Information Warfare Education, Propaganda, and How to Tell the Difference



I think youve just said, “No, there would be nothing for me to learn from the exercise. Not going to happen.”


No, I’m pretty sure I said “I’ve attempted to do so throughout this discussion in the following ways, and I also believe that just like folks have permission to openly criticize the political left without having to simultaneously criticize the right, so too should we have permission to openly criticize the political right without having to simultaneously criticize the left.”


Thats not what @excecutive requested. Frankly I didnt want to do it either but since I initially was resistant so figured there was probably value in it.

Lets just let the Left / Right, Liberal Democrcy / Marxist Revolution play out.


I certainly agree … :slight_smile: Now as the guru John Lennon might weigh in; imagine if you both gave 100% effort into completely understanding the others view? Certainly attaining a complete understanding and accepting it as believable to others will gain you a more integral understanding.

As long as one side challenges the other as “one is right and the other is wrong” you’re missing the wholeness and the completeness in understanding our world. Arguing about it is counter-productive to integral. It’s in understanding all of it that gives us the whole complete picture, which is integral.

Everyone needs to be heard and understood. Regardless of who is perceived as winning, accepting that “we’re all in this together” is the only winning integral view. If you two can’t reach this level of understanding together then perhaps a civil is war is imminent?

I shared this before … "Successful relationships among people requires a 100% committed effort … Equal 50% – 50% contributions will never lead to long-term success. Rather a 100% commitment to the success of the relationship by each individual involved is the formula for success.


Not a big Russell Brand fan, but did find this cast interesting around Facebook, factcheckers, industry funding of “unbiased” orgs, …

Or should we scratch him off as Qanon hack?


It’s a beautiful aspiration, and I think it’s incredibly important to try to understand each other’s view. Which is why it’s important that we do our very best to make our own views clearly known, in order to prevent other people from creating faulty reconstructions of each other’s interiors. Which is why, when I respond, I do so with multiple careful paragraphs that not only try to reveal my own view, but also lifts the hood so you can see the reasoning that brought me there. And if I ever do make any assumptions about someone else’s beliefs or interiors, I try to phrase it as a question, rather than as a totalizing assumption.

Which is why it’s frustrating when, after spending an hour crafting a response, I receive a short one-or-two sentence reply that dismisses everything I just spent time trying to communicate :slight_smile: Oh well, c’est la vie.

Again, I think this is a beautiful sentiment, and I think it has limited utility in the real world. If one person says “the world is flat” and the other says “no, the world is an ellipsoid”, only one of those statements is right. Which means the other is wrong. And I don’t think an integral epistemology says that we need to include both of those views.

Now, we can then get beneath the argument, and try to understand how, in the year 2021, someone could believe the earth is flat. And we can do so by asking questions like “how is it that so many people have come to believe this in the first place? How much mistrust do they have in our institutions to reject all the scientific proof that our world is not flat? What sort of cognitive development would enact the world in this way? What does this say about our education system, our scientific institutions, our media, etc.?”

And those are all worthwhile questions to explore, and well suited for an integral epistemology. But none of them changes the fact that, at the end of the day, only one of these things can be true – the world is either flat, or it isn’t, regardless of how we came to one conclusion or another.

I see something similar happening in this thread. One person says “Qanon is a real thing that is exerting real influence on our politics.” Another person says “Qanon is a figment of the left’s imagination.” Well, only one of those statements can be true. Which means that, in order to move the conversation forward, we have to have a somewhat more conventional conversation first, one that tries to ascertain whether or not the problem objectively exists. I think I’ve made a fairly convincing case that it does.

The problem is, there are some unexamined shared biases in Zone 4 that make certain critiques a somewhat uphill battle – there is a trap that says “if you are saying that Qanon exists and that the proliferation of conspiracy theories is a problem that is particularly affecting the political right wing, that must mean you are just as tribalized/polarized/partisan as the people you are criticizing!”

I think this is essentially the accusation that you essentially leveled against me, and I am inviting you to notice the many other statements I’ve made throughout this discussion that hopefully differentiate my own political views from stereotypical “leftist” associations. And notice the multiple efforts that I’ve made to reconcile and/or move beyond the difference of views, and toward the shared values that animate them.

Abortion, for example – whether or not we disagree about appropriate limits, whether 1st-trimester abortions should be considered “genocide”, etc., we can hopefully agree that the overarching goal should be to make abortions as rare as possible. At which point, we cannot ignore the need for things like access to contraception, sex education, family values, personal responsibility, and a more sex-positive culture, which comes from a blend of progressive and conservative principles, enacted at a minimally worldcentric stage.

Same with this discussion. Several comments back I tried to take a step back, offer an objective summary of the discussion points, identify where exactly our views were diverging, try to find a deeper/wider point of agreement, and then find ways to move the conversation forward from there. Further back I shared some reflections about where and why I think the disagreements are emerging, at one point using a Ken quote that I felt was speaking to the underlying disconnect.

All of which is to say, I am doing my very best to approach conversations like these in good faith, to carefully demonstrate the reasoning behind my views, to remain respectful of whomever I am talking to, and to communicate my views and values in a way that hopefully transcends whatever stereotypes of “left” and “right” we may be walking around with. Which makes it a little bit frustrating when my efforts are then generalized as “you are walking and talking the Left”, but again, c’est la vie :slight_smile:


Of course not. No one ever said that Qanon means “being critical of big tech” :slight_smile:

It would be like saying, “Liz Cheney is critical of Trump, should we call her a member of antifa?”


I’d like to point out that the farthest Left media trumpets everything you’ve mentioned more than any other segment of the media, giving a “voice to” the “enemy” that most readily befuddles, creates division, and high jacks their audience’s Amygdalas - those on the Left. Those that use these terms are those looking for something to do “existential battle” with.

Hmmm - Have you replayed the long litany of clips with Democratic leaders, including Candidate Biden, recommending to NOT take a vaccine not fully vetted and approved by the FDA? Is Joe Biden part of the Qanon conspiracy?

Election fraud conspiracists - Performing audits, either periodically or when concerns are triggered, is extremely common place. The IRS audits people and business both randomly and based on information. The SEC requires corporations to hire 3rd party (attempting to remove bias) firms to perform “integrity check” audits. Are these “conspiracies”? Why would we tolerate anything less in selection of our “elected” officials?
I’m really disappointed that here on Integral Life there is much Maddow/Lemmon level discussion that is nothing but evocative hearsay and speculation being promulgated in an attempt to stop very basic integrity checks around elections.
This would seem to be another example of “given an inch take a mile” attempt at complete domination through destruction of integrity required to have a functioning legitimate nation of laws. Call that Orange or whatever you want but without basic rule of law, things devolve very quickly.


Did you follow the video? Key points are related more to the original thread topic:

  • Facebook uses to determine Vaccine related information they ban, demote.
  • is funded by Johnson and Johnson
  • Johnson and Johnson will generate upwards of $10B in revenue from vaccine sales

So… Yes, there are quite a few people in the US that are “skeptical” of Facebook, their chosen fact checker du jour. @LaWanna might postulate these skeptics have a deep seated Zone 4 psychological issue around “mistrust authoritative sources of information.” One man’s paranoia is another woman’s multi-systemic assessment of the information and sources.


Hello @FermentedAgave,

I will respond directly to your comments in a moment, but first, I am going to “sidetrack” the conversation, and I am letting you know I am intentionally doing that. Starting with the definition of:

SIDETRACKING: to bend the other’s topic of conversation toward our own topic. (That is what I am going to do, as I would like to go a bit meta-rhetoric and post a few other definitions.)

BOTH-SIDERISM: From Urban Dictionary: “A noun for when a person tries to assert that both sides of a debate are equally X (reprehensible, reasonable, etc.)” From Merriam-Webster: “A rising term about the tendency to equate two sides in a display of fairness…Both-siderism relies on false equivalencies; or tries to establish moral equivalence that allows a (condemnable) action or idea to be weighed seriously.” Example (according to Merriam-Webster): Donald Trump’s statement about Charlottesville: ‘very fine people on both sides.’ From thenewsfeed: “Both-siderism denies the consequences of political ideology.”

DEFLECTION: Method of diverting attention, turning aside, distracting, taking a conversation off-track, shifting the focus. Related to WHATABOUTISM: the rhetorical tactic of defending against (something) by alerting others to a different (something) against an opponent.

I ask you sincerely, Fermented Agave, do you recognize yourself using these rhetorical tactics that are said to hamper if not kill communication? Do you think maybe in responding to what you first quoted from my post about Qanon that you were doing a little deflecting? Do you think that in responding to what you quoted secondly from my post that you might be doing a little both-siderism? I am a bit confused, frankly, because I’m not sure if you are intentionally so frequently engaging in this stuff, or if you’re unaware of doing so. Wanna share about that?

As to the content of your posts, I am aware that both Biden and Harris (in September 2020 and October 2020, respectively) both made anti-vaccine comments. Said Biden: (paraphrasing) “it may be unsafe to get the shot because Trump continues to mislead and lie.” Said Harris: “He wants us to inject bleach…no, I will not take his word” (on safety) Three months later, Biden had the Pfizer vaccine in December 2020 and January 2021. Harris had the Moderna vaccine a week later in those same months.

Was there maybe a political motivation or a partial political motivation in their statements? Perhaps, maybe even probably; I wouldn’t doubt it. But it was three months after those comments that they did get vaxxed; much had changed in those 3 months–a fall/winter “surge” in Covid, and more information about the safety of the vaccine, and yes of course, now they were about-to-be Potus and VPotus, and needed to set an example; plus Biden’s pretty old.

But if you remember, Trump was a totally unreliable source of information about Covid; most of the nation witnessed that, and books subsequently published quote him verbatim saying he knew about the seriousness of the pandemic very early on, but actually chose to deny to the public that there was any such thing. In context of all of that, for Biden and Harris to say what they did doesn’t seem that outrageous to me; I too was a little suspicious, and would have liked it to be fully vetted and approved by the FDA before I took it, but that didn’t happen.

To try to draw a false equivalency between Biden and Harris’ initial reluctance to be vaxxed and conspiracists that think Bill Gates is implanting chips in us through the vaccine or that someone is putting the vaccine in salad dressing is just not–well–reasonable.

As for election fraud conspiracists–all I can say is audits are necessary and not a bad thing. However, I live in the state of Arizona. We have had 4, that’s FOUR, audits now, the 4th one conducted in Maricopa County by an inexperienced group bought and paid for by the Republicans, and that audit has just recently revealed, as did the other three, that Biden was legitimately elected. In fact, the “Cyber Ninjas” audit just completed found 99 votes MORE for Biden than previously counted. Still, the Chair of the Republican Party in the state is calling for a fifth audit, following the loud demands of Donald Trump. Fortunately, the Republican governor, also a Trump supporter, has said NO–the election is over. So audits, I have no problem with. But this sort of extreme behavior is indeed a part of the election fraud conspiracy, and it is pushing the election fraud envelope (no pun intended) too far.

And it is not any Maddow/Lemon followers or leftists or Integral Life leftists that are yelling the loudest about it. It is the Republican party itself in Maricopa County saying enough is enough, and in fact, calling on the state Republican chair to resign.


You can slice and dice what I say and how I say it, just as I could do same with your writing. What’s the point in that?
I fundamentally disagree with you many of your assertions and think you base much of your “knowing” on inaccurate information media information, not necessarily looking too much “under the covers” at the information, and then (as is the common modus operandi of the day) to continue piling on additional assertions.
Case in point around Qanon and vaccines. Perhaps if you stated that Biden and Harris had both made very similar statements for political gain that you identify as damning for 10M’s of the population (Qanon’ers) might have given more credibility to the damnation.

So this is mighty rich apologetics for a Leftist political stance. Are you actually referring to President Trump that was accused by the entirety of the Democratic party and almost the entire main stream media for being a xenophobic racist for blocking much international air travel as soon as he had information on Covid? Same President Trump that accelerated vaccine development with every major possible phara company with expertise in vaccines? You clearly get your information from a Leftist echo chamber or you would have a bit more balanced viewpoint on the efficacy of the previous President’s Administration.
I would ask, did you have discussions and personally make statements that President Trump was a racist and xenophobe when he closed all travel with China at the early knowledge of the pandemic? Can we separate opinions from actions?

Frankly I don’t hear much about Bill Gates and implanting chips. Perhaps Alex Jones made the statement?

We can gyrate around between political, public perception, legal/legislative frames all day. That’s extremely juicy and exciting. But let’s take a look at the legal process of the Arizona Audit and set aside some Trump led Qanon Conspiracy Theory for just a minute.

  • Each state is responsible for managing and executing it’s elections - not the federal government.

  • The Arizona Senate which is has a Republican majority contracted at Audit of the Maricopa County election. That is well within the Senate’s jurisdiction. Any disagreements within the legal frame so far?
    The Auditors completed a public report out to the Arizona Senate just last Friday. I listened to the entirety of the actual readout, minus the broken streaming restarts and stutters. I’m not going off what Tucker or Hannity or Rachel or Don had to say about any of it.

  • Maricopa County failed to provide significant amounts of information that was subpoenaed by the Arizona Senate. Failing to comply with a Senate subpoena is a serious issue.

  • I’ll not bore with details on the report out, but suffice to say the auditors found significant security issues and records show that the entirety of the election results were deleted the day before the audit started, thus hampering the audit. There were other significant irregularities as well. And you are correct that there was no statement by the auditors that Democrats “stole the election”.

  • The entire findings and recommendations have been provided to the Arizona State Attorney General (Republican) and the Arizona Senate.

So what’s next?

  • My assumption is that Fox and Friends will honk that it was a “stolen” election. Meanwhile CNN, MSNBC, Arizona Democrats, national Democrats, local media will continue a full force “Big Lie” spin-o-rama narrative creation campaign, just as they have been. All of which is irrelevant in the legal and legislative domains.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Attorney General will likely pull together a Grand Jury and follow every thread possible into any irregularities to determine if indictments are appropriate (he is a Republican running for US Senate so assume he is motivated). And the Arizona Senate (Rep majority) will likely write and pass legislation to reduce future irregularities.

Additionally I would assume multiple Red states will either invalidate the Federal Voter Registration form (which oddly does not require verification of being a legitimate voter) or have it modified to include verification that any and all registered voters have a legal right to vote in their states elections. Democrats in Arizona always use the Federal voter registration form, not the Arizona form.

As far as what happens in the local political parties, I assume they’ll continue politics as usual.

It’s interesting that Senator Sinema is becoming an “issue” for Schumer’s DNC plans, right along with Manchin. That’s a gutsy move for a Senator in a Blue state. I’ll speculate that perhaps she doesn’t think a Blue Dog Democrat would get reelected next term in Arizona.

I would expect Arizona’s election in 2022 to have much fewer “irregularities” than the 2020 election.

So back to the “tactics” discussion. I think many conflate wants, desires, and perceptions with legal and legislative domains. The overlap or influencing comes when you can in fact shape perceptions enough to influence the political domain, and hence the legislative policy makers.


Can we think bigger on this Cory? Both of these are absolutely true to those who only argue one side. This is the same with immigration or abortion or war or left and right politics. To the simple minds, which are probably the majority of any population, these do boil down to moral right and wrongs.

These are highly complex issues that can be immediately knee-jerked into “my-side” … MAGA or BLM acronyms define their worlds and they line up to support their side in unconscious parroting of their preferred narratives.

Integral perspectives on the other hand see all sides of these issues. The communication of ideas and explanations need to be curtailed to reach the person we’re communicating with. Where are they in their understanding?

Integral means we listen and learn first. We need to reach the person and stand with them in solidarity of understanding their view. We are NOT endorsing a view by understanding it … nor by credibly explaining it. When we actually take the time to understand and assimilate other’s thinking into our own we are much better able to dialog with reason; especially when we are reasonable and kind.

We are best able to reach people by strong manning their thinking. In so doing we establish a foundation of trust to build upon. Then we are able to probe their thoughts with integral questions from a place of sincerity and honesty connecting with integrity to the individual person. That’s being integral.

When we see arrogance and belittling of others in defense of some inner thinking; attacking, arguing and name-calling these tactics show weakness. Since most people are in the middle we need to reach them where they are on the spectrum. Integral is not either-side it’s always and/both. It’s very complex to explain especially to those unfamiliar with integral thinking.


I notice with some humor that when I intentionally do not participate for a weekend, @excecutive finds another target for his “stop disagreeing with people who share my political outlook or I will attack you personally and try to make it look like I am the saintly peacekeeper and my allies are all reasonable and impartial while anyone who disagrees with their views is just attacking, arguing and name calling” .


What political outlook is that @raybennett


Are you asking because you do not know and want to be informed, or because you want me to present a point for you to defend against and present your counterpoints (conflict).


You made the comment @raybennett I was trying to understand it.


I know this will surprise you to hear, but I agree with you, though I think you are being true-but-partial :slight_smile:

Steel manning is a very important Zone 5 tool (I really like to index these things as I go, I find it helpful) that helps us reconstruct each other’s interiors in a more accurate way, and becomes particularly useful when one or more parties feels misrepresented or straw manned (also Zone 5). Sometimes we are already doing this implicitly as we go, and other times it needs to be made into an explicit practice.

But I also think this tool is more useful in some contexts than others. For example, if we were talking about our personal moral judgments, then yes, steel-manning becomes exceptionally important, because we can never really experience the full gestalt of each other’s perspective, as so much of it is submerged behind and beneath the discussion (especially with online discussions). In those conversations, the imperative is to better understand each other, so we need to take more care when it comes to how we reconstruct and represent each other.

However, if we are trying to have an objective Zone 6 conversation, trying to determine whether something is objectively real or not, steel manning becomes less useful. If one person says “Paris is a city in France,” and the other says “No it’s not, it’s a figment of the mapmakers’ imagination”, well, there is only so far that steel manning will take you. At that point, it’s down to the evidence.

Sure, if you are actually talking to a flat-earther, it’s useful to steel man their arguments, especially since it would hopefully allow you to more easily and skillfully expose the faulty thinking. But if a group of round-earthers are talking about the phenomenon of flat-eartherism in general, and simply arguing about the popularity of that belief system, there is less need to steel man, because every one already agrees — the world is round, some people think it’s not, and we just disagree about how many people believe it’s not. We don’t need to dig into each other’s interiors here, we just need to have an evidence-based discussion so we can all walk away with a more accurate sense of the scale of the problem.

This has basically been the subject of this here thread, which is supposed to be about propaganda and information wars. Does Qanon objectively exist, and does everyone agree that it is a batshit crazy belief system? If so, then we are round-earthers talking about the rise of flat-eartherism. Where we disagree is the scale of the problem. What is there to steel man at this point, other than whatever feelings we may be having about these objective realities? I’m not too interested in endlessly processing feelings :slight_smile:

Now, where steel manning becomes more useful is when we move from Zone 6 to Zones 7 & 8, which are by their nature far more complex, and far more difficult for any one individual to get a full grasp on without something important being left out due to bias (their own bias, media bias, etc.) This is where we tend to find all the massive unseen icebergs beneath the surface of our thinking. And of course, these are also very important zones to attend to when it comes to the issue of propaganda and information warfare, and so we should tread carefully there, and do our best not to mischaracterize or misrepresent each other as we go.

But we need to know what zone we are playing in at any given time. The questions of “does Qanon exist? Does it exert influence?” Is an evidence-based Zone 6 discussion, where things tend to either be true, or not. But if we then expand to “What are the causes of conspiracy theory, and what is allowing them to be selected for in our culture?”, well, now we’re having a multi-zone discussion where we need to be more mindful of our biases, and the biases belonging to whoever we may be talking to. But we didn’t quite get there in this thread — we were still having a Zone 6 discussion about whether Qanon is actually real, or if it’s just an invention of the left.

There are moons orbiting Jupiter. You can tell by looking through a telescope. If you are unwilling to look through a telescope, I suppose we can have a steel man conversation about what beliefs are preventing you from doing so, but that is not a conversation for astronomers.

Another thing about steel manning — if one person in a discussion is repeatedly using straw man tactics in order to make a point, then the imperative is on them to do the steel manning. What are some of these straw man tactics? Putting words in people’s mouths. Ad hominem character attacks. Making totalizing statements about groups of people. Dismissing arguments because you think the person is brainwashed. As far as I can tell, I myself have not engaged in any of these behaviors (correct me if I am wrong, but I really do my best to stay “clean” in these conversations), but have felt all of these directed toward me in this discussion. Which, again, is totally fine — I am a big boy and I can put my big boy pants on. But I do want to point out the fact that I have attempted to steel man @FermentedAgave’s view several times, in this discussion and elsewhere (in one thread I shared a quote by Ken Wilber, asking him if he thought it adequately represented his view, and whether it describes the conversational breakdown we were experiencing. I have also answered every one of his questions about my own view.)

All that said, when I try to steel man the opposing argument here, I find myself agreeing that virtually all media outlets, mainstream or otherwise, are in the business of weaponizing information, because they exist in a profit-driven attention economy and always competing with 10,000 other stories. Sometimes this weaponization takes the form of hyperbole, other times it takes the form of omission. And sometimes the media can base hyperbolic arguments and op-eds on genuine evidence-based facts, while deliberately manipulating the conclusions that emerge from those facts. And yes, our own chosen informational terrains can certainly be rife with confirmation bias, disinformation, and political ethnocentrism, and we as integralists absolutely need to do our best to rout that out, and to focus on sources with mild bias in either direction, but with a reputation for fact-based journalism.

We need to avoid falling into media tribalism, while also acknowledging that, yes, sometimes one of these media tribes is being more truthful about a particular issue than the other. In this day and age, it is never enough to say “x isn’t real because my favorite media sources don’t talk about it” (e.g. what right-leaning folks often say about Qanon, and what left-leaning folks often say about antifa). At the same time, we need to prevent ourselves from falling into total aperspectival madness by recognizing that, yes, some realities are more real than others. Just because mainstream media never talks about flat-earth, doesn’t mean that they are conspiring to brainwash people into believing the earth is round, and it doesn’t mean that flat-earthers are entitled to a seat at the debate table, regardless of how hard we try to understand their interiors.


Right back at you! :slight_smile: Everything you wrote I completely understand. I agree with presentation entirely. Your reasoning and your arguments are clear and concise. No need to defend yourself again with me, I am with you. I would simply reiterate that the discussion is purely political now.

When arguing with a flat-earther turns into defending your argument it strays from the integral ideal. Which you, above all others here, I know clearly understands that. Sorry to come off like some holy do-gooder to others but I think on this Integral life community we could do better than mimicking Facebook and Twitter reruns.

It may not garner us more visits or comments but it may gain us real integral connections that are hard to find online these days. ~ Peace :slight_smile:


Thanks for pulling me back into the discussion. I was enjoying @excecutive and @raybennett 's dialog.
For what it’s worth, most of the terms you utilize I have to look up - steel manning, straw manning, both-siding, etc - and have tried to find your Zone’s mapping. Can you point me to a reference on the IT Zones?

Where we typically “miss the boat” is as an example on abortion statement, which I think you were trying to “steel man” us into alignment on.

With this I agree completely
we can hopefully agree that the overarching goal should be to make abortions as rare as possible.

Then this statement, which based on our multitude of heated-on-both-sides discussions around the Texas abortion law, I assume you’re referring to government and NGO employees providing state sponsored , state mandated or perhaps tax payer funded reproductive “education” (using the term per title of this thread). I didn’t say anything in hopes perhaps we could table this, just as I rarely use the terms “systematic genocide”, “state sponsored eugenics”, “sanctity of life”, “life begins at conception”, “conception is the only unequivocal quantum occurrence in creation of a new human being” since I don’t think your intent is genocide or eugenics even if statistics do support usage of the terms as relates to what is happening in the world. I also don’t continually point out that you’re very adamant about “limiting” religious influence (something every person chooses themselves) and very bullish on expansion of state powers (eliminating any free choice - something only government employees administer and enforce once enacted). You will likely think “see that’s Qanon”, but I’ll say it anyway. In this case utilizing tax payer funding to “groom” our children to fuel the abortion industry (not your intent, but that is the outcome) and validate your political perspective (I think this is your intent) isn’t something we’re likely to reach “common ground” on.

At which point, we cannot ignore the need for things like access to contraception, sex education, family values, personal responsibility, and a more sex-positive culture, which comes from a blend of progressive and conservative principles, enacted at a minimally worldcentric stage.

I only highlight this since this may be an attempt to “steel man” in order to create common ground. People are generous and do let much go. Perhaps sometimes not trying so hard is better than using techniques, that perhaps feel like internet jujitsu, to effectively create (feels like coercion) alignment with your perspectives might give people a space to possibly see your perspective and just possibly adopt. Just a thought.

If this is your intent one tactic that can grant space and freedom for you and all involved in the discussion would be simply not use tribalistic media terms. Cliches never enhance and all to often destroy dialog since they mean so little and can evoke so much.


Thanks for your response @excecutive, it always feels good when we can find some shared understanding :slight_smile:

A couple other thoughts I had after posting the above, just feeling into how these conversations get shaped in all four quadrants: I find steel manning to be far more useful when engaged in more one-to-one conversations. But this is a community thread, and I don’t think the entire thread needs to grind to a halt so we can do our Zone 5 reconstructions every time a new individual comes into the discussion with a different view.

Some people here simply want to talk about the rise of conspiracy thinking that is happening on the political right in this country, as evidenced by things like Qanon, OANN, Newsmax, Cyber Ninjas, Donald Trump’s continued lies about winning the election, the violence of January 6th, anti-vaccine and anti-mask efforts, Republicans apparently dying from Covid 5 times more frequently than Democrats, etc.

And I don’t think we want to shut down the discussion among astronomers every time someone comes in to say they don’t want to look through a telescope. People may not want to limit talk to the telescope itself, they want to talk about the moons of Jupiter instead.

But of course, we are limited by the technology here. It would be nice if a conversation could break into “sidebars” or “margin notes” to handle this sort of Zone 5 stuff as we go, without distracting from the main conversation and instead making it the primary topic of conversation. But in a forum like this, it’s easy for the processing to take the lead, because people generally respond to the last comments in the thread. This can be frustrating to people who actually want to talk about the topic at hand, while also making it very easy for good-faith discussions to be disrupted by a small but vocal minority.

It always takes me back to Ken’s description of a social holon: it’s like a poker game, where the players make up the rules after every hand. The “altitude” of the poker game depends on the cumulative altitudes of the players. If you have ten green players at the table, it’s a green game. If you have nine green players and one red player, it’s still a green game, but we start to see some conflicts between the players.*

It’s always good to take that minority perspective into account, of course, but it should not be allowed to totally bend or deviate the discourse, because we feel the need to change the rules of our poker game every time someone new comes to the table. That just ruins the fun for all the hustlers at the table :wink:

*[Please note this is just an analogy, and I am not calling anyone “red” or “green” here, I am just commenting on the sorts of interpersonal dynamics that go into the shared discourse of a social holon. We invite respectful disagreement here — the question is how much effort we should put into catering to that disagreement before moving on with the game.]

So I suppose one of my questions is, can we have an integral discussion about things happening in the political arena, without that discussion itself becoming “political”, and also without falling into lazy “both sides” thinking? Or, if that is impossible (I am increasingly leaning in that direction), how can we simply take some of the heat out of these discussions?

I always try to remember – politics are always personal, which is why we should try not to take it so personally. Sometimes I do a better job than others :wink: