suffer less and our old friends, and others, will too. A mistake I have been making and that was a fairly large part of my mind is gone and now I am free to fill that space with better stuff.

Most FIML queries are about the two partners who are doing FIML. What happened above is a type of FIML that involves our understanding of other people.

The one above bore good fruit because the long time duration forced me to see how deep my mistake was.

Wise compassion

The highest virtue in Buddhism is wisdom, not compassion.

Unwise compassion—that is compassion that brings harm rather than good—is bad.

I think the Pope’s talk as described in the following article is an example of unwise compassion.

Francis reprimands European leaders, forcefully asking continent: ‘What has happened to you?’

The Pope tried to highlight Europe’s “strengths” with his lofty rhetoric, but I think he revealed some of its deepest weaknesses.

Identifying a temptation to “yield to our own selfish interests” by “putting up fences here and there” to stop the flow of migrants into Europe, the pontiff said: “I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime but a summons to greater commitment on behalf of the dignity of every human being.”

I probably shouldn’t say any of what I have said and what I am going to say next: Each of the major Abrahamic religions suffers from the flaw of holding some word or law or ideal above human wisdom.

Reduction of neurosis through immediate feedback

A recent study has found that persecutory delusions can be reduced by simulating fear-inducing situations in virtual reality.

patients who fully tested out their fears in virtual reality by lowering their defences showed very substantial reductions in their paranoid delusions. After the virtual reality therapy session, over 50% of these patients no longer had severe paranoia at the end of the testing day. (Oxford study finds virtual reality can help treat severe paranoia)

The crux of what happened is patients faced and “fully tested out their fears.”

The virtual reality environment allowed them to “lower their defenses” enough to see that their initial fears were wrong. That they were mistakes.

Few people suffer full-blown persecutory delusions on the scale of the patients in this experiment, but I would maintain that all people everywhere suffer from “mistaken interpretations” that manifest as neuroses or delusions.

The virtual reality in the Oxford study allows for patients to face their “mistakes” (their exaggerated fears) and this is what reduces their paranoia.

The technique works because patients receive immediate feedback in real-time.

As they perceive in real-time that their delusions are not justified, they are reduced dramatically.

In FIML practice, a similar result is achieved through the FIML query and response with a caring partner.

All people are riddled with “mistaken interpretations” that wrongly define their sense of who they are and what is going on around them.

A basic tenet of FIML is that immediate truthful feedback reduces and eventually extirpates these mistakes.

FIML allows people to “lower their defenses” by focusing on micro-units of communication as they arise in real-time.

The study is here: Virtual reality in the treatment of persecutory delusions: randomised controlled experimental study testing how to reduce delusional conviction.

I believe the findings of this study lend support to the theory of FIML practice:

FIML practice eliminates neuroses because it shows individuals, through real data, that their (neurotic) interpretation(s) of their partner are mistaken.