Monday, 23 January 2017

Humanity's Next Great Leap Forward

Recently I watched a programme on the BBC called Storyville: The Cult That Stole Children. It was another one of those documentaries about a cult leader - this time a delusional, narcissistic bint called Anne Hamilton-Byrne - who led a brainwashing sect that left its members with all sorts of scars and traumas in adulthood.

The maltreated children of the sect were dressed in matching outfits, had identically dyed blonde hair, were isolated from the outside world, and regularly beaten, starved and injected with LSD under the leadership of this awful woman and her husband.

Whilst under the thrall of Anne Hamilton-Byrne, the sect members exhibited something that is generally true at a wider societal level - and that is that unless you can extricate yourself from the proximity of the group, you are unlikely to change your prejudice unless a large proportion of your group members do so likewise.

This is because your group’s culture, ethos, tribal connectivity and goals are paramount to its (and your) identity. Therefore your group is definitely on the right side of the argument and all opponents are on the wrong side. Anybody that wishes to undermine your group, even with evidence and good reasoning, is seen as a threat to the group's structural integrity, and consequently will be written off as a crank with which group members shouldn't identify or associate.

This wisdom has wider ramifications in other socio-political areas, because as long as in-group tribalistic associations remain the driving force for many of the extreme and absurd ideas people have, the likelihood of any individual in the group seeing sense is lessened.

One of the great leaps forward that humanity still requires - hopefully to be aided by our modern day access to the entire world's knowledge - is the freeing up of the individual from the unhelpful collectives that taint and retard his or her thinking, and the bringing about of rational pursuits that stand or fall on their own empirical merits.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that I cannot think of a single group that has been beneficial to its members and closed itself to what is true, factual and rational in favour of being hermetically sealed by the discourse of its leadership.