The Power of Political Myth (Part 3 of 3)

Started in Part 1

Continued in Part 2

While, ultimately, I believe that we are heading inexorably towards a hot civil war, I do think we can shear a few people away from the other side.  Even devoted Leftists can awaken, as noted in On Leaving the SJW Cult and Finding Myself (bolding added):
I see increasing numbers of so-called liberals cheering censorship and defending violence as a response to speech. I see seemingly reasonable people wishing death on others and laughing at escalating suicide and addiction rates of the white working class. I see liberal think pieces written in opposition to expressing empathy or civility in interactions with those with whom we disagree. I see 63 million Trump voters written off as “nazis” who are okay to target with physical violence. I see concepts like equality and justice being used as a mask for resentful, murderous rage.
The most pernicious aspect of this evolution of the left, is how it seems to be changing people, and how rapidly since the election. I have been dwelling on this Nietzsche quote for almost six months now, “He who fights with monsters, should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” How easy is it for ordinary humans to commit atrocious acts? History teaches us it’s pretty damn easy when you are blinded to your own hypocrisy. When you believe you are morally superior, when you have dehumanized those you disagree with, you can justify almost anything. In a particularly vocal part of the left, justification for dehumanizing and committing violence against those on the right has already begun.
Remember the quote I had in Part I from my essay The Scarlet "R"?  Fits right in with the above concerns about what's happening.  How to break this mindset?

One of the books I read years ago was Dinosaur Brains: Dealing with All those Impossible People at Work.  It discusses how people get set in their ways, and that defending them is the “reptile response” of the lower brain snapping in answer to things that disturb it.  One of the recommended techniques is to ask questions that require engagement of higher-level functions to overcome the emotional snap-back response.  To some degree this can work, but I’ve had very limited results… though my younger child is very emotional and, to “snap them out of it” I’ve found that asking higher-level questions, like math questions, does indeed refocus them to using their higher cognition.  In general it involves asking substantive questions, not ones to which YES or NO answers suffice.  Who, what, where, when, why, how…?  I.e., open-ended questionsRecall, however, the emotional maelstrom video from Part 2.  These people, on the surface of things, have no higher cognition to which to appeal.

Another technique I’ve tried, albeit with very little success but worth a shot, is to ask “Conversationally, and I’m just curious, when’s the last time you changed your mind on something significant”?  As a part of it, fold in a story of how you changed your mind on something that is important to them. 
The theory is that they’ll realize it’s been exceedingly rare… and in the few instances where I’ve had that work, they had an epiphany that their intellect is actually very calcified.  Then, and only then, did they start asking questions and being more open-minded.  And if they don’t bite, follow up: “Help me to understand… I just related how I changed my mind on something that is clearly near and dear to your heart and you’re not even interested in understanding that???  Just to understand how someone might have shifted away from your position and now disagrees with it?  You present as someone with a wide-ranging and curious mind…”  Does it always work?  No, but again, these people are ego-driven and this gives them an opening to show it by talking with you.

The technique were I’ve actually had the most successes relies on emotions.  Remember, they have based their views of themselves as good people upon certain myths.  These myths are often founded on emotional reactions to something.  Consider the emotional reaction to this picture, presented as an example of an Israeli soldier abusing a poor "Palestinian" child - and you'd have to have a heart of stone to not have an immediate and visceral negative reaction to this picture absent any context:

Which is the point: creation of an emotional response.

But when one looks closer one sees it cannot be what is claimed.  Neither the weapon (AK-47) nor boots are Israeli-issue (though you'd have to have some expertise to pick those out). Pulling back to see the bigger picture, the Israeli flag on the “soldier” is hand-drawn, the crowd itself is just standing around and judging by both looks and feet-pointing direction, almost uninterested.  One or two people are strolling through behind the background – surely not something that would be happening were an actual child to be so threatened by a soldier.  As I understand it, it was a street-art performance.  Take a look at the pulled-back, bigger view:

Does this seem like a crowd witnessing an instance of horrific abuse of, and threat to, a child?  Which is why, of course, you never see that bigger picture.

Probably the piece de resistance example of deception about Israel – lying being an integral part of Islam and the jihad against kaffirs, see these two videos on Taqiyya and Tawriya – was this dead girl "killed by Israeli forces in Gaza".

Horrific.  Heart-wrenching.  Again, seeing this, you have an immediate gut-level emotional reaction.  But, as it turns out, there's video of the event:

[The Final Destination: Nadia's Death [HD] / 0:33]

Yes, that's right - the picture, published in multiple newspapers as showing a "victim of an Israeli attack", is actually a screen grab from one of the Final Destination movies.  More broadly, see The 2019 Pallywood Oscars with multiple examples of “Pallywood”.

Or consider climate change.  A very effective “gotcha” I’ve used is to show someone a curve of data with the past being adjusted downward.  One example:

(Image source)

It’s pretty plain that the adjustments outright create, at least for this one data set, a warming trend where none existed in the native data.  There is no other possible explanation.  Or another graph:

(Image source)

Another is to show a close-up of the red curve on the right, get people to be alarmed, and then pull back to show the much larger data set.

(Image source)

I’ve actually had people gasp when I do that.  And then I ask "You were alarmed with limited data; why do you think those who show it to you don't let you see a much broader sweep of information"?  (A: It's about The Power of the Information Flow, and Rules 1 and 2.)

What’s the point of "See this... now see this!"?

People, IMHO, have an instinctive aversion to being lied to.  Discovering they've been lied to makes them angry, and that anger often shunts aside the emotional conclusion they’ve used as a foundation for their belief.  So the point behind presenting evidence that can make them angry at being lied to is to rile them up.  Once they are riled, and their cognitive shields are down as they struggle to reconcile their emotion-based belief with the fact that they’ve been deceived, then other information can be fed into the maelstrom.  Not to convince per se, but to plant a seed.
And one last technique: You’re screaming “A” and they’re screaming “not A”.  Hard to make an argument, especially when their belief in NOT A is founded in subjective, not objective, truth that makes them feel good about themselves.  So rather than merely dumping websites or links or whatever at their feet – because their cognitive shields will reject anything outright – instead ask “OK.  I say ‘A’ and you say ‘not A’.  How could we test this?”

Remember that Thomas Sowell, Melanie Phillips, and many others (including myself) moved Left to Right when they started testing their default Leftist beliefs against reality.  Get them involved in the process.  Most people like puzzles, so make it into a puzzle.  Have them participate in the setting of the line; if there is sufficient proof of A, a standard that they themselves helped set, that can work to crack their minds open.  This also engages the higher cognitive functions to get them away from that “reptile response”.
Note that none of these are guaranteed to work.  But I’ve had some successes in, at least, planting seeds of doubt in these cherished myths which have approached the level of unquestioned religion; Civility Is Heresy When Leftism is a Religion:
The root of the Left’s dalliance with political violence stems from the fact that politics occupies a different place in their mental and spiritual landscape. For the Left, it holds the same place that religion does for most people.
What is religion? For most, it’s a grand unifying scheme that ties the present to the past and the future, including the afterlife. It defines a person and his earthly life in light of the transcendent; it provides moral rules and ideals; it imposes deeper meaning on what would otherwise be mundane; it provides structure and spiritual sustenance during difficult times.
[T]he Left, rather, is a religious movement, and all those who are not of the Left, are, in their eyes, the heretics.

Repeating: I am 100% convinced we are inexorably headed for a hot civil war.  It could be minor, it could be all-out.  But it’s coming.  So the point of this whole thing is two-fold:

1. Broadly, to help our side grasp that the other side is firmly in the grip of believing myths because they are emotionally satisfying; part of that comes from the dopamine pleasure they get from being a part of a group that believes the same things.  These myths raise them up, help them feel like good people… help them feel special and superior.  That’s a very hard thing to dislodge, and explains why so many attempts to bridge the gap and find common ground won’t work – you can’t argue with a missionary.

2. Present techniques that, on a onsie-twosie level, if you can get someone to talk, help nudge them out of the myth formed by SUBJECTIVE truth (replying on their social circle / enemedia for proof) and into the thought process of OBJECTIVE truth (relying on themselves to go out and check for themselves).  (In a social media setting, other cult members will swarm in to pull any person back into the fold - this needs to be one on one.)
In the meantime, prep, arm up.  Buy food, trade goods, guns, ammo… identify a means of getting water, and cooking.  Figure out how you’d live if the grid goes down.  And understand, as I have regretfully come to understand, that TINVOWOOT; What Will It Take To Make You Understand And Accept That They Hate You? (bolding added, links in original):
That’s the position of our enemies, and we know it because they told us – openly, proudly, in the garbage public forum that is Twitter and elsewhere. Oh, they backtracked a little when the extent of their killing fantasies got exposed, scampering like their insect analogy, the roach, when someone flips on the kitchen light. But that kid in DC with the Frigidaireborne reefer ranger banging that drum in his baffled mug? They wanted that kid to die for having a Wrong Smile.
Accept that that kid was you, and me. If they’ll ice a kid for not having the right grin, they’ll waste you or me in a heartbeat. Murder is, after all, how leftists roll. The USSR, Red China, Cambodia, North Korea, Cuba – that cadaver-strewn litany teaches what’s lurking at the bottom of the slope we’re sliding down. The Dems are spooning with socialism, and the goal of socialism is written in blood on the pages of history. The unapproved must be liquidated, and they are making no secret that you are unapproved.

(Image source)

This was possible because the people with the guns were convinced of two things:

1. That the people they were rounding up were not worthy of being alive.  That the people doing the rounding up were superior beings.  Wiser.  More noble.  More educated and intelligent.  (Sound familiar, fellow Trumpanzees?)

2. And those superior beings were doing good in the world by ridding it of those viewed as evil.

In order for men to do great evil, they must first believe they are doing good.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Prepare to fight for your lives.


You and I will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

-- Ronald Reagan



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