out of the blue: perceptive redshift (part 1)
why becoming extreme creates the perception of extremism in others
the spectacle of the modern political age is really quite a thing to behold. no sooner has a global group spent 3 years grabbing and even exceeding economic and societal controls not seen since the 30’s (when you know, actual fascists and their envious american emulators like FDR were diligently deepening and extending the great depression) and placing half the thumbs in DC upon the scales of media, social or otherwise, to stifle recognition and dissent than they turn fiercely upon you and demand:
this is the sort of behavior that leaves one stunned and sputtering and this impact is only reinforced by repetition.
“we need to be in charge and covid is all your fault for not doing what you were told” is rapidly replaced by the new thing and the new new thing and the new thing³ that comes after that. but in essence, it’s always kind of the same thing, isn’t it?
and it’s always dressed up and sold the same way and the weaponized watermelons replacing replete energy abundance with the “green dream” of cold, dark winters of penury and provocation are just more of the same. green on the outside, red on the inside: only more socialism, collectivism, and collective submission to ever more intrusive and elite technocratic authority can save you.
people seem to focus more on the intrusive, but is it, in fact, the technocratic that you really need to be afraid of here as those are the truly unaccountable bases of power that last forever irrespective of party or ballot box. their leaders and their masses of minions cluster in cathedrals of groupthink that last generations. some of them have been leading their agencies for 40 years and once you allow this to take root, it’s easier to get rid of herpes than tony fauci.
and experts ALWAYS lean authoritarian and totalitarian because “where you stand depends upon where you sit” and those are the systems that seat experts upon thrones of power and ethical prestige.
even when they do not rule outright, these groups all play kingmaker. they tell you what “the science™” is on health and climate and labor policy. they tell you how to rear and educate your children. but 90%+ of it is basically made up nonsense.
there is no special competency in these groups and if any does manage to gather, it’s rapidly torn down and supplanted by orthodoxy and buried beneath fawning media coverage and the selection bias driven kowtowing of politicians seeking pretext for power grabs.
it becomes a religion. it becomes a cult.
and this paves a path to the radicalization of “experts” that gets excruciatingly dangerous.
they become, through the awful alchemy of repetition and credential, the seeming keepers of “the truth” when in fact that are far more often the formulators of “the big, self serving lie.” (a lie they generally tell themselves as well)
this comes with power, prestige, fame, and endless money so long as the policies you push are always “big crisis, soon come, surrender your freedom, send money.” those are the evolutionary goals of the system and it pursues them with zeal as implacable as it is unaccountable.
and it can go on forever.
words you will never hear: “we the experts, empaneled to study this issue have determined that it is not actually a problem. please accept the return of the remainder of our budget and use it for something else.”
that’s the equivalent of a microorganism saying “food? why do i need food? no thanks!”
guess who’s not going to be around long enough to reproduce?
this process of creating menacing shadow monsters from which society can be saved if they pay up and do as they are told is a tidy trick if you can turn it. the challenge with doing so is that it requires the abrogation of liberty and prosperity.
planned systems are neither rich nor free. the promises they make are empty. the costs are always far higher than shown on the menu and the food leaves you hungry. the problems are never solved, they become worse while you become destitute and dependent.
this, of course, is then used to justify the next round of takings as abject and total failure gets spun as success against a problem that was ever so much worse than we thought don’tcha know and boy do you need us now more than ever.
it’s a lifeguard selling you a second anvil as a life preserver.
and this is why control of media is so critically important to a technocratic state and why, using any means necessary, they will not only always capture it, but why they will feel not only right but righteous in doing so.
this is how the goebbels doctrine of “always accuse the other side of that which you are doing” inevitably comes into play.
this is a powerful and deliberate propagandistic choice but what people seem not to realize is that the worse and more extreme the behavior in which one engages and more wrong one gets in such accusations, the more effective this tactic becomes in rallying the troops of one’s own side and of reassuring oneself that “this is all needed and worthwhile.”
the fact is that this is not mostly a “black hat” operation by cunning and unscrupulous actors twirling their moustaches and leering like snidely whiplash.
more often than not, it’s just “like calling out to like” as dangerous fools become convinced of their rightness and rectitude by the own failure.
and this is why we need to speak about perceptive redshift.
2 core precepts:
everyone is the hero of their own movie. humans almost never believe they are the bad guy and will go to great lengths to avoid doing so.
devoid of demonstrable external reference, all motion is relative and my moving rapidly away from you appears no different to me that you moving rapidly way from me.
now imagine how this interacts:
if one is righteous, wrong, and ideologically fixated it becomes a one way trip to frothing lunacy that you will misattribute to everyone else going mad.
the one truly counter intuitive human psychological process is cognitive dissonance. humans refuse to hold contradictory ideas and so if you think “X” and evidence that “not X” appears, you are in conflict. tension from this rapidly builds and demands resolution.
you can either change your mind and start to believe “not X” or you can seek alternate explanation about not “not X” having been caused by some confounding factor or, in extremis, ignore the input altogether.
propensity to edit or misattribute evidence is directly proportional to the intensity with which people held their initial beliefs. those with lightly held convictions find them easy to change. those whose ideals and ideologies have been inextricably woven into the warp and weft of their identities find it nearly impossible. they are chained to the mast of the good ship dogmatism and will perform virtually any mental gymnastic to avoid admitting or even recognizing that they have steered it into an iceberg.
(honestly, i suspect there is some sort of power law here where twice the initial conviction engenders 10X the reality denial.)
in the end, what this means is that those who begin as ideologues and build “activist identities” become more and more convinced of how right they are when exposed to evidence of being wrong and the more obviously wrong they are, the more intense the new convictions, assumptions, and delusions must be to overcome the evidence of their eyes and ears to preserve their sense of self.
it drives them deeper and deeper into morass and their views become exponentially extreme. this rapidly drifts into fully blown reality denial and free form hallucination cum persecution fantasy.
this is how doomsday cultists become more devout when the world fails to end as prophesied.
this is how the people wrecking the world become ever more sure that they are saving it.
but here’s the fun twist: as they are propelled ever faster toward extremism in order to defend the priors that underpin their sense of self, they do not experience it as movement.
they think they are standing still.
the entirety of their sensorium and cognitive experience has been bent into serving the end of ignoring new input and NOT changing their mind. so they do not see the shift to fanaticism they are undergoing but they do see their distance from you growing and if THEY are not moving, then YOU must be.
and THAT is the redshift.
if two objects are moving apart, the perceived light emitted by either and received by the other shifts red. yellow becomes orange, orange red, and red infrared. you’re going to see this. but you cannot tell from this fact which of you is moving or how fast, only that separation is occurring or accelerating.
thus, if you are trapped in a self-referential loop of reality modification to defend your identity and discard evidence that you are wrong and thereby radicalizing in order to avoid admitting it, you need to explain the redshift away.
and the conclusion is obvious:
this, of course, has all kind of nasty recursive and rehypothecating effects because not only can both sides be moving away relative to some center point, but such movement is not an independent variable.
one side’s radicalization tends to push the other side away from center as well. the fiercer you become about your technocratic privilege, the fiercer i become about my rights.
pretty soon, one side is deep into totalitarian fascist precepts that they make mussolini look like thomas jefferson while mistaking them for centrism and the other is left standing around looking like this and trying to figure out how to fight what’s happening:
but i think there is a difference.
(continued in part 2)