A Fear of Blind Spots
Running through a minefield blindfolded.
The following is a continuation of my exchange with Winston Smith of Escaping Mass Psychosis Substack. He responded last week with two excellent pieces.
My original letter to him “New Religions at a Dangerous Crossroads” was posted here on April 7.
You really laid down a good carpet bombing run with your response on the neurological limitations of our perceptions. The villages of nurture and nature are never coming back. They’ve called off the search for survivors, as far as I can perceive with my compromised horizon of simultaneity.
Neuropscyhobiological was the term I believe you used before unleashing those science-guided bombs. It unveiled a new realm of exploration that was really an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
We are never really dealing with a full picture of any one topic. Consciously we may suspect this from simply not having a very satisfying array of tangible information from which to begin the process of decision making. We each possess differing capabilities in terms of logical deduction and analytical reasoning. And as you point out with numerous examples, neurologically our senses will inevitably betray us in ways we cannot even fathom. Even if one is aware of those sensory deficits there’s still no way to fill in that missing information, those “gaps”. One simply cannot produce or reproduce what was never captured, though it sounds like we attempt to do our best to ‘fill in those gaps’ anyway with incomplete information.
This leaves each of us with a skewed sense of reality, based on the limitations of our perception, the treachery of our own biases, plus all those social and experiential factors previously mentioned that might fall under that ‘nurture’ category that need not get thrown out with the bathwater. As you put it aptly, “We all fall for the illusion that what we see and know is the nature of things.”
Our faculties are hijacked, misguided, or we’re simply dealing with insufficient information that we are incapable of staying on that path to perceive some approximation of “reality”. Forgive me for making any unscientific assertions so far, but that’s more or less where I ended up, perhaps led astray by my own limited perceptions or outright ignorance.
As you summed up in that final section:
So that was a long way of saying our sensory input is limited, our perception is therefore limited and some of it fabricated, and our sense of reality is unique (it may be very close to many other’s but biased and unique nevertheless).
We are all left with our own unique sense of reality based on incomplete evidence, and no matter what we are all constantly encumbered by blind spots.
Forgive me for veering off the scientific path momentarily and to the world of memes. I relearned a semi-old term the other day courtesy of John Carter’s Postcards From Barsoom substack that will have some relevance to our discussion: Bugman.
The term refers to the average ‘normie’ corporate slave consumer, infatuated with all the latest trinkets and gadgets, incapable of skepticism or critical thinking, passively accepting what they’re told and then passing it off as truth. Possessing great tendency to conform, submit, obey. You inadvertently referenced Bugmen in your first letter though asserted that we all have a little Bugman in us.
We are also naturally lazy and readily absorb information, like passive couch potatoes, especially if it’s personally significant and even more especially if it involves some sort of danger.
Based on your psychological expertise, is it safe to say the average person is a Bugman, even those who think they’re not?
Passive consumer of everything, obedient conformist, lacking curiosity?
This person is not just full of blind spots, but actually blindfolded and running through a minefield constantly blowing off their own legs and actively proud of their situation, arrogantly boastful even. There may be group dynamics at work here, hive assimilation or conformity, but I also suspect something else is at work.
There is one other attribute of the Bugman that has made healthy conversations nearly impossible in our age: self-assured certainty.
It becomes impossible to navigate the bowels of any online attention network and not encounter the army of ‘self-assured certains’, who aren’t limited to Bugmen, but who claim something completely untrue and stand behind it with such ferocious vigor. This is not simply the Dunning-Kruger effect at work, but a whole new level of mass formation ignorance combined with pride.
These are all left hemisphere processes, are they not? The little I’ve dug into McGilchrist I did notice the words skepticism and doubt are prevailing right hemisphere processes.
These people really seem to be their own worst enemies, leading themselves down a path toward prideful ignorance. Does it follow that the greater the blind spots, the longer one is on the wrong path, the more certain they become of the wrong things? I’m not referring to the reinforcement of simple confirmation biases but something greater. It’s as if time works on those accepted falshoods like a kind of jello mold, rendering permanent all the wrong ideas until an individual is cemented to them and habitually or reflexively asserts or defends them.
This path could be filled with illusions and representations of reality that further take them off course. If we imagine the accumulation of knowledge and information as stepping stones to the further acquisition of more knowledge, each piece a new brushstroke on a canvas, then at some point one will have a jumbled mess of postmodernist glob slabbed upon the space where an illustration of a sailboat or a landscape with sheep was supposed to appear if accurately representing the true nature of things.
The representation of the thing that was supposed to be reality leaves one jumbled and confused, or obediently submissive and willing to agree that the gobbled mess is what it is clearly not.
It seems there are two ways to react in that given situation. One can embrace the courage to admit error (even if for a lifetime) and have the curiosity to retrace their steps until they can objectively recognize where they went so far off course, or they can continue on the path of the Bugman and simply continue running through the minefields blindfolded.
If those representations are of the digital kind, since people spend the majority of their time consuming or being consumed by the bytes and bits on devices, then are we not further disengaged from accurately perceiving the nature of things? We are interpreting information that has been filtered through artificial intelligence systems and reformatted through algorithms to appear on our screens in a way we have not evolved to accurately decode or disentangle and the breakdown in meaning often leaves us with an even more jumbled mess. We don’t even stop to consider how the information we’re consuming was processed and delivered to us, by what technological automated filters, and why that should impact how we interpret it.
How easy it would be to control, modify or influence people’s behavior by getting them to choose to live full time in such an artificially mediated environment that is still capable of triggering or stimulating all the neurocognitive responses of a non-artificial environment. If engaged at a young age across society, it doesn’t seem unfathomable through repetitive behavioral conditioning to one day move the masses to prefer a world where everything is entirely artificial or mediated through artificial means. It makes that Ready Player One bug pod world, readily achievable, a repugnant possibility that would only enthrall easily conditioned Bugmen.
Apart from all possessing blind spots, there are today new landmines to be aware of that weren’t so dominant in periods of the past. If we factor in social engineers and behavioral psychologists enlisted to ‘nudge’ our actions and the technological advances that make this process all the more nefarious and diabolical as mentioned above we’re clearly living a very different timeline. These coercive activities are less than a century old. The technologies to implement them are often beyond comprehension for the average, passive consumer. Given this paradigm of global-social engineering, it seems rational to have a healthy fear of engineered blind spots.
You mentioned fear in the context of the pandemic and as a psychological operation to induce particular reactions and behavior of the masses. The more appropriate thing to fear at that time would have been those engineering such an operation rather than the virus or fear contagion that resulted. This would lead to what you call “…alternative herds of like-minded individuals who start to travel in a different direction from the masses or simply stand still.” It’s safe to say that is how many of us ended up gathering here on Substack and are now converging to anticipate what the next operations might entail.
Managing and processing fear has certainly changed through the generations. We used to have what Frank Furedi calls ‘systems of mediation’ for fear. Throughout most of recorded history religions played this role in the lives of people. Those in power could still turn those fear nobs to manipulate the masses, it was just coraled around books of common omniscience. Might we find ourselves at a turning point (for decades now) where those new substitutes for religion have taken control of the fear nobs - global elites controlling the managerial states, partnering with corporations, and the corrupted expert class to become new ‘systems of mediation’ for fear absorbed by the masses? The post-humanist technocratic desire to play god certainly seems to believe it necessary to have this power to induce fear and manipulate the masses with its spell. And if it’s not fear they’re inducing, it’s a desire to keep us ill, passive, lazy, dependent, confused, misinformed - ah hell, Bugmen!
If the modus operandi of these cretins is behavioral control and social engineering then fear simply becomes a psychological weapon to short circuit the human processes of information interpretation for appropriate rational decision making. In this case, the difference might be between pureblood survival or a triple clot shot expressway to the morgue. It becomes a destination in the opposite direction we should go and they know this which is why they wield it.
We’re already encumbered with blind spots, but you mentioned we’re much more likely to recede to the safety of the ‘herd’ when fearful or when we detect ‘danger’ as a kind of evolutionary survival mechanism. It’s almost as if fear is that one condition of mind where we are willing to put the blindfold on ourselves if the threat determination is magnified, even if it’s false or completely fabricated, and they know this. And before we even have a chance to embrace our inner skeptic, we’ve already followed the herd too far down the wrong path, maybe even the triple clot shot expressway.
All this has given me a lot to think about, wondering how incomplete the picture is of any particular topic whether by design (propaganda and social engineering), or my own neurobiological limitations, biases, faulty reasoning, or logic.
We simply have to accept that we are all going to have some level of blind spots and be caught off guard, and for those reasons, we should be constantly vigilant of these traps and as you say always curious and ready to course correct.
Whatever we may call the nature of things, whether reality or our perception of it, no matter what we think about it, we often find it tends to have its own plans for us.
They say reality is undefeated. It always catches up to those with their own ideas of it.
The harder we deny that, the faster we’re caught.
Well, not all of us.
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Fear, as the great book says, is the mind killer.
It is certainly used as a social control mechanism. But that may be more subtle and multi-layered than we suppose. That the bugmen have been effectively corralled into giving up their freedoms over fear of infection is clear. But what of we who have seen through that deception?
We're scared of the manipulators who enacted this plan. What is their purpose? What will they do next? This fear, too, can serve as a control mechanism - inducing us to keep our heads down, or to act rashly, or to jump at shadows in the night.
The point is not that we should not know fear, only that we should not be ruled by it.
(And thanks for the shout man, much appreciated!)
As Heather and Bret recommend, more time around campfires. One day, it would be a beautiful thing to campfire with some of the great minds that write, read, and comment on TGC.