Just over a year ago, I announced a milestone for me. Reading several books that came to my attention within a period of just a few years prior had convinced me that, when considering health and sustainability, certain topics related to the question of whether that often referred to as “evil” - harmful malicious or willfully negligent activity, for example – has a biological basis are crucial. And I had released a series of comprehensive pages, representing over a year of work, on these subjects, the most important and encompassing being the page on ponerology – the field dedicated to studying “evil” from a scientific perspective.
As I worked on the series, even more relevant material - articles, books, stories, news, television shows, movies, research studies, websites and other resources touching on these topics - continued coming to my attention, precipitating a realization that my interest in them mirrored a growing interest throughout society, supporting many of the arguments I made in the writing and encouraging me to continue the work. While working, however, I did not have time or energy to really focus on or incorporate these new developments.
After releasing the series, these ponerology-related developments continued to arise regularly and it occurred to me to begin cataloguing this emerging material to help support my work and promote it for those wanting to keep up to date. But I put off doing so until a recent coincidence reinforced to me the level of mainstream growth of interest in ponerologic topics and finally spurred me to action.
Now I’m announcing a new website I’ve recently launched dedicated to promoting news and information stemming from disciplines as diverse as neuroscience, criminology, psychology, arts, media and beyond related to ponerology, the “science of evil,” to help raise awareness and educate the public about these issues. Find out about the first set of posts on that site, its mission, early feedback it has received, how you can visit the site and get involved and what it means for the future of this site.
In my last blog post, I offered my response to a debate between Adam Kokesh and The Amazing Atheist that revolved around the subject of anarchism vs. statism. I tried to focus the debate on what I think is the essential issue - the question of how a society can best deal with the inevitable presence and influence of psychopaths and others with empathy- and conscience-reducing disorders.
After writing and sharing this post, I did some more research and discovered a video in which Kokesh addresses this topic head-on in response to a viewer named Spencer Thiessen who has come to the conclusion that his stance on whether anarchism is feasible rests on “one simple question”:
“Is there a way that anarchy can sustainably survive the psychopathic tendencies present in human nature?”
The video is relatively short at just under 6 minutes long, so I encourage you to watch it first and then you can read my responses below. Read the rest of this entry »
Last year, in response to a podcast in which a call-in show host, Stefan Molyneux of Freedomain Radio, attempted to employ the Internal Family Systems (IFS) approach to help a caller, I made a post in which I clarified many of the details of the IFS model that I felt this host may have misunderstood or failed to fully incorporate. A few weeks ago, I was notified of a comment made by a psychologist in training in response to that post. I thought the commenter posed an excellent question and, as I typed up my response to it, I increasingly realized that it merited not just a comment on that original post, but a post of its own.
Here is the question that was submitted as a comment to the previously mentioned post:
I have recently come across a therapist using this IFS model. Because I had never heard of it before, I decided to do some research on it. However, when I looked for peer-reviewed studies on it, there is very little. There are, in fact, no randomized controlled trials or any other type of research comparing IFS to other therapies (or even a waitlist control group). There are simply anecdotal case reports, which are not very useful for identifying whether or not a treatment is effective. Take the placebo effect, for example - many people will say that a pill they believe to be a novel, active medication, has helped them when in fact it is a sugar pill.
Given this information, what has made you decide that the IFS model is so worthwhile?
Background information on a group of pages that deeply explore evil, its possibly malicious origins emerging from biologically-based empathy and conscience-reducing psychopathology and its role in the evolution and complications of tragic, seemingly intractable problems and suffering at all levels of our world’s systems. These pages, integrating a range of source material, consider and attract attention to evil’s cyclic, manipulative and deceptive dynamics and its contribution to and exploitation of modern civilization, its structures and technologies, and, in turn, much of its dysfunction, abuse, trauma, corruption, absurdity and injustice. They also discuss our best understanding of the variation in people’s responses to these phenomena and their implications for nearly every area.
Furthermore, the pages advocate for an objective, scientific and medical approach to studying harm, highly valuing critical thinking and investigation, technical insight, psychological knowledge, precise and widespread dialogue and modern wisdom. They urge us to enhance reform efforts by better identifying leverage points and cooperatively developing optimal strategies for transcending challenges and resistance and preventing, assessing, reducing and healing from vicious cycles. And they point the way toward the establishment of new healthy, sustainable forms of human systems, more conscious of and immune to pathological influences and capable of flourishing with creativity.
This work is the culmination of a lifelong progressive quest – fueled by an uneasy sense about our world and concentrated through the discovery of what may be the most important book you’ll ever read – to understand issues of ethics and power. Learn about the very personal stories that coalesced in its development.
I’m impressed and excited that Stefan Molyneux is using his platform with Freedomain Radio to introduce the concepts of the Internal Family Systems model to so many people – especially thoughtful people committed to creating a healthier world - who otherwise wouldn’t know of them. I’m also very glad that he is raising important awareness of the fact that MEcosystem work, like all peaceful change techniques, has limits. But - based on the admittedly limited example of his “The Limits of the MEcosystem” segment from his February 6, 2011 call in show - I think that the approach will prove more powerful for him and his listeners if they broaden and deepen their understanding of the model’s technical details and gain a greater perspective on where MEcosystem work fits in the context of IFS as a whole. Read the rest of this entry »
I have to say it was one of the best and most important dialogues I’ve heard of late. This is exactly the kind of discussion we desperately need more of and I hope that they will continue it. While I don’t fit snugly into either of the Molyneux or the Zeitgeist/Venus Project camps, I’ve greatly enjoyed exploring the ideas put forth by both and I find that both make valuable contributions to the dialogue about how we bring about a healthier, more sustainable future for humanity and the rest of our ecosystem. Read the rest of this entry »
The need to unlearn has been a central theme in my life. I spent much of my twenties unlearning a tremendous amount of what was fed to me as truth growing up. And through my writing, coaching, activism and promotion of the work of various change agents such as Daniel Quinn (whose book The Story of B focuses on just such an unlearning process), I have long championed the importance of being willing to question dogmatic beliefs.
We live in an incredibly destructive, unsustainable culture that is driven by the actions of hypocritical adults who act on the world stage in greedy, violent ways that, at home, would get their own children sent to their rooms – if not worse. So I am always fascinated to read commentary by this culture’s adults on what “adulthood” in such a society is considered to really be about.