KorbenDallas

Conspiracy theories and Conspiracy theorists

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2 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

They want you to believe in metaphysical chemicals and lower brain functions over volition and reason.

Korben,

Generally they don't want me to believe anything. I know certain science-oriented intellectuals who do and I think they are boneheaded in that regard (Daniel Dennett, etc.).

2 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

I believe what these scientists have done is found some chemicals corresponding to some emotions, perhaps interplay between areas of the brain, but what they haven't done is correctly identified the causes or conditions for them and that's where philosophy and Reason comes in, which has primacy over science and what these "scientists" are claiming.

I'll be honest. I believe you are not familiar with the literature.

Here's a book just to get you going on cognitive biases if you are interested: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. This is light on the neuroscience but quite informative. I only read it once and intend to read it again.

Ironically, one of those boneheaded people who try to use this stuff to prove that free will, reason, etc., don't exist used to post here on OL. I had to get rid of the person (lots of sockpuppet accounts, lots of snark, etc.). This person kept talking about "Kahneman's heuristic" in a name-dropping way as if that demonstrated his superiority (sometimes her, depending on the sockpuppet :) ).

And I kept feeling embarrassed for the person until I finally had to let him know that there is no such thing as "Kahneman's heuristic." It doesn't exist. Kahneman discussed several heuristics in Thinking Fast and Slow, but they are nothing more than automatic mental routines that work like rules of thumb. He didn't filter them down to one nor did he put his name on any of them (not even the Prospect Theory, which he developed and which helped him win the Nobel Prize in Economics).

That dork had no idea what Kahneman was talking about even as he name-dropped Kahneman (and others) all over the goddam place. :) 

We (you and I and others around here) have the brains to understand. So read and understand. Then disagree if you will. But there's a there there that should be understood correctly first if you intend to condemn and instruct others about it.

If you can make it through that book, then there are a few others that should fascinate you. And here's the rub. Not one of them tries to obliterate free will or reason. In fact, they are perfect additions to the education of a person with a Randian base. (That was a big surprise to me when I first got into this stuff.) They fill in the holes where Rand speculated. And in no way, does this diminish what she did.

The mind is not either subconscious or conscious. It's both and the different states operate in conjunction, in waves, in opposition at times, and so on...

And, like all organic things, they both need fuel and rest or they become error-prone. As an aside, even willpower, believe it or not. (There are good books and studies on this.) Willpower consumes an enormous amount of calories and if the brain runs low on calories to burn, your willpower goes on the blink. If that ever happens to you, eat a donut and you will feel a little more gumption for a bit, but only for a bit. Basically, nap time is better (including on your waste line :) ). And so is healthy eating. 

Michael

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2 hours ago, anthony said:

Emotions, particularly, I think of as one's closest friend, instantly warning where something is amiss--and bringing good feelings when everything is right. Where they (whether emotions or simple chemicals) bring pleasure, no one, not Rand, is bothered. (Anything but: "Happiness is the state of non-contradictory joy").

Tony,

I'm going to recommend a book by Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning, Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels.

It doesn't look like it, but this is a very easy read.

Dr. Loretta (I am Facebook friends with her) deals mostly with the mammalian part of the brain, so she oversimplifies the neuroscience a bit. She teaches you how to get the right triggers for the right neurochemicals to squirt so you feel happy in your lower brain. Without drugs...

And she teaches how to create and myelinate proper neural pathways so this becomes a habit.

None of this contradicts the functions of the upper brain where reason, language, morality, etc., reside. So if you can learn this stuff, why not do it? Just because of fear? (That's too much cortisol. :) )

In fact, you have to train the lower brain for this by choice using the upper brain. In that sense, it's a moral choice. You're choosing to get your lower brain to help you to be happy.

:)

btw - I get the feeling that Dr. Loretta likes Ayn Rand a lot. There is one Objectivist-leaning person (Roy Barzilai) in particular who is in her orbit. I haven't communicated with him yet, but I intend to.

Michael

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8 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Korben,

And you expect to learn about neuroscience from where?

The Virtue of Selfishness?

:)

Michael

No, but I'd expect to learn philosophy and morality from VoS..

:)

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38 minutes ago, KorbenDallas said:

No, but I'd expect to learn philosophy and morality from VoS..

Korben,

Very good.

Now you can learn both.

Get the philosophy and morality from Rand, and the neuroscience, modern psychology and related self-help routines (enhanced learning, improved sleep, motivational focus, etc.) from the book recommendations.

:)

Michael

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2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Korben,

Very good.

Now you can learn both.

Get the philosophy and morality from Rand, and the neuroscience, modern psychology and related self-help routines (enhanced learning, improved sleep, motivational focus, etc.) from the book recommendations.

:)

Michael

Yeabut,

I reeaaaaaaaaalllly like Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden's psychology..

(and is everyone here taking their vitamins and getting enough sleep?  I hope so!)

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44 minutes ago, KorbenDallas said:

I reeaaaaaaaaalllly like Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden's psychology..

Korben,

Then you would definitely like the material I study. Nathaniel even went a little woo-woo at the end with Ken Wilber. (And so should you--Spiral Dynamics is a hoot. :) ) He was definitely into Ericksonian hypnosis (you can learn this through NLP--neurolinguistic programming). He visited ashrams and dabbled in New Age stuff. It doesn't seem like it on the surface, but he loved marketing. He was the darling of several big-name Internet marketers (Eben Pagan and others). 

Barbara studied this neuroscience and modern psychology stuff because she was revamping Principles of Efficient thinking to incorporate it.

I know all this from talking with them and talking with those around them.

If you are familiar only with the psychological ideas they developed when they were with Rand, boy are you in for a treat.

Here's a little taste from an old thread on OL, but that just scratches the surface:

Nathaniel Branden on Mind-Body and the Dual-Aspect Theory

The data Nathaniel referred to near the end probably deals with neuroplasticity (the mind physically altering the brain just by directed thought--for instance see the studies of brain scientists with Buddhist monks, say Richard Davidson's work).

:) 

Michael

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14 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Korben,

Then you would definitely like the material I study. Nathaniel even went a little woo-woo at the end with Ken Wilber. (And so should you--Spiral Dynamics is a hoot. :) ) He was definitely into Ericksonian hypnosis (you can learn this through NLP--neurolinguistic programming). He visited ashrams and dabbled in New Age stuff. It doesn't seem like it on the surface, but he loved marketing. He was the darling of several big-name Internet marketers (Eben Pagan and others). 

Barbara studied this neuroscience and modern psychology stuff because she was revamping Principles of Efficient thinking to incorporate it.

I know all this from talking with them and talking with those around them.

If you are familiar only with the psychological ideas they developed when they were with Rand, boy are you in for a treat.

Here's a little taste from an old thread on OL, but that just scratches the surface:

Nathaniel Branden on Mind-Body and the Dual-Aspect Theory

The data Nathaniel referred to near the end probably deals with neuroplasticity (the mind physically altering the brain just by directed thought--for instance see the studies of brain scientists with Buddhist monks, say Richard Davidson's work).

:) 

Michael

MSK,

I don't like the ideas of hypnosis or NLP, it's woo to me.

My point, apparently it's being lost in the back and forth, is that a lot of what I've sampled in neuropsychology undercuts volition or diminishes it to essentially convey we don't have as much volition or control over our minds than we thought we did.

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4 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

MSK,

I don't like the ideas of hypnosis or NLP, it's woo to me.

My point, apparently it's being lost in the back and forth, is that a lot of what I've sampled in neuropsychology undercuts volition or diminishes it to essentially convey we don't have as much volition or control over our minds than we thought we did.

Korben,

There's a long discussion to be had on NLP and hypnosis. If you like Nathaniel's sentence completion technique, though, that is a form of covert hypnosis. 

I will say this about NLP. It's generally misunderstood. It's simply a method of modeling. The idea is that you take a person who is superb at something and study him over time, trying to isolate his productive habits and actions. Then you merely model the same and you get a shortcut to mastering a skill. You can use NLP to model a concert violinist or a master bowler or a great public presenter or anything where a high level of skill is involved.

A lot of charlatans have appeared in the NLP world over the years because one of the people modeled early by the NLP founders was Milton Erickson, the man who took covert hypnosis to a whole new level. By learning some of Erickson's techniques (and NB learned many of them), lots of trained NLP people go about selling it as a cure for phobias and so forth. There are some real things mixed with snake oil and this gives NLP a bad name.

Before you call hypnosis woo, you should see people getting a tooth pulled without anesthesia and feeling no pain while in a trance. If that's woo, I want a heaping helping of woo. :) 

As to the claims some people in neuroscience make that we have less volitional control than we imagine, for some topics that's proven to be correct. (I agree that some boneheads like to extrapolate and make wild claims like our decisions are always made before we make them in our conscious mind and crap like that.)

You can test your own mind on your own biases if you like at Harvard's Project Implicit.  Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this series of tests. He took them and was astounded to discover that he had an anti-black bias. He's part black, so this left a mark on him. He said it was quite an eye-opener. (If I remember correctly, he talked about this in his book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. I'm not a fan of the title because he's actually discussing skill automation, not instinct. btw - Barbara loved this book.)

Here's a tidbit for you from a Randian perspective, though. I find it very cute. Have you noticed that Rand's sex scenes are full of animal violence like scratching and biting along with intense passion? I read a book called Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain by Douglas Fields. I learned there that in brain cells that are highly associated with snapping (if I recall correctly, they are in the hypothalamus), the sex brain cells are right next to the anger brain cells. This is why rape or (or even consensual sex) often comes after violent attacks.

In other words, through introspecting (Rand's main form of observing psychology), she felt the strong emotional tugs--which we now know are due to physical proximity of brain cells--and ran with them. She had no way of knowing about the science because science had not discovered it when she wrote, but she remained true to herself even though scratching and biting someone you love isn't very rational. :) 

btw - One of the ways they know about these cells is through brain surgery and laser signals through optical fiber cable. Scientists have discovered that a bleep of laser light activates brain cells, so they have done experiments on lab animals with it. What they do is drill a hole in the head of the animal's skull and implant a super-thin fiber optic cable in its brain that terminates in a certain cell. When they send light through the cable, the animal instantly changes behavior. They normally put a bunch of these cables in at the same time so they can test and map a bunch of brain cells and the poor little animal looks like it has whiskers coming out of the top of its head. :) 

Anyway, when they send light to one cell, the animal attacks with all the rage it has. They turn the light off and the animal stops. Ditto for other behaviors like chilling, being horny, etc.

Nowadays, they are using brain implants to allow paralyzed humans to operate a computer with thought alone. Contrary to disproving volition, neuroscience is being used to ramp it up.

:) 

Michael

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Sentence completion is not hypnosis. It is merely an extremely efficient way of creating and using an altered state of consciousness. This respecting hypnosis is arguable, I suppose, but all effective psychotherapeutic techniques I've experienced and witnessed use an altered state of consciousness or it's just talk, talk, talk.

--Brant

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9 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Brant,

You mean like a trance?

:evil:  :) 

Michael

I had one experience with hypnosis as I understand hypnosis--that is, the purpose is control of the subject, telling him to do this or that. SC merely leads you on as you go inside yourself. What the two have in common is cooperation. You can easily do SC on yourself; there are SC lists in some of Nathaniel's books. In that case the cooperation is still there but a step removed. It's hard to generalize about the value of his work. I consider it basic though not for people with truly severe problems--NB referred them elsewhere--and I would go on to work with Joel Wade. Joel does graduate work, Nathaniel did undergraduate. Graduate work is how to live your life and living it--doing it--and achieving happiness.

--Brant

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2 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

I had one experience with hypnosis as I understand hypnosis--that is, the purpose is control of the subject, telling him to do this or that.

Brant,

That's not the purpose of hypnosis, although stage hypnotists and some covert hypnotists do that.

The purpose of hypnosis is to induce a natural passive mental state that is very close to daydreaming called a trance. You go in and out of trances all day long. Hypnosis merely gets you to stay there a little longer.

What the hypnotist does after that is up to the hypnotist and limited by the person's brain.

One of the most common trances we all go into all the time is called the "storytelling trance." And guess what covert hypnotists use all the time? Stories.

:)

btw - There are limits to what can be done with trances and not everyone is equal in how far down they can go or how easily they can be induced into them by an outside source.

Michael

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1 hour ago, KorbenDallas said:

Phew, after reading all of that I'm glad I don't go around in trances all day  at all  :)

Korben,

But you do.

Ever heard of buyer's remorse?

Be ruthlessly honest.

How much crap have you bought over your life that you had to have at the time, but once you got it home, it ended up on a shelf or in a drawer or in the garage somewhere and duly forgotten? (If you say you never had this experience, I know I am dealing with Superman or a Marian. :) )

That "had to have" feeling came from a manipulation when you were lulled into a mini-trance.

The best way to think about this is like a seesaw between your conscious awareness and your subconscious. Both are always present, but they differ in degrees of height.

On a parallel note, storytelling-wise, here's a guy (Brian Sturm) who has done a lot of research on the storytelling trance:

Michael 

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1 hour ago, KorbenDallas said:

Phew, after reading all of that I'm glad I don't go around in trances all day  at all  :)

Korben,

On second thought, I'm really glad you don't go around all day with optic fiber whiskers coming out of the top of your head. That would be a form of direct observation for you of what is real versus what is projected, but you've got a good mind so I doubt you need to go that far.

:)

Michael

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On 10/31/2016 at 3:20 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Korben,

On second thought, I'm really glad you don't go around all day with optic fiber whiskers coming out of the top of your head. That would be a form of direct observation for you of what is real versus what is projected, but you've got a good mind so I doubt you need to go that far.

:)

Michael

That sounds like a great Halloween costume for next year:  "Neurotic Labrat"  :)

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On 10/31/2016 at 3:16 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Korben,

But you do.

Ever heard of buyer's remorse?

Be ruthlessly honest.

How much crap have you bought over your life that you had to have at the time, but once you got it home, it ended up on a shelf or in a drawer or in the garage somewhere and duly forgotten? (If you say you never had this experience, I know I am dealing with Superman or a Marian. :) )

That "had to have" feeling came from a manipulation when you were lulled into a mini-trance.

The best way to think about this is like a seesaw between your conscious awareness and your subconscious. Both are always present, but they differ in degrees of height.

On a parallel note, storytelling-wise, here's a guy (Brian Sturm) who has done a lot of research on the storytelling trance:

[...]

Michael 

On buyer's remorse, I wouldn't grant it the label of being a mini-trance, personally.  I would break it down into parts only acknowledging that an event, or a happening, happened.  But what happened?  Going out of focus, going out of context to your values and purpose, not thinking independently and seeing reality for yourself, suspension of proper rational judgment.  Still speaking for myself, creating a label for it would set up a vice or a "bad thing" out there in reality in which there never really was one.  I'm thinking of the square of opposition here, setting up a contrary or contriety when there isn't a need to.  Giving it form, ie. formal causality, creates some kind of importance instead of staying in focus, maintaining purpose(s), conceptualizing an event as it happens, using proper independent rational judgment.  So that's what I'd say about the buyer's remorse example.  Before I was an Objectivist I have plenty of examples of buyer's remorse, but as an Objectivist I'm having a hard time coming up with one.

As far as the storytelling trance, no I wouldn't call it a trance either.  I looked at the video, but normally I reject something when a person is saying things like "our brains work like this", or "when this happens, we..", or "we tend to"---who is this collective "we"?!  But I did manage to make it to 14m into the video when he said, "...because the logical piece has been shut down, and critical thinking is gone to a large extent and what's left is this visualization process, this fictional process."  That doesn't match my own (working) theory about storytelling, mine is more epistemology based.  There are many theories on how storytelling works, I guess I'll add hypnosis and trance to the list.  btw..  have you seen storytelling theories about the collective unconscious?  Those are a real hoot...

 

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On 2016/10/29 at 7:54 AM, Brant Gaede said:

Be happy. Be free. Fuck altruism.

Do it with love. Selfish love.

Above all, fuck guilt.

That's Rand's legacy.

--Brant

But guilt in itself is an absolutely necessary emotion like them all. I think of it as a 'cardinal emotion' (with fear) which immediately prompts us when we've not been true to our principles. Often the byproduct is that one lets down some other person whom one values to any degree, but primarily it is caused by one's momentary loss of integrity -- and that's earned guilt.

Altogether different is the guilt one may feel for others who don't 'have' what we 'have'. Who are "under-privileged" (implied, we are 'over-privileged') But the world is filled by individuals who have more, or less, than you or I. More or less ability, energy, brains, character, dedication, physicality, status, nationality, good luck - money - etc.. One might feel sympathy for the destitute woman on the street corner or the family in a shack on the other side of the globe. Why guilt, though? Simply, because whatever you do you know you can't help more than a few briefly, and cannot live their lives and provide their values on their behalf. I think altruism (other-ism) enforces unearned guilt on us for the sin of finding and making and caring for one's own values, when many do not or won't. Ultimately, it appears one is supposed to feel guilty for being alive when so many are not.

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9 hours ago, anthony said:

But guilt in itself is an absolutely necessary emotion like them all. I think of it as a 'cardinal emotion' (with fear)

I first skimmed this as Guilt is a Cardiac Emotion (with Fear).  It made me think how many of our emotions can give us that cardiac feeling. Sorry, Tony, but I have to run it a few yards.

I agree we should be leery of those humans who do not feel 'guilt' in the senses where shame, anxiety or allied blends of disgust or/and fear and/or self-accusation normally arise -- at least  in normal human beings when they even inadvertently do evil (like through negligence, impairment, anger, loss of control).

Guilt is a kind of portmanteau emotion, and I do think it is a cardiac emotion -- in that it can be felt as a special blend of anxiety and what we feel in our bodies as shame or remorse (self-spoken with terms of disappointment, sorrow and regret). Sociopaths simply cannot feel this rooted anxiety about their kills. They may fear capture and punishment, or not -- but they do not mix remorseful or shameful feelings with it. They don't have actual remorseful/shame feelings.  They didn't get the whole kit.

The feelings I associate with conspuracy nonsense are fear-related, or at least trepidation or vigilance, just at a low simmer of paranoia. I associate also the feeling of 'aha' and the thrill of certainty, the satisfactory feeling of tumblers thunking into place, the excitement of finally seeing The Pattern. Some conspiracy stories I see as queer, quaint, funny, and some as dangerous and endangering. Of the last, it was the therapy cult of Recovered Memory that allowed full rein to madness, ripening into the Satanic Ritual Abuse rumour-panic and subsequent witchhunts.

The worst conspuracy theories I  think are shameless and/or trending sociopathic in themselves.  Which is why  feeding a debunked meal to another, knowing better, seems  cold-hearted or tainted with something to me, and in its worst excesses, engenders a feeling of disgust. 

What other names do we give to a feeling of 'self-recrimination'?

 

Edited by william.scherk
Changed self-disgust to self-recrimination. It is still the wrong word.

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After seven days I can declare this thread dead, but I found something that will appeal to entire OL front bench, as well as our hundreds of daily guests. This is from the left coast left-most daily in Los Angeles, the Times, and it takes a rather long and wry look at the 2016 campaign's outbreaks of what we have named for convenience "conspiracy theory."  They wryly, with faux-neutral tilt, call it "It's more than the 'rigged' election: Voters across the political spectrum believe in conspiracy theories"

I'll just add here a few excerpts that show the tone and the scale of their reporting.

Quote

If Hillary Clinton wins, her ascent to power will have been engineered by President Obama, the news media and the Muslim Brotherhood, he said. A group of powerful bankers he calls the “oligarchy” may also be involved, he added.

“It’s almost diabolical,” Cannilla said.

LAtimesConspiracy.png


Conspiracy theories, usually dismissed as a fringe phenomenon, have taken center stage in the current electoral season. “Rigged” has become the watchword of 2016, invoked by candidates and embraced by voters across the political spectrum. Surveys show that close to half believe media moguls have picked the election’s winner and coordinated their coverage accordingly.

But the belief that powerful cabals scheme to shape the world is neither rare nor a sure sign of a disordered mind, researchers say.

Humans have probably embraced such theories for as long as we’ve struggled to make sense of a complex world in which not all thrive equally. It’s how at least half of us, at one point or another, cope with feelings of confusion, powerlessness, stress and disappointment.

[...] 

“We’re not talking about crazy tinfoil-hat-wearing men who live in bunkers,” said University of Minnesota political scientist Joanne Miller, who specializes in studying conspiracy theories. “At some point in our lives, we all believe in conspiracies — whether it’s in the domain of politics, sports or our social lives.”

In a 2014 study, 51% of Americans either agreed or strongly agreed that “much of what happens in the world today is decided by a small and secretive group of individuals,” according to University of Chicago political scientists J. Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood. In addition, 25% said the financial crisis that began in 2008 was “secretly orchestrated by a small group of Wall Street bankers,” and 24% said Obama was not born in the United States.

Incredibly, 11% agreed with a conspiracy theory that Oliver and Wood simply made up — that the switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs is a government plot to make Americans “more obedient and easier to control.”

And while conspiracy theory is often seen as a creature of “right-wing thought,” believers are actually scattered across the political spectrum.

“Both sides are equally conspiratorial in their thinking,” said University of Miami political scientist Joseph Uscinski, another pioneer in this young field of research. “No one has a monopoly.” 

[...] 

Who believes? Among the roughly 5% of Americans whose world view is an interlocking web of conspiratorial forces, paranoia and psychotic tendencies run high, Uscinski said. These conspiracists are less likely to vote, participate in the political process, or invest money in the stock market.

Generally speaking, those who readily believe conspiracy theories tend to be less educated, have lower incomes, and be less trusting of others than people who view conspiracies with skepticism. 

But to paint all believers with that brush would be wrong, says psychology professor Viren Swami, who researches conspiracy belief at Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom. Most are people well within the bounds of normal mental health.

When the world is a random place over which one has little control, Swami said, believing a conspiracy theory (or two or three) offers assurance that “there are people responsible” for the distress one feels, “and there are things you can do about those people” — put up yard signs, find fellow believers on the Internet, build a bomb shelter.

“You don’t feel helpless anymore,” he said.

Experiencing a loss of control can drive perfectly reasonable people to see patterns where none exist. In a series of experiments, social psychologists Jennifer A. Whitson of UCLA and Adam D. Galinsky of Columbia University showed that when people were prompted to feel less powerful, they were more likely to discern objects embedded in fields of random patterns of dots.

“The need to be and feel in control is so strong that individuals will produce a pattern from noise to return the world to a predictable state,” Whitson and Galinsky wrote in the journal Science.

I don't feel helpless any more. Whew.

 

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Oldies but goodies.  

Alex Jones helps us see the extraterrestrial alien Satan's hand in the world. Research. 

-- and here, the actual designs of Beyonce Knowles, Satanist and  Children's Brain-Eater. Who knew?  Satanic Lizards. Research.

 

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Scumbag?

Edited by william.scherk

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