Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash
When I sat down and re-read Chapter 10 of Prometheus Rising, all about brainwashing and competing reaIity tunnels, I was particularly struck by these sentences:
The problems of the modern world arise from the fact that these reality tunnels are no longer isolated from each other. Throughout most of human history and up to 100 years ago -- up to 20 years ago, in some parts of the world -- a man or woman could lead their entire life snugly within the cocoon of the local tunnel-reality. Today, we all constantly collide with persons living in wildly different tunnel-realities. This creates a great deal of hostility in the more ignorant, vast amounts of metaphysical and ethical confusion in the more sophisticated, and growing disorinentation for all -- a situation known as our 'crisis of values'."
Could the growing polarization of society that many complain about be an attempt to avoid "confusion" by avoiding facts and opinions that contradict our own worldview?
It seems to me that much of what we see for example on Facebook represents an attempt by people who adhere to a particular political reality (which seems to have more of a hold on people these days than religion) who are attempting to avoid "growing disorientation" by constantly reinforcing their reality tunnel. Thus, I have friends in the "MSNBC reality tunnel" who constantly put up posts praising Joe Biden, supporting vaccination, repeating Democratic talking points, etc. I have friends who are part of the "Republican reality tunnel" who put up posts opposing mandatory vaccinations, praising Trump as a wise father figure and inveighing against the Chinese and the allegedly stolen election. There are of course libertarians (the folks I am most likely to agree with) who reinforce libertarian opinions.
Perhaps some of you have seen the above recent poll, in which Democrats and Republicans (particularly Democrats) avoid dealing with "strange bedfellows" who might confuse them by espousing opinions different from their own.
I am struck by how people who even ostensibly fall within the same subculture can violently disagree and espouse wildly different opinions.
On Twitter, as you might imagine, I follow many Robert Anton Wilson fans, and many such folks follow me. As John Higgs has remarked, many American RAW fans tend to be libertarians while many British RAW fans tend to be socialists. While both such groups would likely oppose the "war on some drugs," they would likely disagree on many other issues.
Or consider the apparently divisive issue of vaccination against COVID-19, an issue in which avowed RAW fans disagree.
On Twitter, I follow, and am followed by, the RAW Semantics Twitter account, i.e. the account for the RAW Semantics blog I frequently reference here. And a couple of hours before I began writing this blog post, I noticed I was being followed by the Priory of Sion Twitter account, i.e. @PriorySion23.
The RAW Semantics Twitter account pretty clearly favors the generally prevailing public health theory of COVID-19 and how to combat it espoused by establishment public health authorities; it favors vaccination and the wearing of masks.
Meanwhile the Priory Sion account by contrast has a biography describing himself/herself/themselves as "Fully Not Vaccinated" and retweets various vaccination horror stories, as you can see by looking at the account's timeline.
I am not attempting to referee the dispute, just to remark how two RAW fans are still in very different reality tunnels. (If you are curious, I am strongly in favor of getting vaccinated and am fully "boosted" but am less enthusiastic about government mandates and lockdowns -- which I admit is quite in accord with the "Reason" magazine reality-tunnel.)
My favorite exercise in Chapter 10 is No. 5, because it urges trying to understand the person, rather than think of various ways the person "is" correct or wrong.