NOTE: I am fine-tuning this “source document” in order to start extracting briefer articles, create a comprehensive PDF or brief ebook, and record audios and/or videos. I welcome your feedback.
Some people have accused me of refusing to take sides or refusing to take a stand on good versus evil regarding our current political upheavals. While that is not true I do appreciate that few people read everything that I post. Therefore, in the spirit of transparency, I have summarized my stands on these questions below.
I have publicly written many times that I reject the version of “the sides” that many on both sides of the polarization spectrum have bought into. I am very comfortable with remaining true to my versions of good and evil.
I am against anyone who incites violence against anyone. I view that as evil. I am for the mainstream and alternative media ending their collusion in adding fuel to extremism on both ends of the spectrum. I view their collusion as evil.
I oppose the generally accepted version of what “the sides” are, since I view this as being a big part of what is escalating societal deterioration. I view false notions of “the sides” as evil.
Parsing “the sides” as left versus right, blue lives versus black lives, or other divisiveness-promoting variations, is a smokescreen that hides what I see as the “real” sides: those who support the spiritual upliftment of humanity, collaboration, love, and wellbeing and those who support the spiritual degradation of humanity, collaboration, love, and wellbeing. This version of “the sides” illuminates my version of good versus evil.
Those people of high intentions and good will must come to the table with their diverse perspectives about how to accomplish this. They must be committed to remaining joined in these shared intentions, to remembering that none of them see the whole picture, and to crafting ways forward that honorably and effectively address the diversity of their deep concerns and high intentions. THIS is my version of “good.” I view most of those who oppose as well-intended but misguided even though I am well aware that some who oppose this are evil.
I believe that spiritual people have a social responsibility to do their part to contain evil-doers of all kinds. The problem I see is that even the label of “evil” has been politicized. Take human trafficking, for instance. Every single person I know, regardless of where they live on the political spectrum (and I know plenty of people across the spectrum) adamantly wants this vile practice stopped. However, when broad brushstroke accusations are hurled around, such as Democrats and Hollywood are the evil that are perpetrating sex trafficking, this divisively politicizes a human issue that every sane person would otherwise support eliminating.
The same goes for lying, cheating, stealing, threatening or enacting violence, treason, and other attempts to destroy our republic. There are evil individuals on both sides of the political divide. Singling out only one side is a political power play that enables evil to continue to hide.
These issues must instead be addressed in nonpartisan ways. Continuing to turn these important issues into weapons for attacking “the other side” must end. Those who keep doing this must be called out by their own “side.” Silent tolerance of this gives it more power to fester and grow.
Until we collectively agree to stop politicizing what would otherwise be universal recognition of and responses to evil, all of these issues will remain inadequately addressed.
Evil has strongholds that must be smoked out. Evil generally prefers to remain opaque and covert. I favor unmasking and containing them instead of giving them quarter.
As to how I believe evil should be exposed, my perspective is that they should be identified as fake versions of the group they are hiding within. For example, fake Christians/Jews/Muslims, or fake Republicans/Democrats, or fake Intelligence community/military, or sociopathic capitalists/socialists, and so forth. Wolves in sheep’s clothing need to be unmasked rather than identified with the sheep’s clothing they wear.
Once their fake clothing has been exposed, the authentic people of good will in that group should publicly shun and expel them as not their own, so that evil can no longer can use that group as a hiding place.
Whatever illegal activities the wolves are engaged in should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Societally we should find the courage to stop publicly and privately sympathizing with and attempting to justify the evil that are hiding in groups we are affiliated with, even if this makes our group’s numbers (and therefore potential influence) smaller.
Am I asking a lot by advocating this approach? Without question. I don’t claim that this will be easy. What I do claim is that it is possible and that it will be worth the effort.
I further claim that any other approach is likely to move us more in the direction of anarchy, revolution and a completely dystopian world. That, to me, would be evil.
It is time to replace the prevailing version of “the sides” with this version of “the sides.” The time to do this is now.
That is my stand on good versus evil. I will not be hijacked into supporting what I consider to be false ways of defining good and evil, and I will not be deterred from doing my part to facilitate my version of good.
- As an interdisciplinary psychologist who looks at how society is manipulated by propaganda and how people can be freed from this manipulation, I have been investigating why more people than ever have stopped trusting mainstream (and even commonsense) explanations of what’s going on in the world, and why so many today seem to trust conspiracy theory explanations over conventional ones.
- This source file outlines my preliminary thinking on why conspiracies have become so popular, the dynamics that give rise to widespread adoption of conspiracy theories, what this is telling us about the state of individuals and society, and possible ways forward into an elevated future.
- Let me be transparent from the outset that I track mainstream perspectives, alternative perspectives, and a variety of conspiracy theories. I am aligned with some alternative perspectives and I believe that some conspiracies are quite real. I also also believe that some mainstream information is valid and that some conspiracies are attempts by a new group of tyrants to replace an existing group of tyrants. In other words, I take an integrative attitude about all this.
Our Changing Relationship With Conspiracies
- Conspiracies have existed throughout human history because mysteries, opacity, corruption, and the desire to dominate others have existed throughout human history.
- What’s not always existed is the internet and the instantaneous ways the web can spread information and disinformation far and wide.
- Today, when something mysterious or “bad” is happening, the internet virally provides an abundance of conspiracy theory explanations that have never before been so readily available.
How I Define “Conspiracy Theory”
- A conspiracy theory is an explanation about why something mysterious or bad is happening that significantly diverges from mainstream narratives about that phenomenon, and whose narrative usually includes two main characters: villains (a group of ill-intended perpetrators who are trying to censor information or do malicious things) and saviors (well-intended people trying to prevent that evil from prevailing).
Upheaval + Opacity + Divisiveness = Amplified Conspiracy Theory Attractiveness
- Upheaval (or mystery/unknowns) plus opacity (hiding information) plus divisiveness or polarization escalate uncertainty and confusion., which in turn activate fear. Fear amplifies the attractiveness of conspiracy theories. I think one needn’t be a psychologist to realize this — it seems pretty commonsensical, doesn’t it?
- Let’s go from here into deeper psychological wisdom: Fear most commonly causes people to search for a hidden enemy “out there” to blame for being the boss of their distress. When we’re locked in this belief, it seems like commonsense that in order to be okay again we must identify and vanquish this villain. In psychology we have a technical term for believing that the outer world is the boss of us: External Locus of Control (LOC).
- What goes hand-in-hand with an External LOC is Learned Helplessness: the faulty belief that we can have less impact on behalf of our own wellbeing and/or on behalf of elevating society than we actually can have.
- Conspiracy theories tend to feed people’s beliefs that the key to freedom is eliminating evil in the outer world. In other words, conspiracy theories reinforce an External Locus of Control and Learned Helplessness.
Don’t Outer Circumstances Influence Our Inner States?
- Only a fool would deny that outer circumstances have the potential to influence our inner states.
- However, relatively few people seem to understand that the way outer circumstances influence our our inner states is entirely up to us. In psychology, this understanding is called an Internal Locus of Control.
- Without self-mastery of our inner states (including uncertainty, confusion, and fear), freedom is impossible.
- Although upheavals and opacity have been with us through the history of humanity, a case can be made that we are currently living in an age of unparalleled upheavals and opacity.
- There have always been who people have found ways to flourish during times of upheaval, opacity and divisiveness. I will offer some thoughts about ways to do this later in this document.
Opacity is the Cornerstone of the “Invisible Government” & Propaganda Proponents
- Opacity has two primary purposes. Both are hidden and malevolent in different ways:
- Covert Malevolence: Keep information from people because they supposedly can’t handle it, and because if they had this information, societal chaos will result. This facade of benevolence is actually an insult stemming from a belief that the masses are too stupid to deal with the truth.
- Overt Malevolence: Maintain obvious authoritarian power over individuals or groups.
- The timeless psychological weapons of modern opacity were supercharged a century ago by the father of public relations and modern propaganda tactics, Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays. Ironically, he was completely transparent in his books about his opacity strategies and tactics. Those books remain widely available to this day, and the most well-known is simply titled Propaganda.
- Having mastered the opacity art of hiding in plain sight, Bernays was a poster child of what he called “the invisible government.” He defined the invisible government as those who covertly pull the strings of the American psyche. Here is Bernays in his own words:
- “In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons… It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind. “
- “The conscious intelligent manipulation of the organized opinions and habits of the masses is an important element in a democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our society.”
- “Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government.”
- Bernays was in fact part of the invisible government. He was an advisor to virtually every U.S. President, both Democrat and Republican, from Woodrow Wilson over 100 years ago until when Bernays died during Bill Clinton’s first term in office. He was the darling of business, advertising and politics. The Nazi minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels fashioned his propaganda campaigns based on Bernays’s books (which Bernays was aghast at since her was an American Jew).
- A couple of Bernays’s most famous achievements include single-handedly obliterating the taboo against women smoking in public in order to super-boost cigarette sales to women in 1928, and orchestrating the notorious Banana Republic coup in Guatemala in 1954. Bernays was indeed the father of Madison Avenue-style manipulative advertising. Some of the most successful political campaign operatives since the 1990s were proteges of Bernays, such as Dick Morris.
- The more commonly used terms for “invisible government” today are the deep state, the cabal, and dark forces.
The Salvation Fantasy of Those With an External Locus of Control (LOC)
- A vast psychological pandemic has been taking hold in recent years. That pandemic is the vast number of people who have been brainwashed into adopting an External LOC (see further above for a definition of External Locus of Control). People with an External LOC believe they will be saved when their preference of one of these two things happens:
- We return to the (supposedly) uncorrupt way things used to be.
- The corrupt world as we know it is completely dismantled and replaced with an enlightened new world.
- When a conspiracy theory comes along that promises a return to the status quo after the evildoers are brought to justice, OR that promises a leap into a new utopian future will occur after the evildoers are brought to justice, vast numbers of people with an External LOC are primed to jump on the bandwagon.
What’s Being Overlooked: The Invisible Government AND Many Conspiracy Proponents Use Propaganda to Influence the Masses
- Conspiracy theory proponents insist that they are unmasking the Invisible Government. However, they themselves tend to use the same opacity smokescreens and propaganda techniques to manipulate people that the Invisible Government uses. (In the next section I’ll touch on the three shades of opacity that are being used by both groups.)
- This puts conspiracy theory proponents in jeopardy of becoming the next wave of hidden tyrants who are trying to replace today’s hidden tyrants, all while posing as society’s saviors.
- Tyrant-shifting has played out this way throughout history. This is the biggest secret that many conspiracy theory proponents don’t want you to know, and some well-intended conspiracy theory components might not even recognize this themselves.
- The mainstream doesn’t want you to know this and neither do many conspiracy theory proponents.
The Invisible Government AND Most Conspiracy Theorists Utilize Three Shades of Opacity
- Falsehoods: presenting lies as the fact or truth — disinformation.
- Misleading: presenting selected details as though they are the whole picture — spin (selected facts or truths that support a specific agenda, combined with manipulating the conclusions the spin doctors want people to reach because of how they have slanted the details).
- Concealing: cover-ups — omitting or hiding information that doesn’t support the perspective or position that’s being advocated.
The Connection Between Opacity, Alternate Truths, Information Bubbles, and Conspiracy Theory Susceptibility
- Opacity builds distrust and invites the development of under-informed narratives that are over-believed by adherents.
- The three shades of opacity are widely used by politicians, special interests, and influencers — whether mainstream, alternative, or conspiracy-based — to build and nourish information bubbles in which individuals and groups of people are consistently fed the three shades of opacity. This results in people in each information bubble strengthening their conviction that their information bubble is the only one that knows the real truth. This is how “alternate truths” are born and sustained by proponents of mainstream, alternative, and conspiracy theory perspectives.
- Blurring the lines between truth and lies turn some people away from mainstream beliefs and reinforce mainstream thinking in others.
- Propagandists feed on people’s need for certainty. This results in people rightly or wrongly feeling more clarity, solace, and direction than they feel they are getting from whichever politicians, special interests and influencers they view as the enemy.
- I believe these are the key psychological reasons that have been causing more people than ever to more readily than ever be unreasonably over-attached to whatever mainstream, alternative, or conspiracy perspectives help them feel like they are not being played for fools. Their need to reduce distress is running their decisions far more than a desire to understand the full picture.
Ignorance of the Psychological and Societal Impacts of Opacity is the Father of All Conspiracy Theories
- Conspiracy theories gather momentum in response to mainstream opacity (that is, the absence of transparency).
- Conspiracy theories become more popular when mainstream opacity generates uncertainty and confusion.
- Conspiracists capitalize on the fear that uncertainty and confusion create by:
- Saying who they want people to believe is the covert enemy to blame for their problems
- Telling people how to vanquish that enemy so things will be all better again
- Embedding in those people a “true believer” level of allegiance so the conspiracists can get the job done for people.
- In other words, conspiracy theorists run a strong risk of becoming the next wave of opaque power holders who replace the current group of opaque power holders, once they get large enough numbers of people to support their narrative. This is why they are so invested in doing whatever they can to make their messages go viral on the internet.
- The more we remain asleep about the connection between opacity, alternate truths, and information bubbles, the more susceptible we will be to adopting the narrative we find the most compelling. The more we want power taken away from from the dominant power brokers, the more susceptible we will be to believing one conspiracy theory or another — from plausible to delusional.
What the Polarized Left & the Right Don’t Understand About Ideological Subversion
- I believe that the U.S.S.R., and since its demise, Russia, have been utilizing the KGB’s “Ideological Subversion” tactics to undermine the United States since the 1950s. I suspect that China and some other countries have been trying to use similar tactics in more recent years. I believe that ideologues within the United States use these as well.
- I believe that the abuse of the internet in general and social networks in specific have made Ideological Subversion tactics more potent and fast-acting than ever. And I believe that BOTH far left and far right ideologues have been successfully manipulated by these manipulation campaigns.
- Rather than viewing videos like The Plot to Steal America video as the way to save America, I view most of these as products of well-intended people who don’t recognize that they too have been hijacked by the Ideological Subversion campaigns that are ripping our country apart.
- In the Ideological Subversion framework, these people who are trying to do good (just like people on the far left) are referred to as “useful idiots.” I view both Biden and Trump as leaders who have been turned into “useful idiots” while they themselves (and of course their supporters) view them as the “true” patriots.
- I urge you to recognize that the purveyors of Ideological Subversion orchestrate divisiveness and polarization to achieve their aims, and that anyone who gives in to this on either side of polarization has been subverted.
How Those Who Embrace Conspiracy Theories Terrify the Mainstream
- When those in power can’t handle what would happen if the masses knew the truth of what they are opaquely doing, they issue an engraved invitation for conspiracy theories to emerge and flourish.
- Ironically, when the masses start believing conspiracy theories, the mainstream that has been manipulating the public with opaque power tactics starts to lose power.
- Also ironically, people who find conspiracy theories credible are actually showing, by embracing these, that they are indeed strong enough to handle whatever the truth turns out to be. This terrifies the mainstream who use opaque power because it shows them that they are at great risk of being put out of power.
- This is the biggest reason why those with mainstream power try to censor alternative perspectives and conspiracy theories — they don’t want people to discover that they are powerful enough to deal with the truth that the opaque mainstream has been keeping from the masses.
Toward a Wiser-Yet-Counterintuitive Perspective
- Paradoxically, the more fear the mainstream has about being taken down by conspiracy theories, the more fully transparent they need to become with the information they have been concealing because they believe the public can’t handle it. In other words, if the mainstream reacts to conspiracy theories by becoming even more opaque, this will actually help conspiracy theories become even more popular. The mainstream must resist the temptation to become more opaque and controlling, and must instead find the courage to become more fully transparent.
- Paradoxically, the more the conspiracy theorists want to wake people up about the mainstream’s opacity, the less they should use the three shades of opacity to accomplish this, because trading one flavor of propaganda for another only preserves a dysfunctional status quo , but with a new set of opaque leaders. In other words, if non-mainstream folks react to mainstream opacity by hitting the public with equal and opposite opacity, this will actually help the mainstream retain power. Just as is true with mainstream proponents, non-mainstream proponents must resist the temptation to become more opaque and controlling, and must instead find the courage to become transparent.
- Full transparency is the key. Full transparency is total truth — the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth — NOT an escalating war between alternate “facts.” Do you now see why this applies equally to proponents of mainstream, alternative, and conspiracy perspectives?
- It’s one thing to speak truth to power. It’s another thing to demand total truth from power. We must demand truth even more than we speak it. From the mainstream, from providers of alternative approaches, and from conspiracy theorists.
A Path Forward: We the People Must Vaccinate Ourselves Against Being Manipulated by the Three Shades of Opacity
- The path forward that I recommend is stepping into full Source-Connected Self-Sovereignty (definitions below) in ways that are of service rather than narcissistic, and requiring that society and government be restructured to promote citizen self-sovereignty and business social responsibility.
- Source is a generic name for whatever you call the origin of highest love and highest wisdom: God, Spirit, the ‘I AM’ Presence, Christ/Buddha Consciousness, your higher self, the wisdom of the Universe, and so forth.
- Self-Sovereignty is a state of self-dominion and authenticity in which elevated self-development, self-responsibility & personal power equip you to be the boss of your own perspectives, choices, words & actions… AND equip you to embody your deepest most spiritual sense of purpose.
- Inner elevation comes before the outer elevation, and what comes before both is spiritual elevation. Vaccinating yourself against being manipulated by the three shades of opacity — whether used by mainstream, alternative, or conspiracy theory sources — starts with repairing and elevating spiritual disconnection. It doesn’t end there but it does start there.
- Spiritual Elevation
- Conspiracies versus the mainstream is not today’s #1 problem — feeling and acting like you’re separated from Source (whatever your term for spirit/higher wisdom is) is the #1 problem.
- When you react with fear to upheaval, uncertainty, opacity or divisiveness, it’s because you are insufficiently connected with Source.
- Source Connection is the experience of being a consistent conduit of higher love and higher wisdom.
- In each moment you feel uncertainty, confusion or fear, reconnect with your version of Source instead of letting those feelings manipulate you into an external locus of control, learned helplessness, and a resulting search for a hidden outer enemy to vanquish.
- Inner Elevation
- As within so without. The false belief that an outer enemy must be vanquished so you can experience inner peace is an externalization of inner tyranny. Inner tyranny can only manipulate you when feel separated from Source. Most people are so adapted to living with an inner tyrant that they either no longer recognize it, let alone believe they can vanquish it.
- The inner work to become free from inner tyranny is to stop being loyal to your inner critic. So, the heart of inner work, which goes hand-in-hand with elevating Source connection, is to learn how to get the upper hand on your inner critic/tyrant.
- Outer Elevation
- Start noticing when mainstream, alternative sources, and conspiracy theorists are using the three shades of opacity to manipulate you into believing what they want you to believe.
- Stop blindly accepting either the party line or conspiracy theories as gospel truth. Dispassionately consider status quo explanations and conspiracy theories. Look for grains, pebbles or boulders of truth in both, as well as the shades of opacity that are surrounding these pieces of truth.
- Understand who stands to gain from both sides vilifying the “other” rather than authentically understanding each other’s deep concerns and high intentions. The answer: Authoritarians, whether mainstream or alternative or conspiracy-based.
- Expose and remove mainstream and alternative power brokers who can’t handle us knowing the whole truth.
- Demonstrate that you can handle whatever the truth turns out to be.
- Understand that the sinister One World Government conspiracy theory has gained so much traction that it is drowning out the other vision of world unification that facilitates spiritual evolution. Embrace Self-Sovereignty That Serves Us All (see definition further above), and demand Governance That Serves Self-Sovereignty. Until you do this, the authoritarian version of world unification will maintain power instead of the heaven on earth version of world unification. (Governance That Serves Self-Sovereignty is stewardship that utilizes psychospiritually elevated principles & procedures to successfully promote Self-Sovereignty [personal freedom] that Serves Us All [the common good]. The purpose of governance is to serve the highest interests of citizens, not those who are elected or appointed, and not special interests. This approach to governance equips people to embody Self-Sovereignty That Serves Us All™ as the boss of their own lives in non-narcissistic [non-self-centered] ways so the size and cost of governance can be kept as low as possible, and regulations can be kept at a minimum.
- Use your 3 Source Powers to embody Self-Sovereignty That Serves Us All & to require Governance That Serves Self-Sovereignty.
- Personal Power: Transparently express your authenticity, commitments & boundaries, in centered loving ways. “We need a strong sense of personal empowerment to be able to thrive in life and love.” ~ Dr. Gary Salyer. “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” ~ Albus Dumbledore
- Synergy Power: Effectively collaborate with others who see differently from you so you can get everyone’s deep concerns and highest intentions on the table, and from there co-create solutions that address all of these.
- Stewardship Power: Recognize & elevate systems dynamics to co-create healthy cultures. “The problem with politicians who abuse power isn’t that they don’t get results. It’s that the results come at a high cost to the Republic — and to the reputations of those who lack the courage or wisdom to resist.” ~ Editorial Board, New York Times. “Democracies die when citizens feel powerless.” ~ Timothy Egan
- Results From Spiritual, Inner & Outer Elevation
- Your critical thinking skills skyrocket: you’re able to unmask and deal with real conspiracies is enhanced, you’re less willing to blindly adopt conspiracies as a first explanation for what’s going on, and it becomes less possible for mainstream or conspiracy opacity to be the boss of you.
- You remain Source-connected more of the time and you embody your 3 Source Powers in good ways.
- You are experience enhanced effectiveness in all three of these ways:
- 1. Mobilize others to embody Source-Centered Self-Sovereignty That Serves Us All instead of an external locus of control and learned helplessness.
- 2. Facilitate solutions through Synergy-Centered Problem-Solving instead of misusing coercion and compromise, so society becomes less divisive and more reunited.
- 3. Elevate systems, such as governance, economics, businesses, education, media, religion, etc., to support Self-Sovereignty rather than undermine it.
I Have a Dream
I see only limited value in protesting what’s wrong, in vilifying the mainstream in broad brush strokes (the bad apples must be removed of course), or in placing blind faith in insufficiently verified conspiracy theories. I see huge value in building what’s right. Building what’s right starts with a dream.
I have a dream that includes these 3 connected ingredients:
- We as citizens embody spiritual self-sovereignty, so we remain the boss of our wellbeing no matter what is going on around us.
- The influencers we support catalyze the rebuilding of a collaborative society that nourishes spiritual self-sovereignty, including practicing full transparency that provides the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and advocating synergized problem-solving in place of coercion and compromise.
- The politicians we elect craft policies that integrate the deep concerns and high intentions of both the right and the left (of all “sides” really), that support “self-sovereignty that serves us all” in citizens and businesses, and that serve citizens in alignment with the Constitution instead of serving themselves or special interests.
Join the “We Can Handle the Truth” Movement
If you resonate with this dream, how will you succeed with your spiritual, inner and outer work, how will you turn this dream into a plan, and what parts will you play fulling this plan in 2021?
- In his famous 1964 essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Richard Hofstadter noted that the conspiracy-inclined mind “produces heroic strivings for evidence to prove that the unbelievable is the only thing that can be believed.”
- “Everybody thinks they want freedom but what they really want is order. And when they realize that they will welcome us with open arms.” ~ Empire officer in the Mandalorian TV series