War on Sensemaking II, Daniel Schmachtenberger
In War on Sensemaking, Daniel Schmachtenberger laid out why the ‘information ecology’ was so broken. It was a hugely popular film, with over 125,000 views in a month.
In this sequel he talks about how information is weaponised by all sides, and how to survive in an environment where nothing can be trusted.
War on Sensemaking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Lqao…
Daniel will be at the Rebel Wisdom Festival in May 2020 – see here: https://www.rebelwisdom.co.uk/festival
You can listen to podcast versions of our films on Spotify or Apple Podcasts by searching ‘Rebel Wisdom’ or download episodes from our Podbean page: https://rebelwisdom.podbean.com/
We also have a Rebel Wisdom Discord discussion channel: https://discord.gg/RK4MeYW
Yeah, so since this is a follow up piece, I’m not gonna try and repeat any ideas there people can check it out if they haven’t already. And the the gist of it was explaining some principles of how propaganda works and how kind of narrative warfare works and whether we’re talking about through political process which we normally think of as propaganda or campaigning or through commercial process, which we think of as marketing or the intersection of those things or, you know, social movements, which are basically movements that have some agenda that are trying to gain some kind of differential power that end up using narratives that coalesce people to support them and use information that coalesce is people to support them, but were there ends up being distortions in the narrative and the empty formation to support some agenda, right? And we kind of discussed how ubiquitously that is and how it happens and how social media makes it. Social media and broadcast and all of those technologies increase the capacity to do that. And there’s a lot on that. And I think, before people can do good sense making maybe one of the prerequisites is that before people can really focus on what our true beliefs and how do they know what a true belief is, they have to make sure that they aren’t being compelled to believe not true or very partial things as being less partial or more representative than they are. And so, the goal of that piece was to kind of inoculate people against propaganda so that when it was happening, they would at least recognize it. And so, because if someone holds false beliefs or holds true beliefs, but that are very partial were held as more complete again in that being very distorted. If someone holds distorted worldviews and then they try and do logic factoring those things is true, everything else will be affected by distortion. So not holding false or miss represented beliefs or ideas is really fundamental to being able to do sense making.
And I think what we’re wanting to talk about here is the next step and giving people tools to notice where distortion is occurring, to again, further inoculate their sense making against distortion, and also recognize when they are a source of distortion in the information ecology, when they are actually engaging in some form of narrative warfare, maybe without having known and the reason this came up as you and I talked about was, you know, we’re, we’re watching the comments and watching the shares and then watching in various groups where people are discussing some of the ideas and of course, the fact that some people resonated was great that some people agreed or disagreed or whatever all that’s fine. But I was witnessing places where people were taking ideas about how the information ecology is broken and using them in ways that further broke the information apology. They were, you know, like, it’s very easy to recognize that some news is to some degree fake and then assume or make the story that it’s the other side that has all fake news, right, which is now basically a fake news strategy or narrative warfare strategy itself against the other guy because as soon as you see that the other guy the other side, whatever it is, is using information as a weapon, then you can use the fact that they’re using information as a weapon as a weapon itself, to engage in that process. And we started seeing this happen and started seeing like even in the comment thread, where people’s responses were not really seeking to understand and engage in a process of deeper understanding.
They were seeking something else, which was how to launch counter responses that would either get likes or seem smart or position them security at the center of their in group or, you know, whatever it is. And so and it wasn’t just that video it was like you know, I actually feel kind of an ethical culpability and any public sharing of tools right metaphysical tools, knowledge tools, so whether it is a psychological principle or an insight, or a cognitive or an epistemic tool, or like a sense making or frameworks kind of process or or, or a virtue or a narrative, that those tools can be weaponized. And especially in the context where almost everything is being weaponized because everybody feels like they’re at war of some kind. Then what I don’t want to be doing and what I know you don’t want to be doing as you know, with rebel wisdom is actually in the name of addressing culture wars to try and heal them and bringing thoughtful, smart, insightful people on something like rebel wisdom to share insights, that those insights get taken in some distorted way and used to further culture war. And so they’re wanting to really address basically how all ideas can be weaponized. All true ideas can be used for distorted purposes and to show how liquid is that is and to show how almost every idea can be weaponized in multiple directions, there can be a pro and con case against almost any idea, any virtue, whatever. And the reason I want to share this is so that people notice it, when it’s happening, and other people and in themselves and so like this video is useful. Only if people are actually interested in trying to make better sense of the world. Like actually a hold more clear beliefs about the nature of ground reality and to engage earnest and in good faith with others to share sense making towards being able to make better choices to make a better world.
If someone is simply wanting to make sure their agenda wins, whatever that agenda happens to be that they’re already sure enough that they’re right about, then all of this will not be that helpful. Except insofar as it can be weaponized. So it’s kind of the paradox that we spoke a lot in the last film about a more ethical and more grounded and more truthful sense making but even that language itself can be used for can be weaponized and used for what pathological ends basically. Yeah, when you know, pathological is a strong word. And so I kind of want to speak to that. self serving is better word. self serving is good and that ends up being happy. pathological for the hole where self serving leads to different types of conflicts between selves in between selves and comments. Then that ends up being pathological to a larger scale, right. And oftentimes, people don’t, don’t think they are engaging in a self serving way. They think they are engaging in a way that is good for the world as they understand and as they’re in group holds and understands. And it’s hard for them to think about engaging in good faith with people that they think are bad, and basically hurting what they care about. So if people on the left think that climate change is about to make the entire planet uninhabitable and cause massive and irreversible existential risk, and that as a result, anyone on the right that doesn’t think that that’s a climate denier is basically killing everything, running the risk of killing everything their kids, their grandkids, then Light, the true the good, and the beautiful, the right is actively seeking to her. They’re not trying to understand them or engage in good faith. They’re just trying to win because those guys are clearly wrong and bad, right. And similarly, if you’re on the right, and you see that the left is trying to destroy the traditions that you hold as what has actually made it through the trials of history that actually works and is good and is trying to basically destroy the what you’re trying to conserve, which is what was true and good and beautiful, and you believe that their science is distorted and etc, then similarly, you’re not trying to engage in good faith. So for the most part, I don’t think that people think they’re engaging in bad faith or they think they’re self serving. They’re just over certain about perspectives that are under complete. The line that separates tools and weapons is not a clear line, it’s very fuzzy. So let’s think about physical tools and physical weapons for a moment.
A weapon is a tool to accomplish a goal in a adversarial context. A tool is basically some kind of technique or some kind of invention to accomplish some kind of goal maybe or maybe not in an adversarial context. We can see that most any tool that was developed for a not weapon purpose could be weaponized if it needed to be. So the kitchen cutting knife is a tool that is obviously to prepare food in the kitchen but it could be weaponized if we needed it to and so could a hammer and so could a screwdriver and so could have chains on so could a car. Right so could my laptop if I needed it to And so we can see that pretty much any tool can be made into a weapon. Actually, I’m not positive, but I think the term weaponize, which is now, like, one of the most common terms, and I think it’s important to understand why it’s so common, but very rarely does anyone say we’re weaponizing stuff, they typically say why someone of another group is weaponizing things. And what we’ll see is like, the exact same thing, the same topic, two different groups will say the other group is weaponizing version of it, right. But, you know, weaponizing, safe space and vulnerability and whatever on the left side versus weaponizing free speech to just do hate speech on the right side, right, that kind of debate. I think that the term weaponized was actually coined, or at least popularized in recent time, after world war two by Wernher von Braun. The Nazi rocket scientists that we brought to the US to lead a lot of our rocket and also ICBM work and the Apollo project, as he was talking about taking the rocketry capabilities and things like Apollo and being able to weaponize them by adding nukes to him. And so that was basically take a tool that is not a weapon, and learn how to weaponize it. And in the physical domain, we can see that anything can be used as a weapon. The same is true with metaphysical tools. So psychological tools, tools that can actually help shift people’s psychology or cognitive tools, tools for sense making or communication tools, right tools to be able to create rapport or to be able to influence other people’s thought, all of these and even tools or principles or insights of good behavior, ie virtues or morals, all of these can be used to advance some agenda in a way that has some distortion and the creative Some harm. That’s how I’m going to define weaponize.
And, you know, maybe that some of the way we can start to think about the demarcation between tool and weapon is that a weapon is going to be causing harm if it is deployed. And that if it’s not deployed, and it’s basically being used to avoid violence by saying we can commit violence, right, it is still its capacity to cause harm that is its basis of effectiveness. Well, interestingly, when we think about so many of the tools that we don’t think of as weapons, but we think of as just things that supported human life, we could think of many of them as weapons against nature, right? Whether we’re cutting down all the trees, or harpooning whales or whatever, like they were clearly weapons against somebody. And a lot of the environmental harm that’s happened that is now making a much less hospitable planet for us to live on was actually those tools being weapons in some context. So this is actually a Very deep thing to think about is, man, our ability to make tools makes us super powerful because of course, the other animals just have their corporeal tools for the most part, the tools that are built in and they don’t get to up regulate the capacity of those quickly. They upgrade a very slowly with natural selection. But we get up regulate ours very quickly across lots of different areas. And that’s why we have the capacity to destroy whole ecosystems and to make new types of environments, cities and whatever and to, like actually engineer new species and extinct species. So given that our ability to influence the environment and others in the world, the capacity of our choice is evolutionarily unprecedented, because of our tool making capacity, and especially as our tools keep getting more and more powerful, and are in the vertical part of an exponential technology curve. Given that our choice making capacities evolutionarily unprecedented, our choice making basis has to also be evolutionarily unprecedented, which means that we can’t just engage in Self advantaging behavior, including rivalry where it occurs with the level of technological capacity we have.
And that is kind of the whole conversation here, obviously being able to do deep abstract reasoning. And conversations with other people mediated by symbolic language, is also in evolutionarily unprecedented capacity. Just we’re not using it very well right, where we are using evolutionarily lower capacities more in terms of our basis for choice making, well, using evolutionarily higher capacities in terms of the technology create meant to empower our choices, and that is the self terminating dynamic, if our choices are going to be that powerful, they also have to be that considerate of all of the second and third order effects of the application of that power. So there’s a level of consideration and clarity of thinking and clarity of forecasting, to be able to do clarity of design that has to increase. And I think that is our whole goal. Here is how to have The type of sense making that is necessary to rightly steward the level of power we have in non destructive ways. I will probably start upsetting people now. But sure. So there is a narrative. And it’s important to say, I could give examples of this, too, for almost every narrative. And I am quite happy to do that. So if I’m upsetting anyone, I hopefully should be upsetting everyone kind of in the equal distribution that is doing what I think is some degree of disingenuous narrative confirmation. So let’s look at the worldview that I would call kind of naive techno optimism or techno capital optimism and we can see you know, gates, Steven Pinker, Hans Rosling, like there’s a whole kind of underlying thinking, and so when you, when you see statistics quoted by haans, or john Mackey or whatever that say, the world is doing better than it’s ever been, because in 1850, X percent of people lived on less than $1.50 a day and now only this tiny percent live on less than $1 50 a day, therefore abundance is going up, and that’s makes a better quality of life for everyone. Well, that might actually be a true statistic that it went from 60 people to 18% of people or something.
I forget what the exact statistic is, that might be a true statistic. But that is Miss representative in some really important ways taken out of context that in 1850, people’s lives were mediated largely not by dollars. A lot of those people who they were talking about were lived in log cabins that they made themselves not mediated by dollars and grew their own food. And so the idea that dollars mediated their life actually is not a good representation of economic quality of life. Nor is the fact that now, obesity, which is mediated by, you know, more dollars is a radical cause of life expectancy challenges and all kinds of psychological and physical issues. And it’s kind of ramping to new liquidus. And, you know, when the story comes that there The world is always had violence and we’re less violent now. Well, kind of like we’re in a fairly short period of having to be less violent of certain kinds after developing the bomb. But now the the Bretton Woods convention that mediated that has almost completely broken down. We no longer have tension between two nuclear equipped superpowers but a multipolar situation where a forced Nash equilibrium like Mutual Assured Destruction isn’t even possible. The tensions in the situation are heat heating, and Yeah, we never had weaponized AI drones before. Right? We didn’t have crisper based bio weapons. So like the fact that there might be less violence of some kinds at the moment, but radically more violence capacity and less ability to do anything effective towards it. Well, orienting more towards it is a stat that’s not being or a stat you can’t even make a proper stat on it.
It’s a trend line that isn’t being paid attention to nor is the radical amount of species extinction or coral bleaching or micro plastics in the ocean or rampant addiction rates or etc. So I can take a true statistic, out of context of all the things to assess and say quality of life is getting better. I can take another true statistic and say quality of life is getting worse. I can group some group of those statistics together to make a compelling argument with the book on either side. And neither of them are representative of the whole picture. And so something can be true in isolation, but it is Way too reductive, and as a result is, if shared as representative and isn’t, is actually a weapon to convince a narrative that is not actually a reasonable narrative. And so this is where I would say, you know, like, when we look at climate change, we have kind of like a gretta versus Trump narrative warfare on climate change, right. And we have people see letters circulating on Facebook, depending upon which side they’re on that say, X number of x percentage of scientists all agree that climate change is real and both on the only ones who think otherwise are paid by oil companies, and then also X number of thousands of scientists say that the IPCC climate change thing is bunk and there’s other stuff that we need to look at and who actually looks at the science in detail themselves looks at the methodology looks at the Models looks at where the funding came from, and the sources of bias to actually be able to sense make themselves they just defect to the authority that is most associated with their in group. And the whole thing that ends up being oriented around co2. And either co2 is really a problem or co2 isn’t a problem. And that framing isn’t even the right conversation. Because we look at Okay, what are the arguments for co2 is a problem? Well, there’s arguments about a lot of things. But let’s just take for instance, coral, what’s going to kill the coral that’s going to kill the oceans? Well, carbonic acid can affect coral. That’s true. And increase temperature can affect coral. That’s true. But that doesn’t address nitrogen runoff from you know, radical amounts of NPK, or other nitrogen based fertilizer creating nitrogen influenza causes both dead zones in the oceans and messes up the phosphorus cycle for the coral or having overfished most of the large fish species in the whale that create the trophic cascades from The apex predators that are actually necessary to maintain the coral. So again, it’s like even if there are some stats about co2 that are true, they might not be representative of the of what we’re claiming they’re representative of that it’s actually a multifactorial situation. And to try and get something through, we think we have to orient it in this particular way and overhype that particular thing.
Now, of course, I can actually use nitrogen fertilizer to grow more plants that sequester co2, that will actually increase the rate of nitrogen runoff and even though I’m sequestering co2, I might be killing coral faster. And so this is an example where it’s like, no better sense making actually has to happen. And even fact, lots of times the facts are distorted. Like it’s just bullshit science, right? But sometimes the facts aren’t distorted the fact is true, but is one out of lots of metrics that matter or taken out of appropriate context where it is so not representative the shoulder That is recommended is totally inappropriate. And why is this particular topic important? And why do you think it’s so important for now? So we were talking earlier about Facebook and the way that echo chamber type phenomena just built into algorithms can let alone the social travel type dynamics that are made easier, not in person, lead to echo chambers, where people think that most everyone believes kind of the way they do because that’s what they’re seeing. Except those bad guys over there that are far that are far enough away that they only get the characterized version of them. And so, you know, I’ve intentionally I still use Facebook and actually use it largely as a tool for understanding social phenomena. And so I’ve intentionally followed, made friends with and followed people on every side of every political topic who are leading thinkers that other people pay attention to. And so, of course, I’ll have a thread where there are some alt right type people who are commenting where then left people think that I have become a Nazi or at least a Nazi supporter and then decide to unfriend me. And of course, then more conservatively oriented people will see further left perspectives in my thread talking about LGBTQ rights or whatever it is and think that I am a whatever pejorative, you know, commie etc, type thing that they think. And I’m just actively trying to see what the various groups in the world think. Because if I don’t understand why it’s compelling, like, if I don’t understand the partial truths and the values that they care about, I don’t have a chance of understanding reality and if I don’t understand even beyond that, Why it’s compelling, I don’t have a chance of possibly engaging in a constructive or meaningful way.
So all I can do is villainize them and engage in warfare, and then to various degrees win or lose, but to some degree all lose. And like, that’s a very, very simple thing I would suggest everyone do if you tend to be left leaning and most of your friends kind of agree with you about climate change, or abortion rights or whatever, I would actually really like you to find. Follow Ben Shapiro, follow the proper terian Institute follow, you know, very follow Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute, whatever and actually seek to understand both where they’re sharing things that you actually didn’t know. And even where you really disagree, why it’s compelling, with an answer that isn’t just because they’re all stupid because you actually don’t have any chance of heat. culture war, otherwise, you only have a chance of engaging in it. And if someone happens to be more right oriented, and of course saying right left is itself over simplified, but we’ll use that as a simplification for all of the perspectives that are engaged in some kind of warfare that actually need to be engaged in some kind of more generative dialectical conversation. Study intersectionality, like follow some of the thinkers that are actually giving arguments for and history for why some of that’s important actually read some of the postmodern thinkers read Foucault and Derrida and whatever before just saying, All post modernism is stupid, and, again, look to see are their true insights and critiques in there. And can you factor them? Do you understand them? And even where you don’t think they’re true? Can you see why they’re compelling? And so that’s a very, very easy step. So I’m speaking to why it’s important because I think that we have more issues in the world today. From now weaponized drones actually available for sale pre made and the nature of the environmental risks and the massive human migrations that are impending and end the culture wars and the fact that the culture wars are oriented to a kind of war that is beyond just on Facebook.
I think that we have more different issues on more fronts that are more consequential with the answer not being everyone increasing the quality of their sense making to find solutions that aren’t war because to find solutions that aren’t where requires that there are solutions for everybody. There is a degenerate movement towards more groupthink that becomes more polarized. And that is a movement towards warfare in a time that is one that’s never desirable, but it’s especially not desirable with a world that has a centralized and fragile and infrastructures are Where people don’t actually grow food and the populations of cities depend upon infrastructure that if it failed, would totally suck. And where the weapons technology we have is unlike anything we’ve ever had, like, we can see that these types of patterns have happened in the past and lead to war and resets. And I think that that’s too costly to happen again. And so outside of everyone, recognizing that and having that motivate their willingness to do something really uncomfortable, which is to be willing to disagree with the in group that they’re a part of, even where the in group will use ostracizing and shaming as a way to hold them in line. And to really engage with other people in perspectives and to not do the lazy thing of just defecting to the sense making that someone else that you hold this legitimate authority gave you. But really engaging earnestly with all of the perspectives that you can To try to understand what makes sense to then also understand what a way forward that doesn’t look like war looks like. I don’t think there are any good chances for the world unless a lot of people start doing that. Just picking up on something you said, Just then, I’ve often thought that it’s really impossible to do good sense making or to orient towards truth. Unless we’re prepared to disagree with our in group. The essential thing to good sense making is a commitment to earnestness, like a sincere, profound commitment to earnestness in our sense making, which means that the enemy of that is bias of any kind. And which means vested interest of any kind. And so the desire to fit in my group is a source of bias and vested interest because my group might have things wrong, or be missing stuff. And if they’re willing to use You know, apostasy, punishments, if they’re willing to use. If you’re not with us, you’re against us line in the sand kind of stuff, then they’re not engaged in good faith in trying to understand that they think that they have understood enough, and now they’re engaged in winning a war. And so there is if you want to find a way out of war, and so you want to engage in the kind of good sense making that could inform that, then you might be against them if you aren’t with them, right. And so, and we can see this again on in fundamentalist interpretations of lots of religious views and cultural views on both sides of, you know, the culture war, we can see the way that the left evolved a very profound tool of mimetic shaming, to be able to hold a common narrative and to hold the argument that they had the only source of legitimate authority and that looked like Largely kind of capturing control of most of the academies and you know, government institutions and lots of types of media for some period of time.
But then saying you’re a racist, or you’re an anti Semite, or you’re a misogynist, or you’re a bigot, or your xenophobe was effective for a long time to just have people not be able to engage in conversations that might have had some actual legitimacy. We can see though that of course, and I’m not saying anything new here, that that that as a weapon, right, that type of social shaming as a type of narrative weapon. When any like in a physical war when any side gets a new weapon, the other side start their engineer start working really fast to make a counter weapon defenses and better versions of that weapon. And so this is the thing that when you think like, Oh, we’ve got some new narrative that’s going to be awesome or some new standards. Some new method of Public Engagement or getting the voters that don’t normally vote out or whatever the thing is, the moment it’s successful, everybody will reverse engineer it and attack the basis of how you do it. And so, we can see that the coalescing of and the kind of concretization of the alt right was to a large degree in response to a counter response to those social shaming tools which didn’t come to the place of saying like, okay, I’ll embrace being racist. I will embrace having traditional views on gender roles more fully than I might have previously so that that shaming tool doesn’t work for me anymore. And grabber by the pussy is totally fine. Like we’ll vote for that guy again. And so and you know, there are similar kinds of tools used on the right for being able to create in Group Co cohesion. And so yes, I think their earnestness and sincerity and the desire to understand reality clearly is the foundation. And then the courage to actually ask those questions and say the things that you think and notice in the presence of an in group that is trying to force you to defect to the center of what that groupthink is defect on your own self. There’s courage, but there’s, there’s this interesting combination of courage and humility that has to be there at the same time, which is the courage to say, I don’t know if I agree.
I don’t know that this perspective is adequate, even if I’m compelled partially by it. I don’t know that it’s adequate. There are some other counter perspectives that a lot of people believe that I’m not going to rule them all as just dumb or pathological. And so I don’t know if this perfect there’s adequate and that more thinking is needed. There’s courage to do that. Because if you’re not with us, you’re against us as a powerful tactic. But to have that confidence and at the same time say, I don’t know yet what I think is true. That is the humility side that doesn’t just have a new hubris that is going to try and be the center of a new narrative warfare and get people to, you know, defect on the other sides to come join that side. So I think like, earnestness and sincerity, empowered by really deep courage and a deep kind of epistemic humility is going to make someone Miss fit for every in group currently, which is the valley crossing that people have to go through to basically leave the forces that are arrayed in a war that were all sides are wrong. to hopefully have enough people who do that Let’s start to find each other and don’t do a new tribal groupthink thing. But all engage in earnest actual thinking themselves and actual conversation without orienting towards groupthink that can start to make a new strange and I’m interested to apply this to what you might call the this sort of sense making space that we’ve been kind of investigating sort of these concepts of game be non rivalrous dynamics Roland agar, like this is what’s been quite shocking I think for me and maybe for you, I don’t know is that even these these particular concepts can be weaponized as well for self serving ads. How does that work? And has that surprised you? The moment there is a ambiguous idea like game B, which is kind of a placeholder For what would a healthier civilization be, then to the degree that that starts getting traction and people are interested in it, people being associated with it, because it’s getting traction, and it seems like there will be power there, whether their motives are really have gained me or not, is obviously going to happen. And then also people trying to capture the flag and say game be is dot, dot dot, the thing that they’re doing is also going to happen. So I, I think, actually, you know, placing a flag like that, that attracts capture is not a straightforwardly Good idea. I’m not saying it’s definitely a bad idea, but it’s definitely not a straightforwardly Good idea.
And I think conversations like this hopefully, can lead to more, more earnest exploration on our own part, not even not calling each other out like there is a time. This is again, there’s a way to help support collective intelligence that if we see someone doing something that we think is off that we share it in a way that is actually of good face, trying to help them do better. There’s also another method of call out culture that is really just a weapon to take out people who are not part of the narrative that we’re creating you and I saw in certain online forums, conversations, I think. I think Jordan Hall and Jamie will and I had a conversation sitting right here on this couch and we talked about rule omega and that was shared and then we saw people invoking rule omega wit, as a tactic to get other people to include them in a conversation where the way that they show up in conversation did not compel the other people to include them. And the way we actually articulate rule omega is that it cannot be invoked by others, it has to be granted. Should we just recap what rule and agar is? It’s basically giving the benefit of the doubt and calling out assuming the other person is trying to express something meaningful and helping to tease that out in the interaction. So rather than mixing it, yeah, and so rule omega is this kind of process where with those we are seeking to collaborate, we grant a level of giving the benefit of the doubt. You shouldn’t do this with everyone.
Right? Like, if if somebody comes up to me on the street, and they seem like they’re trying to con me in some way, I don’t give them rule omega and assume that they have good intention and you know, are thoughtful, that would actually be done and If someone is engaging in mostly rhetoric with me, and they, they also don’t seem that they are seeking to understand clearly that it actually is not warranted. And so, rule omega is, is basically when I am trying to engage with people who might think differently, but I think that I’m not positive that I’m right and they’re wrong if there’s a difference, if there’s a difference, I think I might possibly have something to learn, then rule omega is how I would engage that would best increase my chance of learning the thing, which is only interested only relevant if I want to learn stuff that I maybe don’t already know, and especially learn stuff that might even be different than stuff that feels actually important to me. And this is where there’s a courage and an earnestness and sincerity that’s really critical. Now there’s a level of give the benefit of the doubt that in general is a nice rule of thumb to err in the direction of right try and here where someone is coming from. But when someone else is on the offense, and they actively kind of weaponized way or whatever I might not do that. I also have the right to not engage with someone factoring the very limited time of life that I have, and that I can’t engage with everyone that doesn’t feel like the best use of my time to advance the things that I care most about. Even if it’s caring for everyone, I might not see that as the right place to go. So if someone says, rule omega give the benefit of the doubt, therefore, you have to listen to me and engage with me and answer all my responses. That’s actually weaponizing give the benefit of the doubt. And there are similar things where insofar as we were referencing I don’t remember the quote from Ecclesiastes, but everybody knows that there’s a time to kill in a time to heal and a time to show and a time to reap and a time to every purpose under heaven, something like that, which I take as that all of the rules are generally rules of thumb, where there are some exceptions. There are edge cases where I can’t just say I’m following the rules, in which case, I’m actually not a human with choice, I am a bot, I have to say, I’m reserving the right to make a choice outside of any rule set align with the best principles. Principles aren’t rules, principles are our considerations, but where I don’t necessarily know what I will do, because there might be a time for any particular kind of thing.
So there is a time to not give the benefit of the doubt. There is a time to try and get over the energy of conflict and really do apartheid, reconciliation, peace and reconciliation work. There’s other times to draw boundaries, where the other side is actually really not engaging in good faith and a boundary is actually necessary. Now I can weaponize the idea of boundaries and draw them where I actually should be crossing the boundary to try and listen I can also weaponize the idea of break down the boundaries and listen to each other when breaking a boundary is the appropriate thing. And so the moment anyone holds, there is a principle that is sometimes true. Therefore I can say it’s true whenever I want it to be. Right. This is another place where it’s not just truth can be weaponized in terms of data. But a true rule of thumb can be weaponized, when it is actually not the appropriate thing to do. The moment that we say game be or it w or whatever it is, and it seems like a lot of people are being attracted where then if someone became associated with that thing, or made a project of that type, or made a media channel of that type or became a speaker there, they would up regulate their public presence or profile or something. Now it becomes a honeypot, that’s going to attract people for actually exactly gay reasons to exploit gain the virtue, right and so this is the virtue signaling thing, which is actually may be a good thing for us to talk about now. In so far as game he’s talking about a better world in social Far as it has epidemics, how do we do better sense making those epidemics can be weaponized. And we can talk about how critical thinking and how dialectics and whatever can be weaponized. But insofar as it’s also talking about, not just what is true, but what is good, right, like in the true, the good and the beautiful kind of sense. What are we what are the kind of world we’re wanting to build? Then, of course, any virtue can be weaponized, which is virtue signaling.
And, again, these, I’m talking about topics that everybody’s talking about right now, I’m just hopefully trying to talk about them in a slightly different way to say everyone on all sides are oriented to do versions of this, as opposed to those guys are virtue signaling. And us calling them out is us demonstrating our actual virtue but we’re not virtue signaling. And so, one way that I think of the distinction between real virtue and virtue signaling is virtue signaling is when It’s clear that an enough people hold a particular trait as a virtue that if I seem to have that virtue, it would be good for me, right? The people would like me accept me agree with me by my stuff, like my ideas, whatever it is. So if I signal if I communicate in some way that I have that virtue, it’s beneficial for me in straight self serving ways, right? So I have a reason to signal the virtue beyond my authentic living of it. And this is where rather than I’m just doing what I’m doing, and people notice the virtue that I happen to be living, I am intentionally trying to seem virtuous of a particular kind more than I am trying to actually live that thing, right. And this is where the, you know, Jesus saying, Don’t let the right hand see what the left hand was doing. And I think every culture that has wisdom has some quotes like that, because virtue signaling has is forever right. And it’s whatever the dominant culture is, whatever the thing that is seen virtue there.
So, during the early Soviet Empire, Marxist ideology, people would virtue signal being more Marxist. Right. And during Dark Age, Catholic rain, the virtue signaling was about being better Catholics and, you know, so now left and right have their own versions of virtue signaling to their own base. And so politicians and companies and social leaders are oriented to signal the thing they would need to in that way. A real virtue is something that is that I care about that I value, actually, hopefully something that is sacred to me that I am willing to experience personal sacrifice for, not that my signaling of it creates personal gain. But I’m willing to lose personal gain in service of this because it’s more important than personal gain to me. So I’m willing to lose some dollars to have my company not do that thing. Because I hold a virtue or an ethic that won’t have me do that thing, even if it would make me more dollars, or I’m willing to lose some followers or get some not, you know, people dislike what I’m saying or whatever to stand up for something because I actually meaningfully believe in it, right? Most people are willing to be disliked by the group that they identify as enemies. They might even take pride in it because they’re doing in group out group Machiavellian stuff. But am I willing to lose likes and support by the people that I’m trying to in group with is where it’s actually consequential because losing the ones that I’ve already lost isn’t consequential. So then I get to weaponize CMX willing to make a sacrifice and have enemies which is actually weaponizing the idea of sacrifice itself. We can also see that so yeah, the difference between virtue and virtue signaling is Real virtue is not trying to signal to other people something it is trying to actually live something and it is willing to stand for something where it is personally disadvantageous. And so you can see someone’s virtue in the series of choices they have made that have been hard choices. So when someone tells me that they’re interested in impact investing with their financial services fund, I go through and I say, Show me in record the series of investment choices you made, where you turn down money, because of an ethic.
Just show me the record of those. And usually they can’t do a good job at that. And then I say fuck off, because I know that now impact investing just happens to be the virtue that signals a particular niche of capital or whatever. But there’s no real earnestness in it, right. So I was having a conversation the other day with some about this, and I was thinking about the kind of virtues that kind of self sacrifice and courage and valor and heroism that would have someone jump on a grenade to protect their fellows. And how fucking profoundly beautiful and incredible that impulses and that actual developed capacity and commitment in oneself. And then the way that other people weaponize the most beautiful traits in someone, right, so like, developed soldiers that have that virtue and then apply them to a false flag war where they’re told the wars for one reason and that’s not really the reason that it’s for. So those who are running the false flag war are weaponizing, the energy, of patriotism, of self sacrifice of whatever In people, and we can see that like, you know, suicide bombing, where a young person is willing to give up their life in service of the thing that they believe is right only when the infidels are gone Will you know the world be remade and and I’ll come back and etc and like that the other people are actually infidels they’re against God and against the good and they’re doing the holy thing and yet it’s clearly some people who are fighting political and cultural wars, who don’t really believe in 72 virgins in heaven, but believe in other much more strategic things who then end up weaponizing those people’s deepest virtues that are more important than their own life weaponizing the sense of the sacred against them and against others is most fucked thing to be able to actually turn what is most sacred into what is most defiled. And that also is ubiquitous.
Like, it blows my mind when I think about we talked about this before, but when we think about things like Christian holy war when think about the Inquisition, and it’s like okay, so people who are claiming to believe in Jesus as the Savior who said let He who has no sins cast the first stone. And if they strike one cheek, give them the other and 70 times seven and you know, on and on all these types of things. And Father forgive them for they know not what they do, how we figure out in the name of the religion that believes in Him to torture people who think differently, or to burn them at the stake. It’s like, what the fuck? How do we figure out how to do that? Well, there’s there’s easy ways and he also said, You know, I come not to just The law but to uphold it, and then I can go back to Leviticus and then I can see where we were supposed to kill people and whatever. Right. So, basically. So there are individuals who take tools and weaponize them in relationship with other individuals. There are also individuals and groups and positions of power that seek to weaponize groups of people. And so they seek to share compelling narratives to scare people to create a false enemy that will scare everyone and unify them together against that enemy that was either created or exaggerated to begin with or whatever. And they are basically weaponizing people and people’s courage to be willing to step up and fight so it’s actually weaponizing. That which is most beautiful and other people for the most fuck purposes. going on, we were talking about giving examples of all the things that can be misapplied. And you know, weaponizing is a strong term for all of the cases but, but yes, plied with some intention that has some knowing or not knowing distortion and some harm that will that is know about or not, that will occur from it. We can talk about the weaponization of science, the philosophy of science and even more of the practice of science and the funding of science we can talk about the weaponization of philanthropy of we’ve talked about the weaponization of market dynamics quite a lot. We could also talk about the weaponization of the critique of market dynamics to to then promote other things that are even number we can talk about, where postmodern ideas became weaponized and then also over reactive critiques of post modernism became weaponize. We can Look at where critical thinking was supposed to be a tool to help identify these things and itself can be weaponized in many cases to lead to people who are overconfident and just simply looking for tools of rhetoric that have very little actual curiosity and are trying to support certainty rather than that kind of comfort with uncertainty that is at the basis of earnestness in the philosophy of science itself. So this would be a impossibly long video if we got into all of that.
But we could look at examples of the applications of Buddhism that I think are pretty badly weaponized. And have you know, pick the religion, pick the whatever, and and yet also examples of things that are authentically good, meaningful and maybe even necessary in all those places. So hopefully, we’ve covered enough that there’s enough things examples that people can start to think through them. And I think one of the most interesting things would be if people did and started to give examples of where they have seen this occur in various domains, and especially if they didn’t just give the examples of where they’ve seen the people that they feel are other do it. But that where they’ve seen groups that they identify with do it and maybe where they can see both sides of a debate both and doing some kind of weaponizing. And what engaging without that might look like, if, if there could start to be in the Facebook groups and in the YouTube thread, like people actually discussing that that would be generative. And of course, YouTube is degenerate enough there will be trolls what I’m hoping is that most people recognize that they themselves are sometimes susceptible to a subclinical degree of troll them where they’re not full blown trolls, but they’re also not engaging in the most generative way. Hopefully seek to do better. Yeah, the troll spectrum. We’re hoping to move people down. And I want to share here. I don’t believe that I am an expert in any of the topics I’m talking about right now. I’m talking about them, because there are certain phenomena that are quite clear to me that I see happening in this space that I want to address. And I don’t see it being addressed yet. And I actually feel a certain responsibility to make sure that insofar as we have shared insights, that we also share how to be thoughtful about the interpretation and use of those insights. But I’m sure that there are people who have studied the history and evolution and tools and technologies of propaganda and narrative warfare and information warfare much, much better than I have, I would be super interested in having those people on.
And same with like psychiatric diagnosis and various lines of it, I’m sure they are more nuanced thinker. So I’m going to share the way that I think about it. And I would be surprised if in five years, I’ll still think the same way about it. And that’s important because I like this is my best current thinking and an area that I know a little bit about. So I would ask that people take it as a stimulus for your own thinking, including where you disagree, rather than as a Am I right or not, right? And if I’m not right, throw it out and don’t even have stimulated thinking and if right then also don’t have stimulated thinking, the ability to treat someone as an authority and then either accept what they say and don’t think or reject what they say and don’t think like both of those are so on. Interesting. So my hope is that this video if it does anything stimulates your own deeper thinking and own exploration and study and learning and conversation on these topics. Okay, So and if you disagree with me about something I’m super interested to know, because like I said, I’m sure that conversations where people disagree is, and in some places they’re right is why in five years, I will think differently on these things than I do now. Just like I think differently and lots of things now they did five years ago. So one of the places where my thoughts have updated was when I studied the literature on cluster B dynamics. It really both helped and bothered me plus to be dynamics mean, meaning the sort of often called the dark triad. Yeah, yeah. And so I’ll specifically say the thing we call antisocial personality disorder, sociopathy, psychopathy, and narcissism. I’ll particularly focus on those ones I had always previously taken people who behaved in those ways through a before I had studied that literature, I took those behaviors as like from an attachment theoretic perspective that they had, you know, some kind of avoidant attachment where they’ve been traumatized or they couldn’t trust well or, you know, something like that or they they were traumatized in the traumas perpetuating itself in some way. But I took it that way where then my goal was to help heal the trauma and be redemptive right to be compassionate, redemptive, and I have, and I think lots of people have a very deep don’t want to just villainize throw people away, punish but recognize that insofar as people are hurting people, it’s often because they were hurt and the answer is not just a punitive answer, right. And we know that the just punitive answer itself leads to escalating warfare that leads to a world that sucked because we can’t keep handling, group people. initiative dynamics, which is war with escalating tech, so, but I was very oriented in that way. And I noticed that there were lots of people who had addictions and live and did violent things that I spent time with. And they really changed like the someone helping them have new experiences really changing. Awesome.
I also noticed some people didn’t, which I always took as a failing of my capacity to be more effective with them. And as I started to say, the literature I saw that where the failings had occurred and corresponded with the places where I had the most regrets in my life, which usually involved giving the benefit of the doubt. So I trusted someone where I actually felt that I shouldn’t I kind of knew that I shouldn’t but I talked myself into it out of give the benefit of the doubt and be redemptive, which means I gasland myself, right. When we Gaslight other people, what that means usually is that we share some kind of rationally compelling argument that has them override their own intuitive sensibility? Sometimes we will use our virtues to Gaslight ourselves. And this is again where we have to be careful because is it that I have a real intuitive knowing and I’m gaslighting myself in with an appropriately applied generalization? Or is it that the thing I’m calling intuition is actually bias and prejudice and using logic to help clear it is the right thing. This is fucking tricky. And I can share no absolute rule other than no both of those things can be the case, and really be thoughtful about it. And create friendships with people that you also think are very thoughtful and kind of wise and explore the topics with them. And like I don’t have an algorithm and I don’t believe there is one. I believe one can simply understand the different types of failure case and be attentive to it. I think the attempt to reduce it to an algorithm will always be damaging so I noticed that there were places where I own aghast at myself and overrode my own sense that someone was not trustworthy. Because I wanted to offer trust to them in a way that would help them be able to trust because obviously offering trust in good faith can help other people be able to trust. But of course, if I trust someone, and as a result, invite them into my life or circles or whatever, in certain ways, where then other people that trust me now can be hurt by those people. Then I actually became untrustworthy, myself to the other people, through my own poor discernment or poor boundaries. And those were the places where I usually have the deepest regrets, or I’m like, man, I actually did something that led to other people getting hurt or me not upholding boundaries that I should have. And it was it was actually out of my own desire to be redemptive and have good faith where it was inappropriate.
And so when I started understand the NPD sociopathy, I started saying, oh, there are certain people were whom I’m not going to say healing isn’t possible or redemption isn’t possible, but it is of a different type. What what it would take to heal it like that the pathology is of a different type it is created some very powerful self reinforcing loop that eats most types of therapy without actually addressing the loop and simply uses them to get better at doing the thing. And so you either need to not engage or engage of some type that could be effective, which I would say I don’t see anyone who is generally good at that currently. So then there are some times where rather than being redemptive, the higher values actually being protective, which is again, still not punitive. Right. And it doesn’t close the door on ever redemptive, but it certainly says I’m not going to try and do it and fail where I’m actually not equipped to do it because of certain things that I notice. So yes, if there’s someone who is oriented to power in a way that maybe has some defended blind spots where they don’t even see that they are they don’t hold it that way. Or they don’t hold that there’s a problem with it or whatever. And I show them hey, the reason I don’t trust you is these three things, then what they know is, oh, I will make sure around him to never demonstrate those three things again. And now, they have gotten better, right at being able to be covert in that process. So we do have to be careful about, hey, when I offer feedback, is this going to help someone actually heal because they have the earnest willingness and desire and capacity to heal? Or is this going to help weaponize their orientation? Now I have also seen obviously, there are certain circles that don’t talk about healing and psychotherapy very much they might talk about religion or tradition or just science or whatever. Then there in the circles that talk more about things like healing and healing trauma. I don’t know any places that attract narcissists and sociopaths better, because there’s a lot of vulnerable people there.
That would be good sources of narcissistic supply and who are willing to hear shit like, that’s just your ego or me doing this is me just being authentic, or being vulnerable or expressing my emotions or whatever else that basically allows bad behavior under the name of some therapeutic or spiritual idea. And this is why we see so many spiritual teachers that we then see later were being sexually or financially or emotionally psychologically abusive with people and in the therapeutic space, because basically, insofar as they’re oriented to weaponize relationship and mind control, the domains of mind control and the domains where there is legitimate authority like a priest or a therapist or whatever where people are offering some degree of trust and vulnerability to legitimate authority. There are no more powerful positions to be able to do that thing. Now, of course, also economics, politics, military, you know those other things, but these are particularly sensitive and susceptible areas. And so I have seen I’ll give some examples of weaponization of psychological tools, especially that show up in what we might call progressive New Age, whatever kinds of circles that there are versions of this that are slightly different that showed up in the Catholic dark age or the whatever right like what what is the way that the the virtues the psychological tools, spiritual insights, get weaponized for power games, but I’ll share these ones here because these, you know, because rebel wisdom hosts circling because people here are interested in psychological development. So we need to be aware of these people can use the virtue or the Statement of the virtue of transparency to just be assholes. And it’s a weaponized, it’s a weaponization of the idea of transparency. I remember the first time I saw this, like, was some It was like shocking and disgusting to me. I saw this married couple that was. There’s many, many years ago that was doing this, like radical honesty group. And he was saying things to her, like, Your face looks really ugly today. And she was saying things to him, like, I feel hatred arising and I want to throw you out the window. And I was like, and then they were saying, we’re just being radically honest and transparent. And that’s a virtue.
I’m like, No, it’s not, this is actually not a virtue. This is you taking the lowest parts of your nature and amplifying the fuck out of it. And in ways that don’t actually serve anything other than cruelty. And so it’s very easy to see like, that’s not a healthy Example of, of transparency. So then on the other side people can weaponize kindness, or I’ll say Miss apply it, but it can also be weaponized. Right? Which is no, no, we don’t want to say things that are unnecessarily hurtful. So then the overcompensation and that side can be, well, I’m not going to tell them those things because it would hurt their feelings, which is actually now a rationalization for lying, or lying through omission. Which then, like the other person doesn’t have consent, and is that information being withheld from them? And so there is a dialectic relationship between something like honesty or transparency on one side and kindness and thoughtfulness on the other side that are both relevant and neither are the absolute virtue that trumps the set of things that only considered to show up well, right. So this is important, and I will specifically see that some people just being dumb and Believing a teacher will do this nonsense right but nobody’s particular Narcissus but Narcissus to want to kind of say mean things to people. Well then afterwards and the people are upset say, You’re shaming me for my honesty and transparency you’re trying to get me to emotionally repress this. You’re the part of the patriarchy again that is trying to shut down emotions. This is just about honestly embracing and accepting emotionality. Right? hogwash.
I am responsible for my emotions, and I don’t want to suppress them, where they’ll blow up and I also don’t want to unconsciously act on the lowest parts of and triggered and wounded parts of my nature. I want to notice them and responsibly do what it takes to heal them without perpetuating harm. And I don’t want to perpetuate harm and then pretend that I didn’t and say no, no, you’re responsible for the meaning you made. This is another classic example right? Which is a first person or a second person emphasis and in relational dynamics, You can’t hurt me because whatever you say is just you saying things it’s the meaning that I make of it that hurts me well that’s partially true. And it’s empowering to me to the degree that I hold it because even if you’re an asshole I don’t have to get really bent out of shape about it. But the moment I tried to tell someone else that the only reason they feel hurt by me is the meaning they’re making up on it. Is this is again like rule omega can be offered not invoked. I can take responsibility for not having my feelings hurt by what someone else says but I can’t tell someone else they need to take responsibility for it therefore I can be an asshole right? Now this is again tricky as fuck because we can see where people will do that they will just be an asshole and then say I’m not being an asshole. I’m just being me authentically and you’re choosing to be and sovereign. But then on the other side of that Where is it important to actually help other people take more sovereign responsibility and say, Look, I’m actually not being an asshole and not being unthoughtful. I’m considered, I’m saying something that is really true and important, and consider it. And the reactivity that you hold about it is actually taking you out of relationship. Right? So again, it’s easy to err on either side of this. So if someone gets their feelings hurt, am I responsible? Kind of sometimes, yes, sometimes No, to some degree, yes, to some degree now, right? How do we tell the difference? That’s the key question. The moment I offer a algorithm for that, that will become the new weapon. And so what I can say is you can endeavor earnestly as best you can to notice where you’re actually coming from The effects of what you’re doing and where others are actually coming from and the effects they’re doing and also listen to other people’s perspective on the way you’re doing it. And I don’t have a better answer than that. So there are certain things that seem obviously in bad faith.
There are a lot of other things that clearly the other person doesn’t think it’s in bad faith, but they’re making a mistake. There are other things that might seem like they’re in bad faith, but it’s just because the person saying something that pisses me off, but they’re actually showing up in good faith and I just don’t want to hear it. And so, like, here’s a protocol that I hold in relationships for communication. When I’m communicating with someone I endeavor to and I definitely do not always succeed at this, but I endeavor as best I can to communicate when I’m speaking in a way that they will actually hear what I’m intending to share regardless of what their filters of hearing are. Which means I’m going to try to empathetically put myself in their shoes enough that I can customize how I communicate, where they’ll be able to hear it not just a shift the way that makes sense to me. You don’t hear that here because I’m talking to a huge number of people. And I don’t know how to do that for a huge number of people. But when I’m talking with somebody one on one, that’s my goal, not as a manipulation, but as a meeting someone where they are, and saying, My goal is not to talk at someone and just fucking throw words at them like bullets, right? My goal is to actually communicate in a way where they hear what I’m saying, and I hear what they’re saying, communicate is to find some communion, right? And so if I’m talking about them, and they’re not hearing what I’m saying, I want to take responsibility to say, Okay, well, even if they’re reactive, and they’re going into unconscious reactions, even if they seem to have cotton balls in their ears that are fucking up the way they’re hearing stuff. I don’t have to communicate with them. But if I’m choosing to communicate with them, and to try to find some commonality or some communion, how do I check that my communication is landing and how do I use the frames the words the metaphors that might be able to make sense to them, as opposed to just say it’s your fault. You’re listening badly. On the other side, when someone is talking to me as best I can I try to take responsibility to hear where they’re coming from, even if I think they’re communicating poorly.
Right, so maybe they’re really angry and they’re clearly exaggerating. You’ve never blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s not true that I never bought, but that like they’re angry, they’re exaggerating, but I’m trying to listen to is there some truth thing here, rather than got caught up on what is false? Is there some actual need that isn’t met that I can hear is there and because that’s on either side of the communication, that’s me taking the responsibility to try to have effective communication come as much as I can. Now, I also want to try and support them to do that, but I can’t force it, I can only support it and then I have to pay attention to what is effective and actually supporting it. And then I also ultimately decide whether or not I keep relating with them. There, there’s so much nuance here. And then again, Again, it’s very easy for people to weaponize the idea of nuance generally. The answer is that it’s very easy to have a partial truth that polarizes that isn’t held with other partial truths to polarize or like a fact, right? Like the the facts. We gave his examples earlier, where I’m cherry picking out of data sets. That is true, but not representative. And so then usually the answer is include more stuff, which is more nuanced, more complex. But then I have seen people weaponize the idea of nuance, when someone is actually stating something that is simple and actually has truth and clarity and simplicity and the other person doesn’t want that boundary to exist.
Then they say you’re not being nuanced enough. Right. And so this is why it’s like the Dow that is nameable is not the eternal dow the virtue that you say is the one that Trumps all of the other ones. The the protocol that is the protocol, it doesn’t exist. And, you know, if I want to try and talk about integrity, I usually don’t think of integrity as a virtue or a value, as much as I think that it about it as the degree of congruence between my behavior and all of my other virtues or values. And so if I value kindness, and I also value transparency, and I value truth and I also value connection and I then how well Am I able to navigate high correlation between the way I’m showing up and all of those values simultaneously, is kind of my integrity assessment. We were talking about weaponizing, certain psychological things, and there’s some more examples that are important. So we talked about weaponizing transparency and we talked about weaponizing kindness I have seen so people can weaponize their own vulnerability where it’s like, I watched after Renee brown came out and did her stuff on vulnerability, that then I saw all these things on Facebook of life coaches crying in the camera with tears in their eyes showing how vulnerable they are. And you know, then if you want to learn how to be vulnerable to their packages for sale, and I’m like a fucking like that that’s like weaponizing be a virtue signaling where the more vulnerable thing, if they were being really vulnerable, wouldn’t be them crying about this thing that they’ve already resolved and is really not actually consequential to them, which is not real vulnerability. It would be them saying, I’m broke right now guys, and I need to pay the bills and I really want you to buy my package. And I think that it’s beneficial for some people. And like that would be awesome actual authenticity and vulnerability, which very rarely happens. I have seen like one of the worst one weaponizing apology and, and remorse. So again associated with something like narcissism. Generally, if the person feels that the person who’s challenging them or upset with them doesn’t have power, and they do, they will just say, this is your ego making up nonsense. And they’ll Gaslight them.
But if the other person has power and they can’t do that, because it’s a whole group of people calling them out or it’s a very someone with a lot of following or whatever, then the most effective game theoretic thing for them to do might be to start crying, and say, Oh my god, I’m so sorry, this goes back to a childhood wound of mine and it’s really vulnerable and I’m working on it and I thought I had healed this pattern and it’s still showing up. Thank you for showing it to me. I’m really going to work on it. I want you guys to hold me accountable. And I have seen people do this with tears in their eyes and a week later do the exact same thing when powerful people weren’t around to hold them accountable. And that is basically weaponizing, fake remorse and apology and whatever. So you have to so if I noticed that happen, what I know is that no words that person says will mean anything to me. So I would need to see if the, that doesn’t mean that I’ve closed off redemptive possibilities, it means I need a different kind of signal. So if the person said no, I’ve really made a change, I’d be like, awesome, I’m gonna watch that, that bad behavior doesn’t happen for three or five years. And in including, where you have to actually face consequential things, right. And so again, the guy beats his wife and he’s drunk and then the next day apologize, I love you, I’m sorry, I’m never gonna drink again and whatever right and the pattern keeps rinse, repeat. It’s not an apology at the level that will actually change the pattern. Therefore, it is a weapon to keep her bound to an abuse cycle. So when is an apology or remorse or accountability? Real Well, it’s when it is at the level of depth that will actually change the behavior. If it isn’t, then whether the person thinks they mean it in the moment or not, you shouldn’t trust it right? So I can obviously give a million examples.
What I’m hoping is I’ve given enough examples that you can start finding your own examples. Now, does this mean that anytime someone is crying and apologizing that they are weaponizing it not earnest, or sometimes they might really be earnest and they’re going to shift forever? Or they’re going to start a process that will work with a difficult, you know, difficult set of dynamics that might involve a little bit of relapse but earnestly is oriented in a different direction versus they’re just doing the Mia culpa. They need to to get out of accountability in the moment and then go back to power sickness soon as everyone’s attention is off of them. Which is why three months isn’t enough, right and now canceling When people play a long game, sure, we have seen some great political strategist to play a long game. So even the principle of wait a few years, there’s not a perfect principle. Another way of thinking about what we’re discussing here is when people are communicating with other people, in person or via some kind of media, what is the basis of why they’re communicating? What is the actual motive or agenda or coordinating basis of that communication? Because it’s a, it is a shared thing. There’s an interpersonal thing happening is the communication for the inner personal benefit for the benefit of those people and the whole the larger holes that they’re part of in the ecology, whatever is it for some private benefit is the motive being shared? Is it not being shared? These are important inquiries and humans are smart and we A world where there are ways where we can advantage ourselves at the expense of others. There are ways where the expense to other can be hidden. So we have plausible deniability on it or seems diffuse to a lot of people. So it doesn’t seem that bad, or seems rationalized, because if I don’t, some other bad thing will happen. So there’s a lot of reasons why someone can even feel moral and right by doing something to be self serving that involves sharing something that is to some degree distorted meaning not true or not the whole truth, though, in a representative way or whatever. I don’t think the history on this is clear. I think there’s still a good bit of debate on theories of it.
Gelman and Gerard and you know, various thinkers on the history of linguistics have different thoughts on the evolution of spoken language and you know, then formalizations have spoken language. But I think it’s pretty clear that language did not evolve just based on individual selection. It was the group’s survived better. Based on their ability to share information and coordinate better I eat to share sense making, I went and I saw where the predator was or where the berries were where the water was. And I come back and share. So the ability for the people to share their sense making and then to be able to coordinate that has a group intelligence that is better than just the individual intelligences, that their ability to communicate created groups that survive better. So then those individuals that did effective communication within groups did. So it’s a group selection form. And I’m more than an individual selection phenomena, which means that the evolution of language was actually for the survival of the group. This is something that forest Landry’s done a lot of work on. And yet, today we share communication, very often in self serving ways, not for the benefit of the group, but for the benefit of self or self, and some proxy, some fealty relationships like family or political side or company or nation or whatever it is, but that’s still Self and group identify with in context of externalize harm to some other group that’s also connected to our context. But even just in personal relationships, and if you just look on Facebook, the amount of sharing that is self serving in through language when I think language actually evolved as a collective intelligence tool is a real underlying fundamental problem. And I think then, to the degree we do it, it leads to everyone doing it leads to a multipolar trap that leads to a broken epidemic comments and information ecology where almost nobody actually trusts anyone or thinks really well or communicates in earnest, effective shit that empowers each other. I would like when I’m communicating to share things that actually empower you to be more sovereign, not to try to capture your sovereignty so that you believe in do in service of what I want. Right. And I think I think the reason that we’re sharing these videos is Actually not trying to say this is my worldview, believe it, but to say, this is the way that anyone selling a worldview, including where I’m selling worldviews and other places can have distortion intentionally or unintentionally.
So how do you better equip yourself to notice that included including the worldviews that we’re selling to ourselves, including the worldviews we’re selling to ourselves? And yeah, like the distortion is to self most of the time. And that’s actually why I said, one of the things that good sense making requires a lot more courage but also a lot more humility. Because one of the main problems is faulty overconfidence. And then there is a failure on the other side, which is to simply embrace not confidence, but give up on sense making, I got no idea what the fuck is going on. I’m playing video games, or I got no idea what’s true. So I’m going to vote for a strong man. A leader that I think will at least protect me and more. Right? So we can see the number of, of Russian citizens that say that they think Putin is lying even to them in the news, but also still support him, because they don’t think that truth is a possibility. And that a good strong politician facing huge opponents and enemies like the West has to lie, and they at least think that he’s going to keep them safe and serve their interests better than some other people would. And so you can see there when people’s epistemic certainty is low, and they don’t know how to make good choices for themselves or what’s true, they start defecting to wanting strong man leaders more. We see this in the us right now. You can also see that because strong man leaders know that helping to decrease everyone’s epistemic certainty is actually in their interest. And that will always lead in the direction of dictatorship towards despotism.
If we want anything like a more democratic or more Republic process where more people are engaged in their own governance, they have to do the sense making to be able to meaningfully engage with other people that they are going to be bound with. And if you you know, if you don’t want to and you don’t commit to do what it takes to be actively informed and civically engaged, then you consent to be ruled by those who seek to rule. If you are willing to just adopt belief systems based on who the dominant group think closest to you that seems to serve your interests is then you are consenting, to be ruled and to the dissent towards that particular kind of dictatorship. And if you want something like a democratized process, democracy doesn’t mean voting. It’s the it means a process by which more people are engaged in their own governance of which voting is one tool, but the founding fathers said voting is the death of democracy. I forget. I think it was Jefferson. said it because the democracy really meant can more of us engage in better conversations than the monarch says what happens, right or the whatever kind of rulership there is. And to the degree, we have a town hall where we have an actual good Ernest dialectic conversation, we might not even need to vote because we come up with something where we all agree that’s a good idea. And the vote is if we can’t, to sublimate physical warfare with the voting warfare, right? But it’s actually a warfare where some people are now actually unhappy with the way the whole thing is moving forward. But they at least think that still participating with that system is better than defecting on it and going into war. So they’re willing to do it and try again in the next four years, right? Or whatever the next thing is, but if we want something other than despotism, it the only way to check power. Actually, this is an important point that I would like to make in closing. Anyone who has a symmetric power, whether that’s more money or political power or cultural influence or whatever. And usually, those come together, right? More money also means that I can buy cultural influence through media and marketing and paying other people to say things that are aligned with what I want and being able to pay lobbyists and campaign budgets to get political power. So we can just talk about power itself. And all of those as expressions.
Those who have more power within a power asymmetry both have the incentive and the capacity to maintain that power asymmetry and increase it. So they have the ability to make news that does the bidding of what that has the populace believe things that continue to serve them having more power in that system. They can get representation they can create technologies, they can corner markets, they can whatever it is corner scarce resources that allow them to continue doing that they can suppress upon So this is why we see that sometimes after a war things will be kind of state, you know, level, the playing field will be a bit leveled, and then whoever starts to get ahead, we’ll start to see this increasing wealth inequality and power asymmetry until we get this power law distribution that is so extreme that it actually doesn’t work for the base, and then there’s war again, or some kind of breakdown. But I don’t think we get to make it through that process more at the level of technological development that we have. And I think we need to do something fundamentally Other than that, so we have to say, why is it that that power law distribution is inexorable, right, that it keeps, the inequalities keep getting more intense and people will argue against it and their arguments typically those who are at the top of the power law distribution, argue against it as a kind of apology ism, and they’ll say no technology democratizes power Because look at these new entrepreneurs who weren’t born into old money and they got power. Okay, I can use edge cases to actually prove a rule. But so the the internet was supposed to decentralize be a great equalizer and decentralized broadcast media where there were, you know, a handful of major news outlets were there were the only people that can share their idea. And now with YouTube, anybody could and MySpace, Facebook, everybody could.
But then of course, what it means is you’ve got Google and Facebook that own pretty much all of the platform for the online capacity to broadcast anything that have way more centralized power than any of those news stations previously had. And so it the technology that supposedly was going to decentralize it. The, you remember that revolvers were going to be a great equalizer in a similar way, right. The technology that supposed to decentralize the Power asymmetry will eventually end up getting captured to create a more intense power asymmetry because the technology equals more power and that ends up being captured by those who are better at doing the more power thing. The only way out of that that I know of is a radically empowered in a healthy and effective way base. That because otherwise, we say, Okay, well that’s not possible. So we can’t really have everyone engaged because people are too lazy and stupid and unwilling and whatever. And so we need to at least just pick better representatives representatives will do a good job will create a thing called a state that is going to regulate and bind the predatory aspects of market so the market can’t cut down the trees in the areas we call state parks and they can’t do organized crime even though it’s profitable and they can’t, whatever dump all their stuff in the drinking water. So we’re gonna create regulatory bodies that keep them from buying the market. So then the markets primary goal is to capture those regulatory bodies, right? Any, anyone who’s doing well in the market that is going to do less? Well, if the regulators are successful, their primary agenda is to debase the integrity of the regulator. And they can do that with legislation, because the lobbyists are lawyers that have to be paid for by somebody and who has the money to pay them as the corporate interests. The campaign budgets have to be paid for by somebody, the campaign budgets of your opponent will get a lot of, you know, support, and you’ve only got four years in office, blah, blah, blah, right. So it’s very easy to see how the market ends up capturing the regulatory forces to then end up doing their bidding. So now we have banks, they get bailed out when they actually should go bankrupt and oil companies that are subsidized, like that’s not a market What the fuck and that’s also not the healthy kind of binding the predatory aspects.
That’s a crony capitalist type thing. So if the regulators are supposed to be able to bind the market type dynamics where the the predatory parts of the market they got asymmetric power over everybody else. Well, who is it? That’s going to Check the regulators. Well, the the accountability of the representatives to the people where the people are actually educated, aware, engaged enough to be able to do that is supposedly the idea, which is why in the founding of, you know, the United States, and we can look at examples and other attempts at a democratized process, said, we’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it in the foundation will be the comprehensive education and engagement of all the citizens George Washington said the most important part of education will be studying the science of government, not stem. Stem makes great makes people who are great weapons, but doesn’t make people who can see where the system is being weaponized, right studying history and politics and those dynamics so that people can do civic engagement is where that would happen. You see how much the study of the humanities and civics in the versions that would be relevant for this got cut after world war two stem and law got much more focus. The version of the humanities that got left was a version that actually couldn’t find The dominant system effectively at all because it goes against itself, which is particular kind of violent post modernism, not to say that there aren’t relevant parts of post modernism, but it is not the kind that can actually check forces. And so you can see that in World War Two, there were a few really smart stem guys that were super helpful, right? von Neumann and Turing and Fineman, and whatever. So we wanted to find all of them create essay T’s and standardized test to find them and train them in that way so that they would be effective tools or weapons towards the system. And we didn’t want smart guys thinking about different systems like marks or you know, whatever. So we wanted to make sure that those who were going to study the classics in the humanities were typically the kids of the elites who went to nice private prep schools, went to an Ivy League and then came into the position to do that thing.
How much of that was intended versus just the emergent property of the system? Because seeing Sputnik said, well, not sending enough science is a real national security threat. It doesn’t matter what how much it was just a strange attractor phenomena versus strange attracted that was unnoticed and acted on doesn’t really matter. But asymmetries of power have the orientation to and capacity to increase themselves. What we’re doing here, not just with this video, which is a little part of but with rebel wisdom with all of these videos and articles and conversations that we’re having in these kinds of shared spaces is the beginning of the kind of more widespread Education and Human Development that is needed to be able to have a healthy civilization that doesn’t fall prey to increasing power asymmetries and all of the attendant problems that come along with that, and I don’t see any solution other than the comprehensive development of a lot more people And all of the things we’re talking about here, like you can see it, it’s not very simple education. I’m not just talking about STEM. And I’m also not giving rules that you can just understand and follow, you’ve actually got to be able to say, does this particular rule of thumb apply? Or does this one or do I? How do I hold them and, you know, and so this is actually deepening people’s depth of care. So the level of thoughtfulness and consideration and attention that they bring to anything, and then they’re increasing their tools that they bring and increasing the earnestness and sincerity that they bring, and increasing the courage with which they do that and the humility with which they do that is all part of the development of humans in the way that we need to not have those humans just captured, right, the idea that the wicked and the weak must work together. And so we want to work to address the weak as much as the wicked otherwise, there’s no basis for the wicked to do anything bad. And yet, like what the kind of development that we’re talking about, isn’t trivial. And so my hope is that there are more people that are inspired by this and simply didn’t have resources, maybe didn’t have awareness maybe didn’t have resources and start to create a demand for more supply that is not self serving, but actually serving the development of an authentically increasing collective intelligence that is the only thing that has the capacity to actually address radical asymmetries and the corruption and problems attendant with rebel wisdom is a new sense making platform bringing together the most rebellious and inspiring thinkers from around the world. If you’re enjoying our content, then you can help us make more by becoming a subscriber, which will give you access to a load of exclusive films. Also, you can then join our group zoom calls to discuss the ideas and the films and you can send us ideas for questions for upcoming interviews with Also looking for talented people to help us out with editing, graphics, music, that kind of thing. And if you’re a regular viewer, you’ll know we talk a lot about the value of embodying or actually living out the ideas that we talk about. That’s why we run regular events in London.