Glynn Marshes writes:
Oh, those silly Texans! The “top elected official” of Lubbock, County Judge Tom Head, went on local television and spouted a bunch of—oh, read for yourself! As reported by the New York Times:
He said he was expecting civil unrest if President Obama is re-elected, and that the president would send United Nations forces into Lubbock, population 233,740, to stop any uprising.
“He is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N.,” Mr. Head said on Fox 34 last week. “O.K., what’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst-case scenario: civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war, maybe. And we’re not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.”
We should all be laughing now, right? We should roll our eyes; we should laugh; and then, contracting back to fear-tinged sobriety, we should lament the terrible danger people “like that” present to us, the rational ones.
But that’s not my reaction at all. On the contrary, I feel something else entirely: fascination, plus a kind of tenderness.
I confess: I don’t think Head is a “kook.”
Before I explain myself, let me offer up a few other details about the kinds of stories that Judge Head’s constituents no doubt share among themselves—offered to give a bigger glimpse of the seas they sail:
- The U.S. government is a shadow organization—a front for a secret world government that is actually in control.
- The federal government has prepared a network of concentration camps for incarcerating U.S. citizens, and has stocked up on millions of body bags to prepare for mass civilian executions.
- Vaccines and pharmaceuticals are developed not for their health benefits, but to deliver a secret payload; their real purpose is to render less intelligent people/undesirables sterile and/or kill them outright (an internationally-organized “population cull”).
- The government routinely sprays heavily-populated areas within the U.S. (using modified commercial jets) with toxic substances, probably including bioengineered pathogens.
- Fluoridation of the water is a deliberate attempt to render people dull-witted and easier to dupe/control.
The “rational” explanation for these sorts of stories is to dismiss them as conspiracy theories—a phenomenon with its own rational explanation, as summed up by Michael Shermer in this article in Scientific American.
Conspiracy theories connect the dots of random events into meaningful patterns and then infuse those patterns with intentional agency. Add to those propensities the confirmation bias (which seeks and finds confirmatory evidence for what we already believe) and the hindsight bias (which tailors after-the-fact explanations to what we already know happened), and we have the foundation for conspiratorial cognition.
This is certainly all true, as far as it goes, but perhaps there’s an even richer explanation.
In his book Magical Child, Joseph Chilton Pearce relates an experiment by parapsychologist Charles Tart.
Tart was studying the effects of mutual hypnosis.
In a typical experiment, a female graduate student put a male student under hypnosis, then instructed the male student to reciprocate—i.e. to put her under hypnosis. Once she was under, the male student asked the woman to imagine a tunnel; traveling down the tunnel represented a deepening of the hypnotic state. The woman, in turn, used the same imagery, “now quite vivid for her” to induce the man to go deeper into a hypnotic state as well.
It is at this point that the experiment gets interesting. As Pearce relates the story:
[S]uddenly the boy and girl were together in the tunnel.
At the moment the tunnel imagery was mutually shared and given consensus between them, that tunnel took on full-dimensional sensory reality. It smelled, felt, looked, and sounded like a regular tunnel. They could distinguish no difference in the reality of the tunnel and the reality of any ordinary daily event in the actual world . . .
[T]hey began conversing with each other in that created state, rather than using their actual voices there in their ordinary reality.
During another mutual hypnosis session, the same pair “found themselves on a magnificent golden beach, with a champagne ocean, crystal rocks, heavenly choirs singing overhead . . . Every item of their created state had stabilized because it was shared . . . The phenomenon did not shift, as such things do in a dream.”
This is astonishing to me: the minute two people agreed that what would otherwise be considered a fantasy or imaginary projection was objectively “real” it became objectively real to them.
Fine, you say. But this happened under laboratory conditions, using people who were known to be good hypnosis subjects.
It couldn’t possibly happen “in real life.”
But what if it could?
In The Emerald Tablet, Dennis William Hauck relates an experience he had in the early 1970s in Grass Lake, Illinois, which he describes as a small farming community on the Illinois-Wisconsin border.
In July, 1973, three families who lived in the community started reporting “fires” in the sky.
They reported the strange lights to the police.
The authorities responded over a dozen times, and on several occasions officers witnessed the lights, but there was not much they could do . . . After two years, they just stopped responding.
Abandoned by the authorities, the families turned to each other. They reached out to UFO groups and psychics. They began trying to communicate telepathically with the lights.
At that point, “very strange things began to happen in the homes of [the] families.” Phenomena they experienced included:
- Loud knocking and clawing sounds
- Sounds of things falling but nothing dropping
- Sudden foul sulfurous odors
- Lights and radios turning on by themselves
- Clocks turning ahead
- Furniture falling over
- Unexplainable variations in room temperature
- Disappearance and later reappearance of items such as pens
- Houses “shaking from the foundation up for no apparent reason”
- Sightings of various fantastical creatures, including Yeti-like creatures, reptilian creatures, and small humanoids with large eyes
- Scratch marks appearing on the siding of the homes and on furniture inside the homes
When Hauck visited one of the families himself, he also experienced a sequence of “paranormal” events, starting when he heard a “large thump” on the exterior wall of one of the families’ homes.
Thinking something had hit the side of the house, I jumped up, ran over to the half-open dining room window, and stuck my head out. Turning my head to the right, I watched in astonishment as an invisible hand made fresh claw marks about three inches long in the faded redwood siding. The claws actually dug in deeper as soon as I started watching, and I could see the pieces fall to the ground as the fresh wood underneath was exposed . . . there is no way anyone could have faked that; there were no trees anywhere, the long driveway was empty, and the pitch of the roof was too steep for anyone to hide there. I did not exactly run screaming from the house, but I quickly excused myself without telling anyone what I saw and headed for my car.
On his drive back to Chicago, Hauck’s car lights began blinking on and off—including, for a while, after he’d pulled over to the side of the road and shut off his engine. The next day a car mechanic could find nothing wrong with the car’s wiring, but the entire left hand side of the vehicle was magnetized—one of mechanic’s screwdrivers stuck to it.
Now, you could dismiss this as a tall tale.
But what if it’s another example of the “mutual hypnosis” phenomenon that Tart documented in his lab?
Cue the Twilight Zone theme! Suddenly we face the possibility that groups of people can splinter away from what we might call “mainstream” consensus reality and become entrained by a different consensus reality—one in which, for example, people are abducted and carried off in UFOs. Or vaccines cause autism. Or the U.S. government is building concentration camps.
Perhaps the only reason “we” don’t experience these splinter realities as the mainstream consensus reality is that they haven’t achieved enough—for lack of a better word—mass. Not enough people believe in them, so they fail to substantiate (literally!) to people luckly enough to dwell outside some perimeter of psychic influence.
We know that the human mind is an organ of projection as well as (or even more than?) perception—quantum physics has proved it.
“Common sense” dictates that the spooky quantum effect works only on the quantum level; that on a macro level, what we perceive as “solid,” objective, material reality is there because it’s there, not because, through some sleight of consciousness, we decided it was there.
But what if “common sense” is itself a product of consensus?
What if the only reason material, “factual” reality exists is that we’ve collectively agreed it exists?
We assume ancient myths are simply stories. If we’re being generous, we grant them status as allegories that primitive people shared to inculcate certain behaviors and values. After all, we see no material evidence for dragons, or centaurs, or fairies.
And then we sit at our desks reading articles in the New York Times and laughing at those silly people who think our government is colluding on a UN takeover of Texas.
But what if it’s actually happening? What if over there in Texas, the Argonauts are sailing forth in ships as real as the keyboard beneath my hands?
There’s another element, by the way, common to the stories related by Pearce and Hauck.
In the case of the two graduate students who participated in Tart’s experiment: one of them eventually dropped out. As Pearce puts in, with scholarly delicacy, “He could no longer grant himself consensus about what was really real.”
In the case of the Grass Lake incident, within three years of Hauck’s visit all three families affected were “split apart” by divorce and “personal breakdowns.”
So there’s the risk: absent a broad-enough consensus, phenomena like this has the potential to tear us apart.
Perhaps the real reason we ridicule the crazy Texans is to protect ourselves.
If we didn’t ridicule them—if, instead, we joined them on their ships—we’d discover that their myths are very, very real—and we suspect our psyches could not withstand the shock—that we would be unable to move from our realities into their living myth without going mad . . .
This sounds like the backstory and theme of a really good horror movie. What if…
I never considered that but you’re right!
Tantric sex sessions can have some of that mutual-hypnosis effect that you talk about here. You really do wind up dancing with the gods. Upside!
So: Is it a conspiracy? Or does it just behave like one? (And does it matter if there’s a diff?)
I used to mock conspiracy nuts. These days I find myself getting closer and closer to joining their team.
Assuming your premise could be correct, what evidence would you use to justify that your perception of reality is the one that most approximates an objective truth?
In other words, if this is possible is it not also possible that Sheriff Head is correct, and you are the one that is delusional?
So Occam’s Razor, I say: The Sheriff and his constituents are merely just a little paranoid.
I’ve got no evidence whatsoever — on the contrary, what I’m proposing is that “objective reality” is a consensus generated when more than one mind “agrees” that something is true.
The Sheriff may be a little paranoid, in which case his “objective reality” is one that is pretty similar to mine, with the addition of a little paranoia about something that I think is unlikely to happen.
But I also suspect that there are people for whom “objective reality” includes experiences that my “objective reality” does not.
Sounds like you’ve had some 1st hand experience w/ the tantric sex thing, PR. Look forward to the post 😀
Re: is it or is it not a conspiracy — my notion is that the term “conspiracy” is only useful within a particular and highly constrained context. It’s descriptive but doesn’t really get to the “why.”
If the human mind is a kind of energy projection engine — that’s my working theory 😉 — then our planet is inhabited by uncountable clusters of mini-consensus realities all jostling for authority. Some of them only entrain a few people, others get larger . . .
Some ideas are more equal than others. Eppur si muove.
<— *tips hat*
Oh my, have we gone full-on post-modernist on this one? I consider the dude’s theories as kooky but no more than your average blue-stater who thinks the Iraq war was for oil, that there’s a vast right wing conspiracy to suppress minorities, re-institute slavery or whatever.
Now, to be honest, sometimes I do allow myself to veer into deep conspiracy territory. After all, since reading Moldbug’s historical sources, and going from a climate change believer to skeptic, having the shock of reading how much IQ actually predicts real-life outcomes, and how much the Council on Foreign Relations and State Department and the universities were involved in an unholy trinity in the mid 20th century, what the fuck is beyond these people? As Bruce Charlton has wondered, if a whole area of science like psychometrics can be ‘disappeared’ from public consciousness in a democratic, free-speech loving republic like ours, what else can be disappeared? Were bankers not involved in pushing the Monroe doctrine as Rothbard has showed? Did the House of Morgan not push for a central bank? Isn’t World Government actually not such a bad idea in the minds of most progressives? What are international institutions like the UN bureaucracy (as opposed to the Assembly), GATT, WTO, ITU, World Bank, IMF, IPCC, IBS etc if not parts of a proto world government?
I suppose it is post-modernist, much as I’m sorry for it, and will be unless I can figure out how to refute fenster’s response, which I can’t . . . considered suggesting it’s a newly viable First Proof of the Existence of God! Don’t quite dare stake my uncouthly reflective reputation on that assertion tho 🙂
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“Those Silly Texans” is not a joke. This is just a look into the paranoid world “bubble” spun by hate radio and know as the Tea Party, and it is quite widespread. Just look at Tampa. But to be fair, how could so many four years ago really think that Obama could fundamentally change this country for the better? But do remember McCarthyism. Why was everyone afraid to stand up to him? How could all those rational Germans follow “silly” Hitler? How about Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot? How about Jim Jones, or David Koresh, or Scientology? All the extremist/totalitarian/separatist movements/cults first cut all past cultural ties, then family ties, then contact to outside media and books not written by the movement, critical thought becomes a crime. (Hmm, guess that sounds like military basic training as well…) Many homeschooling families have no TV, nothing but Christian books in their house, are convinced public school teachers are commies, listen only to Rush, Sean, or Glenn on radio. Then will send kids to “Christian” colleges, where the bubble will continue. GW’s White House was full of those young, clean, energetic staffers, doing their duty to God. Others enlisted for the same reason to fight in foreign wars against the evil doers out there. This is a real thing. As innocent as a convent or an Amish household/community, or as evil as brown-shirts. Some made jokes about Hitler in the beginning. Once fully immersed in one of the above delusional bubbles, how does a society get out? If the Tea Part is an extreme case in this country, look at our more normal citizens, totally convinced the USA is the most wonderful, peaceful, just country on earth. I make it point to ask people how often they think about the 2 million innocent Lao and Cambodians our B-52s obliterated during the Vietnam War, and if they think about how every single day since, some farmer or child has a limb blown off by the landmines left there by the US? Or the hundred times the Marines have been used to overthrow governments in this hemisphere in the last 120 years or so. We don’t read Mark Twain’s writings against US Imperialism (provoked by US atrocities against Philippine civilians during the Spanish-American War of 1898). Or how the CIA overthrew the Iranian democracy in 1953. This country wants collective amnesia. That is why the Texas Schoolbook Committee has such a big job to do in rewriting US history for children, so they will never have a clue. So their bubble will never collapse. So there is not a moment in their lives like in Somewhere In Time where the time traveler happened upon the overlooked penny brought from the future, and his bubble collapsed. Bravo to those enjoying the tantric sex, but the secret of this all has been known for a long time by plenty of others in government, finance, industry, military, advertising, the church, you name it.