In Military thought experiment Part 1, I described how a force of 10,000 military operatives could conquer a nation of 100 million within a few generations and without most people even noticing.
Key factors in the success of that operation were ruthlessness, deceit, long-term planning, plausible deniability, and the use of “subtle weapons” such as poison. physical maiming, propaganda, educational misdirection, medical malpractice, and character assassination.
Plausible deniability for each and every attack (including the overall attack) is of paramount importance for the success of such an operation. Each individual attack must be deniable or excusable as a mistake if discovered, and best of all never be discovered. Of course, no one but the inner circle must know of the ultimate plan: to conquer a nation of 100 million with just 10,000 operatives.
Has China’s Communist Party already done a similar attack against the rest of the world? Is Covid-19 but the first open onslaught?
Strong similarities with the plot described in Part 1 are plausible deniability, ruthlessness, and use of a “subtle” biological weapon, Covid-19.
Other similarities are the prominent uses propaganda, IP theft, strict control of operatives stationed in USA, educational misdirection, and character assassination.
An attack of the magnitude of Covid-19 would not have been done without well-formed plans for a variety potential followup attacks.
As evidence mounts that Covid-19 may cause long-lasting debilitation even in mild cases, the acutely critical nature of our present predicament should be obvious and alarming.
From a military standpoint, notice the value of plausible deniability, ruthlessness, and “subtle” or asymmetric weaponry:
- The plausible deniability of the covid attack has left us paralyzed. Squabbling over school openings, masks, and who is to blame for missteps are keeping us from facing reality. I hope our president and military leaders are not being fooled as much as the public. I can understand why informing the public of how serious the situation is might do more harm than good.
- The ruthlessness of the attack comprises the lion’s share of its effectiveness because most people cannot imagine such a thing.
- The use of a “subtle” weapon like covid has stretched the umbrella of plausible deniability for over a half-year and counting.
Some questions and concerns for military planners:
Clearly economic pressure from us is not going to win the day, though it will contribute. China has itself deliberately ruined Hong Kong, while cementing deals with Russia and Iran with an eye, probably, to moving their financial capital from Hong Kong to Shanghai. Their deals with Russia show the foolishness of our entangling ourselves in the “collusion delusion” for three years rather than forming a valuable alliance with Russia, as wise heads had advised.
How will we protect ourselves against a second or third bioweapon attack? Vaccines take a long time to develop. If China has already vaccinated its people against their followup bioweapons, what will we do? How long will we wait before reacting? How long will we be fooled by yet another creeping plague of plausible deniability?
Notice that few Westerners even noticed that China was engaged in clandestine military operations to destroy them. Even worse, the West educated, financed, and provided technology, even military technology, to the CCP, often for free.
This shows that secrecy and ruthlessness when played in concert with guile and long-term divide-and-conquer strategies are extremely effective means to weaken and overpower even very powerful adversaries.
By promoting Western allies though bribes and favoritism, over several decades China undermined the West while laying the groundwork for a full-scale bioweapon attack. When the time was right for the attack—when they knew they had lost the trade war—they were already in position to launch the largest military assault the world has ever seen.
Note 07/25: Why we can be reasonably certain China manufactured Covid-19 and released it deliberately
Plants are able to make photosynthesis more efficient by filtering out spectra of solar light that change most rapidly in their environments.
Protecting themselves from such “noisy” input allows them to obtain “quiet” outputs of energy.
This provides “…a unified theoretical basis for the experimentally observed wavelength dependence of light absorption in green plants, purple bacteria, and green sulfur bacteria.”
That quote is from the study: Quieting a noisy antenna reproduces photosynthetic light harvesting spectra.
Nathaniel Gabor, one of the authors of the paper, said of it: “Our model is the first hypothesis-driven explanation for why plants are green, and we give a roadmap to test the model through more detailed experiments.” (emphasis added)
This general principle—turning noisy inputs into quiet outputs—can probably be applied to many other systems, including human psychology. In this respect, many human behaviors could be viewed attempts to achieve quiet, steady, or consistent outputs by reducing noise.
FIML is a super efficient noise reducer.
In my opinion, “personality disorders” are more easily understood as signaling problems.
All types of personality disorder involve dysfunctional signaling with other people. Signals are both sent and received in ways that result in suffering.
As currently defined, personality disorders “develop early, are inflexible, and are associated with significant distress or disability.”
Thus, if there are no significant brain injuries or other biological problems, all personality disorders (PD) develop through experience.
This means that during childhood the PD sufferer has received many bad signals (and/or interpreted many signals badly) resulting in their failing to form a coherent well-functioning internal signaling system.
The way to fix this is work with the signals. And the best way to do this is FIML practice. A professional psychotherapist cannot possibly provide this level of treatment.
This brings me to a second point: is there anyone who would not benefit from improving their signaling?
Why do we view psychotherapy as treatment designed merely to make us look and feel “average”? Why don’t we instead work to optimize our psychologies every day?
The Buddha said we are all crazy. We are. We all need to work on our signaling—our personality disorders—all the time.
The distinctions between one PD and another and those who have PDs and those who don’t are vague. This is because all PD problems (absent significant biological deficits, which may include intelligence) are idiosyncratic varieties of signaling malfunctions.
If signaling is the core problem, it should follow that all acquired PD will be classifiable as some kind of signaling malfunction. And that is precisely what we see.
Narcissism is a too simple signaling system. Borderline is an unstable signaling system. Compulsive, passive aggressive, histrionic, avoidant, and so on all are variations of a poorly formed internal signaling system.
The way to study this is through interpersonal semiotics; that is interpersonal semiotic analysis of real-time, real-world communicative signs and symbols.
All people need to do this to optimize their psychologies (their internal signaling systems). Why would anyone not want to do this? Maybe not wanting to do this is the surest sign of PD there is.
The hardest part about doing FIML is finding a willing and able partner. To me, this shows how pervasive bad signaling is. Most people will do almost anything but examine their own signaling with the help of another person.
I betray my poor education by admitting that I had never heard of W. V. Quine’s “indeterminacy of translation” until last week*. My ignorance is especially egregious as I have worked as a professional translator for many years.
Maybe I had heard about it but had forgotten. I am being self-reflective because FIML practice is deeply, fundamentally concerned with the “indeterminacy” of translating one person’s thoughts into another person’s head.
Quine’s thesis is not just about translating from one language to another, though there is that. It is much more about the fundamental impossibility of determining what anything means well enough to “translate” it into another context, a next sentence, into another person’s mind, or even “translating” your own speech from the past into the context of your mind today.
If I had known about Quine, I probably never would have thought of FIML because his ideas and the slews of papers written on “indeterminacy of translation” surely would have made me believe that the subject had been worked through.
As it was, I have plodded along in a delightful state of ignorance and, due to that, maybe added something practical to the subject.
In the first place, I wholeheartedly believe that speech is filled with indeterminacy, which I have generally called ambiguity or uncertainty. In the second place, I have confined my FIML-related investigations mainly to interpersonal speech between partners who care about each other. I see no solution to the more general problem of indeterminacy within groups, subcultures, or linguistic communities. Until brain scans get much better, large groups will be forced to resort to hierarchical “determinacy” to exist or function at all.
For individuals, though, there is much we can do. FIML practice does not remove all “indeterminacy.” Rather, it removes much more than most people are aware is possible, even remotely aware is possible. My guess is FIML communication provides a level of detail and resolution that is an order of magnitude or two better than non-FIML.
That is a huge improvement. It is life-changing on many levels and extremely satisfying.
FIML does not fix everything—and philosophical or “artistic” differences between partners are still possible—but it does fix a great deal. By clearing up interpersonal micro-indeterminacy again and again, FIML practice frees partners from the inevitable macro-problems that micro-ambiguity inevitably causes.
Moreover, this freedom, in turn, frees partners from a great deal of subconscious adhesion to the hierarchical “determinacy” of whichever culture they are part of. Rather than trapping themselves in a state of helpless acceptance of predefined hierarchical “meaning,” FIML partners have the capacity to sort through existential semiotics and make of them what they will with far less “indeterminacy,” or ambiguity, than had been possible without FIML practice.
*that would not be over five years ago now
If we consider humans to be complex signaling systems or networks, then it is readily apparent that each human network signals within itself and also is connected by signals to other networks.
In A signal-based model of psychology: part one, we said:
the only significant interpersonal signaling data we can really know with significant certainty are data noticed, remembered, and agreed upon by two (or more in some cases) people engaged in significant interpersonal communication (signaling).
More recently, in Indeterminacy of translation and FIML, we discussed W. V. Quine’s thesis, which describes;
the fundamental impossibility of determining what anything means well enough to “translate” it into another context, a next sentence, into another person’s mind, or even “translating” your own speech from the past into the context of your mind today.
When we analyze a person based on vague ideas like “personality,” “psychology,” or “cognition,” we are principally assigning ambiguous referents to amorphous categories. We have more words but not much more understanding.
Cognition is a huge grab-bag of a word that means almost anything, as do the terms psychology and personality.
If we replace these terms with the concept of signaling networks, we gain specificity. For example, rather than analyzing the “cognitive-behavior” of a person we can more easily and profitably analyze their signaling.
The advantage of examining signaling rather than “cognitive-behavior” is signals are quite specific. They can usually be defined pretty well, they can be contextualized, and their communicative intent can be determined with reasonable specificity.
To be most effective, signaling analysis works best if we abandon the idea that we can accurately analyze the signals of someone else, especially if we do not analyze our own signals at the same time.
Moreover, a signaling analysis will work best if we do it with:
- someone that we care about and that cares about us
- someone with whom we can be completely honest and who will be completely honest with us
- someone who is willing to spend the time to do the analyzing
Sad to say, it can be difficult to find two people who fit together in those ways, but that is how it is. Much of this problem is due to social expectations, which presently greatly reduce opportunities for clear, honest communication. And much of this is due to how we normally conceive of a person, as a bundle of vague things that cannot be pinned down.
The ideal signaling analysis will be done between close friends with the above qualifications. A signaling analysis will not work well, if at at all, if it is done between a professional and a patient. A professional psychologist would do the best for their patient by teaching them how to do signaling analysis with a friend. If they don’t have a friend, maybe one can be found; if not, a different approach should be used.
But you don’t have to have “problems” to do a signaling analysis. Everyone will benefit from it.
Signaling analysis works because partners learn to work with good data that has been generated between them during real-life situations. Having this data allows partners to do micro, meso, and macro levels of analysis on it. And these different levels help them see the specifics of a particular signal exchange, the immediate context of the exchange, and the larger social or historical context from which the exchange has derived some or much of its meaning.
For example, if clear data on a tone of voice has been agreed upon, both partners can then explain the micro antecedents and context of that data, the meso context of those antecedents, and if necessary the macro context that gave rise to either or both of those. The same outline applies to all micro data, be it tone, gesture, word choice, body language, reference, etc.
With practice, a new way of understanding communication will arise in partners’ minds. Rather than having a vague “cognition” about some poorly-defined “emotion” or “personality trait,” partners will find that they can benefit much more by simply analyzing what actually happened based upon data they both agree on.
It is very important for partners to do many analyses of specific micro-data, a single word or phrase, a single tone of voice, a single gesture, etc.. The reason for this is we can’t accurately remember much more than that. When we try to do more, we are pushed immediately out of specific micro data into vague meso or macro generalities that constitute nothing more than general categories with general references to other general categories. Rather than analyzing something that has actually occurred, we instead argue about general emotions, vague traits, unsubstantiated assumptions about “personalities,” and so on.
Something 99% of American voters do not understand. Congress doesn’t actually write legislation. The last item of legislation written by congress was sometime around the mid 1990’s. Modern legislation is sub-contracted to a segment of operations in DC known as K-Street. That’s where the lobbyists reside.
Lobbyists write the laws; congress sells the laws; lobbyists then pay congress commissions for passing their laws. That’s the modern legislative business in DC.
CTH often describes the system with the phrase: “There are Trillions at Stake.” The process of creating legislation is behind that phrase. DC politics is not quite based on the ideas that frame most voter’s reference points.
With people taking notice of DC politics for the first time; and with people not as familiar with the purpose of DC politics; perhaps it is valuable to provide clarity.
Most people think when they vote for a federal politician -a House or Senate representative- they are voting for a person who will go to Washington DC and write or enact legislation. This is the old-fashioned “schoolhouse rock” perspective based on decades past. There is not a single person in congress writing legislation or laws.
In modern politics not a single member of the House of Representatives or Senator writes a law, or puts pen to paper to write out a legislative construct. This simply doesn’t happen.
Over the past several decades a system of constructing legislation has taken over Washington DC that more resembles a business operation than a legislative body. Here’s how it works right now.
Individual psychology is a locus or node within a larger social system.
More precisely, individual psychologies are particular signaling systems within larger social signaling systems.
It is valuable to see this because general analyses of signaling systems—even those having nothing to do with human psychology—can shed light on human signaling systems, including both individual psychology and many aspects of sociology.
When human psychology is viewed as a signaling system, we can readily see that narcissism is bound to occur because narcissism is fundamentally a simplistic signal system. (See Narcissism redefined (yet again) for more.)
When human sociology is viewed as a signaling system, we can similarly see that parasitism is bound to occur because the exploitation of one system by another is a fairly simple matter. (See Social parasitism in ants and humans for more.)
In like manner, we can see that social hierarchies importantly have evolved because they are simple and decently efficient signal (communication) systems.
We can also see why hierarchical system often are overthrown and why they often do not arise in systems where they are not needed. For example, no hierarchy is needed for a language system once the basics have been established. A parasitic or authoritarian group might impose a hierarchy on a language system, but that’s a different animal.
When individual psychology is viewed as a signaling system, we can see that a great deal of what we consider “disordered” or “ill” within that system is fundamentally a problem of the signal system itself and not the “personality” we have mistakenly abstracted out of that system.
Indeed, most of what we think of as personality is nothing more than an individual signal system attempting to conform to its understanding of the larger social system within which it exists. When science is applied to “personality” erroneously conceived, we arrive at the many psychometric tautologies on personality traits we now have. Psychometrics have limited value for describing societies, but are frequently misleading, even damaging, when applied to individuals. In this, they resemble BMI data which originally was used as a marker for the health of whole populations, not individuals, and which can be misleading when applied to individuals.
When we view individuals as signaling systems rather than personalities, we can immediately see that these systems can and should be optimized for better communication. Indeed, this is the real job of psychology—optimizing individual signaling systems. Not just treating “personality” disorders.
The actual purpose of a creed is to provide a doctrinal statement of correct belief or orthodoxy. The creeds of Christianity have been drawn up at times of conflict about doctrine: acceptance or rejection of a creed served to distinguish believers and deniers of particular doctrines. For that reason, a creed was called in Greek a σύμβολον (symbolon), which originally meant half of a broken object which, when fitted to the other half, verified the bearer’s identity. The Greek word passed through Latin symbolum into English “symbol”, which only later took on the meaning of an outward sign of something. (link)
Someone just sent this to me, believing I might find it interesting which I do.
Our word symbol started out as a very concrete concept. It makes sense that it would come from something more basic than itself and with a much narrower meaning.
It’s also quite beautiful that a symbol only works as intended when it connects more or less as intended with the mind of its receiver(s). As with a symbolon, all symbols that work must have at least two functioning halves, a sender and a receiver.
This is a basic part of the definition of semiotics; that a message always has a sender and receiver, though in semiotics it is well-recognized that the receiver often receives the message differently than the sender intended.
If a symbol falls in the woods and no one perceives it is it still a symbol?
Language, and psychology are profoundly entangled. This causes fundamental problems with meaning and communication.
How do we know ourselves?
How do I know you and how do you know me?
How do we communicate with ourselves?
Do we impose meaning on ourselves from outside? Or do we create our own?
Is my psychology a self-imposed myth?
I can import psychological meaning from outside myself, from others, from books. But still, I must own what I import.
Psychological understanding is a mix of owned imports and owned own ideas, a sort of self-imposed myth.
It’s a myth because how can you or anyone analyze the psychology of a single person? How can you analyze and thus know your own psychology?
You cannot do that using psychological terms.
These problems or questions lie not only at the heart of psychology and language but also philosophy.
No abstract outline or explanation or description can let you know yourself. No static network of ideas or words can do that.
Only a method can. A way of talking that expressly addresses what can be known and nothing else.
No one has figured this method out before me (so far as I know) because:
- people have always looked for an external network of ideas and words, rather than the thing itself; the real-time, real-world long moment of working memory, the self in action
- people have not looked there because it goes against a psycho-linguistic instinct to not interrupt or question an interlocutor abruptly (enough) about what they just said or did
This method solves a core problem of language use and meaning; how to use language appropriately and well. At the same time it solves a core problem in psychology; how to understand it clearly.
This method takes time, but will bear abundant fruit. It does that because it strikes right at the heart of crucial problems in language, psychology, and philosophy.
It takes time because people are made up of many parts stitched-together. Many small parts (small enough to fit into working memory) must be identified and analyzed.
This takes time. And that can’t be helped. There is no quicker way to do it.
After many parts (linguistic, semiotic, psychological, memory, sensation, emotion, etc) have been analyzed, a much clearer idea will emerge about what your psychology is, how you use (and should use) language, what philosophy (especially of language and psychology) is.