Four noble truths to see us through to the other side

Will you take your dose of truth in red or blue?
  1. “We need a Republican party.” — Joe Biden

I don’t agree that we specifically need the Republican party, but I know we need a right wing. This is an important lesson for everyone, no matter what side of the aisle you tend to vote for. The American political system is based on the idea that there are political poles, much like two sides of a magnet. The positive end cannot exist without the negative end. You can cut off the negative end, but the pole that replaces the negative end that has been cut off itself turns negative. By removing one side, you only make the magnet smaller.

We need to realize that there is no left-wing without the right-wing. When we silence the side that we disagree with, we only become weaker.

2. “The general election was far more free of foul play than the primaries.” — Bret Weinstein

I’ll admit that this is a paraphrase of what Bret Weinstein actually said, (I couldn’t find where in this podcast he actually said it.) Nonetheless, I think this truth resonates all too much in the dawn of 2021 as Republicans realize the danger they accepted in nominating such a character as Trump to lead the party.

Having said that, the Democratic primary in 2019–2020 was appalling. I won’t go into the details, but I think if the DNC had nominated (or allowed for proper coverage of) true public servants, Trump wouldn’t have gotten nearly as many votes as he did in the general election. Furthermore, if the DNC had nominated public servants instead of politicians, Trump wouldn’t have been able to peddle fear and misinformation the way that he has.

3. “Trump didn’t use Twitter, Twitter used Trump.” — Douglas Murray

There are two points that come out of this truth for me.

The first is that we cannot allow technocratic tyranny. Twitter, Facebook and other censorious platforms will become tyrants. These tyrants will at first appear benevolent in trying to prevent mass dissemination of misinformation. But, even if these tyrants have good intentions, the technocratic overlords will eventually fall prey to any number of human biases and will thus be unable to differentiate fact from fiction. Or, as we already see happening with the COVID-19 pandemic, the tech overlords will censor anybody who questions the narrative told to us by government officials and politicians, instead of the narrative informed by science.

The second point I’d like to make is that we have to realize that what “motivates” the all-powerful algorithm is showing people what they want to see. That’s how these platforms make money. (The irony of my sharing this on such a platform isn’t lost on me.) This results in an echo-chamber which only reinforces what we already think. In case you haven’t figured it out, this results in an insanely impenetrable divide between competing narratives where nobody looks for the truth behind what the other side is saying. The only possible way to move forward from this is if everyone genuinely asks themselves what the other side has gotten right. It is exceedingly rare for a counter-narrative to not have any truth to it. And if we learn that the other side has simply been fed lies, then we need to adopt an attitude of empathy and compassion, instead of scorn and hate, for those that don’t understand.

4. “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” — Carl Jung

I think the most important work we can do as individuals is to integrate our shadows. In order to do that, we must realize that every human being is made up of exactly the same thing. You see how others are biased, well you’re biased too. You watch as others commit horrific acts of violence but don’t think that you’re incapable of exactly the same thing. If you had the same experiences as these people and were exposed to the same information, you would probably be right by their side. I’m sure you think that you wouldn’t be a Nazi if you were a German in the Weimar Republic. But in all likelihood, you’d be wrong.

Nina is an epidemiology student who writes about scientific heterodoxy. Her superpower is curiosity. Read her book Triumph by Trepanation

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