Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 54

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

WHY DO PEOPLE IN THE WELLNESS WORLD SO EASILY MISLEAD THEMSELVES?

Quite a few people in the wellness world buy into anti-pandemic measures views and conspiracy theories in general.

Why? Why do they seem so gullible?

I suspect it may be connected with several things.

They may not have a very solid education. They may not be trained in the history of science, logical fallacies, media literacy, and so on.

They may be a bit naive about the world. They may not previously have known about the many flaws inherent in just about anything humans do. And they don’t have a more nuanced and mature view which leads to discernment and knowing that we don’t always have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

They may have an outsider identity and they may be suspicious of the mainstream. So they automatically gravitate to any view opposed to the mainstream medical views.

They have found their own “alternative mainstream” and absorb the views held in that subculture. They want to belong. They want to assume they got it.

FEBRUARY 4, 2022

WINTER OLYMPICS

The winter Olympics is about to start. I hope the media will use it as an opportunity to highlight the serious human rights issues in China.

And on the topic of the winter Olympics, I am curious about the psychology behind how Norwegian athletes have and have not prepared.

As others have pointed out, we have known for years that these Olympics will take place at a high altitude. We know that without thorough preparation for this altitude, the athletes tend to have real trouble performing and competing. And we know how this preparation looks: They need to stay and exercise at high altitudes for several periods of several weeks over a few years. (I have seen recommended four times three weeks each year for a few years.)

And yet, that’s not what most of Norwegian athletes have done. They have neglected one of the most essential and obvious forms of preparation.

Why? I am not sure. It’s not for lack of money, opportunity, or knowledge about this issue. Perhaps they rely on athletes from other countries also neglecting this side of the preparation? That seems a dangerous assumption since some will have taken this aspect of the preparation seriously. Perhaps they focused on other aspects and forgot this one? Perhaps it seemed too inconvenient?

They may still do OK since they are among the best in their respective sports. And yet, because of this lack of preparation, I won’t be surprised if many perform below expectation during these Olympics.

Update: It’s now the last day of the Olympics and the results were mixed. Norway did reasonably well in terms of medals. The ones who did prepare for high altitudes – like the biathlon athletes and Therese Johaug – did very well. And the ones who followed the main program which included only minimal high altitude stays generally underperformed as expected.

FEBRUARY 8, 2022

Joe Rogan & Trump

There are many similarities between Joe Rogan and Trump, including that they enjoy spreading falsehoods.

Another similarity is that both are seen as smart by people who are not that smart.

They are seen as knowledgable by people who are not very knowledgable.

LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF HOW SCIENCE WORKS

It’s probably obvious to most people that if you want advice, go to experts in the field.

If you want medical advice, go to medical experts with solid credentials in the area.

A related topic is that within any field of science, people disagree. There is a mainstream view, and there are always people who interpret something differently or even have alternate data.

In a few rare cases, these outlying views later become mainstream. They have the data and logic on their side, and eventually, the mainstream catches on.

And in most cases, these outlying views are founded on bad logic and/or bad data. There is little or no hold in them.

Just because someone has credentials in a field doesn’t mean they are right in everything they say.

Many who are skeptical to vaccines, masks, and so on, seem to latch onto the few doctors who share their view. They are very selective in who they refer to, instead of looking at the bigger picture. And the bigger picture, in this case, is the vast amounts of data telling a different story. And also that just because you have a degree doesn’t mean everything you say is correct, even within the field you have your degree in.

REGENERATION AND PERMACULTURE COLONISTS

I am currently in Latin America and am very aware that I fit several stereotypes of Europeans here.

One is of Europeans who go to other places in the world because of the climate, food, and lower costs. My wife is from here, so that’s the main reason, but I have to admit I really enjoy the climate, food, and lower cost, and also much about the culture in general.

Another is the stereotype of the one who is not at all wealthy in Europe but finds himself relatively wealthy here.

Yet another is of the European who comes here and almost immediately adopts a homeless dog. In my case, one that’s old, blind, and has cancer.

And finally, it’s the stereotype of the European who goes to Latin America, buys a large piece of rural land, and wants to regenerate and rewild most of it, and use permaculture principles for the rest.

All of this is understandable. My wife is from here. We are unable to live in Norway because of immigration rules there. The best option, right now, is to live here. We found a piece of land we fell in love with and had the possibility to buy it, so we did.

Also, we know that an architect had plans to buy that land to create subdivisions and build a lot of houses there. Our plan to rewild and create a small wildlife sanctuary seems a much better option for the many beings who already live there and will live on that land for the coming years.

And in the process, we contribute to driving up the local land prices so the locals are less able to afford it. In the process, I inadvertently found myself fitting the label permaculture colonist.

It’s good to be aware of the many different sides to this. It all makes sense from our perspective and wanting to have a good life for ourselves. It’s likely good for the land and all the beings living there, many of which will live their whole life on that land. And it does drive up the property prices. It does bring foreigners (me) into a place where most families have lived for generations. It is a situation where I impose my own power (in terms of money) and values (regenerate, rewild) on this land and, indirectly, the local community, and I am sure many locals are not too happy about it.

FEBRUARY 10, 2022

PANDEMIC NUANCES

In any polarized situation, people tend to go into black-and-white thinking.

We see that with the pandemic as well.

For instance, some skeptics of the pandemic measures say that…

The vaccine doesn’t work. In reality, it works very well. It works well in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death. It doesn’t prevent all infections, which is OK. As long as it dramatically reduces the chances of hospitalization and death, it’s doing its job. And different types of data from around the world show it’s doing just that.

Masks don’t work. Masks do work. Masks prevent infection from droplets. And high-quality, close-fitting masks prevent transmission through the air in general. Mainly, they reduce the viral load when there is transmission, and a reduced viral load is one of the most important things for preventing serious illness.

Vaccines and masks are not fool-proof. They don’t prevent transmission and infection 100%. And that’s not their job. Their job is to reduce the risk of transmission, and especially to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death. And they both do their jobs very well.

LEFTIES TAKEN IN BY PUTIN PROPAGANDA

Prediction: Ukraine MAY be on the brink of invasion from Russia. If it happens, I bet a good number of western lefties are going to be taken in by Putin’s propaganda, including through Russia Today (RT). They’ll take it as if they have common enemies and thus a common cause, which is obviously flawed logic.

On the situation itself: The Russian troop build-up is likely Putin boosting his domestic approval rating while testing his neighbors and NATO. Although the longer Russian troops stay on the border to Ukraine, the more likely something is to happen.

INVASION

I have watched a couple of episodes of Invasion, and – as usual with movies and series – see it as I would a dream.

What if all the different elements and dynamics in the story reflect something in me?

What does the main story, the alien invasion, mirror?

It may be any time something I have strongly disowned comes into and takes over the system.

For instance, and in my case, terror. When terror comes in (up), it feels alien and it does take over my world. At least for a while. I wasn’t familiar with this until some years ago in the darkest dark night when it came up for the first time I can remember. (Although I may have experienced it early in life, I am not sure.)

As usual, movies and stories in our culture reflect relatively immature and unconscious dynamics.

I am not sure if I’ll continue watching it. It doesn’t grab me quite enough so far. And I mostly started watching because of Sam Neill and his character was promptly killed off.

PERFECTION AND HUMANITY

There is a common pattern I also recognize from my own life: Early in our adult life, we may strive for perfection, images, success, and so on. And a bit later, we tend to embrace more of our humanity. We recognize the value in the striving, and also the hollowness of it.

It makes sense to strive when we are young. It helps us achieve and that tends to help society as a whole as well. (Depending on what we strive for.) And after a while, we mellow out and embrace our fuller humanity, and that’s equally valuable for society.

ONE MOMENT VEGAN, ONE MOMENT VEGETARIAN, ONE MOMENT MEAT EATER

For me, it doesn’t make so much sense to go into ideologies around eating.

I prefer to eat low on the food chain, local and organic, and seasonal as much as possible. So I may be eating 90-95% vegetarian or more in periods where I eat on my own.

Human minds create ideologies to feel safer, and they may be necessary for a while. But life and reality is much more rich and fluid, and it’s much more comfortable to embrace the messiness of life.

I know I am not “perfect” in terms of anything, thank God. For me, it’s more about how I generally live my life.

From the perspective of ideologies, this obviously seems uncommitted and lazy. And from this perspective, ideologies look like a phase, a crutch to feel safer, often not so kind to oneself and others, and ultimately a form of prison.

CONSPIRACY THEORIES: AS MUCH A THREAT TO CIVILIZATION AS WHAT THEY IMAGINE IS HAPPENING

Some who are into conspiracy theories obviously do it to troll others, including the ones they are able to get into the conspiracy theories.

And some go into it assuming they are on the side of the good and are doing it for the benefit of humanity.

The reality is a bit different, as I see it. Conspiracy theories are a threat to democracy. If we cannot even agree on the basics, if we operate from very different assumptions about what’s going on in the world, and to the extent all of this gets polarized, it undermines democracy.

It undermines our ability to collectively deal with our real problems in an effective way.

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