Should we treat Cognitive Deterioration of US Society Like a Pandemic?


I was recently turned onto this book and will be working through it over the next few weeks with a few like-minded people.
I thought I would share it.

The main idea is that we need to treat the decline of rational discourse as a disease that has now reached pandemic proportions.

  • Do people have the “right” to incubate bad ideas without challenge?
  • How do we vaccinate ourselves against bad ideas?
  • Do people have the right to refuse to be vaccinated against bad ideas?
  • Can society afford to not challenge bad ideas before they start to spread?
  • Do we need only accept responsible beliefs as valid, and reject irresponsible beliefs as invalid?
  • Do people who spread irresponsible beliefs bear blame for the results and should they bear consequences?

From an Integral perspective - can the qualities of Green Tier address the current spread of endemic bad ideas, or do we need to dip into other tiers.


The scientific basis on Cognitive Immunology theory

  • We’re highly resistant to information that threatens our identities, even when this information is factual, logical and rational
  • it’s possible to “inoculate” minds against misinformation, denial and conspiracy theories
  • minds behave as if they have immune systems: expose a mind to a weakened form of an argument, and the mind will become resistant to full-strength versions of the same argument. (This finding illuminates how propagandists, demagogues, and purveyors of orthodoxies close minds to new evidence.
  • Scientists now speak openly of “infodemics” in effect acknowledging what we know to be true: bad information can spread like a virus through social networks, compromising the health and wellbeing of its human hosts.

It’s high time we came to terms with the obvious:
(1) Mind parasites exist
(2) Susceptibility to mind-infections varies enormously
(3) We need to take a systematic approach to building our immunity to bad information
(4) We have a responsibility to also take a systemic approach to building immunity in our communities

This systemic approach has to include confronting bad ideas when they are in a “weakened form” and before they have time to strengthen or multiply.
By the time a bad idea has spread to 30% of the population in a given community it has strengthened to the point that it is then the perceived conventional wisdom.

The only question I have of Integral Theory is how it is best to confront bad ideas in various Integral Tiers.
If a bad idea is propagated in Amber or Red paradigm, how effective is Green or Orange in confronting it?
If the bad idea is complete rejection of Orange and Green outright, how effective can Orange and Green counterarguments be in confronting already full-strength and widely dispersed bad ideas?


Integral Theory holds that the Magenta, Red, Amber, Orange, and Green stages/structures of development are all “First Tier” stages. The Integral stage of development introduces “Second Tier” stages (i.e. Integral Teal, Integral Turquoise). (There is also an Integral “Third Tier.”)

The theory is that only at Second Tier (Integral) can one take all the perspectives of the prior First Tier stages (because they have “been there, done that” and because they “think in wholes” ), and therefore, at Integral, there is a greater chance of being able to effectively understand the core cares and concerns and modus operandi and thus communicate more effectively with the prior stages and “confront bad ideas” as you say.

First Tier stages, per IT, are each pretty locked in to their own stage/structure perspective, tend to think only their view is the “right” one. So this is why First Tier stages aren’t hugely effective at either understanding one another’s cares and concerns, or being able to effect much or deep change on one another. (This is the root of the “culture wars”–amber, orange, and green and perhaps Red these days as well, “at” each other.)

Growth/development through the stages is largely an organic, “natural” process. People can and do stop developing (and that is their right). (Robert Kegan, oft cited by Wilber, has found in his studies that about 60% of the U.S. population do not reach the Orange stage.)

But, meditation has been found in a few studies to accelerate growth through the stages. And when people are open to it, education can help. Even reading about the stages of development can help self-motivated people “grow, develop.”

Hope this is helpful in some way!


The way forward with any idea is first acknowledging the idea exists and also accepting that someone may hold the idea as valid and good.

We should acknowledge and confirm a complete understanding of that view. Even if we see it as bad we accept it as valid from the opposing view. In so doing we are also acknowledging and accepting of the person holding that view. If they are genuine, as most people are, when they feel acknowledged and understood they are much more likely to being open and honest in return.

So rather than having a bi-polar or duality battle with winner loser or victim perpetrator, we achieve an integral elevation between the polarities. The better ideas surface through connected intellect and positive emotional response. As the Tao might put it we become like water balancing out reaching the same integral level.

It’s the spiritual qualities of love and acceptance that lead to opening up and to growing up.


What I observe is that much of the time the duality and bi-polar battle is completely within the one individual, and has nothing to do with anyone outside of that.
This is clear to see in the vaccine debate where the numbers and facts are just overwhelmingly clear that not being vaccinated is far more dangerous than being vaccinated. The hospitals are filled with people who have not ben vaccinated, and at the same time hospitals are not filled with people who have been vaccinated.
It’s not that I, for example, am against anti-vaccers. Reality is, if anything.
This week a buddy of mine called me and asked if he could temporarily hire me because two of his employees drank the anti-vax cool aid and are now on respirators. I told him that just wasn’t practically possible for me, but also on another level I want to tell him maybe he should have taken my boss’ approach and require vaccination if people want to continue to work. But he’s a “middle ground”, reasonable and nonconfrontational kind of guy while my boss is a member of the at risk population.

I see this in a wide range of topics. It’s not that I really care what people’s opinions are or what they think. It’s when their ideas form into action and those ideas are really bad and will crate a worse future.

Right now you and I disagree on a topic. I see that my disagreement is with the topic, not the person. I understand there is a desire in you, just like in my friend, to get along. You might also have the added point of view that this is a universal solution in all situations because you have seen it work in so many previous cases, and that it has opened up many to a beautiful spiritual insight.
Where I diverge is the idea that this is a universally effective approach and ironically when that approach completely disregards my point of view. Then in addition as a consequence of me not accepting that view, all kinds of other things get projected onto me as an individual.
That’s when I just say “No, sorry - I am not going to accept a 100% point of view as some kind of middle ground.”


I recognize and understand that you want to connect, and that we fundamentally disagree on the cause / effect and benefits / drawbacks of conflict and chaos.
Where I take exception is when contrary your own philosophy, you don’t seem to be willing to practice it with me.
More so, while I’m completely willing to let you express yourself wherever and however, you go out of your way to again and again try to get me to accept your approach, and if I don’t then you low-key try to present me as the problem and build consensus with others that I am a problem, in the process making up your own stories about me and spreading them to other users. Again, I don’t challenge those posts when you make them, but it shows me an incongruency in your professed beliefs.


If you honesty want to a genuine conversation with me let’s start somewhere solid … where do we disagree?


I believe we disagree on the usefulness of arguing, debate, conflict and chaos. We haven’t discussed it, but I’d probably also throw in there pain and suffering. We probably disagree on the practical usefulness of these thing, but moreso on the spiritual aspect.
I think we also disagree on the the value of expressing approval or disapproval of the person as a reward or reprimand for agreeing or disagreeing with the person.


I used to agree.
Where I am finding the inadequacy of this is in our current world where we have a whole population that has (I judge) stopped developing and after not being challenged decade after decade, has gone into retrograde. Then they group together in opposition to others developing and try to pull others back into retrograde.
When I was growing up anti-intellectualism was popular. Nobody wanted to be a nerd or geek or be seen carrying a lot of textbooks or carrying a backpack. Today anti-sensitivity is popular and sensitive snowflake is a derogative term. Unchallenged, this expands more into the population until it becomes the norm to ridicule people for being in touch with their emotions. This is actually literally true today. It is derogatory in much of society to suggest a person is in touch with their feelings.
I’m starting to challenge my own belief that it is their right to choose not to develop.
I’d be interested in tools of the trade to challenge their nondevelopment in a more sophisticated way and not just bash them over the head with a figurative baseball bat, or not toss a figurative grenade into a filled room in the public square - but I’m starting to think that the right to refuse to develop should be limited at some point.

Oh, I do meditate daily. But that’s a tool I use on myself rather than to challenge refusal to develop.


I would agree that we have not discussed any of it. If you want to explore any of this I am open to discussing any of these things with you.


I’m interested in discussing the topic I created.
“Should We Treat Cognitive Deterioration of US Society Like a Pandemic”


Would a healthy “next stage” instantiation have not by the very definition of Integral Included and Transformed all prior stages? I don’t think Integral Theory has any sort of monopoly on awareness or development. Any student of history can point to multitudes of “transformational” (which perhaps were evolutionary) occurrences, texts, philosophers, leaders, battles, schools of thought throughout every stage of history.

Almost sounds like Star Trek’s “Prime Directive”: " No starship may interfere with the normal development of any alien life or society. " Which of course was ignored in every single episode every time they ran across genocide, slavery, oppression, plague, or general suffering. And many times they interfered by looking to provide that very spark of “self motivation” before teleporting up for the next round of “non interference”.


I don’t think anyone is claiming Integral has a monopoly on awareness.

I don’t think you can point to even 10 Integral individuals before the 19th Century. Transformations of people in historical times were not “Integral” - unless you want to use extremely rare examples like Jesus, Krishna, Buddha etc. But since in general people didn’t actually follow their teachings but went off on tangents, most societies didn’t transform into Integral societies and did not apply these Integral teachings. We can probably count on our fingers the number of historical individuals who were actually Integral. Logically, it would be very difficult to integrate postmodern before even entering modernism, for example. George Washington owned slaves, Mohammad had child brides, etc etc etc.


If I’m understanding your first sentence correctly, Fermented Agave, then I would point out that the term I use is “Transcend and Include.” A person transcends (goes beyond) their current stage (i.e. identifies with a next higher stage) and includes structures of consciousness from the stage they are leaving. Transcends and includes. It’s not always a clean process, and as you’re probably aware, a person can be at different levels of development in the different lines or ‘multiple intelligences.’ Also, a person can “talk” the talk of one (higher) stage, but be “walking” the walk of a lower stage (i.e. their center of gravity.)

I totally agree with you that IT doesn’t have a “monopoly on awareness,” if you’re speaking of Awareness in general. Nor does it claim to, to my knowledge. And as for development, IT is a metatheory, a theory about theories. Wilber has pulled together the theories of many other developmental theorists, and is upfront about that. What he has also done is group these theories in such a way as to show their commonalities in terms of the “growing up” stages. Check out the book “Integral Psychology” for numerous charts, if you have it, or haven’t already.

Finally, even before I read your last paragraph, having read @raybennett post, I too was thinking about Star Trek’s “Prime Directive” and how often it was violated. Is this your perception of Integral?


Not at all, but it did come to mind based on your posting. I do think that in reality, we will always default to “helping” for good, bad, better, worse.


I think about this sometimes too. The container I address it in is the moral line of development, where the theories of Kohlberg and Gilligan together define the principles of moral decision-making/action as rights (Kohlberg) and responsibilities (Gilligan), as well as fairness/justice (Kohlberg) and relational care (Gilligan.) If morality means “how we play the game of ‘we’ fairly” (quoting, as I love to, Wilber), then a person’s right not to grow seems a bit morally one-sided, ignoring responsibility. And it seems to focus on the individual as having priority over the collective. And maybe that’s the point.

Because how do you really make a person be responsible, whether to/for self or to/for others? How do you make someone grow? We can legislate behavioral change or through the courts can require programs (e.g. anger management) that might encourage or even do a little forcing of growth in terms of behavior, which may change consciousness to some extent. But change in itself is not growth/development. People can also be motivated and assisted to grow through effective therapy, but that’s usually a self-initiated, self-chosen endeavor, so there’s a bit of motivation there to start with.

It’s a sticky question, for sure, and I feel like I’m missing something, but I’m not sure what :slightly_smiling_face:

As for people being ridiculed for being in touch with their emotions or feelings, I agree with you completely that this is not good. I think part of the scorning comes when others perceive that the feeling-sensitive person is overly-indulging in those emotions/feelings so as to maybe paint themselves as a ‘victim’ or elicit some sympathetic response. That’s not always true, of course, but it does happen.


We have other structures than government. Shared cultural identities, communities, religions and families come to mind as co-travelers with each of us as individuals. The world has never been easy working together and is almost incomprehensibly overwhelming going it self first.


Not much depth, or concise depending on view…


*Do people have the “right” to incubate bad ideas without challenge?

They do it everyday on every social media platform. They collaborate with their ideological companions in echo-chamber bubbles.

Maybe one group is festering hate and division against their perceived enemies … Another is perpetuating open conversations where everyone is heard and acknowledged with love and acceptance.

With that said I think denying people rights is a “bad idea” in and of itself.


Thank you for posting an example of an incubator. While they are currently saying anything “bad” - their writing is poorly thought out and disjointed.

Rights are an interesting concept. Why do people have rights? It is top-down as in God decided we can do this but not that, and those our “rights” - or is it mutually agreed upon, preferably in writing.
The Left in the past half century has pushed for many rights, which the right often vigorously push back against. Like wise, the right has pushed that they have rights that are being violated, and the Left push back against these claims. Both sides seem to be engaging in a logical fallacy called “appeal to a higher power” - where you win a debate by just saying “its a basic human right”.
So often it’s not denying rights - but refusing to let people just make up rights willy-nilly.
Is it your right to use the ladies restroom if you have a penis? Is it within the governments rights to check in your underwear and see how you are equipped before you enter the restroom?

So my main question might be rephrased as: what exactly are people’s rights in regards to fermenting, spreading and carrying out bad ideas?
Is fermenting and spreading bad ideas equivalent to freedom of expression?
I think there has to be some kind of consistency here, and not based entirely on political identity. We can’t say Antifa is a bad idea and turn a blind eye on the parties that committed crimes in the Jan 6 insurrection, for example. Nor can we just paint everyone on either side of the political spectrum with a wide, all encompassing brush and say Antifa = BLM or Michigan Militia = all militias.