Prejudiced, moi?

how to be rightJust how gullible are we human beings, and how easily do we cling on to ideas that have no true justification? This question appears increasingly relevant to those of a liberal disposition, and is indirectly the subject of James O’Brien’s book How to Be Right… in a world gone wrong.

O’Brien runs a talk show on LBC radio and has callers on many controversial subjects: Islam, Brexit, LGBT, political correctness, feminism, the nanny state, Trump… The book basically gives his own ‘take’ on the subject from a ‘reality-based’ perspective, and demonstrates how various callers from different perspectives handle explaining their views, with many entertaining dialogues.

He essentially seeks to understand the caller’s viewpoint. The striking thing is often just how shallow those viewpoints are, and what little justification is given for them when questioned. It’s as if the person has unquestioningly swallowed a viewpoint and subsequently regurgitates it, without any understanding of why it might make sense. In other words, it is blind prejudice. They have effectively been brainwashed.

O’Brien’s technique is remarkable for its persistence, sticking to the point, and not allowing the caller to get away with simply restating their prejudice in another form. As well as giving us all ideas on how to handle the prejudice we inevitably encounter, it gives some insight into the minds that are most susceptible to populism.

It is also an entertaining read.

Featured pic of James O’Brien is from LBC website

Inside someone’s game

“Some of us are trying very hard to make things better, but an attack like this reminds us once again that we are inside someone’s game.”

These were comments made by local Afghans reacting to the ‘mother of all bombs’ recently dropped by the US, as reported by Yes Magazine.

The suffering Afghans are well and truly stuck within the games played by their politicians, the Taliban, the Americans and other players. Indeed, we are all in some way ‘inside someone’s game’, usually among the rich and the powerful.

Brexit provides a good example – a game invented and fomented by those with a particular perspective on power and who should wield it, played against the European institutions that tend to act as a brake on their power, all cloaked in a populist, nationalistic and xenophobic framework.

As these games pan out, the important thing is that we actually attend to what is really happening and what is required in the situation, and do not get carried away by the mass mind encouraged by the game. If you’ve ever felt the intense crowd feeling at a football match, you will know how easy it is to be swept away by the emotions of the game.