Continuing on from the last lesson, we are still exploring the enormous hindrance that PTV–the Plato Truth Virus–has placed on our ability to think independently.
Any time you devote to exploring and understanding this issue will have a huge pay-off in accelerating your own speed of thought.
Truth ‘R’ Us (continued)
Following on from the last lesson here continues the small sample of PTV-infected claims which have long since upstaged those claims made by the original teacher:
Direct love for the Lord Krishna, in the form of chanting, singing and dancing, is the best way to rid the soul of ignorance.
Church of Scientology:
It is only through the exercise of the principles of Dianetics that there is real hope for happiness in this lifetime and the eventual-freeing of the soul from death.
The Children of God:
No power in the world can stand against the power of David. (This refers to David Berg, the sect’s leader).
No one can be saved without that faith which the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church holds, believes and teaches … the One True Church established on earth by Jesus Christ … to whom alone it belongs to judge the meaning and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.
All these extravagent and greedy claims would be rejected by most experienced adults along with similar claims made by door-to-door salesmen and others. The problem is that they are often programmed into the brains of very young children before their minds are sufficiently immune to reject them.
It may be that the scale of this kind of cognitive abuse makes other forms of child abuse pale into insignificance by comparison of numbers.
In spite of these corporate claims and the consequences they have caused to millions, most members of these groups become less infected with PTV as they grow older.
Most of the faithful are people of genuine peace who quietly go about their business. They try to live by their creeds without bothering others at all. The silent majority are not the villains, so often they are the victims, too.
If there were ever such a thing as absolute truth, by its own definition, there could only be one absolute truth. So, which truth is the ‘true’ truth?
As a philosophical piece of gamesmanship, this coveting of the label of absolute truth is not limited to religious doctrines, but spills over into political, business, sociological, and even economic theories, although the latter have fallen on hard times lately.
At first, adding PTV seemed to make a set of intellectual claims or doctrines superior to those that were not absolute, but time has shown the opposite to be the case. We know now that once the thinking effort switches to defence and support, (as it must if a doctrine is frozen asabsolute truth) further growth and creative development are discouraged. The truth begins to lose its credibility as it begins to lose its relevance and its effectiveness.
PTV inevitably serves to undermine the doctrine it was originally meant to reinforce.
Two people can, of course, have two different points of view. Nothing odd about that. But, if each viewpoint is infected with PTV, if each believes his viewpoint is uniquely right, PTV can keep them fighting and bullying each other for some time.
Replace two people with two families, two communities, two groups, two religions or two nations and this pernicious truth virus can be passed on to each successive generation and the fighting and persecution can continue for hundreds of years.
It may be that Plato’s truth virus has done more damage to Western civilisation than any human thinking device ever invented. It has been estimated that just last century alone more than 136 million Westerners have been killed by PTV. This does not include similar viruses that may infect non-Western societies.
Myths, Theories and Hypotheses
It does seems to be a genuine, legitimate and universal need of the human mind to create myths, stories, theories and hypotheses to explain and make coherent an unexplainable world.
– When frightened by a thunderstorm some thinkers explained it as a
burst of Zeus’ anger. Others later said it’s an electrostatic phenomenon.
– An illness can be seen by some as a voodoo spell or by others as a viral infection.
In an attempt to perform their function of making sense out of chaos, myths and scientific theories work on the same principle. The view that we humans build of our world is always a product of our imagination.
Your view of a situation is a cognitive phenomenon. In a situation, your experience of the situation is an electro-chemical event which takes place in your brain. The phrase ‘your experience of the situation’is important because it points to the uniqueness of your understanding of the situation. Others in the situation will also have their own unique experience of it. Which experience is ‘The Truth’?
For example, I love movies. I am a regular movie-goer. I find movies to be great value. In movies, thousands of talented people spend thousands of hours and millions of dollars to create a product that I can enjoy for $15. Where else do you get such enormous leverage of value?
When I tell you about a recent movie I have seen, am I telling you about the movie, or, am I telling you about my experience of the movie? When a movie critic writes about a movie, is she writing about the movie, or, is she writing about her understanding of the movie? Note the distinction.
There is a distinction and it is a crucial one. PTV is a problem because it can distort the host brain’s ability to make this distinction. The virus-impaired brain may be unable to distinguish between its parochial experience and that of other brains.
The PTV-infected brain thinks its experience is uniquely right.
Bores and Bullies
The sick brain can cause people to become bores or bullies, I’m not sure which is worse.
The boring brainuser is one whose behaviour is wearying to others because he or she cannot stop their tedious, enthusiastic talk about their own interests and experience, not because others are interested but because PTV makes them assume others are interested. Many companies train their salespeople to become bores who annoy their prospects and prevent them from ever becoming customers.
It would be interesting to measure the profits lost to shareholders who have no idea what they are losing due to management’s archaic, PTV-infected sales doctrines.
For example, one large, multi-level soap company has so bored the marketplace with its PTV-riddled training propaganda and Nuremburg-style sales rallies, that it’s now too ashamed to mention it’s own name to new prospects. Its sales agents are so embarrassed they won’t even admit what brand they sell. It probably comes as no surprise that less than 2% of their sales agents ever make a profit.
Can you imagine a company achieving a state of affairs where they are actually frightened of their own name! Well, this company so contaminated the marketplace in America with its spooky tricks, that it’s #1 competitor sued it for damages FOUR TIMES and won each time.
PTV can wreck a business like this. It can cause brainusers to automatically assume that other brainusers are aligned to their unique interests when they are so unlikely to be. It can assume others want “to share” when they do not.
Or, PTV can cause a brainuser to need, want, or demand others to share their ‘uniquely right’ experience of a situation. The infected brain can cause behaviour that even employs pressure, coercion or force to frighten or bully other brainusers to toe the line.
So much time, effort, peace and productivity has been wasted by nagging bores and tiresome bullies.
Yes, the human brain is an explanation-manufacturing mechanism but that’s not the same thing as explaining. Do notice the difference. By creating explanations to fill in the gaps when needed, the brain helps to keeps us mentally stable. This will always be a useful property of the human brain.
Thinking, being a thinker, having a healthy curiosity is a normal part of the functioning of a healthy human brain. What is not healthy or normal but is a very dangerous cognitive disease is the condition of the True Believer. In pop psychology terms, thinkers are OK but True Believers are NOT OK.
The symptom of the True Believer is the colloquial and very crippled viewpoint that says: “I have the truth” … “My policy is the true policy” … “My doctrine is good and your doctrine is evil”, or, perhaps, “Wasn’t I lucky to be born into that True Religion and now what are we going to do about you, unbeliever?”
It is difficult to imagine a more dangerous mental condition.
Some believe that religious extremism is a greater disease than political extremism. Commenting on the damage being done by religious extremists to the Australian Labour Party, Ben Chifley, the much-respected former Prime Minister of Australia, once said, “The religious fanatic is far worse than the political fanatic.”
In the Preface of his book, The True Believers, (Methuen 1986) Peter Bowler warns:
“Here they come, the True Believers, wide-eyed and earnest; here they come, the devotees, the fanatics, the evangelists, the pilgrims, the worshippers, the contemplatives – clutching their hymns and invocations, observing their holy commandments and taboos, performing their sacrifices but, above all, believing. Believing in God, or in several gods, or even a goddess or two.Â Believing in the soul, in demons, in eternal forgiveness, in eternalÂ punishment, in life after death, in assorted varieties of heaven and hell, in the power of faith to heal, to move mountains …
“They are and always have been, the idealists of humankind. SeekingÂ something beyond the material, something intangible, something to explain the unexplainable, something to assuage their fear of the uncontrollable, something to compensate them for the unacceptable, something to offer
them a kind of dignity and power in the midst of indignity and impotence.
“Let us not mock the True Believer for their idealism. But watch out for them – they can be dangerous. Combative people, they are, by nature; crusaders rather than compromisers. Because they are right, others are wrong. The sinful must be punished, and who more sinful than the unbeliever? The more intolerant and warlike among them seek to punish the unbeliever in this life, with holy wars and inquisitions; the more benevolent and tolerant leave it to their God to punish the unbeliever with eternal torments after death.
“From time to time history has thrown up a sect that is gentle and moderate and peace loving, like the Quakers or the Baha’i; invariably these sects are singled out for the most ruthless persecution at the hands of the True Believers. When two religions are so similar as to be almost identical in every significant respect then take cover, because the conflict between them will be truly murderous. Buddhists and Presbyterians get along famously, but if you are selling insurance you would be ill-advised to set up shop in Palestine or Belfast.”
For example, the number of Europeans who died or were killed as a result of the Crusades is put at approximately four million. The victims of the Inquisition, in Spain alone, included:
- 30,000 – burned at the stake
- 17,000 burned in effigy
- 290,000 punished by torture, prison or financial ruin.
Of all these victims, most were women, ‘heretics’ and Jews.
That’s all very sad, of course, but those medieval days are gone now, aren’t they? Today we live in the Age of Aquarius, the new millennium, isn’t all that truth virus stuff rather old hat and even slightly alarmist to us cool, laid-back, dudes? ‘Fraid not! …
For example, in recent years the world’s headlines were filled with stories about a group in Japan whose ideas are very much infected with the truth virus. Time magazine’s cover story (April 3, 1995) is about a group that poisoned 3,000 Tokyo subway commuters with nerve gas.
Time magazine reports: “In what could only have been a carefully coordinated, painstakingly planned atrocity, an apparently diluted form of nerve gas called sarin, a weapon of mass killing originally concocted by the Nazis, was placed simultaneously in five subway cars at morning rush hour, killing 10 victims and sickening thousands more. … (later at the suspect group’s compound) Policeman in protective suits with canaries emerged with ton after ton of chemicals–sodium cyanide, sodium fluoride, phosphorus trichloride, isopropyl alcohol, acetonitrile … enough to kill 4.2 million people. Later, it was reported that police found containers of a biological toxin called botulinum, one of the world’s deadliest. They found enough to wipe out the whole planet! Presumably this would be justifiable, all in the name of truth. As a result of this atrocity “the Japanese have lost their trust in society,” says sociologist Kenichi Tominaga of Keio University. “It will never be the same.”
And the name of this post-modern group of the 1990’s? Aum Shinrikyo which means – Supreme Truth!
Since then we’ve had September 11 and almost daily examples of PTV-infected brains causing havoc and devastation in the name of ‘The Truth’.
PTV is not just a medieval curiosity. Today, PTV is still very much alive and may be living it up in your brain!
Try this thought experiment …
Sit quietly now for about 3 to 5 minutes and notice the activity going on in your brain. Try to notice the thought patterns, the dissonance, the defences that PTV is working to preserve its survival. What you have noticed about your thinking patterns and what, if anything, you have noticed about PTV’s activities in your brain?
After doing this experiment, what you have noticed about your thinking patterns and what, if anything, you have noticed about PTV’s activities in your brain?