THROUGH A GLASS EXTREMELY DARKLY: Anthropologists missing in action!

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2020

Major logicians too: When we were still in high school, we encountered the early films of the gloomy Ingmar Bergman.

Bergman's gloomy protagonists pondered the absence, the silence, of God. We tend to feel the same way about the anthropologists. Where have these experts been?

It didn't start with Donald J. Trump. That said, the Trump years have been quite a time for people-watchers. 

Aristotle is said to have said, "Man [sic] is the rational animal." The Trump years have made it clear—this formulation, as commonly understood, was quite substantially wrong.

How should we understand the craziness we see all around us? As Bergman's protagonists were failed by the silence of God, the average American has been left on his or her own by the anthropologists' silence.

When psychiatrists tried to explain the crazy behavior of Donald J. Trump, the giants of our upper-end press corps had them disappeared.  Should anthropologists have stepped forward to explain this peculiar behavior?

(They seem to spend the bulk of their time filming programs for PBS. As the Trump years crashed down upon us, they were filming themselves digging up bones somewhere near Greater Sumeria.)

A larger question surrounded the lack of "rationality" on display as our failing nation split into tribes. At the New York Times, Jennifer Senior recently offered the modest start of an outline:

SENIOR (10/7/20): Back in the 1950s, the psychologist Leon Festinger came up with cognitive dissonance theory, which can essentially be described as the very human desire to reconcile the irreconcilable. Our brains, he realized, will go to baroque lengths—do magic tricks, even—to preserve the integrity of our worldview, even when the facts inconveniently club us over the head with a two-by-four.

These brains today! These brains today do magic tricks, Festinger explained.

Senior's synopsis was perfectly cogent. Indeed, "cognitive dissonance" has long been an active part of liberal reasoning on the web, though only in ruminations about the conduct of others.

Indeed, Senior's column focused on the crazy behavior of the people who work at Fox News. "Today, perhaps the best case study of cognitive dissonance theory can be found in the prime-time lineup on Fox News," she wrote.

We aren't saying that statement is wrong. We're grading it incomplete.

Let's move past the Doocys and the Kilmeades and even the Judge Jeanines.  What explains the conduct of the maskless marauders who show up at Donald Trump's rallies? 

With Bandy X. Lee and her group of psychiatrists banished to the dustbin of journalistic history, it fell to the anthropologists to step forward and speak to questions like that.

Along the way, they might have addressed the tribalism of our own defeated tribe. 

They might have addressed the puzzling ways our sachems behaved in the decades which spawned Trump. More recently, they might have addressed the angry way we scolded the mainstream press when it tried to interview others—when major news orgs made tiny attempts to investigate the nation's vast tribal divide.

Please don't speak to the others, we said. Anthropologists could have tried to explain that.

The psychiatrists made an attempt to be heard; the anthropologists didn't. This helped produce the remarkable state of affairs which obtains at this site:

Within the past few years, we've repeatedly been approached by spokespersons for a despondent group of highly credentialed scholars, Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves.

We can't say that we understand the technology which permits the apparent "time travel" of these despondent spokespersons.  That said, they've directed our inquiries into the shape of the human conduct which preceded the global conflagration they refer to as Mister Trump's War.

Their insights have left our jaws agape; so has the weeping which spills from their caves.  They've often returned to that "rational" hook, rolling their eyes and emitting loud sobs as they denounce this false framework. 

Even more than the absence of plumbing, they describe their own silence during the era of Trump as the source of their vast regret. 

We humans had always been inclined to split into tribes, these major top experts have told us. And after we would split into tribes, we would descend into war.

Professor Harari tried to explain, they still sadly say. Any further attempt at discussion is swallowed up by their sobs.

Bergman griped about the absence, the silence, of God. Before him, so did  sacred Kierkegaard, the gloomiest person in Europe.

Years later, one group of professors tried to speak, while another group stayed silent.

The logicians were off in "la-la land" too. Or so spokespersons for the  Future Anthropologists have repeatedly said.

Tomorrow: Senator Hawley's logic

Still coming: Reactions to the Inka's death—but also, the set of all sets!


28 comments:

  1. "That said, the Trump years have been quite a time for people-watchers."

    Oh yes, dear Bob, you can say that again. The best years, for those of us who like to observe you crazy liberals.

    "Aristotle is said to have said, "Man [sic] is the rational animal." The Trump years have made it clear—this formulation, as commonly understood, was quite substantially wrong."

    Meh. It's not wrong, dear Bob, not at all. Ordinary human beings are quite rational. This is how they survive.

    You liberal zombies, on the other hand... Ever since the the morning of 11/9/2016, when your liberal heads suffered a spontaneous combustion, you've been providing precious material for people-watchers. Precious, dear Bob. Precious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No doubt, lots of crazy liberals. But also a lot of crazy Trump supporters. Who's crazier? It's hard t measure, but intelligent people will not all agree.

      Delete
    2. I think real "crazy" is pretty easy to recognize when you encounter it. Do you really think there is so little consensus among psychiatrists when encountering craziness? Since the old days of subjectivity, there has been a lot of work figuring out how to accomplish diagnostic consensus and who needs intervention and who is harmless. But you seem pretty happy with your platitudes. Why confuse you with reality.

      Delete
    3. "But also a lot of crazy Trump supporters."

      Did your cult's High Priests tell you that?

      Delete
    4. Hey liberal MA lawyer, did you see this:
      Merriam-Webster Redefines Word After Manufactured Woke Outrage

      Merriam Webster is a Zombie dictionary now.
      Was George Orwell a prophet or what?

      Delete
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    6. Hey Mao, no I don't follow the Hedge report (or whatever it is) - I work for a living (not clear what in the world you do)and don't spend all day on the web like it seems you do. Can you read - I opined that there a lot of crazy "liberals," also. I'm not in a "cult," and don't take orders from any "high Priests". I'm a skeptic - as opposed to being an obsessively obsequious Trumpbot sycophant.

      Delete
    7. Ah yes, you're a 'both sides do it' dembot.

      But no, both sides don't do it, my dear. Only your side does it, to the extent it's been done in the last four years.

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    8. OK, spoken like a true disingenuous sycophantic Trumpbot.

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  2. "own defeated tribe."

    Brother, please.

    Somerby is recognizing the ascendancy of the progressive movement and he is very bummed about it, as his center to center-right worldview is fading into obscurity.

    The #1 documentary in the country right now is the Unfit doc about the mental decline of Trump.

    Trump is the least popular president in modern history, lost the 2018 election badly, about to lose the presidential election and lose the Senate for Republicans.

    Somerby complains we scolded the media when they tried to talk to Trump voters. We did! Frankly, we scolded the media because those "Trump voters" kept turning out to be, in reality, members of Trump's campaign. The media was running a scam and we called them out. Somerby failed to call them out, and failed to understand AMT.

    Somerby does media criticism? Brother, please.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "How should we understand the craziness we see all around us?"

    Mental health professionals tend to think of craziness in terms of (1) deviance from normal, (2) dysfunctionality in every day life, (3) suffering. Somerby sees craziness, attributes it to everyone and calls it a flaw in humanity, then he blames his own conclusions on Aristotle and imaginary anthropologists.

    Note the way he says he sees craziness all around us. When everyone is crazy, perhaps the person labeling everyone that way is the actual craziest one. Logically, if you are defining deviance as crazy, everyone cannot be crazy -- it is the norm. It is the way people are, not a malfunction. Further, if the craziness bothers Somerby more than it bothers anyone else, then he is the one who is messed up, not those he observes.

    For myself, I know I'm not crazy. My mother had me tested.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Somerby fesses up and tells us he has seen the movie.

    ReplyDelete
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  6. My husband and I have been married for about 7 yrs now. We were happily married with two kids, a boy and a girl. 3 months ago, I started to notice some strange behavior from him and a few weeks later I found out that my husband is seeing someone. He started coming home late from work, he hardly care about me or the kids anymore, Sometimes he goes out and doesn't even come back home for about 2-3 days. I did all I could to rectify this problem but all to no avail. I became very worried and needed help. As I was browsing through the Internet one day, I came across a website that suggested that Dr Great can help solve marital problems, restore broken relationships and so on. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he did a spell for me. Two days later, my husband came to me and apologized for the wrongs he did and promise never to do it again. Ever since then, everything has returned back to normal. I and my family are living together happily again.. All thanks to Dr Great . If you need a spell caster that can cast a spell that truly works, I suggest you contact him. He will not disappoint you. This is his E-mail: 

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    ReplyDelete
  7. cognitive dissonance -- "the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change"

    Festinger theory says that we try to maintain consistency between our thoughts and actions and within our belief systems. How we do that is different in different situations.

    I've seen people using Festinger's theory online to justify a lot of their own conclusions and beliefs. You want to be careful not to bend a limited theory about cognitive processing into more than Festinger or today's cognitive psychologists make of it.

    Festinger didn't say that the brain does "magic tricks." Senior said that. Then Somerby used it as a club to beat on liberals, when Festinger would never agree that only liberals (or Fox viewers) think that way -- all people do.

    I am not a physicist, so I don't know how they feel when new-agers co-opt quantum theory to describe vibes and auras that explain human goodness. I dislike it when Somerby (and Senior) co-opt Festinger's work to explain political views, with just as little regard for the specifics of that theory, no apparent knowledge of cognitive processing and no idea what Festinger was actually talking about -- just to lend a pseudo-scientific authenticity to their personal opinions. It is a misuse of science.

    Somerby loves to bring in Aristotle, Bergman, mythical anthropologists, even a fake war, to lend weight to his musings. It makes him ridiculous and underscores that his views are asserted without support and that he is too lazy to do anything more than state them, with these dubious-to-offensive trappings. You can do that, if you have your own blog. But he is only fooling those who agree with him (Cecelia, Mao and the other riff-raff that gather like flys to feast on his offal).

    Notice how he thinks so little of his readers that he lets the comments by littered by spam. If his house reflects his blog, the garbage littering his living room would cause a welfare agency to wonder if anyone is looking out for him.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Logic is unhelpful in understanding human behavior. It is inconsistent with natural language and with the way people think. It is highly technical, involves an abstract symbol system that is difficult to learn and manipulate, and doesn't come naturally to people (just machines). There is no reason to believe that logic will be of any benefit in resolving any problem people face, especially not interpersonal ones. I don't think even logicians would agree with Somerby's idea that they can do anything helpful to solve human problems in living.

    I wish I understood Somerby's motive for portraying everything in terms of decay, doom and gloom, disaster, and craziness. The closest I can come is that he is reflecting his inner mental environment, his own depression and nihilism. He needs a shrink, if that is true. If he is doing this for money, to help Trump in some way, then he is an evil person and he needs to (1) see a priest, (2) be shunned by good people. Don't waste any pity on him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon 4:16. I tend to agree that academic logic is removed from every day experience. But simple logic, in the non-academic sense, is often applied in every day life and in people's reasoning. I wish you would try it. Your second paragraph is devoid of it.

      Delete
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