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Blind Boy Apollo
and the All-White Astronauts

New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Tuesday, May 6

positive spin

the first cut is the deepest

As usual, getting anything like "the whole picture" requires not just reading between the lines, but reading between the stories.

  1. Early IN, NC exit poll highlights
    Associated Press, May 6
    About one in seven voters in Indiana and slightly fewer in North Carolina were under age 30.
  2. The Growing Wave of Teenage Self-Injury
    New York Times, May 6
    There are no exact numbers for this largely hidden problem, but anonymous surveys among college students suggest that 17 percent of them have self-injured, and experts estimate that self-injury is practiced by 15 percent of the general adolescent population.
  3. Are You Happy?
    New York Review of Books, April 3
    ...Ben-Shahar is simply repackaging what the happiness researchers now know -- that the people who say they are happy are those who are part of a community, have purpose-driven lives, and don't sweat the small stuff. (The researchers also know from their surveys that the happiest of happy Americans are Republicans, social butterflies, and bigots.)
Martin Seligman (see my March 2006 post re Blind Boy Apollo and the All-White Astronauts of Western Civilization), the guy who kicked off the whole Positive Psychology craze -- cult would not be going too far -- repackaged his original findings about zapping dogs (Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control) into a pop-psych book called Learned Optimism. He learned optimism, all right: by taking money from the far-right evangelical Templeton Foundation and helping to train the trainers of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torturers.

That last link points to a much deeper analysis in a New Yorker article titled The Experiment. Here's a clip...

According to a counter-terrorism expert familiar with the interrogation of the Al Qaeda suspect, Mitchell announced that the suspect needed to be subjected to rougher methods. The man should be treated like the dogs in a classic behavioral-psychology experiment, he said, referring to studies performed in the nineteen-sixties by Martin Seligman and other graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania. The dogs were placed in harnesses and given electric shocks that they could not avoid; they were then released into pens and shocked again, but this time they were given a chance to escape the punishment. Most of them, Seligman observed, passively accepted the shocks. They had lapsed into a condition that he called “learned helplessness.” The suspect’s resistance, Mitchell was apparently saying, could be overcome by inducing a similar sense of futility. (Seligman, now a psychology professor at Penn, has spoken at a SERE school about his dog research.)
SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. It's a program run by the US Air Force at Camp Carson outside Colorado Springs, roughly 100 miles south of where I sit typing this. And which city btw, although this fact is of course unrelated, has been called the Evangelical Vatican.

Have A Nice Day

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