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Why is there a growing movement to deny reality in America?


CmdrShepSpectre2183
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It seems like society is going backwards. It seems like each passing year more and more people believe in a fantasy reality. A fantasy reality that believes in outlandish things like "vaccines are the devil" or that "space is fake".

This mindset has even infected physically healthy people.

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There was a time when these type of people aspired to be astronauts.

 

 

What has happened to society? We aren't just turning away from science but from reality as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by CmdrShepSpectre2183
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13 minutes ago, CmdrShepSpectre2183 said:

What has happened to society? We aren't just turning away from science but from reality as well.

We're getting our information from too many unvetted sources, so people aren't on the same page wrt what's happening in the world. There's no national narrative to guide folks away from unreasonable stances. Poorly informed people make poorly informed decisions.

Part of the problem, imo, is using subjective terms like "reality" or "truth". Part of the problem is people defining reality however they feel like. Science is interested in the natural world, but whether that's "reality" or not I couldn't say. It should be enough that it's what we observe.

Also, there are lots of folks who are basically human trolls, and they say outlandish or unreasonable things because it drives others crazy, and that's what they really want. For some, going viral is the only justification for anything.

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37 minutes ago, CmdrShepSpectre2183 said:

It seems like society is going backwards.

That's an interesting idea, because it has two equal and opposite parts of an answer.

On the right hand, yes, there is a retrogressive trend in large segments of the population. In the Middle Ages, people were told by absolute authority figures exactly what was true and what was right, and they believed it all (even when what they called truth and right ran counter the people's intuitive sense and empirical observation) for two reasons: it was dangerous to do - or at least admit - otherwise, and the common belief in absolute authority gave them certainty; moral and intellectual security. Those were anxious times, what with plagues and wars and Muslims at the door: certainty, authority and moral security were so precious that they would sacrifice their neighbors to it, and risk their own lives for it. 

On the left hand, this age of ignorance and superstition is an artificially manufactured product of technology. The same forces at work: frightening events, threats, anxiety, insecurity, resentment of the alien, scarcity of material comforts - and a relatively small number of manipulative power-seekers. However, the manipulators of those forces have different tools. The absolute authorities are factional, not national: each segment of the population - whether divided along geograpic, political, economic, educational, ethnic or religious lines - has its own set of authorities and trusted sources, and truste only those sources. The manipulators or leaders can set up more accessible podia and sock puppets; they can reach more of the gullible faster, more effectively; the gullible can then infect their peers almost instantly, over any distance.

Edited by Peterkin
completeness of idea
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31 minutes ago, CmdrShepSpectre2183 said:

It seems like society is going backwards. It seems like each passing year more and more people believe in a fantasy reality. A fantasy reality that believes in outlandish things like "vaccines are the devil" or that "space is fake".

This mindset has even infected physically healthy people.There was a time when these type of people aspired to be astronauts.

What has happened to society? We aren't just turning away from science but from reality as well.

Yeah good question I sometimes ask myself. Perhaps it's the WWW and Internet? Your question can be summed up I believe with simply, why do people believe in conspiracies? On this 20th day of the year of our lord 2021, people still think we never went to the Moon...and that the Earth is flat. Check it out, I'm not exaggerating. Perhaps it gives them a sense of power, that they "supposedly" know the truth, and us poor sheep just follow the status quo. And of course its not just the USA, we in Australia are also inflicted with these types of ratbags. Most [probably including me] just turn a blind eye and think OK, let them be, they aint doing anyone any harm. I then sort of think, well isn't that what the German people were thinking before Hitler seriously started his stuff. I don't know, thankfully I have lived most of my life and am now in the twilight part, although then my concern is for my boy, and his children, and his children's children.

Perhaps science through in its effort in getting us to the Moon again, and then  onto Mars, may brighten things up. I hope so!

 

Edited by beecee
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I am not convinced there is a growing movement to deny reality in America. 

There have always been people who didn't believe what many of consider reality but I don't know that number has been increasing.

Certainly there seems to be growing distrust in authority which is not the same thing as denying reality. Many people who will not get the COVID vaccine are doing it because they don't trust the people who are telling us to get it, not necessarily because they don't think vaccines work.

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5 minutes ago, zapatos said:

 There have always been people who didn't believe what many of consider reality but I don't know that number has been increasing.

They shout the loudest though!

13 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

Also, there are lots of folks who are basically human trolls, and they say outlandish or unreasonable things because it drives others crazy, and that's what they really want. For some, going viral is the only justification for anything.

Some truth in that also.

Also worth mentioning that old addage "F^%$ you Jack, I'm allright" and the anti vaxxer mob that shout out and scream that their personal rights have been, or are been violated. What they refuse to accept is, to quote our well known Vulcan friend, "The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few" 

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1 hour ago, zapatos said:

Certainly there seems to be growing distrust in authority which is not the same thing as denying reality. Many people who will not get the COVID vaccine are doing it because they don't trust the people who are telling us to get it, not necessarily because they don't think vaccines work.

The other side of this coin is that people are telling them not to trust, and to not get the vaccine…but the people at the top of the pyramid are vaccinated. It’s interesting seeing the shock of the drones at finding out e.g. FOX news has a vaccine mandate.

It’s related to having authoritarians and grifters in power, and the way to show loyalty is to believe what they tell you rather than what you see with your lying eyes. It’s the price of belonging to the tribe.

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49 minutes ago, swansont said:

The other side of this coin is that people are telling them not to trust, and to not get the vaccine…but the people at the top of the pyramid are vaccinated. It’s interesting seeing the shock of the drones at finding out e.g. FOX news has a vaccine mandate.

It’s related to having authoritarians and grifters in power, and the way to show loyalty is to believe what they tell you rather than what you see with your lying eyes. It’s the price of belonging to the tribe.

Trump (reluctantly) sort of (half-heartedly) told his followers at a rally in Alabama that they should get the vaccine. He was booed. Seems it's hard to give up the lie once you are fully committed to it.

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15 hours ago, zapatos said:

Trump (reluctantly) sort of (half-heartedly) told his followers at a rally in Alabama that they should get the vaccine. He was booed. Seems it's hard to give up the lie once you are fully committed to it.

Like it or not, your village taught you how to boo...

What's hard is, thinking past why we boo?

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18 hours ago, CmdrShepSpectre2183 said:

What has happened to society?

Traits that have been with us since before the times we were living in trees are still present and being supercharged. We naturally listen to those we consider to be "like us."

This has helped us survive for millions of years... listen to the parent not to eat that poisonous plant. Listen to the grandpa not to get too close to that lion... listen to the tribal elder to prepare in fall for the coming winter. These tendencies to listen to those trusted group members around us helped us survive.

But that was at a time when we were only surrounded by 5-15 people. The closest neighboring tribe was several days walk away. Us / them mattered as that other neighboring tribe likely wanted to harm us, steal our things, and force procreate with our daughters. 

Today, however, we're exposed to hundreds of millions of people all at once. We self-select into tribes which we consider to be "like us," and the concept of verifiable reality shared by the masses has taken a backseat as compared to the need to align with powerful groups like us and virtue signal to them that we are "pure" and that we "belong" and it's all fed by a very real and very powerful desire (one which has helped us survive for millions of years) to simply not get ostracized from the group around us. 

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50 minutes ago, iNow said:

Today, however, we're exposed to hundreds of millions of people all at once. We self-select into tribes which we consider to be "like us," and the concept of verifiable reality shared by the masses has taken a backseat as compared to the need to align with powerful groups like us and virtue signal to them that we are "pure" and that we "belong" and it's all fed by a very real and very powerful desire (one which has helped us survive for millions of years) to simply not get ostracized from the group around us. 

It's also not the brave stance many think, but just the opposite. It's a cowardly retreat from brave, innovative behaviors that gave us virtually everything good we have now. We KNOW how much we can accomplish by embracing others and joining their knowledge and efforts with our own. Tribal behavior no longer suits the intelligent, cooperative, communicative processes we've developed. 

Fear of change is powerful, and accelerated change on a global scale is daunting to many. But we need oversight more than we need tribal mentality pumping the brakes on our society. We can handle the advancement as long as we keep developing the right tools and rules to keep pace.

I want to belong to the group that favors the traits that sets us apart as a species. We'll stay "pure" as long as our members react with their brains more than their brawn, and since the whole species is capable, you won't get ostracized as long as you're human. We are H.

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2 hours ago, iNow said:

Today, however, we're exposed to hundreds of millions of people all at once. We self-select into tribes which we consider to be "like us," and the concept of verifiable reality shared by the masses has taken a backseat as compared to the need to align with powerful groups like us and virtue signal to them that we are "pure" and that we "belong" and it's all fed by a very real and very powerful desire (one which has helped us survive for millions of years) to simply not get ostracized from the group around us. 

It is similar to a decentralized religious practice. There are certain tenets  you have to adhere (e.g. only use approved media). But other than organized religion, the belief structure is meme based and can stuff can be added ad libitum. You cannot convince me that the 5g/microchip/children sacrifice things did not start as a joke.

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Reality is not denied so much as it is fragmented.  Every small chip, even if it poorly reflects the larger reality from which it flew off, is seized by some "influencer" on social media and treated as if it can holographically reproduce the entire world.  The science deniers, for example, grabbed up chips of genuinely bad science and decided that these chips were valid cross-sections of the entirety of science. 

Sketchy information processing was something we could get away with as hunter-gatherers.  You only need one sip from a rotten coconut to know the rest of the juice is bad, too.  You may just skip the whole tree, if there are others.  If you see one tiger in a bush, you can have everyone in the tribe cut a wide path around the bush - even if the tiger was a fluke and the bush will be totally safe, there's no harm in taking the caution. 

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6 hours ago, CharonY said:

It is similar to a decentralized religious practice

I tend to agree. Just a few days ago, I shared this thought elsewhere (a thought which you’ve just reminded me of):

“I sometimes wonder if the steady decline in religiosity these last several years has also caused folks to seek out other sources of religious / faith based thinking with fantastical impossible to believe stories (like QAnon).”

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1 hour ago, iNow said:

“I sometimes wonder if the steady decline in religiosity these last several years has also caused folks to seek out other sources of religious / faith based thinking with fantastical impossible to believe stories (like QAnon).”

Yeah, a good thought worth thinking about...

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22 hours ago, zapatos said:

What do you mean?

Your teacher/village taught you what to boo at...

12 hours ago, beecee said:

Yeah, a good thought worth thinking about...

Indeed, a steady decline in critical thinking; would produce a faith in bullshit...

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I think the biggest change is the internet.  20 years ago if you said the earth was flat your friends and family would laugh and say, "no that's not right" and you would find no one to agree with you.  Now you can go on the internet and find hundreds or thousands of people who will agree with whatever batshit crazy idea you have.

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4 minutes ago, Bufofrog said:

I think the biggest change is the internet.  20 years ago if you said the earth was flat your friends and family would laugh and say, "no that's not right" and you would find no one to agree with you.  Now you can go on the internet and find hundreds or thousands of people who will agree with whatever batshit crazy idea you have.

Good point. +1

 

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9 minutes ago, Bufofrog said:

I think the biggest change is the internet.  20 years ago if you said the earth was flat your friends and family would laugh and say, "no that's not right" and you would find no one to agree with you.  Now you can go on the internet and find hundreds or thousands of people who will agree with whatever batshit crazy idea you have.

The internet is full of information, the batshit crazy just want to be right...  

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2 hours ago, Bufofrog said:

I think the biggest change is the internet.  20 years ago if you said the earth was flat your friends and family would laugh and say, "no that's not right" and you would find no one to agree with you.  Now you can go on the internet and find hundreds or thousands of people who will agree with whatever batshit crazy idea you have.

I think that is a big part of it. Fundamentally, we are utterly unprepared in dealing with social media. Or rather, our psychology is not well suited to deal with it. Fundamentally the issue at hand is one of trust. Few folks have the expertise and time to evaluate each claim they encounter and there is at best a superficial, intuitive evaluation of the facts. Moreover, we are prone to trust folks that we know or feel that we know more. In societies without with no mass media that makes a lot of sense. However, eventually mass media created celebrities. By seeing folks on a regular basis, even if one a screen, it creates the illusion of familiarity and this is why celebrities have a disproportionate influence on public opinion (see their role in promoting anti vaccination sentiments over the last decades). 

Now with social media, that effect further extends to random folks, youtubers and so on. Those folks are more trusted than individuals with actual expertise, in part because the latter are busy working in their field of expertise than using psychological tricks to make folks like (and subscribe) them. You can see that effect in classes now. College students increasingly cite random youtubers as sources of information, which I find rather worrying (and I used to be worried about wikipedia in the past).

So the combination of a big network of trust without expertise and mistrust of gatekeepers seems to create a system where outrageous misinformation can speed happily along, leaving fact checking and similar slow measures in the dust. And I will also say that this is not an US-specific problem.

 

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6 hours ago, Bufofrog said:

I think the biggest change is the internet.  20 years ago if you said the earth was flat your friends and family would laugh and say, "no that's not right" and you would find no one to agree with you.  Now you can go on the internet and find hundreds or thousands of people who will agree with whatever batshit crazy idea you have.

Yep, another bright spark said similar earlier on......😉

On 9/20/2021 at 6:28 AM, beecee said:

Yeah good question I sometimes ask myself. Perhaps it's the WWW and Internet?

Those thoughts coupled with the following could sum it up....

20 hours ago, iNow said:

“I sometimes wonder if the steady decline in religiosity these last several years has also caused folks to seek out other sources of religious / faith based thinking with fantastical impossible to believe stories (like QAnon).”

At present we have an out of control mob that have literally taken over the streets of Melbourne. A small part of that mob are a few "genuine" tradies that are questioning the mandatory vaccination for covid edict. But surrounded by that small group are a larger mob of leaches, well known professional protestors  and anti vaxxers that have seen an opportunity to push their extreme  agenda. One so called tradie was confronted by a news reporter and asked what they were marching/rioting for....he started ranting and raving about what he read on the Internet, then continued with some nonsense about Trumpism. In a word, sickening.

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It feels a bit like we’re getting closer to World War 3, but I suspect we’d actually be fighting it with ourselves… against our neighbors. It’s no longer about national borders and has shifted instead to which version of truth and reality you align with. 

And it’s clearly not an issue limited to just the US. 

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