Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

Unreasonable Perceptions

Thursday, May 8th, 2014


George Bernard Shaw was the filthy old misogynist who said:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man”

Naturally this only relates to men;  the unreasonable woman is derided as premenstrual and is told that what she thinks, feels or believes isn’t real, has no validity. Go away, do not pass Go, your views do not represent progress.

But the counter quote to the above is from Rosanne Barr:

“Women complain about PMS, but I think of it as the only time of the month when I can be myself.”

and surely this is the truth. The time of the month that most totally defines a woman’s femininity is the time that men are most afraid of her. They confuse femininity with passivity, with compliance, with selflessness. They don’t recognise the raised voice, the impatience, the anger, the harsh words, my God – the opinions! “You’re hysterical”, we’re told. But at that time of the month, we are free to think the otherwise unthinkable – that partners are selfish, that children are spoilt, that parents are demanding. Hush, little woman. Lock yourself away until these thoughts pass.

“When she bleeds the smells I know change colour. There is iron in her soul on those days. She smells like a gun.”

Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body

Conspiracy Truths

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

MiBEveryone loves a good conspiracy theory. I certainly like teasing myself with the “what-ifs”. They may have existed before the 20th century, but with the increase in media connectivity, eye-witness reporting vs closely controlled and lazy Main Stream Media (MSM), the ground in which they grow is increasingly fertile.

I define conspiracy as  a situation where the truth of the circumstances surrounding a situation has not been widely revealed in the MSM, and where a number of influential people have been involved in keeping back that information. I will postulate 3 main categories.

  1. Occasions so astonishing, you can’t believe they’re true.
  2. Occasions where, for a number of (often valid) reasons, the full truth has not been reported.
  3. Occasions where a number of influential people have kept the truth from the MSM.

As examples of number 1 above, I might offer The Moon Landings. I know there are a number of people who fret about shadows and wind etc, but I have serious doubts that the number of people involved in the mission would keep quiet for this length of time to protect a long disappeared regime.

The line between numbers 2 & 3 is more murky. There undoubtedly have been factions within the governments and security services of many, if not every country, that would like to throw the rug of “National Security” over the dirt of nefarious, illegal activities. But some times, just some times, the nutters on the conspiracy websites are proved right all along.

Though it pains me to say it, David Icke was blethering on about Jimmy Savile’s unpleasant proclivities back in the 1990s. He may just have got lucky – talk enough tripe for long enough, and some of it might be found to be true. There are a lot of other names in the frame – from the arrests made by the Met Police’s Operation Yewtree, it is clear that a signficant number of men in powerful positions throughout the establishment have probably used that power to have sex with vulnerable, often under-age youngsters. It was always illegal. Lots of people knew – in the case of Savile, apparently hundreds, but no-one did anything.

But who can we trust? Senior figures within the BBC, our national foremost media organisation, turned a blind eye. Our newspapers are more interested in the (legal) sex lives of reality show wannabees than proper investigate journalism. So its unsurprising that the vacuum left behind drags in all sorts of detritus. David Icke afterall, believes that the world is run by people with reptilian blood-lines. And not in a metaphorical way; in a scaley, “ooh look, a six-foot lizard in a shirt and tie has just stuck out its forked tongue” kind of way”.

But, similar to “Just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me”, so too, “Just because I’m certifiable, doesn’t mean I’m wrong”. So like Tommy Lee Jones & Will Smith reaching for a copy of National Enquirer to keep ahead of alien news, I’ve been delving around the internet to see what there is. Another figure against whom Icke has pinned many paedophiliac accusations (and worse) is the late Tory prime minster, Ted Heath. Famous for being a confirmed batchelor, most people assumed he was a repressed homosexual, but rumours abound the internet that Heath was involved in the rape and indirectly, the murder of young boys.

One blog looking to collect information to cross references sources, rumours, acknoledgements and information is The Needle Blog and any reader is welcome to leave referneces on the Operation Greenlight page. Another conspiracist figure to achieve a degree of fame / notoriety is the author and barrister Michael Shrimpton. He claims to be a Security & Intelligence Consultant, and has probably moved in those circles in the past, but his current obsession with Germans would lead most people to wonder about his current status. He is apparently about to release a book – Spyhunter, so is doubtless lining up the publicity. But he makes some startling claims:

Now if Ted Heath is entirely innocent of the claims made against him, then I feel for his relatives and posterity’s view of him, but only 6 months ago, no-one was allowed to defame the saintly Sir Savile either.

Bear in mind, the National Enquirer was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Journalism in 2010. Icke may yet turn out to be right about the lizards too, but I won’t hold my breath.


Just Add Water

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

A-ha! I’ve found the article I alluded to in my last post. It was: 10 Virtually Instant Ways to Improve Your Life. What a fantastic title – the concept that with a few minor, virtually unnoticable tweaks, you become rich, beautiful, successful and able to eat chocolate til it oozes out of your ears without putting on an ounce. Of course reality isn’t like that, and in fact this list isn’t the usual, stop smoking, eat healthily, get some exercise, marry a goat blah blah blah of other lists. It is subtly different; it’s not about what you do, but about how you think. Of course one can argue with the premise that one can change one’s thoughts in an instant. Nothing is that simple, apart from instant mash. Anyway, I reproduce it here.

  1. Stop jumping to conclusions. There are two common ways this habit increases people’s difficulties. First, they assume that they know what is going to happen, so they stop paying attention and act on their assumption instead. Human beings are lousy fortune-tellers. Most of what they assume is wrong. That makes the action wrong too. The second aspect of this habit is playing the mind-reader and assuming you know why people do what they do or what they’re thinking. Wrong again, big time. More relationships are destroyed by this particular kind of stupidity than by any other.
  2. Don’t dramatize. Lots of people inflate small setbacks into life-threatening catastrophes and react accordingly. This habit makes mountains out of molehills and gives people anxieties that either don’t exist or are so insignificant they aren’t worth worrying about anyway. Why do they do it? Who knows? Maybe to make themselves feel and seem more important. Whatever the reason, it’s silly as well as destructive.
  3. Don’t invent rules. A huge proportion of those “oughts” and “shoulds” that you carry around are most likely needless. All that they do for you is make you feel nervous or guilty. What’s the point? When you use these imaginary rules on yourself, you clog your mind with petty restrictions and childish orders. And when you try to impose them on others, you make yourself into a bully, a boring nag, or a self-righteous bigot.
  4. Avoid stereotyping or labeling people or situations. The words you use can trip you up. Negative and critical language produces the same flavor of thinking. Forcing things into pre-set categories hides their real meaning and limits your thinking to no purpose. See what’s there. Don’t label. You’ll be surprised at what you find.
  5. Quit being a perfectionist. Life isn’t all or nothing, black or white. Many times, good enough means exactly what it says. Search for the perfect job and you’ll likely never find it. Meanwhile, all the others will look worse than they are. Try for the perfect relationship and you’ll probably spend your life alone. Perfectionism is a mental sickness that will destroy all your pleasure and send you in search of what can never be attained.
  6. Don’t over-generalize. One or two setbacks are not a sign of permanent failure. The odd triumph doesn’t turn you into a genius. A single event—good or bad—or even two or three don’t always point to a lasting trend. Usually things are just what they are, nothing more.
  7. Don’t take things so personally. Most people, even your friends and colleagues, aren’t talking about you, thinking about you, or concerned with you at all for 99% of the time. The majority of folk in your organization or neighborhood have probably never heard of you and don’t especially want to. The ups and downs of life, the warmth and coldness of others, aren’t personal at all. Pretending that they are will only make you more miserable than is needed.
  8. Don’t assume your emotions are trustworthy. How you feel isn’t always a good indicator of how things are. Just because you feel it, that doesn’t make it true. Sometimes that emotion comes from nothing more profound than being tired, hungry, annoyed, or about to get a head-cold. The future won’t change because you feel bad—nor because you feel great. Feelings may be true, but they aren’t the truth.
  9. Don’t let life get you down. Keep practicing being optimistic. If you expect bad things in your life and work, you’ll always find them. A negative mind-set is like looking at the world through distorting, grimy lenses. You spot every blemish and overlook or discount everything else. It’s amazing what isn’t there until you start to look for it. Of course, if you decide to look for signs of positive things, you’ll find those too.
  10. Don’t hang on to the past. This is my most important suggestion of all: let go and move on. Most of the anger, frustration, misery, and despair in this world come from people clinging to past hurts and problems. The more you turn them over in your mind, the worse you’ll feel and the bigger they’ll look. Don’t try to fight misery. Let go and move on. Do that and you’ve removed just about all its power to hurt you.

This is a fantastic list! Apart from the last one – I remain unconvinced that when karma is taking its time to even the score, a helping hand might not go amiss, but nevertheless. But there at No. 8 is the one that stuck in my mind: Don’t assume your emotions are trustworthy. It even gives a few benign, non-contraversial examples: hungry, tired, annoyed. To which, I might add, pre-menstrual. What? I’m a woman, I’m allowed to say it. Look down & check your underpants – if they’re lumpy, you are not.

Are mental habits easier to change than physical ones? Phobics would say not, Paul McKenna would disagree. But both physical and mental habits improve with attention and effort. These are worthy ones to attempt.

Emotions vs Reality and Normality

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Perception of RealityAgain I’ve found myself absorbed by this evening’s programming on BBC4. The second hour’s viewing was the incredibly well researched yet wiltingly safe second of the three-part documentary – Michael Mosley’s The Brain: A Secret History, which looked at the role of emotions in our lives.

However I missed the first 5 minutes in my efforts to recover after the preceding, far more hit-and-miss, anecdotal, emotionally nuclear option of Sectioned. This was a documentary that followed the stories of 3 men: Antony, Andrew and Richard.

Antony had been in and out of hospital for 26 years since a breakdown in 1984. He had a diagnosis of schizophrenia which he disagreed with, but his daughter could attest that without regular anti-psychotic drug injections, his ability to look after himself disintegrated to a worrying level. While the terms of his section insisted he received the injections, he was well enough to protest that they weren’t required. After 5 months with no treatment, he began to slide back towards self-neglect.

Andrew represented the statistic that a particular demographic “at-risk” are men in late-middle age, adjusting to upcoming retirement. He was also the token middle-class story, having had a successful long-term career as a pathologist, despite suffering from bipolar disorder. However this had spiraled out of control as retirement loomed, leading to an unfortunate paranoid incident involving a high-speed chase. His wife was at her wits-end, lost 3 stone and at one stage could see no future other than divorce.

The most tragic case was that of Richard – 34 and since the age of 19, helplessly “mad”, in common parlance. Despite his section, he seemed free to leave the secure unit long enough to get alcohol and drugs, and the team working with him accepted he would always have a drug and alcohol problem. He was happy to confide to camera that the voices in his head that he called his Gods told him to overdose on heroin on Christmas day. As the date loomed and it seemed unlikely he’d be able to get the necessary supplies, he was relieved when the voices told him it would ok if he did it after Christmas. He died: death recorded as accidental overdose. He was funny, optimistic and personable. One can only assume that the unit did their best to stabilise him with prescription drugs, but his death seemed horrifically inevitable.

My background thoughts were around something I read a couple of weeks ago, when launching this blog, about ways to improve your life and get out of a rut. One of the options I read and meant to go back to investigate further was essentially: while your emotions are real to you, they do not necessarily represent impartial reality. That struck a chord with me, and I’m annoyed that I can’t now find the article I was reading. Nevertheless, the impact of emotions on moods, and how we judge their reality will be the subect of the next few posts.