Recently, I had the pleasure of doing a video podcast with two very interesting people — Adam Townsend, and John Robb. Adam is a successful stockbroker, and John is a pundit/futurist/analyst with a background in dropping into houses in Iraq and rescuing Americans in bad situations. It was Adam that brought us together, with the tagline of listening to two of the Matrix’s key characters. John was Neo — he has amazing front-line stories. And I was the Keymaster — the person who basically understands how the Matrix is structured. Here is the video.
John has the very interesting, and memetically correct perspective on what is globally happening as far as world organization. As people’s loyalties to nation-states diminishes, and culture recedes as anything resembling a coherent, geographically oriented notion, people are organizing themselves in a myriad of new ways. John calls them Networked Tribes, and that’s all fine and good. But the problem is that in any given tribe, there are no binding ties created. What that implies from a Knowledge Structure perspective is that all these people really have to tie them together are shared, recently generated myths. QAnon is a great example, with superhero Donald Trump battling a secret war against the Deep State, filled with cannibals and pedophiles.
What happens when you have the functional vanishing of national, cultural identities is that people gravitate to other like-minded, or more correctly, similarly brain-wired individuals, now accessible across the country at a minimum, and often overseas. I read recently that Germany, for example, even has a QAnon chapter. There’s also larger movements, like ISIS/Islamic State, that built their movement on mythic foundations of Islam, and justified child rape and slavery in their ranks based on 8th Century precepts.
But while it’s fun to look at extreme examples that are easily rejected in the eyes of modern global culture, is that far less radical, situationally, worldviews also sort out memetically. In the United States, we’ve particularly devolved through the Presidency of Donald Trump. In true Julian-Jaynes-fashion, Trump has managed to install himself in the heads of many of his supporters as an alternative god telling them what to do. Once understood, it’s perfectly in line with how a narcissistic psychopath would operate. Tear down ego boundaries through broad-scale relational destruction, and get everyone to line up in the In-Group around the capricious views of Dear Leader. From the INSIDE of their noggin.
And though I’ve maintained that many Trump voters have not had one of Jaynes’ Old Gods installed in their head — they are voting out of desperation that their legitimate needs might be addressed — the last week has shown exactly how that works. One could find no better example than Trump contracting COVID, and then forcing the Secret Service to drive him around the crowd of his cheering supporters outside of Walter Reed Hospital.
What increases the violence of reaction to all this, which the Left seems to not be able to recognize, is that Trump has installed himself in THEIR heads as well. One need only to open up one of the big memetic/v-memetic amplifiers of our current age — Twitter — to see the wave of nonsense reactions to his crazy behavior. The general theme is “The Republican Party Should Force Trump to Resign!” or some such icks, over everything from Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s replacement, or the potential circumstance that Trump gave everyone he knows COVID. It’s not that I support in any shape or form Trump’s response to his infection. I emphatically DO NOT. Do you really think your caterwauling for Trump to leave office early is going to go anywhere?
One would also be remiss to not note that Trump was literally one of the last leaders in the ostensible Free World to catch COVID. It was literally only a matter of time. The “good guys” got it (Merkel and Trudeau’s wife, who doubtless gave him an immune reaction) as well as the “bad guys” (Johnson and Bolsonaro). That’s because of the literal physics of the situation. The virus is ubiquitous, and these people meet hundreds, if not thousands of people a day. How could they NOT get it? The Left has created a myth around mask-wearing, as if wearing a mask was the equivalent of Captain America’s shield. But the science, which I have written about (positively for those that don’t want to click through) indicate masks as a statistical measure. If you run the experiment 1000 times, sooner or later, your number is going to come in.
But understanding that involves higher-level, complex knowledge structures (Performance-based and up) and there’s no complexity in thought nowadays. Hence, Robb’s “Networked Tribes” remains right on the money.
Moving off of Trump to COVID, I wrote previously about the beginnings of the Memetic Wars between scientists like Michael Levitt, the Nobel Prizewinning cell biologist that took up the cause of investigating COVID after initial predictions of mass death, and the mainstream epidemiological community (such as the group at the University of Washington) the palliative measures, such as lockdown, turned out to be wildly off. It is true that Levitt, like myself in our analyses missed a couple of things. Neither of us predicted the low-latitude Southern US wave (and to a lesser extent, the green-field wave going through the thinly populated High Plains states) but those errors were small compared to the chronically inflated estimates coming out of the University of Washington. They are now predicted doubling of COVID-19 deaths between now and Christmas.
This is utterly mindboggling, and an indication of some bad modeling at a minimum. That means in the US, we’d have to have a couple of peaks in the next two months that would dwarf the well-defined Northern latitude and lower latitude peaks we’ve already seen.
I find myself staring at this, and wanting to ask the UW scientists “how would that even work?” Needless to say, they don’t answer back on Twitter, and I’ve given up. But how would that work? The pandemic didn’t begin yesterday, and there would literally have to be a scene from Monty Python to make it happen. Remember this one?
How do you double the casualties from the pandemic, in the waning months of the year? Even with accentuation from a flu season?
I think it’s easy to say that perhaps the scientists are politically motivated — making the case that the US response toward even delaying the effects of the pandemic would be an easy one. Since the Republican tribe is running the show, and it is an election year, one could easily level the accusation against those potentially Democratic scientists.
But it’s very likely NOT what’s going on. What’s really going on is that the v-Memetics of the situation are dominant. Scientists exist in Legalistic-Authoritarian hierarchies, and the modelers simply can’t backtrack on their positions, without at least some handwaving toward larger social and societal parameters.
Wearing masks, for one. And how crazy is that? As I’ve said earlier, wearing masks does work as a damper in the larger system. Social distancing as well delays, to some extent, viral spread, especially during the early days of any pandemic. But we’re late season here, folks. And here’s the real rub. I don’t even want to address the dismissal of the pandemic by the Right Wing, who operated with little information or consequentiality. That goes without saying. What’s more distressing is that the Left, under the banner of Science is screaming “these Right Wingers aren’t wearing masks!” Yet, at the same time of the inevitable waning of the virus, they will be the ones screaming “it’s because people wore masks!” I’m reminded of a child screaming at the tide (or Aztecs sacrificing people on pyramids to make the sun come up) as what we’re going to hear instead of Christmas carols.
The retrograde wing of the conservatives in the country are counting on divine providence, and honestly, that kind of belief in Godly interference is incredibly persistent with a poorly understood phenomenon. But the Left is going to have to reconcile to coherence that “we hate you because you won’t wear a mask/we’re saved because everyone wore a mask” when double the numbers of people don’t die by Christmas.
While the United States is mired in truly Networked Tribes/Tribal v-Meme politics, battling to either completely Jaynesian-assimilate into Trump’s mind, or raging to get him out of their heads, the rest of the world staggers forward in fits and starts. One of the interesting meta-phenomena that is occurring in places across Europe is as those nations, like the US, have gotten their testing acts together, is a dramatic increase in positive COVID tests. I haven’t dug deeply into whether these have been the PCR or antibody tests, but they have prompted the memetic wars across the Atlantic. On the one side is the very clear evidence that the pandemic was basically over in June for high latitude countries, and since Europe is fundamentally high latitude, the death curves show classic epidemic shaping. Here’s France.
Or even better, Ireland.
Because of the renewed case counts, though, there is a war going on between the government and National Public Health Emergency Team, (NPHET) their version of the CDC about shutting the entire country down. It’s easy for me to get the inside scoop in Ireland because I follow Ivor Cummins, Twitter handle @Fatemperor, who lives there. The rigid hierarchy inside their advisory group, the NPHET, even in the face of basically no deaths, are calling for Level 5 lockdown — a near-total lockdown of society, for deaths that never come.
Ivor has implemented a hashtag — #WhyAreTheyDoingThis as he doubles down on his far more Global Systemic v-Meme sense making of the pandemic. Ivor — they’re working from their Authority-driven v-memetic structure, which at this point has no interest in the loss of status from admitting they’re wrong. Ain’t gonna happen. And as long as there are no short-term consequences for their profound lack of validity-grounding — the term I use for people being forced to reconcile their v-Memetic narrative to reality — they simply won’t give up. That’s their emergent behavior. They’re NOT thinking about 3 years down the pike. Trust me on that one.
And the problem is – the memetic explanation is the only narrative that explains this circumstance. One of the tropes making the rounds in the more evolved reasoning circles across the West is that the reason epidemiologists are endorsing this is because they hope to be recruited by Big Pharma for a position on one of their boards and make a lot of money. I don’t doubt that there are some bad actors in any community — epidemiology included.
But once again, the old question “how does that work?” can debunk that. Does anyone really believe that an epidemiology graduate student, slaving away in some lab, making models, or shuffling samples, is thinking, “boy, I can’t wait to issue a bunch of bullshit when the next pandemic comes in and make a ton of money!” Really? But the memetics still drive the solution, forming that governing DeepOS that say “in order to gain status, never admit you’re wrong.” Ivor — #WhyAreTheyDoingThis — you’ve got to get a new model for your own understanding. I’m happy to help. But I’ll tell you this — your NPHET committee has never been more important, centered, and receiving narcissistic supply as ostensible “defenders of the people” in their life. And top that off with a large victim complex when people like you emotionally beat them up over their histrionics. The circuits in their brain couldn’t be more happy. And here’s the downside. If they can find a way to get you, they will.
The final part of the Memetic War that is so interesting to me is that, at the beginning, as I’ve said in posts going back to the beginning of March, I was a lockdown/radical action adherent as well. My wife is Taiwanese, and we watched the wave of COVID come out of China — the Taiwanese are always on top of everything in China — and I prepared my own classes.
But things started not adding up, global coherence-wise, pretty quickly. We dealt with Tomas Pueyo’s ‘Hammer and Dance’ nonsense, and as data came in, I started the process of re-sorting all the valid evidence, to come up with the worldview I hold now. And I always thought I was alone. The rest of the epidemiological community doubled down on the simple ‘Andromeda Strain‘ explanation of COVID, and I felt pretty isolated — a true voice in the wilderness, subject to the wrath of some of my peers, screaming at me to “stay in my lane!” as a mechanical engineer — not the complex, multi-dimensional thinker I have become.
Now I’m used to being the proverbial societal leper, so I wasn’t cowed. But I couldn’t figure out the v-Memetic consistency of the epidemiological community. Were they all ungrounded, rigid Authoritarian/Legalists, willing to augur the nation’s death if we didn’t cease all activity to follow their agenda — regardless that consistency of conformance to measures was incredibly poor that I observed, without consequence to infection or death rates? My v-Meme categorizations are statistical, folks — they always have outliers. And there ought to have been more systemically oriented people popping up.
And of course, there were. People like the trio that have started the movement behind the Great Barrington Declaration. Dr./Prof.s, all, Martin Kuldorff of Harvard, Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford have all started a Global Systemic/Communitarian v-Meme campaign to push back against the Authoritarians. The Declaration is recruiting other scientists to sign and support a plan called Focused Protection, which basically lets the low-vulnerability students get it while those over 60 are protected. In a couple of months, the pandemic will have already run its course (it likely has in many places anyway) and then life can resume.
But naturally, these distinguished scientists/doctors, were not prepared for what is really a memetic backlash against their proposal. The last thing the Authoritarians in the health sciences want to do is let go of the best thing they’ve had going for power and control since the hogs ate grandma. This video of the three is a must-watch.
I had found Dr. Gupta’s work a while ago, and started to feel far less a leper at a cocktail party than usual. I discovered Dr. Kuldorff very recently, and had not attempted to contact Dr. Bhattacharya at all.
All three professors are essentially unaware of anything memetic, and act like they can’t believe the virulence they’ve experienced since they came forward with this plan. They are, of course, as professors from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford, members of a very privileged class and their own elite bubble. Yet they all have maintained a large sense of awareness and empathy, and make no mistake — I want to thank them for it.
It is Dr. Gupta, though, who in the course of this video, starts the process of realization that she’s in The Matrix. You can see it in her face as she starts to push back and describe the toxicity of the debate. As global thinkers, they’re at least three v-Memes apart from their Authoritarian peers, which means they’re suffering from serious v-Meme conflict — in particular, what I call the Insanity/Barbarism conflict. Their lessers think the trio is utterly insane advocating for what is essentially an evolved version of Sweden’s strategy. And they have to view their lesser evolved members of the community as barbarians. Gupta alludes to this, in the same way Jim Carrey in the Truman Show starts pushing back against the walls of his made-up world to find the real world outside. It is WILDLY fascinating. Watch their faces. It’s great empathy practice.
Of course, the reason I hadn’t heard of them wasn’t because they likely had an epiphany on how this pandemic worked and suddenly lined up with my views. They’re all super-intelligent, and potentially came to the same conclusions I came to earlier than myself. The reason once again is memetic. The v-Memes of the press corps sync identically with the short-time-window Authoritarians in this debate, and the palpable fear also stoked the media. That amplified all the fragmented, limbic messages, far beyond anything the deeper thinking crowd could combat.
And when coupled with easy lockdown messages such as Pueyo’s “Hammer and Dance” (resonant information fragments from another Silicon Valley entrepreneur, backed up by impressive graphics) a more complex, higher v-Meme message didn’t stand a chance. I had written earlier about Karl Friston coming up with the same tagline as my own complex messages. But we didn’t stand a chance against the devolutionary, fear-driving fragments. As well as their receptivity in the Tribal politics being engaged across the Western world. Fragments telling you someone else wants to kill you will win every time.
Well, until they collapse your society. Or really, collapse the society for a good portion of your citizenry. There has been a tremendous transfer of wealth during this pandemic upwards, making the wealth gap far more pernicious than ever before. Still maintaining my position in the middle class, I’ve experienced the privilege of sitting at home and doing pretty much what I always do — teach, and write. But others are suffering profoundly.
That doesn’t matter to any low empathy Authoritarians, who are fond of borrowing rules to enforce fear, or manipulate traumatized people deep inside it, and keep kids out of schools and such. They’ve got one piece of empathetic weaponry they’re willing to use — “don’t you care about people dying from COVID?!?” served with a heaping scoop of moral outrage. Talking about other issues with them, and their complex interconnections just isn’t in the cards.
But just because talking about complex interconnections isn’t in the cards, doesn’t mean those linkages still remain. The physical world is a bear. And we better wake up — become more aware, just as the three Good Doctors above are attempting to urge us to become. Because we may act out of our v-Meme sets unawares. But the Real World is still the Real World.
And though I expect I’ll hear nothing from Drs. Gupta, Bhattacharya, and Kuldorff, I’m here to help. And behind you 1000%. Think of me as the Keymaster.