ALS Topic 31- Viral Ideas, Viral Emotions, Psychological & Social Contagion

Focus questions for Adelaide Lunchtime Seminar, 30 March 2019
Venue: · Adelaide
(https://www.meetup.com/AdelaideLunchtimeSeminar/ )

Note: About Focus Questions: a) Please read them before you come to the meetup. Think about them so you have more than "instant opinions" to offer. b) Feel free to add more focus questions. c) THE FOCUS QUESTIONS ARE JUST A MENU TO CHOOSE FROM. From this menu we can discuss whatever seems interesting. d) Focus questions are not intended to push one viewpoint! You can adopt any position you wish. We actually like friendly disagreement - it can lead to deeper understanding.


Focus Questions

1. PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTAGION - WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE AND WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT (to save yourself or someone else)?

2. HOW FRAGILE ARE THE MENTAL BARRIERS WE SET BETWEEN "REALITY" AND SO-CALLED PARANORMAL PHENOMENA? e.g. see Brent Swancer (November 8, 2017) "Bizarre Paranormal Mysteries of World War I" Mysterious Universe website @ https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2017/11/bizarre-paranormal-mysteries-of-world-war-i/ [Thor, comment: As a child in the 1950s I heard occasional stories of mass delusions of angelic saviour ghosts, or vengeful Riders of the Apocalypse, among soldiers in battle in World War 1. At the time the stories seemed to come from an impossible ancient era, yet it was only 40 years before, a mere flicker of time as it now seems at 73 (hey, and I'm not old ..)

3. YOU CAN CATCH A COLD. CAN YOU CATCH A MENTAL IMBALANCE, EVEN MADNESS? The evidence seems to be yes (think of examples) so the real questions might be Why? and What can be done about it? Here is an extreme, but not unusual example: Jack Hitt (January 2019) "The Real Story Behind The Havana Embassy Mystery" - U.S. officials say dozens of diplomats in Cuba were felled by a sonic “attack.” But the likeliest culprit is far less futuristic—and much more terrifying". The Hive, Vanity Fair website @ https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/01/the-real-story-behind-the-havana-embassy-mystery  [ Thor, comment: Psychologists report that this sort of infectious mass psychosis happens in dozens of schools around the world every year]

4. WHY DO PEOPLE, DOCTORS INCLUDED, RESIST THE IDEA OF ANTI-PLACEBOS? Placebos really work (for many, not all). Illnesses and their symptoms can be improved by fake pills. The reason? Healing is done by the body itself : the immune system has massive resources to help with self-repair. The immune system just needs 'credible' instructions to get working. Yet we know that immune systems can turn feral, and that at least sometimes this is governed by a mental condition.

5. "IS MENTAL ILLNESS" ABOUT DISORDERED THINKING, OR DISORDERED BEHAVIOUR, OR CHEMICAL IMBALANCES, OR SOCIETAL IMBALANCES? We usually interpret mental illness from erratic behaviour. However, mental illness is often 'certified' and controlled by measuring or correcting chemical imbalances. To what extent are chemical imbalances symptoms rather than causes of mental illness? Does it make sense to put mental illnesses on a continuum of disordered thinking patterns, some of them extending beyond the individual? Can disordered thinking patterns lead to chemical imbalances and erratic behaviour. What is a 'disordered thinking pattern' exactly?

6. HOW LEGITIMATE IS MARKETING AS A TOOL FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTAGION? Marketing, including political marketing, is the profession of penetrating the rational and emotional barriers we erect against intrusion, and compelling us to act in a manner to benefit the person or organization marketing.

7. WHAT CAUSES AN IDEA TO BECOME VIRAL, AND CAN THE IDEA'S SURVIVAL BE PREDICTED? Example: Robert Owen, an English factory owner in the early 19th Century was in many ways the founder of practical Socialism. His message fitted the times, and his ideas became viral, yet also met resistance, much of which he found irrational: "All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer" [Robert Owen 1828. Note: 'queer' here means strange. see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Owen ]. .

8. ARE EFFECTIVE PROCEDURES GENERALLY MORE INFECTIOUS THAN CONVINCING (BUT NOT NECESSARILY CORRECT) EXPLANATIONS? Right through history and up until the present incorrect, even bizarre, explanations have accompanied more or less successful procedures. Think of examples. (Every profession and trade, as well as your own life management involves procedures + storylines to support the procedures. Either the procedure or the supporting storyline or both can be wrong, or correct/effective - with different consequences).

9. ARE SO-CALLED COMMUNAL CULTURES MORE, OR LESS, VULNERABLE TO VIRAL EMOTIONS AND BELIEFS THAN SO-CALLED INDIVIDUALISTIC CULTURES? What is the evidence? For reference, as an example, the United States claims to value individualism above all else, while, say, Japanese culture claims to be a model of a communal value system.

10. HOW USEFUL IS THE ANALOGY OF VIRAL INFECTION IN THE SOCIAL SPHERE COMPARED TO BIOLOGICAL VIRAL INFECTION IN LIVING BODIES? For reference, your body has about 37 trillion human cells all holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Tap dancing along are over 100 trillion bacteria, viruses, fungi and various other critters. Some of them are bad guys, which is why we have an immune system, but most of these characters we can't live without. They influence or even control digestions, mood, skin conditions and many other things. Your physical boundary encloses and extraordinarily busy and complex society.

NOTE: THE SATURDAY MEETUP IS LIMITED TO 10 PEOPLE TO GIVE EVERYONE A TALKING CHANCE. (With luck, 8 might show..) AFTER 10 RSVP's YOU GO ONTO A WAIT LIST. IF SOMEONE DROPS OUT, YOU WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY PROMOTED. IF YOU DECIDE NOT TO COME PLEASE CANCEL THE RSVP TO GIVE THOSE WAITING A CHANCE. SUNDAY IS AN OVERFLOW SESSION - IF YOU ARE WAIT-LISTED YOU CAN OPT FOR SUNDAY INSTEAD, OR ANYONE CAN CHOOSE SUNDAY INSTEAD. (IF NOBODY RSVPs FOR SUNDAY, IT WON'T HAPPEN).


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Comments & Extra Reading


Wikipedia (2019) "Henny Penny" (a.k.a.) Chicken Little, @ https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henny_Penny  [ this is an iconic folk tale with many versions in many countries going back at least 2500 years. It deals with the ever recurring social phenomena of mass hysteria]

Wikipedia (2019) "Robert Owen" @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Owen  [In the early 19th Century, Robert Owen, a brilliant and highly successful entrepreneur factory owner, was in many ways the founder of the viral idea of practical socialism]

Jack Hitt (January 2019) "The Real Story Behind The Havana Embassy Mystery" - U.S. officials say dozens of diplomats in Cuba were felled by a sonic “attack.” But the likeliest culprit is far less futuristic—and much more terrifying". The Hive, Vanity Fair website @ https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/01/the-real-story-behind-the-havana-embassy-mystery  [ Thor, comment: Psychologists report that this sort of infectious mass psychosis happens in dozens of schools around the world every year]

Urban Dictionary (n.d.) 'Staffinfection' acts like a viral infection, as in : Guacacado (October 29, 2018) " StaffInfection - Mandatory Meetings held to pass useless information to supervisors / middle management / proles and design useless campaigns to "improve morale" while reducing headcount, increasing workloads and reducing pay/bonuses. Intent of the staffinfection is to have it evolve into Circle jerk but this rarely occurs as attendance is mandatory, and like an infection - no one wants to be around it.

Sample Scenario: The Leader announced at the staffinfection that he will be making (store bought) cookies for everyone to show how much he cares and wants to be loved and thought of as a bro. Management announced at the staffinfection that although that staffing levels are 45% reduced and that there were record profits and more work to be completed, No positions would be filled and no overtime would be authorized / approved" . Urban Dictionary @ https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=StaffInfection





Thor's own websites:

1. articles at http://independent.academia.edu/ThorMay ;

2. legacy site: http://thormay.net .

 


Viral Ideas, Viral Emotions, Psychological & Social Contagion (c) Thor May 2019 return to Ddiscussion