When in a human group, things have to get really bad before people focus on fundamental change. That means changing their thinking and their methods because the goal, while unchanging, requires a changing approach. This mirrors the approach taken by nature.
In natural ecosystems, we see constant change producing an unchanging result. Animals mutate and test themselves against reality, producing an optimized organization. After that, mutations rarely offer an advantage, so the mutations are slowly bred out so the species can remain consistent for millions of years.
Humans on the other hand seek to avoid change by altering the goal. Instead of keeping up what they have, they aim for trivialities as a means of amusing themselves or feeling important. Over time, whatever their ancestors created degrades and is replaced by a third-world level civilization.
Almost no one even discusses this issue, but it is the big threat facing human groups. Although natural disaster, war, disease, and famine alway lurk on the periphery, these are survivable. The failure of civilization is not and whatever group remains will not resemble the original or have its capabilities.
In other words, when you think about the world you pass on to your descendants, the big risk you face is that you give them a ruined civilization in which they try desperately to combat the massive number of lies and huge surge of people who want to do anything but face the disaster (we call these “Leftists”).
To insulate ourselves psychologically from our denial of civilization decline, we make up myths of “good” and “evil” that involve things we find threatening (evil) versus things we find comforting (good). This is natural, but quickly becomes universalized, when really we are talking about personal hopes/fortunes versus fears/decay.
Without universalized good and evil, we can talk about what is good for us and what we desire for the whole (hopes, including civilization, gods, afterlife, and function). We can talk about what is evil for us, as individuals, that ruins our dreams and invokes our fears.
At that point, we are no longer looking at superstitious sources outside the world of good and evil, but the difference between sane judgments and unrealistic ones. In realism, we measure results, and so sane/realistic judgments and actions produce positive results, and insane/unrealistic judgments and actions produce calamities.
This brings us to the point of Hanlon’s Razor, which like the razors from Occam and Hume, provides us with a good measure of understanding our task in this world:
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Competence, intelligence, and wisdom are understood in terms of knowledge of the world such that we can roughly predict the results of any action, and choose the actions that produce sanity, realism, and prosperity over those that do the opposite.
There is a third category between malice and stupidity, and that is the narcissism zone of dishonesty, obliviousness, and negligent carelessness. Much of human failure falls into this area because true stupidity is rare, but laziness toward having everything in order and functional can quickly produce a runaway reaction of breakdown.
Consider the man who, having cleaned every wall in his garage with a solvent, stacks the rags next to a fence. Stupidity? Perhaps. Certainly however it is laziness and turning an eye toward potential consequences, obliviousness to a hidden threat, and dishonesty about the risk of the solvents involved.
Civilization decline comes from something like this. An established civilization takes itself for granted; then people, out of fear, prohibit certain methods from being used, which forces everyone into means-over-ends mode, which requires backward thinking of justifying to explain goals in terms of means, causes in terms of effects.
At this point, the civilization starts to slowly go insane through what around here is called the Hegelian Stepladder. In this, an unrealistic thesis is offered, so people respond with its opposite that is also unrealistic, and further reactions all go step-by-step farther from anything realistic.
This comes about through human socialization. Any group bonds on its lowest common denominator, which turns out to be its fears disguised as pretenses, or projections of a reality contrary to what is known in order to banish the fear. “There are no wolves” was probably the first variation of this theme.
A group in the grips of this pathology tends to get a superiority complex. As contrarians, they must believe that things are not as they evidently are simply so that the contrarians can feel superior for knowing something that others do not, and thus the world must be made bad so that the contrarians can have something to be superior to.
This leads away from concern with real problems and toward a focus on non-existent ones, which is why most of democracy focuses as a distraction engine, inventing threats that never come to fruition. The bigger problem it faces is that the dishonesty, obliviousness, and carelessness of the narcissistic citizens thus produced creates disinterest:
This setting affects who gets to track your location and watch what you look up online. It affects the usefulness of the information you see and how much of your screen is taken up by ads.
I’m talking about your search engine — what pops up the answers when you type into the search bar. Google pays the makers of phones, laptops and browsers to be your default and to stop them from even presenting you other options during setup. It’s billions for a favor.
Most people haven’t thought much about the search function on their devices, much less how Google got there. But this default funny business might make you take a second look at not only Google, but also your trust in Apple, Samsung and other companies for selling you out.
Arguably, people should care about this mass spying. Most of them do not and never will. They are oblivious to an actual threat while worrying themselves about whatever trend is currently occupying the minds of the others. This is how to succeed socially and it requires denial of obvious realism.
In a more realistic world, people would see this intrusion as not only a threat, but a warning that a business model is so near collapse that it is dependent on intrusive advertising. A healthy business does not go to such extremes, but a dying one always will.
But here we see that stupidity is less of an issue than dishonesty and obliviousness (which is often mistaken for apathy; obliviousness means filtering out the world, not being indifferent to what one sees, because one avoids seeing in the first place). Oblivious people prefer to focus on pretend threats than real ones.
When we look at the companies doing these things, we do not see evil; we see self-interest that is crippled by a focus on the short term. Careerists in these companies want to keep their jobs and hire more people like them so that no undue focus turns toward anyone for being a careerist.
Even more, shareholders want to pump up the short-term value of the company. Employees want paychecks. Executives want to bump up the stock price, claim victory, and then move on to another executive job elsewhere. The leaders want to keep the company together because there is money, and to get big enough to survive government-imposed costs.
Add that to oblivious users and we see not an evil empire but one formed of people using each other while ignoring the effects. They just want to keep the scam going, sort of like government and any other large-scale organization once it gets established.
Hanlon’s Razor teaches us an important point, which is while most people want to find Satan behind everything wrong, in most cases it is merely a lack of care paid to getting it right. Your average person treats life like a job, doing each task halfway half-right and then skipping off merrily hoping the boss does not notice.
Ironically, the problem with all of this mental laziness and cognitive incompetence is that people require manipulation by symbols in order to act, and the more they come to rely on symbolic manipulation, the less they can respond to anything else.
The drama sets a new minimum, sort of like how welfare establishes the monthly check amount as the new minimum cost for anything, by making people accustomed to responding only to apocalyptic fears and warnings of catastrophe. For anything else they sleep, because the energy jolt of the symbols is not enough to wake them up.
Need for symbolic manipulation creates conspiracy theories because the mundane reality is not symbolically shocking enough to wake up the voters. Consequently we get hilarious theatrical hyperbole instead of the grim everyday reality:
The “snuff video” shockingly claimed to show Ms Clinton and Ms Abedin torturing a young girl. Some of these clips, part of a conspiracy theory called “Frazzledrip” on the dark web, keep appearing over the years without offering any explanation about their origin. It is again gaining traction with some handled posting content around it.
The senators cited the discredited Pizzagate conspiracy, which led to a man firing shots into a Northwest Washington pizzeria in search of children he believed were being held as sex slaves by Democratic Party leaders.
Though these clips were removed and debunked by fact-checkers, several outlets said dozens of such videos alleging and discussing false claims remain online.
If you want to explain that a politician systematically destroys all paper trails while selling influence for kickbacks, you have already lost because most voters cannot even parse that chain of events if it is explained in terms a five-year-old would understand. You have to sex it up.
Calling your opposition baby-killers, pedophiles, and Satanists works a lot better for communicating with an audience primed to react to evil, always questing for a new “good” to chase, and generally oblivious to all threats that are not described in catastrophic, mythological terms.
In reality, it matters more than Hillary Clinton is a corrupt and terrible leader than whether or not she is part of an occult pedophiliac conspiracy. A nation can afford to lose a few children; it cannot afford corruption from those who sell out to China.
However, the facts behind the China scandals are well-known to voters and most of them do not care. For them, politics is personal expression, and they want to side with the going trend. Nothing breaks that wall except extremities and atrocities, so those more than realistic depiction become the language that communicates.
This too fits with our vision of Hanlon’s Razor. No point exists to see Hillary Clinton as anything but a self-interested actor who is cheating on the rules to get ahead; similarly, an audience conditioned to dishonesty expects dishonesty and therefore gets corrupt politicians and conspiracy theories since those are things it can understand.