Biases

Everything below the three dashes is today’s reflection from the Center for Action and Contemplation. The parts in italics are by Richard Rohr. The other parts are by Brian McLaren. For the original including footnotes, click HERE. Some readers may see a similarity in the description of one kind of bias to an observation of Upton Sinclair’s. — MCM

   

By Richard Rohr and Brian McLaren

CAC faculty member Brian McLaren has done thoughtful and helpful research about what makes us see things so differently from one another. He identified thirteen biases that we outline today. Being a former pastor and an excellent communicator, Brian found a way to make these complex ways of seeing simple and memorable. He writes:

People can’t see what they can’t see. Their biases get in the way, surrounding them like a high wall, trapping them in ignorance, deception, and illusion. No amount of reasoning and argument will get through to them, unless we first learn how to break down the walls of bias. . . .

Confirmation Bias: We judge new ideas based on the ease with which they fit in with and confirm the only standard we have: old ideas, old information, and trusted authorities. As a result, our framing story, belief system, or paradigm excludes whatever doesn’t fit.

Complexity Bias: Our brains prefer a simple falsehood to a complex truth.

Community Bias: It’s almost impossible to see what our community doesn’t, can’t, or won’t see.

Complementarity Bias: If you are hostile to my ideas, I’ll be hostile to yours. If you are curious and respectful toward my ideas, I’ll respond in kind.

Competency Bias: We don’t know how much (or little) we know because we don’t know how much (or little) others know. In other words, incompetent people assume that most other people are about as incompetent as they are. As a result, they underestimate their [own] incompetence, and consider themselves at least of average competence.

Consciousness Bias: Some things simply can’t be seen from where I am right now. But if I keep growing, maturing, and developing, someday I will be able to see what is now inaccessible to me.

Comfort or Complacency Bias: I prefer not to have my comfort disturbed.

Conservative/Liberal Bias: I lean toward nurturing fairness and kindness, or towards strictly enforcing purity, loyalty, liberty, and authority, as an expression of my political identity.

Confidence Bias: I am attracted to confidence, even if it is false. I often prefer the bold lie to the hesitant truth.

Catastrophe or Normalcy Bias: I remember dramatic catastrophes but don’t notice gradual decline (or improvement).

Contact Bias: When I don’t have intense and sustained personal contact with “the other,” my prejudices and false assumptions go unchallenged.

Cash Bias: It’s hard for me to see something when my way of making a living requires me not to see it.

Conspiracy Bias: Under stress or shame, our brains are attracted to stories that relieve us, exonerate us, or portray us as innocent victims of malicious conspirators. [1]

Richard again: I don’t know any other way to be free of all these biases except through the contemplative mind. I see almost every one of them within myself–at least at some point in my life. I also believe there are enough good-willed people out there who, if presented with a list of these biases, have the freedom to investigate, “How can I let go of that? How can I move beyond that?” [2]

Focus on Congress

A Conversation about Educating Members

Andy Steele of 9/11 Freefall Radio and 911freefall.com talks with Ted Walter of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, HERE or HERE, for half an hour about a new push to educate every member of Congress, and a good many staff members, about the destruction of Building 7 at the World Trade Center on the same day in September 2001 that the Twin Towers were similarly destroyed, the latter being struck by planes.

This is part of AE911Truth’s due diligence, particularly every two years when there has been some turnover in the House and Senate. But as mentioned in the last entry, this year the organization has a DVD of the documentary “SEVEN” that it’s trying to get into the hands of as many members of Congress as possible, each copy arriving in the mail with a cover letter signed by the constituent who sent it.

As Walter puts it, these officeholders should “get on the right side of history.”

His colleague Steele agrees: “I think society is becoming more susceptible to recognizing certain truths.”

It didn’t hurt that last June, while the film was still in production, PBS affiliates across the United States began airing a five-minute version of it for awhile between other shows in its “Spotlight On” series. Essentially the showings were paid ads for it, made possible by donors to AE911Truth.

“SEVEN” stars University of Alaska Fairbanks professor emeritus J. Leroy Hulsey, who led a four-year study of the destruction of Building 7. It was directed by Dylan Avery of the “Loose Change” documentaries, and is narrated by the actor Ed Asher.

 

To Capitol Hill …

. . . From You

Some elected officials, and even unelected ones, have a way of looking mystified when asked if they don’t see something fishy about the official explanations about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which killed thousands of people and started a string of wars. Then they might immediately end the conversation.

Few of them want to go on record as doubting the absurd narratives pinning all the blame on America-hating Muslim extremists. (It may have something to do with keeping their jobs.)

Well, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth has come up with a way to help. Simply send — by Monday, March 1 — $20 online to AE911TRUTH along with your address. The people there will send you three DVDs of the documentary “SEVEN” to mail to your U.S. rep and your two U.S. senators, accompanied by a letter with your signature.

Click HERE to see how AE911TRUTH puts it.

At the very least, a staffer or three in each of the offices of these members of Congress may look at “SEVEN,” talk about it with others, and ask their boss about it.

You have to have the $20 and an estimated $10 in your mailing costs and the time and inclination to do your part to end this fraud that is so demeaning to everyone who is a part of it — people in Congress and people everywhere.

Please consider doing this. Thank you.

— Mark Channing Miller

 

In Today’s Papers

Nothing in the newspapers today, Feb. 22, that I’ve seen so far has anything directly to do with the government’s coverup of pertinent facts about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks (or the Anthrax attacks that same month). 

That has pretty much been the case for the last 18 or 19 years. In the first few months after “9/11” journalists did some good digging and reporting on it and actually got paid for it. Then a cloak of omertà seems (in retrospect) to have fallen over the whole thing as the official narratives took over in the effort wipe out any possibility of figuring out what happened—notably including defending the nonsense explanation provided by NIST (the National Institute for Science and Technology) about the collapses of Buildings 1, 2 and 7 at the World Trade Center—not to say the news media have done any better with other aspects of the attacks (in the last 18 or 19 years). 

Mum’s the word.

But every day something in the news reminds one of the value of staying on the case, “one” here meaning someone afflicted with the mental illness of thinking that what actually happened in “9/11” matters, including all the whos, whys, hows, whens and whats.

Take this headline which fills most of the cover of today’s New York Daily News: “NOT READY FOR CRIME TIME: City Hall hopefuls eager to fix NYPD now speak up on curbing street crime.” 

I haven’t read the story (you can read it HERE), but the blaring headline reminded me of Frank Serpico. He is the former New York City whistleblowing cop featured in the 1973 movie “Serpico” based on the biography of him (also 1973) by Peter Maas (1929-2001). Readers of this who have not heard of Serpico or Maas have a big treat in store. (I’ve only just started reading Maas, several of whose other books have been adapted for the big screen.)

Serpico retired from the NYPD after nine years and left the country. HERE is the Official Frank Serpico Blog, which goes up to 2013. HERE is a portrait of him.

The headline reminded me in turn of a story in the Springfield (Mass.) Republican the other day headed, gently, “Council’s input on police reform welcomed: 5 panel members urge DOJ to issue consent decree,” by Peter Goonan. First paragraph: “The U.S. Department of Justice says it welcomes input from the City Council as it negotiates allegations of systematic civil rights violations by the Springfield Police Department Narcotics Bureau.” You can look it up.

I haven’t really started reading today’s New York Times, but as I was jotting down the words of the Daily News headline in a margin of p. D7 of the Times, I came across probably the most important reporting in today’s issue, an obituary headlined “Dianna Ortiz, American Nun Who Was Tortured in Guatemala, Dies at 62.” The headline over the reporting by Katharine Q. Seelye is an understatement, and naturally in an obituary she couldn’t go into the reasons why in any depth. But I’m grateful for the layout that included two photos of Ortiz; it helped some Times readers from turning the page before reading the obituary.

Some of them may decide to read a 2002 book Ortiz authored with the help of Patricia Davis, The Blindfold’s Eyes: My Journey from Torture to Truth. “Sister Ortiz’s book,” Seelye writes, “recounted the psychological toll that both her abduction and her quest for the truth had taken on her.

“And at some point, her friends said, she realized that she had to stop, for her own sanity.”

If you’re not a Times subscriber you may not be able to read the story on p. D7, but perhaps know someone who is an can download and copy it and send it to you. 

I hadn’t read more than three or four paragraphs before recalling the effect Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, the 1982 book by Stephen Kinzer and Stephen Schlesinger, had on me. I eventually spent some time in Latin America. So I feel a certain kinship with Ortiz, who in all likelihood had read Bitter Fruit and may have had the course of her life changed by it.

Nothing after the first three paragraphs above seems to have anything even tangentially to do with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but it all does, and not just tangentially. It has to do with the nature of news gathering, what barriers get thrown up in the way of reporters going after a story, what kind of stories advertisers and “underwriters” of news operations will want to pay for the publication of, and what other pressures publishers and managers at news operations are up against.

   

Someone told me about a Wall Street Journal piece published last Sept. 12 on the September 2001 terrorist attacks, so I looked it up. (Not being a Journal subscriber, I could read only the first part online.) Headline: “9/11 and the Rise of the New Conspiracy Theorists.” Subhead: “The persistence of the fringe movement that blames the U.S. government for the 2001 terrorist attacks suggests that QAnon and other digital-age conspiracists may be around for a while.”

You get the picture. Author is an up and coming “journalist, historian and speaker” whose recent book on “9/11” was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller. He’s headed for a Pulitzer if he hasn’t already won one.

   

At the foot of page D7 in today’s Times are eight or ten paid death notices. One of them says the deceased was “loved by all.”

Get One, or More

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth is pushing DVDs of the documentary “SEVEN.” Deadline for the specials offer (it’s also a fundraising gimmick) is tomorrow, Sunday, Feb. 21.

You know “SEVEN.” It stars J. Leroy Hulsey, currently professor emeritus of structural engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and an impressive supporting cast.

Click HERE for the link to AE911Truth’s offer.

The title comes from the World Trade Center’s Building 7, which although unlike the Twin Towers it was not reported to have been struck by an airliner it came down in its own footprint on Sept. 11, 2001, as if its collapse were done professionally by controlled demolition.

The film was directed by Dylan Avery of “Loose Change” fame. It is narrated by the actor Ed Asher.

HERE is a review of it by Kevin Ryan for The Alethos News.

Conversations – 1

An author asks, “What is history?” and goes on to answer as follows:

“History is a nation’s (or a people’s) conversation about its past. Therefore, this book is an invitation to think about and discuss the development of our society through time. Surely you will accept this invitation, for who wouldn’t like to know more about their ancestors? How did our great-grandparents live? What were the great problems of their time? What did they do to solve them? What were their values and attitudes? What did their dreams, aspirations and plans consist of? What were their major thoughts when they made an important decision? To find answers to questions like these it will help us to understand where we come from and who we are. Moreover, it will motivate us to reflect on the consequences of our own decisions on the lives of our descendants.”

The above begins a kind of preface, titled “Secrets of the Trade.” The author is a historian. The book is a history of the author’s own country. It isn’t ours, but its history intersects with the history of the United States. The questions are universal and relevant to the purposes of this blog. They stimulate other questions U.S. residents and citizens might ask, including about the legacy we leave to our descendants.

Among them: How do certain conversations about the present and the past get started? What are the roles of academia and the communications media (including books, magazines, newspapers, the content of TV and radio shows) and organized religion? What determines the elements of those conversations? What will our descendants including our great-grandchildren think about our generations and what ours did to solve our (perceived) great problems? What are our great problems? What are our values and attitudes? How are they shaped? What are our dreams, aspirations and plans?

This elemental approach may help break down some barriers to access to factual whos, whys, hows, whats, whens and wheres, which barriers allow people — or a people, or a nation — to avoid realities that are, in a globalized world, apparent to other peoples and nations. Que bono? is a Latin phrase meaning “Who benefits?” Does it benefit us in the United States to be systematically shielded from all kinds of facts and realities because the shielders say, in effect, “You don’t want to know”? 

These are good questions for today, Presidents Day in the United States, for the rest of Presidents Week, and for all time. Let’s start some new conversations.

— Mark Channing Miller

Notes, 2-12-21

The day of the Super Bowl, last Sunday, I came across this quote:

The rewards of the difficult life of honesty and dedication to the truth are continual growth, effective intimate relationships, and the knowledge that one has served as a source of illumination and clarification to the world.

It appeared in M. Scott Peck’s 1978 book, The Road Less Traveled, and again in a 1993 collection of quotes from that and Peck’s The Different Drum, published in 1987. The collection (referred to in this blog earlier) contains 366 quotes, one for every day on a leap year, and that one was for Feb. 7 of any year.

At least some parts of the quote fit a lot of truthers, who are people who don’t necessarily swallow the official narratives of a given event or situation, or any number of events or situations, and don’t want to shut up about it. The event this blog talks about most is the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, known collectively as “9/11.” But truthers on one thing tend to be truthers on other things, and they (or at least I do) notice all sorts of patterns common to official coverups adopted by a society, in large part owing to owners and managers in the news business.

Enough for now about that, except to say that I don’t follow those quotes of Peck’s every day, but when I come across that little book somewhere in the house, as I did last Sunday, I look for the quote for that day.

–   –   –

Leslie E. Robertson died yesterday at 92. He was one of the structural engineers involved in the building of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center, which came down into their own footprints 20 years ago this coming Sept. 11 during the terrorist attacks—like Building 7 nearby. An obituary appeared in today’s New York Times, by Fred A. Bernstein, with contributed reporting by James Glanz and Alex Traub. Times subscribers can read it HERE. The same obituary appears in artnews.com HERE, and can be read by nonsubscribers to the Times. Others are also online.

 

 

Some Context

Because things have seemed quiet lately regarding 9/11 truth and Anthrax-attacks truth, before considering anything further about them it’s worth considering what has not been so quiet.

There’s a new Administration in Washington and a new Congress — the 45th and the 117th, respectively.

In the United States alone there has been (a) the huge, complicated hullabaloo regarding the outcome of last November’s presidential election, (b) the Georgia runoff elections on Jan. 5 for two U.S. Senate seats, both won by Democrats, (c) the usually ceremonial counting of Electoral College votes in the Capitol the next day, Jan. 6, (d) then-President Trump’s speech that morning encouraging supporters to march to the Capitol to dispute what he called the stolen election, (e) the “storming” of the Capitol with attendant deaths, injuries, and vandalism, (f) the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris on Jan. 20 to a greatly reduced audience in attendance because of Covid-19 restrictions and with National Guard troops on hand for extra security, (g) nominations and approvals of new Cabinet members, (h) House of Representatives vote impeaching former President Trump, (i) the House vote to strip new U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., of her two committee assignments, and (j) the matter of whether to bother with a Senate trial of the former president for inciting insurrection, and (k) current preparations for the trial.

Not to mention (l) a national economy ravaged by Covid restrictions, (m) the size of the latest stimulus package and who gets what, (n) arguments over the wisdom of it, (o) the questioning and defending of the restrictions, (p) the questioning and defending of the vaccines to quell Covid infections, (q) the accuracy of the toll of deaths attributed to Covid, (r) the rollout of the vaccines with attendant challenges, (s) the new strains reported entering the country, (t) the massive lawsuits by Dominion and Smartmatic against Rudy Giuliani … and, yesterday, (u) the welcome distraction of Super Bowl LV. 

All of that omits state- and local-specific concerns. It omits concerns that are personal, including keeping a roof over one’s head, the electricity and fuel coming, food in the refrigerator, keeping from going crazy from isolation. 

There’s always something.

If the subject of the September 2001 attacks comes up, the plentitude of worthy subjects competing for attention is a big factor in belittling “9/11” and the barely remembered Anthrax followup attacks. 

“Are you still going on about that?” 

“That’s been settled.”

“What’s Nine Eleven?”

“Do you mean Nine-One-One?”

Life goes on. New generations are born. Old generations die. The quiet, persistent, dogged, unfashionable work of “truthers” goes on. More about which tomorrow or the next day, here.

— Mark Channing Miller

In the News . . .

It’s about who the hell we are as a country. — President Biden, Feb. 3, 2021

–   –   –

The quote above did not pertain to dispelling the lies cloaking the terrorist attacks of September 2001. It was part of a Washington Post story, HERE, by Erica Werner and Jeff Stein, about the president’s sense that Washington needs to act fast on changing Senate rules to pass by a simple majority the administration’s $1.9 trillion package for Covid-19 economic relief.

Still, an Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci of a meeting in the Oval Office showed what appeared to be a bust of Sen. Robert Kennedy (1925-1968) near the wall behind President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris; he had been U.S. attorney general and a principal adviser to his brother, President Kennedy (1917-1963). Also at the meeting were Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Harris. 

(Harris was a district attorney in California and then the state’s attorney general before becoming a U.S. senator in 2017. Leahy, currently chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had been a state’s attorney in Vermont earlier in his career; he and then-Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., Senate majority leader from 2001 to 2003, were apparent targets in the anthrax attacks that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Schumer served eight terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from New York State before becoming a U.S. senator in 1999.)

And by a 145-61 vote, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., remains as the House Republicans’ third-ranking leader as her party’s members “overwhelmingly rebuffed a rebellion by hard-right conservatives,” while new U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., faced a vote today in the House that would remove her from committees “for her online embrace of racist and violent views and bizarre conspiracy theories,” according to THIS story by AP reporters Alan Fram, Steve Peoples and Brian Slodysko.

   

Hilton Valentine, founding guitarist of the English band The Animals, died last Friday. THIS AP story by Pan Pylas has some details about Valentine and The Animals. Links to two songs performed by the group containing his playing are HERE, HERE and HERE.

Truth and Reality

The third of the three paragraphs below is from pages 52 and 53 of the psychiatrist M. Scott Peck’s most popular book, The Road Less Traveled,* which has been translated into more than 20 languages. Dr. Peck was born in 1936 and died in 2005.

   

Una vida de completa dedicación a la verdad significa, también, una vida en la cual una persona tiene una buena disposición a ser desafiado personalemente. Aceptar y hasta sentir gratitud por desafios a nuestros planos de realidad nos permiten crecer en la sabiduría y eficacia.

Une vie totalement dévouée à la vérité signifie, de plus, une vie dont on est prêt toujours à être defié personnellement. Accepter, même accueiller, les défis à nos cartes de réalité nous permit à devenir plus sages et plus efficaces.

“A life of total dedication to the truth also means a life of willingness to be personally challenged. Accepting and even welcoming challenges to our maps of reality allow us to grow in wisdom and effectiveness.”

   

* And also from the Feb. 1 entry in the 1993 book Meditations From the Road, a collection of 366 quotes from The Road Less Traveled (1978) and The Different Drum (1987).