Smash Your Illusions!
Note: This page can be regarded as an introduction to human illusions. Though some deep-seated illusions, common to most people, are addressed. More illusions are covered on Page 9.
John F. Schumaker is the author of Wings of Illusion: The Origin, Nature, and Future of Paranormal Belief (1990) -- review by Charles D. Hayes on Amazon.com:
"Understanding the nature of human belief systems is one of my principal preoccupations. I've read scores of books on this subject, and find John F. Schumaker to be in a league of his own in this discipline... This book is timeless."
"Indeed, we are products of culture far more then we are products of any other single force that shapes our behavior. Specifically, we are products of the cultural suggestions that bombard and mold us."
"...[S]ome refer to culture as the unseen provider of the "life scripts" that people act out and mistakenly consider to be the behaviors of their choosing. In actuality, we do not choose those patterns of behavior. Culture does that for us."
"We are brainwashed prisoners of culture, the main role of which is to program us with pacifying beliefs. Culture is the nipple that sustains us with self-transcending belief, but it is also the absolute enemy of the one who wants to see the world as it is. Culture is the embodiment of paranormal self-deception, keeping us forever protected from the truth of our condition."Wings of Illusion has 7 chapters:
Schumaker's other books include The Corruption of Reality: A Unified Theory of Religion, Hypnosis, and Psychopathology (1995) -- review by Herbert L Calhoun "paulocal" on Amazon.com:
"This paradigm shift in psychological research and thinking (that just happens to update a key element of Freudian psychology) is powerful medicine for both the committed scientist and the layman. It gets five stars each for thoroughness, inventiveness, and the clarity of its exposition.
Building on his equally impressive work in "Wings of Illusion," Schumaker, uses an expanded examination of the process of diassociation, as a way of developing a unified theory of religion, hypnosis and psychopathology. In a research project that can only produce envy in its thoroughness and deft treatment of a very complicated subject, the author has left no stones unturned in bringing his unifying thesis to a resoundingly satisfying and successful climax.
The core thesis of this work is set forth in his "Wings of Illusion" in which the author asserts that as a result of developing greatly amplified intelligence as an evolutionary strategy for dealing with the fear and trauma of often overwhelming disorder and complexity, man began to seek psychological sanctuary in the form of illusion and self-deception.
Following on the heels of Ernest Becker and Otto Rank, Schumaker poses yet again perhaps the most important question for humankind: "On what level of illusion was man meant to live?"
As a way of unraveling this mystery, the author reveals man's primary evolutionary strategy as that of using conscious self-deception to forestall and avoid the unsettling tension-producing aspects of being unable to control and manage disorder.
This purposeful, and strategic use of self-deception -- that is, learning to fashion and manage reality to suit our needs (or as the author puts it "this corruption of reality") -- has proven to be a survival enhancing evolutionary move.
The evolutionary process that helped man out of his quandary of being overwhelmed with disorder and complexity came in the form of a capacity for the brain to disassociate itself from itself.
That is to say specifically that the human brain has the capacity to selectively perceive its environment, selectively process information, selectively store memories, selectively disengage from already stored memories, and selectively replace dissociated data with more "user-friendly" data. Put yet another way, the brain can split the mind into distinct but unified submodules.
The primary level of this mind reorganization, for the purpose of reality reconstruction, of course takes place at the level of culture. It is culture that tends to homogenize and normalize people's false conceptions of reality. The reality of the individual is -- to a large extent -- the result of constructions that are fabricated and propagated at the level of culture.
And if culture can be said to be the central bank of this "artificial order creation project," then organized religion is its currency. Only by eliminating competing "real" data from consciousness can the tension between the disorder in reality and the artificial order we create in our heads, be reduced. Religion, in its attempt to protect us from some of the most perplexing problems of survival -- such as how to deal with unknowns, uncertainty, and most of all death -- does this with a flourish.
Through cultural organization and manipulation, the human brain has evolved in such a way that it is capable of arriving at greater order than it perceives, or that even exists in reality. In distorting reality to create his own artificial order, man lowers dramatically his own criteria and need for accurate reality testing.
In this volume, Schumaker demonstrates beyond a shadow of doubt that through the mechanism of disassociation, religion and psychopathology are different sides of the same reality re-construction project. Hypnosis, another member of the same family of self-deception is used more or less as the experimental control for testing this thesis.
As religion, hypnosis, and psychopathology are explored, in each other's light, it becomes ever more clear that they are part of a single story, namely, the regulation or corruption of reality.
Schumaker's thesis will be unsettling and disturbing to conventional minds -- especially religious ones -- but it is one of few trail-blazing undertakings in psychology that ends in a resounding success. Five stars.
"...[R]eligions are best envisioned as a socially constructed haven for delusions that are not diagnosed as insanity due to majority acceptance. Those same beliefs would, however, receive the diagnosis of insanity if they were to appear outside of a religious framework." [emphasis added[
"This is one of the most delightful things I've read in a while. Thanks." -- Robert Sterling (Editor, The Konformist)
Far, far away, on the other side of the Milky Way Galaxy, there's a beautiful planet called Dumbtopia.
Dumbtopia's inhabitants are called Idiots.
They believe in a Supernatural creature they call Skybless.
Dumbtopia is divided into Dumbcountries -- at least, that's what the Idiots believe. They sporadically fight and slaughter each other over some skyblessforsaken patch of land -- "For Skybless and Dumbcountry."
Apparently, each Dumbcountry is ruled by a Plusidiot. Plusidiots are wiser than Idiots because they have blue blood -- or so they say. Common Idiots have red blood and believe that Plusidiots are their Superiors.
Apparently, each Plusidiot has a Dumbcouncil to help rule the common Idiots. Plusidiots have a secret magic drink called Etherwise. They give it to selected Idiots to drink. It makes their heads spin. After they've been drinking Etherwise for about a month, they experience Dumbliss, become Halfwits, and qualify to serve on Dumbcouncils.
Plusidiots and Halfwits pretend to have the ability to speak and write magic words called Pluswords -- Pluws for short. Common Idiots believe that Pluws are special holy, sacred words that must be obeyed. To make sure this dumb superstition sticks, Plusidiots employ Dumbcops to punish and kill Idiots who "disobey The Pluw."
Many common Idiots campaign to "Improve the holy, sacred Pluws."
Every hundred years or so, as a result of an unusual evolutionary mutation, some common Idiot wakes up and realizes that all the political systems on Dumbtopia are scams, hoaxes, and frauds. The woken-up Idiot then suggests that Plusidiots really have red blood, just like all common Idiots, and that there's nothing special about so-called "Plusidiots" and "Halfwits" -- they're really common Idiots like everybody else.
As soon as the Dumbcops discover a woken-up Idiot, they kill him or her. "Skybless help us if the Idiots ever discover that so-called "Plusidiots" and "Halfwits" are really impostors and liars -- common Idiots like all the rest -- and that their pretended "Pluws" are hoaxes... strings of dumb lies written by "clever" Pluwyer Idiots!"
Paraphrasing Schumaker's "religion quote": "Coercive politics is best envisioned as a socially constructed haven for delusions that are not diagnosed as insanity due to majority acceptance. Those same beliefs would, however, receive the diagnosis of insanity if they were to appear outside of a coercive political framework." (If you don't think coercive politics is insane, count the number of dead victims!)
I know your race. It is made up of sheep. It is governed by minorities, seldom or never by majorities. It suppresses its feelings and its beliefs and follows the handful that makes the most noise. Sometimes the noisy handful is right, sometimes wrong; but no matter, the crowd follows it. The vast majority of the race, whether savage or civilized, are secretly kind-hearted and shrink from inflicting pain, but in the presence of the aggressive and pitiless minority they don't dare to assert themselves. Think of it! One kind-hearted creature spies upon another, and sees to it that he loyally helps in iniquities which revolt both of them. Speaking as an expert, I know that ninety-nine out of a hundred of your race were strongly against the killing of witches when that foolishness was first agitated by a handful of pious lunatics in the long ago. And I know that even to-day, after ages of transmitted prejudice and silly teaching, only one person in twenty puts any real heart into harrying a witch. And yet apparently everybody hates witches and wants them killed. Some day a handfull will rise up on the other side and make the most noise -- perhaps even a single daring man with a big voice and a determined front will do it -- and in a week all the sheep will wheel and follow him, and witch-hunting will come to a sudden end.
Monarchies, aristocracies, and religions are all based upon that large defect in your race -- the individual's distrust of his neighbor, and his desire, for safety's or comfort's sake, to stand well in his neighbor's eye. These institutions will always remain, and always flourish, and always oppress you, affront you, and degrade you, because you will always be and remain slaves of minorities. There was never a country where the majority of the people were in their secret hearts loyal to any of these institutions...
Look at you in war -- what mutton you are, and how ridiculous!...
There has never been a just one, never an honorable one -- on the part of the instigator of the war... The loud little handful -- as usual -- will shout for the war. The pulpit will -- warily and cautiously -- object -- at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it." Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity...
Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.
Excerpted from various online sources:
Socrates taught his students that the pursuit of truth can only begin once they start to question and analyze every belief that they ever held dear. If a certain belief passes the tests of evidence, deduction, and logic, it should be kept. If it doesn't, the belief should not only be discarded, but the thinker must also then question why he was led to believe the erroneous information in the first place. Not surprisingly, this type of teaching didn't sit well with the ruling elite of Greece. Many political leaders throughout history have always sought to mislead the thinking of the masses. Socrates was tried for "subversion" and for "corrupting the youth." He was then forced to take his own life by drinking poison. It's never easy being an independent thinker! Today, our ruling government/media complex doesn't kill people for pursuing the truth about the world (at least not yet!) They simply label them as "extremists" or "paranoid," destroying careers and reputations in the process.
There are of course those who have fallen under the hypnotic spell of the TV talking-heads and "experts" whom they worship as "authority figures." Unaccustomed to thinking for themselves, no amount of truth can sway them from their preconceived prejudices. They will even deny that which they see with their own eyes. They are victims of a psychological affliction known as the "lemming effect."
Lemmings are small rodents that have been known to follow each other as they charge to their deaths into raging rivers or off of cliffs. Lemminghood is an innate psychological phenomenon, present in most mammals and observable in common people as well as the most sophisticated and educated elites. Lemminghood is not an intellectual phenomenon -- it is psychological.
As such, no socio-economic class is immune to its strangulating effect. A grant-seeking university scientist can be a lemming just as much as a fashion obsessed teen-age girl. One blindly follows the latest trendy theory while the other blindly follows the latest trendy clothing style. What's the difference? Neither can resist the force of nature.
The pressure to fit in with one's social peers can be irresistible. To a human lemming, the logic behind an opinion doesn't count as much as the power and popularity behind an opinion.
Man, like lemming, behaves collectively. And it could be no other way. Naturally, the individual must be equipped with this trait. Otherwise, the smallest steps toward civilization could never have been made. Lemminghood is a survival trait, an inborn instinct in the majority of people. However, as with all natural phenomena, this tendency can be manipulated and used for harmful purposes.
It is this lemming effect which enables entire segments of a society to lose their sense of judgment all at the same time.
For lemmings, denial is a basic psychological defense mechanism used to not only shield themselves from unpleasant realities, but also to reassure themselves that they will still fit within the acceptable range of opinion held by their peer group. Lemmings are absolutely terrified at the thought of being labeled as an "extremist" or a "conspiracy theorist."
At all costs, their beliefs must always be on the "right" side of the issue and conform within the boundaries of their lemming peers. Lemmings simply cannot bear the burden of responsibility, or the discomfort, which comes with thinking independently. They'll resist any efforts to change their misguided beliefs with all their mental energy.
We can try to open their closed minds and free them from their self-imposed blindness, but it's not easy fighting the force of human nature. The chains of ideological conformity have too strong of a grip, and breaking them is a difficult task. With the limited resources at our disposal, it is next to impossible to compete with the media lemming-masters. Nevertheless, some of us must make the meager attempt, and thus lay the foundation upon which the truth might one day rise again.
Claude Steiner: -- (Scripts People Live):
"Imagine that human beings were, at birth, fitted with a mask which controlled the amount of air that was available to them. This mask would, at first, be left wide open; the child could breathe freely; but at the point at which the child was able to perform certain desired acts, the mask would be gradually closed down, and only opened for periods of time during which the child did whatever the grown-ups around it wanted it to do. Imagine, for instance, that a child was prohibited from manipulating his own air valve and that only other people would have control over it, and that the people allowed to control it would be rigorously specified. A situation of this sort could cause people to be quite responsive to the wishes of those who had control over their air supply; if punishment were severe enough, people would not remove their masks even though the mask might be easily removable.
Occasionally, some people would grow tired of their masks and take them off; but these people would be considered character disorders, criminals, foolish, or reckless. People would be quite willing to do considerable work and expend much effort to guarantee a continuous supply of air. Those who did not work and expend such effort would be cut off, would not be permitted to breathe freely, and would not be given enough air to live in an adequate way.
People who openly advocated taking off the masks would justifiably be accused of undermining the very fiber of the society which constructed these masks, for as people removed them, they would no longer be responsive to the many expectations and demands on them. Instead, these people would seek selfish, self-satisfying modes of life and relationships which could easily exclude a great deal of activity valued and even needed by a society based on the wearing of such masks. "Mask removers" would be seen as a threat to the society, and would probably be viciously dealt with. In an air-hungry but otherwise "free-wheeling" society, air substitutes could be sold at high prices, and individuals could, for a fee, sell clever circumventions of the anti-breathing rules."
Legal Scholar Lysander Spooner Exposes the Pretended "U.S. Constitution" as a Hoax, Fraud, and Scam!
Quoted from No Treason No. I and No. VI, The Constitution of No Authority (1870) [emphases added]:
Potential Action Based on Lysander Spooner Surveys
Lysander Spooner (January 19, 1808 - May 14, 1887) "[W]as an American individualist anarchist, entrepreneur, political philosopher, abolitionist, and legal theorist of the 19th century." A Lysander Spooner website is maintained by Randy E. Barnett, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown University Law Center. On 9/19/07 there was a poll on the home page with the following results:
Yes - 61.8% - 21,247 No - 24.7% - 8,501 Unsure - 13.5% - 4,648 Total: 34,397
Statistics for surveys on the Spooner site as of 12/12/07:
Do you agree with Spooner that the Constitution is without Authority? (Numbers on 12/12/07)
Yes - 61.8% - 21,437 No - 24.7% - 8,570 Unsure - 13.5% - 4,685 Total: 34,693
Do you agree with Spooner that government should not have a monopoly on the production of money?
Yes - 71.2% - 1,608 No - 15.8% - 356 Unsure - 13% - 294 Total: 2,260
Do you agree with Spooner that authors and inventors obtain property rights in their ideas?
Yes - 52.4% - 804 No - 27% - 415 Unsure - 20.6% - 316 Total: - 1,537
Do you agree with Spooner that the postal monopoly is unconstitutional?
Yes - 72.4% - 1,332 No - 14.6% - 269 Unsure - 13% - 240 Total: - 1,843
Do you agree with Spooner that slavery was unconstitutional before the 13th Amendment?
Yes - 80.1% - 2,344 No - 11.4% - 334 Unsure - 8.5% - 248 Total: - 2,928
We assume that Barnett maintains his Lysander Spooner website because he has a high regard for Spooner's writings and he therefore encourages others to read them. We wonder if Barnett agrees with the implications of Spooner's writings, particularly No Treason No. I and No. VI, The Constitution of No Authority (1870) -- partially quoted above.
Assuming that Spooner's "Constitution of No Authority" is correct, would it be reasonable to conclude that the entire "US Government system" is a fake, a fraud, a scam, and a hoax?
Would it also be resonable conclude that if Spooner is correct, then it would be absurd to believe that the government "usurpers, robbers, and murderers" can make so-called "laws?"
We wonder how many people, after reading Spooner's No Treason No. VI: The Constitution of No Authority, still believe that the government "usurpers, robbers, and murderers" can make so-called "laws?" -- and how many realize it's just a silly superstition?
We also wonder if, when Professor Barnett teaches "constitutional law" he does so with an inward smile or with his fingers crossed behind his back? Does he agree with Spooner and therefore think that in reality there's no such thing as "constitutional law?" -- just another part of the hoax? Or does he think Spooner got it all wrong? We find it very interesting that in the above polls, 21,000+ people (61.8% of respondents) thought Spooner got it right!
Barnett is a Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute -- a libertarian-leaning think tank. Spooner is well known among libertarians. In January 2004, Laissez Faire Books (a libertarian publisher) established the Lysander Spooner Award for advancing the literature of liberty.
According to the above polls, 21,000+ people (61.8% of respondents) had "agreed with Spooner that the U.S. Constitution is without Authority," i.e., a fake, a fraud, a scam, and a hoax. Now, how many of these 21,000+ people would go further and agree that, "If the U.S. Constitution is without authority," then the entire "US Government system" must be a hoax, and the idea that government "usurpers, robbers, and murderers make laws" must be absurd?
It may depend on how many, and to what extent, the 21,247 are still intellectually trapped Citizens of Civilization -- for how many of them their logic continues to be trumped (overridden) by "subjective social agreement."
If a thousand of the 21,000+ (less than 5%) were to make a special attempt to expose the government hoax -- for example, by posting videos to that effect on YouTube, Google, Yahoo, etc. -- would they have any success? Is it worth creating a political equivalent of "The Blasphemy Challenge?"
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