The Price of Certainty

It’s alarming to see how polarized politics have become in the United States. The wider the gulf grows, the more people seem to be certain that the other side is wrong. Certainty can be a dangerous thing.

The featured scientist in this provocative piece is Dr. Kruglanski who is best known for his theory of “cognitive closure,” a term he coined in 1989 to describe how we make decisions. “Closure” is the moment that you make a decision or form a judgment. You literally close your mind to new information.

If you have high “need for closure,” you tend to make decisions quickly and see the world in black and white. If you have a low need for closure, you tolerate ambiguity, but often have difficulty making decisions. All of us fall naturally somewhere on this spectrum.

But during times of fear and anxiety — like, for example, right now — everybody’s need for closure increases. We tend to make judgments more quickly, regardless of the facts. We’re also drawn to leaders who are decisive and paint solutions in simple terms. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Dr. Kruglanski and his team of researchers found that as the color-coded terrorism threat system increased, support for President George W. Bush went up accordingly. The more uncertain our world seems, the more we compensate by seeking out certainty.

For you Trump supporters, guard your mind.

Seeing Wetiko: On Capitalism, Mind Viruses, and Antidotes for a World in Transition by Alnoor Ladha, Martin Kirk

Image result for Wetiko

Wetiko is an Algonquin word for a cannibalistic spirit that is driven by greed, excess, and selfish consumption

 

It’s delicate confronting these priests of the golden bull
They preach from the pulpit of the bottom line
Their minds rustle with million dollar bills
You say Silver burns a hole in your pocket
And Gold burns a hole in your soul
Well, uranium burns a hole in forever
It just gets out of control.
– Buffy Sainte-Marie, “The Priests of the Golden Bull”1

What if we told you that humanity is being driven to the brink of extinction by an illness? That all the poverty, the climate devastation, the perpetual war, and consumption fetishism we see all around us have roots in a mass psychological infection? What if we went on to say that this infection is not just highly communicable but also self-replicating, according to the laws of cultural evolution, and that it remains so clandestine in our psyches that most hosts will, as a condition of their infected state, vehemently deny that they are infected? What if we then told you that this ‘mind virus’ can be described as a form of cannibalism. Yes, cannibalism. Not necessarily in the literal flesh-eating sense but rather the idea of consuming others—human and non-human—as a means of securing personal wealth and supremacy.

You may dismiss this line of thinking as New Age woo-woo or, worse, a lefty conspiracy theory. But this approach of viewing the transmission of ideas as a key determinant of the emergent reality is increasingly validated by various branches of science, including evolutionary theory, quantum physics, cognitive linguistics, and epigenetics.

The history of this infection is long, strange, and dark. But it leads to hope.

Continue reading

America At War With Itself: An Interview With Dr. Henry Giroux

Image result for America At War With Itself: Dr. Henry Giroux

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/fdyxs-677df6?skin=102

 

Professor Henry Giroux  is a leader in the field of critical and public pedagogy which describes the nature of spectacle in our new media, body politic and corporate education. He is a prominent advocate of radical democracy, which opposes the powers of neoliberalism, corporatism, and religious fundamentalism that diminishes our sense of civic virtue, free-thought and well being. He has also been named among the top fifty educational thinkers of the modern Period. Henry has authored many books and the most recently is “America at War with Itself”.

His website is  HenryAGiroux.com