Thursday, January 15, 2009

The threat of "cultural para-stimuli"

Andrew Klavan, the author of such internationally bestselling crime novels as True Crime filmed by Clint Eastwood, and Don't Say a Word, filmed starring Michael Douglas has a very thought-provoking column up at Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog. Klavan responds to some on the right who believe that the left sets the precedent for how people think in this country:

No, no, no, no. What the right is experiencing at the moment is a phenomenon called “cultural para-stimuli.” You can read all about it in Tom Wolfe’s wonderful novel I Am Charlotte Simmons.

It’s sort of like peer pressure on steroids. It was discovered by Nobel Laureate Victor Ransome Starling, who found that when he surrounded normal cats with cats whose behavior had been bizarrely altered by brain surgery, the normal cats began acting like the crazy cats all around them.

That’s us–surrounded by the mainstream media. So steeped are we now in their lies about our representatives, their ridicule of our commentators, their demonizing dismissal of the causes we know are just, that we’ve begun to adopt their attitudes toward ourselves! And perhaps chief among the lies they’ve sold us is the lie that they’ve won, that the media are theirs for good and all, and that Americans are going to be hoodwinked and brainwashed by their constant barrage of misinformation forever.

Well, only if we let them. And only if we in the media surrender first.

Cultural para-stimuli--now maybe that should be added as a diagnosis to the future DSM-V.


Blogger TMink said...

Interesting research. So a strong sense of self is necessary in orer to stay healthy in a sick society. I would be interested in the folks who are able to stay true to themselves in cognitively hostile environments. What about them makes them more immune? How do we use that info to raise children who can think for themselves as adults?


11:49 AM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger Brett Rogers said...

Wonderful diagnosis. Which is why we need to aggressively use ever means to ridicule these ridiculous theories of the left and show them as historically boneheaded. Where is the right's Michael Moore? Evan Coyne Maloney comes to mind, but we have so much good historical material with which to work and the truth is not being told.

And if we espouse principles, we're told that they are simplistic. Really? Liberty and self-determination are too simplistic for real life application? Since when?

How can we on the right maximize our influence and help to point out these crazy cats?

11:50 AM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger ak said...

We can talk about fighting back against the media. But what frightens me the most is the left's effect on education. I work in educational publishing. Our acquisitions discussions have devolved into nothing more than a listing of people's political hobbyhorses. America is evil, we're destroying the earth, history is a lie, etc. There's no joy in presenting new information to children, no love of history or science, no sense of balance in presenting topics. The political obsessions of a few people are determining the subject matter and tone of the books we're putting into children's hands. No one sees anything wrong with that, including the teachers and librarians who buy the books.

There's a whole generation out there who never see normal cats. And I don't think we can expect children to fight back against what their teachers, their schoolbooks, and all their friends seem to think.

12:16 PM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

ak made a fine point saying; "There's a whole generation out there who never see normal cats. And I don't think we can expect children to fight back against what their teachers, their schoolbooks, and all their friends seem to think."

I think this is where we as parents are best off when we teach our values with love, humility, and a nice dose of humor. While I do that, my eldest listens to me and considers what I say about the world. When I lose that respect, and I completely expect to for awhile, I will do everything I can to keep my mouth shut and wait for a time when my words will have a better chance of getting through.

But damned if I will ever give up!


1:09 PM, January 15, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's harder when one of the parents has decided that she likes Obama, that being upset about proposed policies because they go against the core of one's belief's is being "too hateful", that one shouldn't ahve "angry conservative" books like "Why I Turned Right" about, and that I shouldn't tell the kids that a food having animal products in it doesn't mean it's inherently bad (she's become vegetarian, and so has one of the kids...)

..sigh... lest you wonder: when met she was pro-gun, pro-responsibility, socially conservative, oted for Bush, etc.

2:26 PM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I keep up with what my kids are doing in school and use any opportunity to express my views on subjects. When my son's biology teacher was showing "An Inconvient Truth," I looked up a site in the Internet that showed all the lies in it and printed it out for him to take to school. I did it with joy.

I teach my kids to be properly respectful of people in authority but to also feel free to question what they say and do.

2:29 PM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...

Brett Rogers,

I agree, Evan is a terrific interviewer and filmmaker.

ak and Trey,

I do think we can fight back against education but everyone must be on the same page. Part of the problem is that those on the right are not usually joiners unless it is for church. The left has politics as its religion and will do whatever is necessary to make changes whereas those on the right will not. They are too afraid of appearing "mean." However, they are losing the culture war (for the moment) and unless those on the right start to stand up for themselves and their beliefs in spite of the ridicule, harassment and belittling, they will not make any headway. If your school is indoctrinating the kids, talk to them about what they see and hear --and get a few other parents to complain to your school board member. This sometimes can work.

Look at DADvocate in the post above, he put in his two cents. I did the same when my daughter was told that Paul Revere was not the one who said the "British are coming." She was told by her PC teacher that a girl, Sybil Luddington said it--we looked it up on the internet and it turned out that the girl's ride was not even on the same night as Revere's and her ride is under "Myths and Legends" at Wikipedia (hardly known for leaning right). We gave it to her teacher --he may not have cared but at least he had some evidence to the contrary.

2:43 PM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger SteveinTX said...

What is the tipping point where the normal cats become the crazy cats?


3:11 PM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger kehvan said...

There is no such person as Victor Ransome Starling and is just a character in a book.

3:19 PM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger Sad_Dad said...

Today I find the News and Media to be only one sided which I believe only hurts us. They are paid to talk about certain things and paid not to talk about others. I think this creates unfairness on some subjects for example the Family Courts. This is one of the most corrupted organizations I have ever seen, and yet no one talks about it because the media does not want to talk about it.

3:45 PM, January 15, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard you can take ten normal people and lock them in a room with one nut, and you won't get 11 normal people coming out, you get 11 nuts.

I am willing to bet the MSM is fully aware of the fact, and keeps the B.S. flowing for that very reason.

You know, say it loud enough, long enough.

5:34 PM, January 15, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must be new here, sad dad. Look through Dr. Helen's archives. You will find many references to the treatment of men these days - by the courts, the media. Judging by your "handle", I'd say you've been through the wringer.

Welcome, there are many here (myself included) who have been through much.

Time heals all wounds.
Time wounds all heels.

5:38 PM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger Alex said...

This is another excellent post by Dr. Helen. Truly provides a unique discussion space on the interwebs.

Now onto today's topic. I believe school indoctrination is more dangerous then the MSM bias. Kids don't watch CNN, but their souls up for grabs 7 hours/day, 5 days a week by the leftist ghouls calling themselves "teachers".

Those parents on top of things can keep their kid from being turned into a mindless lefty drone, but for the rest of them it's no chance. I feel sorry for the kids caught in the real war between the concerned parents and the evil teacher. But you can't just surrender your kids soul to these ghouls without a fight.

5:09 AM, January 16, 2009  
Blogger dienw said...

I think Klaven just proved the right's point, not refuted it.

7:53 AM, January 16, 2009  
Blogger Alex said...

Regarding the media, the answer for the right is to stay classy, above the fray. Do not go down to the level of the left muckrackers. Turn the other cheek - be like Jesus.

3:24 PM, January 16, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:29 PM, January 16, 2009  
Blogger Alex said...

Cham - wrong thread.

4:33 PM, January 16, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

I need to put my $.02 here about Sybil Ludington. Yes, she did warn the militia about the approach of the British, who were in the process of burning Danbury, CT, having landed at Norwalk and advanced inland. She is a figure of some historical note in our area, and a statue was erected in her honor in 1961. She had nothing whatsoever to do with Lexington and Concord.

However, Paul Revere gets WAY too much credit for the midnight ride. Of the three original riders, Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott, Revere was the only one to be captured by the British, and Prescott was the only one to actually have completed the ride. However, when Longfellow wrote the poem

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Samuel Prescott,

He realized that just screwed up the meter something awful, and changed the wording to Paul Revere.

On the one hand, Ludington is a historical figure, not a myth. On the other hand, her role is a bit overhyped. Had she managed her ride before Danbury was burned to the ground, she'd get her just due as creating a replay of Lexington/Concord, or a miniature version of Saratoga. However, since it occurred afterwards, while the Brits were already retreating to their ships, it is only in the context of a battle which was a bit of a sideshow in the overall scheme of things in the Revolutionary War.

11:40 AM, January 17, 2009  
Blogger Kanzeon said...


There weren't any cats. This is from out of a book by Tom Wolfe. The experiments, the cats, and the results, are entirely fictional.

Cats don't have culture, and they don't engage much in emulative behaviors. Culture, and emulation, is largely human.

Are you passing this off as real "research?"

7:20 PM, January 18, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

@Dwayne, @Kanzeon

These guys are right. Victor Starling is a fictional character. His supposed experiment sounds like an extension of B. F. Skinner's superstitious pigeons I once read about (i.e. put a new pigeon in the box with a dancing pigeon and both end up doing the same dance), but I haven't found a citation for it yet. In the meantime, I have checked into the (un)reality of Victor Ransome Starling and posted my findings on my blog.

8:11 PM, January 18, 2009  
Blogger geekWithA.45 said...

Strong sense of self?

Consider the experiments of Asch, Milgram, Stanford "prison", and all their variants. Consider the dynamics of mass movements. Consider the behavior of any particular mob.

No one without the very strongest sense of self can survive such massive social pressure and keep their agency intact.

Everyone, at least once in their lives, and hopefully during their formative years, should have the opportunity to face off against a roomful of people who are flat out wrong, and if not triumph against them, then at least escape alive with their perspective.

We live in a world of gaslighters, and if the experiments I mentioned are any indication, those posessing a "strong sense of self" genuinely sufficient to prevail against them at all (nevermind reliably!) is in a minority, and therefore a position of de-facto abnormality.

I cannot help but think that this sort of thing forms a fundamental distinction between humans.

Make no mistake: these social dynamics are at the very core of politically viable liberty. Once "abiding belief" in the previously core values of individualism, independence, true self determination, and so on collapse, all bets are off.

9:05 PM, January 19, 2009  
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6:43 AM, May 20, 2009  

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