Had a conversation today that put me in mind of this post I wrote. Like in that one, this one has to contain ableist language, but hopefully not be seen as an endorsement of such, or an invitation to do that in my comment section. In fact, read that post first, because I don’t wanna repeat the same junk. Long story short, what if the things we rate as cognitive deficits and malfunctions are vastly vastly more commonplace than we assume? What if, as an emotionally stable person without any major risk of delusions, you were in a minority? Can we sane few right the world gone mad? Can we steer this ship of fools unto the safe harbor of sanity?
Nope. There are no cures for most of what can ail a mind, just a life of care and carefulness. Assuming we are even fortunate enough to know how bonkers we are. A lot of people who are walking around assuming they are fairly normal or similar to others, not susceptible to delusions, are one weird day away from joining a cult and giving their lives over to it. One moment away from being told “the truth” on a facebook post and forever thinking something that would make a gullible child look twice.
Atrocity Guide on yewchoob has a video about a cult that includes interviews with an ex-member who got out and is doing well. Nice. But what happened? At a seminar the cult leader gave, he saw a golden light radiating from the man. The deeper he got into it, the more impossible things he bore witness to. And yet, on the other side, he realized those were all hallucinations, provoked through the power of suggestion. Hearing this sensible guy say these things, you have to wonder, could it happen to me?
If it’s never happened to you before, well, probably not. I think some people just have wild imaginations, or are more prone to influence. But who knows? Also, as you age, who is to say how your faculties might change? As an atheistical type, formerly of the fiery brand, I used to imagine we could eliminate magical thinking from the world by getting everybody hip to philosophical materialism. The holes in the logic of religion are trivially easy to point out, to talk under the table.
But nobody is impervious to bullshit, and it’s so pervasive in the world that it deforms the perception of reality on an everyday basis for vast swathes of humanity. They’ll never buy reality because the fantasy everybody around them was taught every day forever just feels more correct, in their hearts. Words to the contrary, they just sound like silly noises. Maybe they don’t have the exact words to argue against you in the moment, but they’re sure somebody smarter in the faith, some preacher would be able to get you to see the light. Because they have the same point of view as I do, at the end of the day. Their truth is so obviously self-evident, it doesn’t need a rationale. You don’t see me doing atheist apologetics much. We all know what’s what, right?
The misguided person I spoke with today, she felt mighty foolish and didn’t know what to do with herself. Not her fault. I got the same conclusion here as I did before, but feel it more today than the last time I wrote it. We need laws against lying. The ACLU will say no, reaching across the aisle to join hands with political propagandists and corporate salesfuckos, but nay.
We can’t prevent all types of exploitation forever, we can’t protect people from themselves perfectly, but if human life and well-being has any value at all, we, as a society must find a way to reduce the harm caused by dishonest persuasion, better than we do now. It’s like how we have laws against murder, knowing full well it will still happen at some point, no matter what we do. But the laws give us a mechanism of enforcement, a disincentive. Right now, in the USA, you’re literally praised for being the biggest con artist. It’s fucked up and I hate it.