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Guest Post: Narcissistic Consumerism And Self-Destruction

Tyler Durden's picture




 

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

Narcissistic Consumerism and Self-Destruction  

Health is horribly unprofitable; illness, anxiety and alienation are highly profitable. That is the destructive essence of our sociopathological "engine of growth," narcissistic consumerism.

Today I want to extend the discussion of a topic that I believe is absolutely central to "why things are falling apart": our dependence on a peculiarly adolescent narcissistic consumerism for identity, meaning and economic growth.

Understanding the consequences of this pathology is the core of my books, Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation, An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times and Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change.

Correspondent/physician Birgit insightfully extends the narcissistic consumerism at the heart of our economy to its self-destructive conclusion: an essentially suicidal cultural antagonism toward any intact ecosystem.

Thanks for your concise way of connecting consumerism and narcissism. I frequently wonder at the energy my patients devote to television, three-colored hair streaks, the right shoes and purses, expensive cars, big vinyl houses, and then are completely aghast when I tell them to just plain turn off the TV and go for a daily walk and cook some actual vegetables; somehow these are too time consuming and expensive. The cognitive dissonance is painful to the point where I feel a very strong suicidal impulse from our culture. (emphasis added, CHS)

 

I know you are aware of the recent results of the human microbiome project, showing our heritance includes 10 times more bacterial genetic material than human DNA; and it is becoming very obvious that this is an obligate relationship, and we need our microscopic flora at least as much as they need us (skyrocketing food allergy, MS, Type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, autism rates all attest to this). I think that our cultural antagonism toward an intact ecosystem is suicidal. Actually, I know it is suicidal, but I think it is manifesting more and more strongly in our capitalist subconscious. So much sanitizer and plastic!

 

Strangely, I see a cultural refusal to acknowledge our dependency on an intact ecosystem most strongly when driving my in suburban neighborhood. All those mulch volcanoes, frantically trying to hide any hint of roots branching underground. The good citizens somehow feel the soil that supports all life is obscene and must be completely covered. Luckily the fermentation underground is there to balance the sterility impulse (Sandor Katz's new fermentation book is like a bible, I recommend it).

 

I also wanted to thank you for your career advice. I finally gave notice at my conventional healthcare practice and have cast myself loose in a private practice, with low overhead, no support staff, and my own ideas. Thanks to you I see the complexity of the insurance and Medicare systems as the marker of their unsustainability, and I know that business as usual won't be for too much longer.

Thank you, Birgit, for a brilliant and incisive description of permanent-adolescence narcissistic consumerism. For readers who are unfamiliar with the microbiome, here is an excellent overview Your Inner Ecosysem: Your Microbiome Community Brings New Meaning to "We the People" (Scientific American) and Explore the Human Microbiome.

As mentioned in yesterday's entry Narcissism, Consumerism and the End of Growth, the culture of narcissism is based on fear: of emptiness, worthlessness and whatever else the marketing machine can make you fear.

In our heavily sanitized culture, that includes anything related to micro-organisms, i.e. "germs," dirt, etc. Those of you who know basic biology understand the irony of this sanitization: in killing off bacteria, we not only eliminate "good" bacteria we need to stay healthy, we also eliminate the weakest "bad" bacteria and leave only the most resistant few to reproduce.

This heavily marketed obsession with sanitization of everything has led to super-bugs which cannot be killed by conventional antibiotics.

In a way, the self-destructive consequences of obsessive sanitization is an apt metaphor for the self-destruction at the heart of the entire narcissistic consumerism project. Where does reacting to constant, exaggerated messages of fear lead to? To the loss of the ability to make realistic assessments of reality.

Permanent adolescence is the state of resolving insecurity, fear and social defeat by buying things that promise the invulnerability of a fantasy self and world, and by indulging in instant gratification to mask the self-destructive derangement of broken ecosystems: not just in the natural world, but in our bodies, in our society, in our economy and in our politics.

Nurturing permanent adolescence, anxiety and alienation are highly profitable, for people responding to the fear and anxiety of Thanatos (the instinct for destruction) will not only become malleable consumers, they will lose their grip on Eros, the instinct for life and love. Once lost to the Dark Side, they have no way to experience health or intact ecosystems; their world darkens as there appears to be no alternative to the Status Quo.

Health is horribly unprofitable; illness, anxiety and alienation are highly profitable. That is the destructive essence of our sociopathological "engine of growth," narcissistic consumerism.

 

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Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:22 | 2907598 JustObserving
JustObserving's picture

What you call Narcissistic Consumerism, Rogoff calls Coronary Capitalism:

"But the obesity epidemic hardly looks like a growth killer. Highly processed corn-based food products, with lots of chemical additives, are well known to be a major driver of weight gain, but, from a conventional growth-accounting perspective, they are great stuff. Big agriculture gets paid for growing the corn (often subsidized by the government), and the food processors get paid for adding tons of chemicals to create a habit-forming – and thus irresistible – product. Along the way, scientists get paid for finding just the right mix of salt, sugar, and chemicals to make the latest instant food maximally addictive; advertisers get paid for peddling it; and, in the end, the health-care industry makes a fortune treating the disease that inevitably results.

 Coronary capitalism is fantastic for the stock market, which includes companies in all of these industries. Highly processed food is also good for jobs, including high-end employment in research, advertising, and health care.

So, who could complain? Certainly not politicians, who get re-elected when jobs are plentiful and stock prices are up – and get donations from all of the industries that participate in the production of processed food. Indeed, in the US, politicians who dared to talk about the health, environmental, or sustainability implications of processed food would in many cases find themselves starved of campaign funds."

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/coronary-capitalism

 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:36 | 2907829 vast-dom
vast-dom's picture

there are too many people that would rather shop than stay home and make love. too many people that are medicated and/or out of shape that can't make love. the average time for intercourse in North America is 5min, and decreasing...what is the time per week the average North American spends shopping, online and otherwise?

 

and did you know this little tidbit: central bankers polled said they would rather print money then ejaculate.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:07 | 2907872 Orange Pekoe
Orange Pekoe's picture

It has to be the circumcisions. Sex is better for both parties with foreskin. Circumcisions peaked in the US in the 70s at 90%. Probably cause everyone was so stressed out and malnourished, depleted their vitamin b nervous system vitamins, and became hateful baby mutilators.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:46 | 2907938 ToNYC
ToNYC's picture

Empathogens are a Buddhist Tool: Needless I say, not needless to say.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 15:20 | 2908112 captain_menace
captain_menace's picture

You say it like it's a bad thing.

Natural selection at work?

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 18:06 | 2908398 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

.

there are too many people that would rather shop than stay home and make love. too many people that are medicated and/or out of shape that can't make love. the average time for intercourse in North America is 5min, and decreasing...what is the time per week the average North American spends shopping, online and otherwise?

 

maybe some have heard the derogative labels "cunt" & "pussy" shouted enough times to get the message about what is hated.

and submit to the 5 minutes (because "sex" ends when the cock does), then grab the keys 'n' credit cards to extract payments. . .

 

"making love" should be mutual. . . getting fucked requires compensation, at the very least.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:12 | 2907599 cossack55
cossack55's picture

I'll finish reading this as soon as I return from Walmart, Target and Best Buy.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:18 | 2907809 CH1
CH1's picture

The conclusion of the article is magnificent.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 23:11 | 2908823 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

I disagree

Charles Hugh-Smiths conclusion is our engine of growth is Wacko Jacko looking in a mirror wanting yet another trip to the plastic surgeon to reach his Peter Pan nirvana

consumerism is as fundamental to nature as it is to man

it is productivity that leads to real economic growth. What is at fault is the usual rotten bedfellows of bwankers and politicians trying to fuel false growth by debt.

That's the real wrecking crew, not marketeers or detergent makers

you wanna see viruses and bugs? Watch what happens when we hit a recession, the bug rates increase markedly. Zippo to do with being sold Clean Wipe

"Health is horribly unprofitable.."

Well 'they' must all be bankrupt then as our lifespans have never been so long or so healthy

Charles you've lost your marbles. Another delusional article like this and i'll get you certified for being clearly hysterical

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:16 | 2907601 dick cheneys ghost
dick cheneys ghost's picture

Stop eating wheat, these people are trying to kill us...........we should sue them for attempted murder

 

 

http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/

 

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505269_162-57505149/modern-wheat-a-perfect-c...

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:20 | 2907614 falak pema
falak pema's picture

aren't u talking about "doctored" wheat; like "doctored" corn or soya; GMO stuff?

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:35 | 2907633 overmedicatedun...
overmedicatedundersexed's picture

on walden pond is so 19th century. tofu for all. soy is a death sauce in someones mind. for me ben franklin that womanizing, high living genius, is my model for modern man: moderation in ALL things. now lets define moderation. oh thats the rub.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:00 | 2907676 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

Does "moderation in all things" include moderation itself? Are we advised to occasionally indulge in gluttony and other forms of excess?

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:25 | 2907723 overmedicatedun...
overmedicatedundersexed's picture

spasticaR, that's the rub..moderation in mind and body and most importantly actions..only a budda could know when enough is enough, the modern world says NEVER. Never enough never..we drive a prius to save the polar bear, not so we can commute long miles to work shop and play no not that. live where you work and drive an SUV 2000 miles a year who saves those cute bears now.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:19 | 2907808 RiverRoad
RiverRoad's picture

New and Improved!!!

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 16:11 | 2908186 Zadok
Zadok's picture

I'm afraid that unless you can find a stock of 100 year old seed your out of luck. And then if you plant it, it will be cross pollinated quickly.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 18:18 | 2908413 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

Monsanto'd wheat.

Today's "wheat," he says, isn't even wheat, thanks to some of the most intense crossbreeding efforts ever seen. "The wheat products sold to you today are nothing like the wheat products of our grandmother's age, very different from the wheat of the early 20th Century, and completely transformed from the wheat of the Bible and earlier," he says.

Plant breeders changed wheat in dramatic ways. Once more than four feet tall, modern wheat--the type grown in 99 percent of wheat fields around the world--is now a stocky two-foot-tall plant with an unusually large seed head. Dr. Davis says accomplishing this involved crossing wheat with non-wheat grasses to introduce altogether new genes, using techniques like irradiation of wheat seeds and embryos with chemicals, gamma rays, and high-dose X-rays to induce mutations.

http://preventdisease.com/news/12/011612_Modern-Wheat-Really-Isnt-Wheat-...

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 00:35 | 2908909 combatsnoopy
combatsnoopy's picture

A lot of "wheat" products contain "gluten" to make the product appear to have more protein in it.  The laws here state that the ingredients have to be listed and where the product is made, but the laws do not require the food maker to disclose where they got the ingredients from. 

Did this gluten come from China? 

Is this the same gluten in pet foods that killed a number of animals recently? 

 

On that note, do you REALLY know what you're putting into your body?  I've embraced raw food recipes for this reason alone.  I hate hospitals and hope to never need to go back again.  

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 02:33 | 2908961 RichardP
RichardP's picture

Gluten is a natural part of wheat.  Are you talking about added gluten?

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:35 | 2907634 q99x2
q99x2's picture

I had to quit eating bread because of pain. I went on vacation and noticed that the pain went away. The only thing different was the bread that I was eating. When I got back I did not resume eating bread and no pain. So I don't eat bread now.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:58 | 2907670 aerojet
aerojet's picture

Sure, because nothing else besides bread could be causing your pain.  Not sure if serious...

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:31 | 2907733 SWCroaker
SWCroaker's picture

Then read.  Or have a relative transition over the ignore-it threshold with type II diabetes.  My wife did.  She had to change her diet, oddly enough just to dodge carbs and sugars, per instruction.  Turns out some of the most consistent offenders in carb levels all tie back to ---> wheat.  Bread & pasta.

My diet changed when hers did.  I'm feeling better, and losing weight, and not subject to hunger cravings.

You can choose to believe.  Believe the government line on what is "healthy" for you, even if you don't believe any other lines they feed you.  You can believe some book author who's on a lecture circuit and enjoying the limelight.  Or maybe you can believe the poorly written, often zealous firsthand accounts from ordinary people who for one reason or another, tried something different, and feel compelled to share their stories.

For me, I distrust easily, have seen all too often how good intentions can morph overtime into self sustaining fonts of disinformation, and am comfortable using myself as my own lab rat.  The scientific method isn't just available to white lab coat types.   I've tried the low-wheat change, and a noticeably good change occurred in my health at the same time.  "Who you gonna trust woman, your lovin' husband or your lying eyes?"

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 17:35 | 2908118 hack3434
hack3434's picture

Illusion of choice: http://simplepimple.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/the-illusion-of-choice.jpg

Kellogs total revenue as of 2011 (Just one of many conglomerates): $13.2B

Not hard to at least suspect that corps such as Kellogs have the incentive of providing pseudoscience showing the "benefits" of wheat. To each his own I suppose... 

 

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 00:01 | 2908879 combatsnoopy
combatsnoopy's picture

Bristol Myers Squibb is the makers of Metformin and they bought off a lot of PR to censor good information about insulin spikes and high fructose corn syrup. 

Also look into polysaturated/transfats and diabetes II.  And the lack of nutrition.  

I don't trust diobese CEOs of Big Pharma to regulate our healthcare reform which is why I'm strongly opposed to it.  

 

Japan got it right.   The Japanese take such good care of themselves that their healthcare system is not considered a money maker, so it's not even worth their while to lobby politicians.  This is a great example of how the free market beat the socialist sytem, which they do have.  The consumers put forth the effort and discipline and they won. 

IT doesn't matter whose POTUS or whose lobbying, Big pharma is ready to exploit the medicare we're handing over to 76 million baby boomers who believe it's status quo to throw chemicals at everything.  Either prescriptions or recreational devices.  

What you're talking about will save us a chunk of money in medicare, if it's actually implemented.  But OMG, people will need to learn how to prep REAL food vs. the precooked imitation meat served at Taco Bell.  

 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:44 | 2907605 falak pema
falak pema's picture

well the role of a philosopher is to tie in the loose ends; our captialist paradigm having gone south bigtime we now not only have a short term challenge to climb out of current hole but a longer term one of defining a new paradigm. That balances different societal issues like "individual free will", a thread that started off in Renaissance days as expression of the individual outside the dogma of society, both religious or feudal, and has now become so self serving that its destroying the individal itself while benefitting the predatory elements of society; as always.

Back to ethics and morality, back to understanding the physical limits of planet earth. Back to redefining the frontiers between ecosystem, individual and collective living. 

 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:04 | 2907683 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

Ego is the source of our predicament. Leadership isn't the answer; it's part of the problem.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:20 | 2907707 illyia
illyia's picture

Ego is existential. Corruption is the problem. Definition of corruption: Lying, stealing, obfuscation, manipulation.

Solution: Transparency - enforced.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:47 | 2907752 falak pema
falak pema's picture

too true, when you live thru two world wars the ego takes a beating. Maybe our first world troubles arise from an accumulation of ego trips in an age when we had it too good. Now the black swans arrive in droves. 

Nobody wants to change the rules of the game even when you know its up. 

Best icon of the age : Lance Armstrong, who feels justified having won the fight against big C, to go on to win the fight against little 'c', in his line of thinking; "its only that I wanted to have a CDS on my races, fellas, nothing to write home about and nothing to go to jail about; hell the world is full of Libor manipulators; cheats do prosper if they have the gall to stick it out!'

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:17 | 2907608 Banksters
Banksters's picture

Kill your cable Tv. It operates on your mind in ways you cannot defend.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:35 | 2907636 Arbysauce
Arbysauce's picture

I blame the public education system as well. It destroys independent thought.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:57 | 2907668 Nimby
Nimby's picture

Nothing can destroy independent thought.  The independent thinker may endure the cruicible of the public education system relatively unscathed, otherwise, they are wholly bereft of the qualities of an independent thinker.  Indeed, the independent thinker would revel in the opportunity to attend public school: no where else would they find so many opportunities to find truth than in the absence of it.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:21 | 2907711 Winston of Oceania
Winston of Oceania's picture

That is why they choose in the end to simply destroy the thinker themselves...   www.mises.org

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:29 | 2907726 Bob
Bob's picture

Absolutely agreed.  Nobody is more resistant to efforts to control their thinking than adolescents are.  Just the nature of the beast. See my comment below. 

I get the impression that most people who view kids as intellectual invalids victimized by public schools are talking about somebody else's kids.  Little do they actually know.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:46 | 2907749 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

"Nobody is more resistant to efforts to control their thinking than adolescents are."

That is false on so many levels I can't take anything else you said seriously.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:49 | 2907757 Bob
Bob's picture

Thanks for sharing your critique.  Apparently you know far more than me. 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:56 | 2907768 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

Yes, I do.  You're apparently a part of the system you defend.  I can understand that.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:04 | 2907788 Bob
Bob's picture

So far you seem to be asserting yourself as a self-righteously ignorant zealot. 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:05 | 2907871 nofluer
nofluer's picture

I don't know if you folks have your view set up like mine, but I've found that iin the comments section as one of these ping-pong ball slam fests goes on and on, the view as displayed gets narrower, and narrower, and narrower...

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 19:37 | 2908524 ForTheWorld
ForTheWorld's picture

He/She isn't saying that they know more than you, but to say that adolescents are harder to sway mentally than other age groups is false. It's quite easy to get an adolescent to change their opinion three or four times within minutes if you just use the right words. Actually, it applies to anyone, but if you've ever worked with adolescents, you'll know just how easy they are to sway.

An example (albeit extreme): If you watch the documentary "Louis Theroux - The Most Hated Family in America", you'll see just how easily the children in that family are manipulated, and how they don't even understand what they're talking about, yet spout it as if it were gospel (pardon the pun).

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 22:10 | 2908760 Abrick
Abrick's picture

That's right, adolescents buy millions of dollars worth of Axe body spray, because it smells good and when they wear it they get laid all the time. They eat Mcdonalds, Burger King, etc... because it is so healthy and tasty.  They are resistant to their parents efforts to control their thinking because most parents are shitty at marketing.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:32 | 2907831 CH1
CH1's picture

Nothing can destroy independent thought.

I'm sure it seems that way to you (which may be a good thing), but that is UTTERLY false. The rulers of the world couldn't stay in business otherwise. 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:39 | 2907838 cossack55
cossack55's picture

You may be assuming that many people actually think.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:12 | 2907693 Offthebeach
Offthebeach's picture

Um.....what did you think it was designed for?
It is very, very successful.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:35 | 2907736 Bob
Bob's picture

Designed to provide feed stock to business? 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:48 | 2907756 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

Correction.  Designed to produce narcassistic needy drones for the Statists.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:53 | 2907763 Bob
Bob's picture

Even most of the younger kids aren't that simple minded. 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:00 | 2907774 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

The ones that aren't are medicated into submission.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:50 | 2907853 The trend is yo...
The trend is your friend's picture

agreed,  if you open your kids eyes to the nonsense at a reasonable age, like i did at age 8 with my first son, they will not be part of the consumeristic system. 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 23:20 | 2908839 New World Chaos
New World Chaos's picture

Check out Common Purpose.  It's a cultish secret society that is taking over British bureaucracy and politics through training courses based on "soft" mind control techniques such as Neuro-Linguisitc Programming.  It sounds like headache-inducing jargon and pablum but it has insidious effects on weak minds.  Candidates are pre-screened with elaborate psychometric profiling.  They seek narcissists first and foremost.  Narcissism is the trait which makes the best statist drones, because they feel above the people they lord over and they very much need to belong to an alpha group.  Strategically placed ostracism and fake love will turn narcissists into unthinking minions of the Hive Mind.  Lack of self awareness is CP's next most desirable trait because they don't want people to realize they are being played.  Greed might be third on the list.  Here's a quick description of how they work:

http://cpexposed.com/brian-gerrish/general-election-6-may-2010-and-common-purpose

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:14 | 2907695 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

A tad simplistic....

Consumerism and short term gratification, which is taught at home, destroys critical thinking...

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:25 | 2907724 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

Consumerism and short term gratification are taught by the MSM in your home.   Any critical thinking taught by parents at home is then destroyed by the Public screw system.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:42 | 2907785 Bob
Bob's picture

+1 and -1.  Beyond that, I'd add that the workplace is where the crushing of critical thought reaches completion. 

Which is sad for everybody, given that fully engaged people make far better workers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:21 | 2907702 Bob
Bob's picture

I moonlight in the standardized education testing industry and have, over the past 10 years, read more than 100,000 essays written by K-12 grade students from all kinds of schools nationwide, including home schools.  The tests are designed to measure writing ability in all dimensions, from grammar to vocabulary and fluency, as well as critical thinking skills. 

In contrast to what the public is hearing, when asked to evaluate and argue complex issues the majority of our kids have very impressive abilities.  They may not have the professional writer's command of mechanics, but the analytical sophistication and originality of their thinking is astonishing to me.  This holds true regardless of the school setting, though my impression is it tends to be more evident among public school kids, fwiw. 

The primary reason I do this work is because of what I'm able to learn not only about our kids, but about the world they see.  Seriously, the depth and range of their thinking is that mind boggling. 

So what happens after they leave school is the real question to my mind.  I've taken to calling this the "Real Life Phenomenon." 

Once you hit the "Real World," very few jobs even accommodate creativity or critical thinking ability, much less encourage or require it.  In fact, outside of school, genuine "outside of the box" critical thinking becomes far more of a liability than an asset for the vast majority of people. 

Modern life is about going along to get along.  Anything else brings problems that few can afford.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:16 | 2907880 nofluer
nofluer's picture

Hear, hear!!!

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 19:54 | 2908538 ForTheWorld
ForTheWorld's picture

Doesn't it seem contradictory to attempt to measure critical thinking in a standardized test, when there are (presumably, if it's similar to Australian education) copious guides for these tests, which, having been through school myself, seem to be nothing more than a way of separating the wheat from the chaff to further subdivide children into classes? Critical thinking isn't supposed to be standardised - I would posit that it's supposed to be nutured to instill in a child the ability to properly discern right from wrong in almost any field of interest/study they find themselves in.

Critical thinking measured by standardised testing isn't really critical thinking - it's measuring whether children can think through things in the way that they've been educated or schooled to think, and thus, mostly only see the measured point of view.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 20:57 | 2908591 Bob
Bob's picture

Making the effort to evaluate, on an admittedly gross level, critical thinking is not the same as "standardizing" the thing measured itself.  These tests do not purport to make fine distinctions between students or particular abilities on complex tasks.  To claim that would be absurd.  Nonetheless, "critical thinking" is not so ephemeral or ambiguous that its presence can't be eyeballed on a 1-4 point scale when demonstrated on well-crafted, robustly-drawn sets of material presented to each and every student in exactly the same way.   

It's not such a hard thing to recognize when you see it.  It's the students' job to expose it in what they produce, in the same way as when you "show your work" on a math problem.  That said, not showing it is not the same as not having engaged in it (however privately) nor proving the absence of that ability; definitive conclusions like that are beyond the scope of any cognitive test that I've ever seen. 

As to critical thinking ability as a unitary global phenomenon that operates across all domains of intellectual functioning, say from math to art to  auto mechanics to physics to music to interpersonal relations, I've never heard of such a thing . . . nor anybody who has come close, regardless of how impressively brilliant they otherwise are.

Most people are one or two trick ponies at best, even if they don't recognize it.

Fri, 10/26/2012 - 04:42 | 2920857 Arbysauce
Arbysauce's picture

We relocated to a district with what is supposed to be the best elementary schools in the state. My comment was based only on what I've seen with my own eyes.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:42 | 2907642 q99x2
q99x2's picture

Other counter measures are exercise, meditation and learning/studying difficult concepts. Programming and composition are really good if you can keep from going for the munchies.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:48 | 2907656 hootowl
hootowl's picture

Back into your padded cell, Tyler.  We'll order an increase of your medication and remove the straitjacket as soon as the new dosage takes effect.

 

Tsk.Tsk......must be stress-related.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:46 | 2907653 blindman
blindman's picture

Debunking Money - The Way the World Really Works - Full Length - Damon Vrabel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_yh4-Zi92Q
.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:20 | 2907887 nofluer
nofluer's picture

Yesterday, while attempting to respond to some people who had NO idea of how a fiat currency system works, I was actually accused of being ignorant - when it was the accuser who failed to not only understand how it works, but that his "understanding" was in fact indoctrination. I guess that's what I get for trying to inform the classless masses of truth.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:26 | 2907895 Radical Marijuana
Radical Marijuana's picture

Yeah, I made it a persistent effort, for several decades, to try to talk to people about the money system, and to encourage them to participate in the funding of the political processes. One discovers there are standing patterns of public opinion! After spending several decades doing that, talking to thousands and thousands of different people, for decade after decade, and after a few court cases related to those issues, I have gotten very well used to what you experienced, "nofluer!"

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:08 | 2909338 blindman
blindman's picture

be patient, first they ignore you ...
then you wi.n.. but not the way you think.
you win by changing the world view which
is then altered again, and then you lose again
and have to start all over but from a better
place. the cycle repeats untill you die then
someone else picks up the torch. eventually,
the arc of the universe bends toward justice
and truth so it seems to be an eternal pursuit
but eternity is our rightful temporal domain.
perhaps? people don't get that , the meaning
of "time" vs perception or cognition, truth and eternity.
big words that make a difference.
personally, i have learned to love my own ignorance
and my recognition of it as it keeps me asking the
important questions as i see it. maybe some day i will
learn something that is true? stranger things have happened.
( partial quotes from m.g. and m.l.k. freely integrated
in comment above )

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:21 | 2907888 Radical Marijuana
Radical Marijuana's picture

Yeah!  Vrabel is one of the better video producers regarding ideas about the money system.

http://csper.org/ has many other links to his work. For a while I thought he had given up ...

Nice to see that he bothered to produce another one. That reminds me about how Bill Still also said he had given up for a while, but finally came back and produced another excellent video on the money system. Generally, it is very tough to learn more and more about these topics, while watching the banksters consolidate their control over the political system, by using the power of governments to advance the banksters' agenda through force.

That brings up my comment regarding this article above as whole. While I agree with the psychological angle presented, that is ONLY a part of the picture. The profit-from-disease-system, like all of these other interlocking systems, have their central core, and greatest leverage, through the history of the funding of the political processes. The triumph of lies, and the runaway success of brainwashing, can not be successful unless it feeds back to make those doing that become more wealthy and more powerful, and the main way that they can achieve that goal is by taking over the powers of government, to force things to go their way, and to attack and wipe out those who would and could develop things to go in another direction. The profit from junk food system sits on top of a perverted pyramid of subsidization, where the worst things are subsidized, and the best not subsidized, but rather attacked and suppressed, by the abuse of the powers of governments. That does NOT happen by accident. There is a prolonged advancement of an agenda, done through the history of the funding of politics, that drives that through. (There is also, in extreme cases, the assassination of politicians that refuse to be bribed, or intimidated.)

In my opinion, one can do a content analysis of the history of the funding of politics and discover that there is a strong correlation between the funding, and the triumphant corruption of policies to favour those who were doing that funding. Every issue, from foreign affairs, to domestic matters, follows that pattern.

There is a runaway system of lies, backed by violence, already in place, with the funding of politics being the lynch pin that holds that all together. The entire structure that this article above talks about is an arching agenda, where the funding of politics takes the keystone place. Thus, the runaway triumph of propaganda, to brainwash people, through the bullshit taught in schools, and through the mass media, always loops back and back through, so that those engaged in the frauds become more powerful and wealthy, and therefore, more able to get away with more frauds in the future.

It is NOT good enough to talk about individual psychology, without that bigger picture. The lies and distortions that come to dominate people's minds are PUSHED through there, by the feedback of the force of the combined money/murder systems.

I AGREE THAT THE VRABEL VIDEO YOU PROVIDED A LINK TO IS IMPORTANT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ARTICLE THAT STARTED THIS THREAD OF COMMENTS. The nexus of the vortex of the entire system is the relationship between the money system as a whole, and that central core of that, whereby the political processes were funded. That is what created the MONEY-AS-DEBT system, and from that followed all of the rest of the abilities of tiny elites to take control over governments, more and more, to DRIVE the social insanities of the profit from disease systems, and the profit from junk food systems, and all the rest of the package of social insanities, which the article above discussed the psychological aspects of. However, I repeat that frauds are not sustainable without force. The power of the government to drive people insane, by forcing them to accept and adapt to living their lives on the basis of triumphant huge lies, is WHY the other psychological problems become practically insoluable!

The single simplest symbol, and the most extreme example of that political process, was that HEMP is the best plant source of oil and protein, BUT, all cannabis cultivation was completely criminalized by the law being based on the huge lie that "marijuana is almost as bad as murder," and that huge lie has been violently enforced for decade after decade. That was the way all the rest of the system of subsidizations, and suppressions, works throughout all the rest of the social pyramid systems that we were born inside! Those people who agree with the biggest bullies' bullshit get rewarded. The people who do not agree with those huge lies get punished. That goes on and on, for generation after generation. The overwhelmingly dominant funding of politics by tiny minorities drives an agenda whereby huge lies, backed by lots of violence, are the social circumstances that are conditioning all of the people, all of the time. Thus, the TRIUMPH of huge lies is the SOURCE of the psychological problems that this article above discussed!

The psychology does not exist sublimely by itself, as the fault of individuals. The psychology is inside of a political context, whereby human ecology and political economy constantly drives that psychology to be the one that is made and maintained. When considering that psychology, the most important factor is the money system! The relentless social pressures of the money system are what drives the individual psychologies to adapt to living inside of standing LIES, by going INSANE!

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 09:50 | 2909289 blindman
blindman's picture

i think you got it! they think they own the
circus and we all be their silly clowns.
.
Renaissance 2.0 - Financial Empire - Full Length - Damon Vrabel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96c2wXcNA7A
.
http://csper.org/
.."
The truth has never been clearer. We're living in a voracious empire

based on people ownership, i.e. subjugating humans to increasing debt servitude to Wall Street and the global banking establishment. This debt system has morphed economics from a study in human progress to an engine of human enslavement. Spirituality ("sense of meaning") and psychology have been crushed as a result. Any sense of a meaningful life has almost been vanquished as the corporate system that serves Wall Street has replaced truth with fake media PR and replaced our communities with narcissistic hierarchy.

The good news is that this system is on its last leg. It will end. ..."
damon vrable

.
Open For Offers
by Steve Keen on October 19th, 2012 at 4:23 pm
http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2012/10/19/open-for-offers/comment-pa...
.
with a lively comment section.
" @ Clive,

Yes, I’m so old, it would make Noah embarrassed. Askin, a nice man;; Joe a Richard Cranium. The World is NOT run by Capitalism today; get over it. Its has evolved to the stage of Fascism in the Communism cycle.

Australia is in the advanced stage of Fascism being driven by Fabian Communism.
“Have you forgotten, ‘socialise the loses privatise the profits’?”

This has just become popular (this time) since 2007, and should ring the Bells that the Fascists are in control. (hopefully temporarily) but then history shows us, that those elite have always preyed on the unwashed; after all, the unwashed, represent the major profit center of Society (because they are so naive and trusting).
I am older than the Gods: Australia is a lagging indicator; what has come to the US, will soon come to Australia.

Welcome." pjb
.
we are not clowns ! we just enjoy the humour and
have very big hearts with the capacity for forgiveness
and infinite and eternal considerations, there the overwhelming difference going along imperceptible.
the deepest and most severe criticism comes from
an equally deep and sincere love, i think we forget this
possibility to our own destruction?
.
r.m., i always enjoy your comments. that hemp
is illegal to grow is the crime imo. i agree
these market destroying laws, market monopolizing
regulations, are also legalized criminality or crime.
the people involved mostly have no idea what they do
or why they do beyond for the "money" and the culture
has deteriorated to the point where most believe that
is "good enough". well, we will see it isn't, we will
all see it. it appears that is the way lessons are taught in this realm?
stay sane and insane in the moment !

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:56 | 2907666 aerojet
aerojet's picture

It's an interesting subject, but the article is almost complete bullshit.  The first paragraph in the quoted section rings true, the rest is eye-rolling, WTF?

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:09 | 2907689 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

You didn't find value in the following?

Nurturing permanent adolescence, anxiety and alienation are highly profitable, for people responding to the fear and anxiety of Thanatos (the instinct for destruction) will not only become malleable consumers, they will lose their grip on Eros, the instinct for life and love.

Fear and desire - it's what it's all about.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:13 | 2907694 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Fear and loathing on Terra....

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:58 | 2907673 Michelle
Michelle's picture

Iodine deficiency is a growing problem as soils have been depleted and aren't being replenished. Food manufacturers do not use iodized salt in their products, only plain salt unless specified as iodized salt.

Edgar Cayce drew attention to the body's necessity of iodine in his reading from the 1930's: Mr. Cayce stated that there are only four elements needed to sustain the physical body: water, salt, soda (or calcium carbonate--baking soda is half soda), and iodine. He goes on to say that if we have these four substances, presumably in sufficient and balanced proportions, then the body can generate everything else it needs.

 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:20 | 2907709 JohnG
JohnG's picture

Should be able to cut the grocery bill quite a bit on that diet.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:57 | 2907861 mjcOH1
mjcOH1's picture

" Edgar Cayce drew attention to the body's necessity of iodine in his reading from  the 1930's: Mr. Cayce stated that there are only four elements needed to sustain the physical body: water, salt, soda (or calcium carbonate--baking soda is half soda), and iodine"

He wasn't clear on whether the body makes iron out of water or salt though.  

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:11 | 2907692 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Not a comforting state of affairs and it is not going to end well...

We are being consumed from within and without and, more frighteningly, the memes that allowed to get as far as we have are now the memes that will push us over the edge...

I give the species about a 10% chance of still being around in 2150....

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:19 | 2907706 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

When one 'american' thinks he found a vein, why not dig deeper until it is depleted?

All the articles are off and only aim at covering for 'americanism'.

There has been no change, no consumeristic additional dimension.

The current course is the natural course of 'americanism'. No degeneration.

Actually, if indeed what this 'american' propagandist claim to happen were happening, the situation of the world would be different.

In 'american' economics, it is all about consumption.

In 'american' economics, consumption is two things:

- a means to consume even more, the more 'americans' consume, the more they will get to consume

- an end: 'americans' consume for the sake of consuming.

It has no hedonistic, narcissistic purpose here. All these impulses requires actual satisfactions and the satisfaction takes time.

Narkissos is an un-'american'. His impulse draws him away from the core of 'american' economics, which is consumption. All the time Narkissos spends staring at his own face mirroring in the water is time lost to perform the actual duty of an 'american': consuming.

Narkissos does not fit in the 'american' pattern of things.

Narkissos would buy one mirror and spend all day long looking into it.

'Americans' do not do that: 'americans' buy thousands of mirrors, barely use each of them and while knowing they have more mirrors they could use, keep buying mirrors. Because in 'american' economics, it is all about consumption. And 'americans' must consume and stay away from any activity that decrease their consumption capacity.

Hedonism, narcissism, many ancient figures do not apply to the case of 'americanism'. On the contrary, they are hostile to the 'american' ideal figure.
A lot of them ancient figures represent a waste of life as 'americans' consider that lifetime should be dedicated to consume more and even more.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 11:24 | 2907721 Winston of Oceania
Winston of Oceania's picture

go hide in the bushes with mao...

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:20 | 2907812 Vlad Tepid
Vlad Tepid's picture

Am i the only one who reads this stuff with a Charlie Chan accent?

AnA, whoever the hell you are, you'd learn a lot about "Americanism" by reading the first post about Coronary Capitalism, rather than expounding in a series cryptic and ultimately meaningless aphorisms and maxims.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:21 | 2907889 RSBriggs
RSBriggs's picture

Nahh - that's just what he does - throw around a lot of meaningless aphorisms.   Better to just skip over anything he has to say.  His user id outght to be something mroe like AnAntiAmerican.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 18:53 | 2908471 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

.

Narkissos would buy one mirror and spend all day long looking into it.

'Americans' do not do that: 'americans' buy thousands of mirrors, barely use each of them and while knowing they have more mirrors they could use, keep buying mirrors. Because in 'american' economics, it is all about consumption.

reminds me of a friend back in the day . . he was a well-compensated, well-titled exec at a well-known music biz corporation - spent most of his time traveling in the search for new bands. . . expense accounts, the whole package. . . he had a love of kitsch, and wherever he went, acquired more of it.

I had occasion to visit his apartment, and in one "bedroom" the floor was covered in plastic shopping bags from around the world.  never unpacked 'em, just kept adding to the stash. . . when I questioned his sanity, even somewhat jokingly, he just shrugged and said it was the acquisition of the object that interested him most.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:00 | 2907778 walcott
walcott's picture

Bike week the bikers drive from all over the country and on the final night they descend upon Krispy Kreme donuts.

A bunch of extremely obese baby boomers who live halloween every day of their life.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:30 | 2907900 ken
ken's picture

Sigh...I'm so pretty, and I like to shop...this must be why...

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 15:55 | 2908157 Clowns on Acid
Clowns on Acid's picture

ken...shut the feck up and stop taking up space here with your inane, low brow comments.. 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:30 | 2907901 ken
ken's picture

Sigh...I'm so pretty, and I like to shop...this must be why...

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:35 | 2907909 ken
ken's picture

What? Telling us how we think and feel based on incomplete information, definitely a Republican.

"The good citizens somehow feel the soil that supports all life is obscene and must be completely covered."

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:39 | 2907917 ken
ken's picture

You're welcome. However, it's actually uncontrolled costs that are bankrupting the system, i.e. the institutions and players that ultimated get the money, not the sick, dying and disabled, but big pharma, doctors and insurance companies...can you see now?

 

"Thanks to you I see the complexity of the insurance and Medicare systems as the marker of their unsustainability, and I know that business as usual won't be for too much longer"

 

Wow, your economic ideas will not be a priority going forward.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:48 | 2907931 ken
ken's picture

Where's the delete button?

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:47 | 2907932 ken
ken's picture

Huh? Are you a clinical psychologist? Doesn't sound like it. Uh...what does the marketing machine have to do with feelings of emptiness and worthlessness...perhaps certain marketing machines make murdering and pillaging appealing to some...what's your point? Marketing usually is based on a  positive approach, first of all...

 

"the culture of narcissism is based on fear: of emptiness, worthlessness and whatever else the marketing machine can make you fear."

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 13:46 | 2907941 ken
ken's picture

Dude, have you EVER, PLAYED, just one day in all of your life? Would you like go sing karaoke sometime?

"Permanent adolescence is the state of resolving insecurity, fear and social defeat by buying things that promise the invulnerability of a fantasy self and world, and by indulging in instant gratification to mask the self-destructive derangement of broken ecosystems: not just in the natural world, but in our bodies, in our society, in our economy and in our politics."

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 15:25 | 2908113 Peter Pan
Peter Pan's picture

I am willing to bet that America can change her destiny just by changing her diet.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 18:59 | 2908473 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

perhaps you could begin by acknowledging "America" as a fiction created to pacify you, and not in a good mommy way.

the fact that the fiction is gendered "she" is a tell, and the correlation to "Mother" nature is an echo.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 18:06 | 2908399 pufferfish
pufferfish's picture

"This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, changed the perception of the human mind and its workings profoundly.

His influence on the 20th century is widely regarded as massive. The documentary describes the impact of Freud’s theories on the perception of the human mind, and the ways public relations agencies and politicians have used this during the last 100 years for their engineering of consent. Among the main characters are Freud himself and his nephew Edward Bernays, who was the first to use psychological techniques in advertising. He is often seen as the father of the public relations industry."

 

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-century-of-the-self/

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 00:29 | 2908904 combatsnoopy
combatsnoopy's picture

Edward Bernays is smiling from his grave. 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 18:37 | 2908447 dolph9
dolph9's picture

As a physician dropping out let me say that this article is in general spot on.

There's nothing you can do against the relentless march of fat and poor people who refuse to get healthy and save money, but instead expect miracle drugs and procedures, taxpayer subsidized, to restore them to being 22 year old adonises.

It's put me in a bit of pickle because I'll have to find something else to do.  What keeps me going is the knowledge that this whole ship is coming down.

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 00:29 | 2908901 combatsnoopy
combatsnoopy's picture

I'm no doctor but I've been successful in  turning people away from big pharma and onto nutrition and fitness. 

It's not just about the co-pays, the waits at the doctors' office, the mean nurses, the pain or anything like that.  It's about the vanity and the fact that staying healthy comes with NO SIDE EFFECTS. 

You should've worked with an incentive motive.  

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 21:16 | 2908670 Tim Brasco
Tim Brasco's picture

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Sun, 10/21/2012 - 23:59 | 2908878 malek
malek's picture

It's simpler:

Making/keeping people dependant is highly profitable, getting them to be independant is horribly unprofitable (in the longer run).

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 00:26 | 2908888 combatsnoopy
combatsnoopy's picture

Damm I'm late to the party.  I  came to the defense of Gen Y.  If you want to talk narcissism, go look at the "non-materialistic" real estate flippers, draft dodgers holding Halliburton shares who makes up the fiscal and voting majority.  Since they're the remaining demographic with buying power, the advertisers accomidate them, and they admitted that they like to put down the younger generation to feel better about themselves.  That's why entertainment now is nothing better than bashing Snookie, Lindsay Lohan and glamorizing Octomom instead of the people who lost a limb because they joined the military for a SURVIVAL JOB. 

Those who defend Bush because he gave the troops a raise, they're not smart.  I support the troops because since 2003, they've literally been the largest employer to Gen Y.  Gen X too.  There are men and women in MY age group who did multiple tours of THREE WARS-the Kuwait/Persisan GUlf War, the Iraqi war and the Afghanistan war.  You can't fit 3 wars on a Vet hat.

They swore to obey the commander in chief, who is unfortunately elected by some sinister delegates.  

The troops don't pick and choose which war they fight, they swore to protect the country and to follow commander in chief. 

So the raises they got under Dubya were siphoned by upper middle class BABY BOOMERS in the real estate ponzi scheme- who fucked over the country.  

The younger generation, and even my own generation are technically MEAL TICKETS for a few parasites who fall short thanks families broken by divorces with not even a real parent to guide them on how to manage money, time, family relationships, etc.   It's not surprising that this nasty trend followed us out into the course of international/global macro social/economic playing field.  

Dude, I know some kick ass young adults who are not only PRETTY- but they volunteer at shelters that train dogs to aid the disabled and trialathons for charity.    But since you know, Kim Kardashian is more interesting?  Please. Your myopic generalization is a self fulfilling prophecy on your part.  There are young adults running around the country looking for a doctor to save their babies from Neuroblastoma.  But hey, YOU wanted to see Octomom instead. That was YOUR choice Tyler Durden.   

Will Gen Y ever have career growth and a salary to afford the cost of living index in a safe neighborhood to raise our families?  People in my group double or triple up in single family homes because of the extreme cost of living index that the boomers did not have to deal with. 
IS the Ipod such a big deal?  I think that's their marketing/PR department blowing it out of proportion.   

Gees the blockbusting and race baiting + DRUGS created fear which ironically doesn't enforce civil rights, but instead makes caucasian insurance brokers rather wealthy.  

I got what character I have from one parent and my coaches.  Sports literally installed character in me, not my parents or relatives.  They stuck us in front of a t.v., fed us fake food while one sold me out and knived me (yes my immigrant mother knives me in the back) ---then insists that Kobe Bryant clean up his act to resemble the Huxtable family.  

???

Sorry flowerchildren and superficial narcissists, who in the right mind uses professional athletes aka. CELEBRITIES as a role model for good behavior?  They're just role models for athletic performance, not character.  That's why coaches (leaders) remain in the spot light.  This is obviously the same "influential" group that classified "non-materialistic" rich heroine addict wife beater John Lennon as a deity of "peace and love".  

Anyways, it was fun getting bashed for something that I'm not.  I appreciate the fallacy in the form of a false generalization.  

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 01:06 | 2908923 glenlloyd
glenlloyd's picture

Kids that eat dirt and get exposed to the outdoors tend to grow up with more robust immune systems.

There is a tendancy today to both sanitize everything and remake nature in a way that's more consistent with what we believe nature should be...hence all those sanitized suburban lawns with mulch mountains. IMO it couldn't be more repulsive.

Couldn't agree more with the article although anyone with half a brain today recognizes that in reality these 'trinket' of aledged success really don't mean anything anymore. Who cares about driving a new fancy car when everyone can borrow to buy a new fancy car? A new car has no status anymore since borrowing has become prolific.

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