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I have long felt that trying to condense the unimaginable range of human beliefs, ideals, and desires into "left" or "right" is an insult to human intelligence and makes discourse almost impossible. Until we can get past this notion, we're always going to have these petty political fights.

Great find! I'm to the point where I look back on my on-line behavior years ago and still am ashamed to a large extent. The petty arguments, the narrow minded posturing. I am certain the ease of positioning. The instant validation. The sport of opinions, and the addictive vitriol, all bled into the real world.

I'm not saying bad behavior didn't exist before the internet, but it certainly hasn't helped. Through anonymity and quick access, I think we've become more accustomed to knee jerk comments and an inflated sense of our own infallibility. And that's something nobody is completely immune to, no matter their intelligence or disposition. All one has to do is scroll through the comments of a local news channel on facebook or basically any thread regarding just about anything to see this in action.

It doesn't take the widest of eyes to see that the more we bury ourselves in the glow of a screen, the more we take these habits with us, into the sun.

All that said, I think the even headed tone of blogs like yours and articles like this are essential to building/rebuilding a better state of communication. Online and off.

Jess wrote, 'I have long felt that trying to condense the unimaginable range of human beliefs, ideals, and desires into "left" or "right" is an insult to human intelligence ...'

Yes, but it goes beyond politics. Dividing the world into spiritual and non-spiritual people, or idealists and materialists, etc., is also problematic. Although it's often necessary to use such terms as a form of shorthand, there are nuances in almost anyone's position that make a black-and-white characterization unfair. And anything that promotes an us-versus-them mentality tends to lead to the demonization of one's opponents. I have to struggle against this tendency myself (probably more so in politics than in psi, but here too).

What I would have written in my post, if I hadn't found this one ready-made, is that there's a natural tendency to gravitate toward like-minded people and to become cocooned in an echo chamber. (The Internet makes this easier than ever.) After a while, anyone who thinks differently from our own clique is seen as a freak or a monster. Since no rational explanation can be found for disagreement, we impute evil motives to these "others." They become The Enemy, who must be stopped. Eventually we stop thinking of them as people, and they morph into crude caricatures or mere symbols.

This happens everywhere, and especially online. And yes, it happens here on this blog. Though we may do our best not to succumb to confirmation bias and groupthink, no one can avoid it completely.

Some people claim to find a way out of this predicament by saying they will remain perpetually agnostic, never reaching a conclusion. Robert Anton Wilson championed this approach. But there are three problems. First, the determination never to reach a conclusion is itself a conclusion. Second, it's impossible to ponder a subject deeply without reaching some conclusions. Third, even if it were possible, it's not desirable, because without forming at least preliminary conclusions we cannot make any further progress; we always remain at the initial stage of our investigation.

Probably the best we can do is try to remain aware of our biases and to maintain some humility. This is hard; the ego works against our best efforts, and often prevails.

Michael, While I certainly agree with *ideals* presented in your comment and post I do sincerely think that there are real world limits to them that must be considered. Some people play for keeps (extreme examples would be the Spanish Inquisition, Hitler or the current rampaging Islamic extremists in ISIS). There is simply no reasoning or open minded fair discussion with such people. They have to be killed ruthlessly before they kill you.

It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

I hope you don't mind. I shared an excerpt from this blog on my retire early message board where they rage all day long about politics. It is extremely annoying and sad and it has taken over the original purpose of the board which was to talk about topics related to retiring early. I don't know if they will read it or not, or whether it will have an effect on them but it resonated with me so I felt the need to share it. thanks, Art

Well said and thank you .

Yea I agree with you No one to some degree, extremists don't accept a differing viewpoint, even though an eye for an eye, doesn't sit very well with me.

But I think sites like this one, and any particular site of a certain persuasion are going to be biased. We are our opinions, our beliefs really, that makes us who we are- it's human nature.

For me therefore, on the psychic, NDE, consciousness debate, I'm fully biased. Having spirits turn up in front of me, talk to me etc., has me convinced on that score.

And as to the arguments against these assumptions, I say there is always an 'antithesis of everything'- an hallucination mimics a vision, cold-reading resembles psychic-ness. Heck, most people would not be able to tell the difference between the synthetic taste of an orange and the real one. And each is a valid phenomena, they are just different.

We seem to be a species that overuse "face value" and taking things for granted, rather than looking deeper to see whether they are at all possible.

Cheers Lyn x.

No One wrote, "Some people play for keeps (extreme examples would be the Spanish Inquisition, Hitler or the current rampaging Islamic extremists in ISIS). There is simply no reasoning or open minded fair discussion with such people."

I agree. But I think Andrew W.K.'s point is that it's a mistake to treat people with whom we have run-of-the-mill disagreements as if they were Hitler or ISIS. There's a tendency to demonize our opponents (in any arena). That may be fair enough if our opponents really are demonic, as Hitler and ISIS certainly seem to be. But it poisons ordinary discourse.

I agree that “run-of-the-mill” disagreements are no reason to categorize people as right or wrong but I also agree with NoOne that once one is past the run-of-the-mill issues that there are philosophies and behaviors that almost every sane person would identify as monstrous. How about indiscriminate beheadings, genocide of millions of humans, bizarre religious rituals allowing egomaniac sex-crazed male ‘prophets’ to ritualistically deflower 12- year–old girls, acceptance of slavery, etc.---there are many more. Here is the rest of Andrew W. K.’s advice. See if you agree with him.

No matter how bad someone may appear, they are truly no worse than us. Our beliefs and behavior don't make us fundamentally better than others, no matter how satisfying it is to believe otherwise. We must be tireless in our efforts to see things from the point of view we most disagree with. We must make endless efforts to try and understand the people we least relate to. And we must at all times force ourselves to love the people we dislike the most. Not because it's nice or because they deserve it, but because our own sanity and survival depends on it. And if we do find ourselves pushed into a corner where we must kill others in order to survive, we must fully accept that we are killing people just as fully human as ourselves, and not some evil abstract creatures. - AOD

People feel frustrations in their daily lives and then transfer it to other areas, such as politics, and create strawmen and demonize others. As Michael wrote, most Americans, particularly Americans, aren't dealing with ISIS or Hitler every day and never will. I think it would be pretty absurd to alienate oneself from one's father just because his political beliefs are different - unless the father is completely out of control, ranting and raving at every opportunity, but I doubt it.

"Here is the rest of Andrew W. K.’s advice. See if you agree with him."

I agree in the sense that I think this is the attitude to strive for. Not that it's always possible, but that we can benefit by encouraging this side of ourselves.

In describing the Golden Mean, Aristotle taught that we must over-correct to compensate for our faults. I think Jesus was probably on to the same thing when he told us to love others as ourselves - something we probably cannot do, but the effort to do so is helpful in compensating (or over-correcting) for our natural egoism.

So while I think there are cases where we are "fundamentally better" than others, it is not too helpful to stress that fact, because we tend to assume as much anyway. The danger is not that we will think too little of ourselves, but that we will think too much of ourselves.

And even in (rare) cases where we're dealing with true evil, it is still useful to understand the motivation behind such people. By "understand," I don't mean "sympathize with" or "excuse." I just mean intellectually grasping what moves them. And we can't do this if we reduce them to caricatures or bloodless abstractions.

For instance, I believe I have a pretty good understanding of Al Qaeda's motivation in orchestrating the 9-11 attacks. From their point of view, the attacks made sense and were part of a larger strategy (which is ongoing). Though I don't excuse or condone the attacks in any way, I can see Al Qaeda as human beings who operate on the basis of a particular set of assumptions that make sense to them, even if they seem grossly mistaken to me.

None of which alters the fact that Al Qaeda must be ruthlessly fought and, as far as possible, exterminated. But we will fight them more effectively if we understand their mindset. And we will preserve our own humanity more completely if we don't fall into trap of dehumanizing our enemies, which is all too easy to do.

"But we will fight them more effectively if we understand their mindset. "

That is a military truth that is too often overlooked.

"As Michael wrote, most Americans, particularly Americans, aren't dealing with ISIS or Hitler every day and never will."

Right. I pushed through the extreme limits of the ideal. For the most part respect and understanding - or at least acceptance of difference - can promote a level of civility and advancement that is currently lacking.

"The world isn't being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist -- the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they're truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen".

This reminds me of one of the posts I did on face book a while ago, on reading an article in the Bangkok Post about war in the world. The commentator summed it up as.

"It's simple, it's all about the arsonists and the firefighters. The arsonist go in and light the fires i.e. attack, the said enemy, and the fire fighters go in and clean up that jolly mess.

So Putin sends his men to cause a bit of trouble, and the Keiv's fight back, and well you have to send the army in to control "those terroists". The Shiite government send their men to attack the Sunni dissidents, and the people are so thankful they vote them in.

In other words its a tool that has long been used in the world by governments.

In defence of No ones argument though I do think we need to take sides sometimes- I'm grateful for Martin Luther king, the allies in World War Two etc.

And then we get common discourse- psychology well knows humans overuse stereotypes which leads to bias, racialism, prejudice etc and all its social repercussions. Another form of taking things at face value, rather than seeking verifying data.
Which don't help us in understanding alternate arguments and seeing the whole picture.

Alternatively words, discourse, opinions can pack a punch, in defence of the person in the article about his father, and doesn't that denote how you act i.e. form who we are. And can you separate the two?

But as the writer in the Bangkok Post went on to say, "Its often a few dissidents that tide the war, the rest get on well. In the Sunni/ Shiite debate, one side couldn't do without the others curry that is a staple and eaten after Ramadan. Inter-marriage, inter-cohabiting have made many socially dependent.

So there's hope, and I think people have a basic understanding that war doesn't help ether side, and only adds to the grievances. That social attacks are damaging and we need to have tolerance for each other, and those holding conflicting beliefs. Lyn x.

"No matter how bad someone may appear, they are truly no worse than us... And we must at all times force ourselves to love the people we dislike the most. Not because it's nice or because they deserve it, but because our own sanity and survival depends on it. And if we do find ourselves pushed into a corner where we must kill others in order to survive, we must fully accept that we are killing people just as fully human as ourselves, and not some evil abstract creatures."

I agree with this. We certainly have the right to defend ourselves when others wish to inflict violence on ourselves or others, and kill them if it comes to that. Just don't forget these monsters were human once, at least in some small way. If you do forget this then in part you become very similar to them and the way they view other humans, as most sociopaths and psychopaths do: as non-human. I think it's wise advice.

I think there's another dimension to this. The phenomenon can also work in the opposite direction.

I am pretty good at doing what the Andrew W.K. would seem to advise: not demonizing people and getting along with various types of people. For example, Michael here and I disagree on quite a few (but not all) political matters, yet we agree on spiritual and philosophical matters and get along quite well overall.

I have good Conservative friends. My best friend is basically an atheist who doesn't believe in anything we talk about here.

In a way, in the United States, might we not get along too much in this way? That is, do we perhaps get along with people *as* people but rail against Liberals and Conservatives in the abstract? And couldn't this contribute to the country being stuck in its current rut?

In other words, perhaps our respective echo chambers allow us *not* to confront people about their beliefs because we are not confronting our friends and neighbors about them in real life. Instead, we are weighing in online. Meanwhile, the political structure of our country contributes to the unending stalemate.

I don't think Conservatives are bad people in general. I think they believe in a model of how things work and how things *could* work that... doesn't work! I do think I understand why they feel the way they do, especially since I used to lean Conservative myself. They vote their way, and I vote mine, and nothing ever changes.

While I don't advocate demonizing the opposition, I think the writer of the article may have missed the mark to some degree. While there are certainly cases like the kid and his dad who don't get along, I think it's more common for people simply not to discuss "politics and religion."

I have a sister and in-laws that could be described as right-wing fundamentalist Christians. I am a former Christian who became atheist (with liberal politics), then SBNR (spiritual but not religious). I can get into political discussions with my sister without us both demonizing each other and we love each other as family should. However, I am reluctant to talk spirituality with her, since it seems to be scarier than politics for her. I actually don't have but one or two people I can talk with about what I think of spiritual matters, including reincarnation, NDEs and the nature of consciousness. I tell her I'm not an atheist anymore, but much of what I regard as spiritual, she would think was demonic, just because it's not "Jesus centered". I understand her views, but I don't think she would understand mine. She's seen some of my books and thinks they're about demonic gods (Shiva). I have lost the desire to convert anybody away from their comforting world view, as long as they don't dwell on hate.

"In a way, in the United States, might we not get along too much in this way?"

That is a good point, Matt. I think Steve Smith's comment echoes the same thought.

I'm a moderate libertarian and, as such, a real political minority. What I hear from the republicans and democrats makes me think both are screw loose fanatics whose ideas won't/don't work in the real world; unless feudalism or socialism, respectively, are your idea of "working" and you despise liberty.

But I never argue politics in person with neighbors or associates; even though, as the minority, I am surrounded by people voicing opinions I disagree with. I just smile and change the subject. Ditto religion. Just too many lazy stupid people emotionally ramping up, shouting ill informed half-baked opinions as if this is the equivalent of well thought out and factually supported position statements. I think that mindset is behind, "the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. "

Empires always require an enemy. It is part of their DNA.

Hi Michael,
Just dropping by to let you and your readers know about an interview that may be of interest:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Q/ID/2487324234/

Thank you for continuing to provide a website of real value and genuine integrity!

Slightly OT for this post, but here's an interesting article about research at a university investigating the idea of the dead using electronic devices to contact the living: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/853809-study-explores-whether-dead-can-communicate-through-electronics/

One interesting result of the random word-generator that I thought was interesting was: "people continue." Seems simple, doesn't it?

The article mentions phonecalls from the dead, of which there are many supposed examples. With my own experience, I received a very staticy phone call. After picking up and just saying hello, the voice on the other side - which sounded EXACTLY like that of my deceased mother's - said "Kathleen, it's Mommie." (Her children always called her "Mommie," not "Mom.") She said a few other things, but I couldn't hear anything because the line was so full of static, and then I was just disconnected.

No One, I have to smile at your last comment. Did you just label people whose opinions with which you disagree as lazy, stupid, ill-informed, emotional and/or half-baked with ideas not well thought out or factually supported?

Thanks for sharing your experience Kathleen. I think they demonstrate just how many people are experiencing unusual phenomena. Lyn x.

AOD, "No One, I have to smile at your last comment. Did you just label people whose opinions with which you disagree as lazy, stupid, ill-informed, emotional and/or half-baked with ideas not well thought out or factually supported?"

That's funny....but, no, that's not what I meant. I meant that I am happy to be educated by people that disagree with and who hold *informed* perspectives. I like to be educated. However, I don't get that too often. Usually it's just *uninformed* people parroting sound bytes.

It's pretty easy to discern those who have developed a perspective based on research and those who have not.

I fully accept that we can come to different conclusions after thoroughly examining data or having similar experiences. That makes the world an interesting place.

I do not accept lazy ignoramuses who believe that their ill formed opinions = fact. Worse, maybe, are the propagandists that deliberately mislead.

This is a true story and part of the reason I am (98.45%) certain of life after death.

A few hours after my father died in 2006, the phone rang. The caller ID was blank. My sisters boyfriend was at our house. He let it ring a few times but nothing ever came up on the caller ID. It didn't even say "unknown." It was just blank.

After 8 or 9 rings he answered. A voice on the line said "Is Joe there?" The voice was metallic-sounding and very strange.

Joe being my father. Who had been living in a nursing home for the last 12 years and had not been resident at this phone number nor received a phone call at this number in over a decade.

My sister's boyfriend said "no, I'm sorry, Joe is not here."

The voice said again, "Is Joe there?"
Reply: "No, I'm sorry, he hasn't lived here in years."
Voice: "IS JOE THERE?" said much more loudly.
Reply: "No! Joe passed away early this morning."
Voice: "Joe is there"
Then the phone line went dead.
And then the ceiling in the hall collapsed.

That's right. The plaster on the ceiling in the hall came crashing down.
For no apparent reason. There was no water damage or any other damage or flaw in the ceiling that we or the repair people could find. It just caved in.

We think it was my dad letting us know via the phone call and the ceiling that yes, he was there.

FDRLincoln, Thanks for sharing that story. Wow. That is quite an event and it would sway all but the most hardened skeptic.

These incidents of post mortem PK are, too my mind, most fascinating. They violate the known laws of physics, but they happen nonetheless. Having experienced them myself after the death of my own father, I have to believe they occur and occur more often than we realize.

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