Thursday, January 27, 2022

MFP and we!

Stacy McCain, the invaluable blogger known as the Other McCain, called upon Thursday, January 27, 2022, to be "Everybody Blog About Mass Formation Psychosis Day," and I said I would. 

Here's some crazy now!

In the unlikely event that you see this post and not the one at McCain's much more popular blog, I thought we ought to go through the basics for my own benefit as well as everyone else's. 

What Is Mass Formation Psychosis? 

MFP is a supposed mental illness that is said to affect crowds--thus the mass part. Dr. Robert Malone says this is a kind of induced psychosis caused in the population by a lack of social cohesion on one side and a large fear stimulus on the other

The conditions to set up mass formation psychosis include lack of social connectedness and sensemaking as well as large amounts of latent anxiety and passive aggression. When people are inundated with a narrative that presents a plausible "object of anxiety" and strategy for coping with it, then many individuals group together to battle the object with a collective singlemindedness. This allows people to stop focusing on their own problems, avoiding personal mental anguish. Instead, they focus all their thought and energy on this new object.

As mass formation progresses, the group becomes increasingly bonded and connected. Their field of attention is narrowed and they become unable to consider alternative points of view.  Leaders of the movement are revered, unable to do no wrong. 
Both of these conditions were present at the outbreak of the Chinese Death Virus known as COVID-19, so if the theory is correct, it was an ideal time for mass formation psychosis to take hold.

Is MFP Real?

Well, it isn't recognized by the American Psychological Association, which got its collective knickers in a twist when Dr. Malone described it on Joe Rogan's show and listeners attacked a psychologist who disputed (or as they like to say, "fact-checked") a claim that "millions of Americans have been 'hypnotized' into accepting mainstream messages about COVID-19, including the importance of vaccination, through 'mass formation psychosis.'" It certainly seems like some of the attackers were very personal and rude, and even threatening, and I will not excuse that. Anyway, that's not the question; the question is, is there such a thing as Mass Formation Psychosis?

I have reason to think so. There have been so many crazy stories in the past year on all sides, like the mom who locked her kid in the trunk of the car when he tested positive for COVID-19. Who does that?

On a personal note, I know a perfectly respectable woman in the healthcare industry who in 2020 thought Trump was going to send troops into the streets to enforce quarantine, but now is cutting off friends who won't toe the line on masking in all times and places. She cut me off cold, and I was being nice about it. 

So yeah, I think a lot of people have gone nuts over this virus, but the insanity was probably bubbling right under the surface anyway.  Which sounds like "lack of social connectedness and sensemaking as well as large amounts of latent anxiety and passive aggression" to me.

Why Is This Being Treated as a Conspiracy Theory?

Why shouldn't it? 

I know some very nice and intelligent people who are suspicious of the vaccines for COVID, but some people are close to the microchip-implanting theory level, that Bill Gates has personally put a microchip in each vaccine. I gotta say, if so, it is really small, because that was the thinnest needle I ever got stuck with. 

The problem, as I see it:

1) Despite the angry APA objections (in part, I think, to the idea of "mass hypnosis," which sounds like a supervillain plot), the MFP conforms with previous theories of mass delusion. Long before Eric Hoffer wrote True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, Charles Mackay wrote Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds (1841). And Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism trod this ground mightily, although a lot of leftists hate its conflation of Communism and Fascism despite both being a form of totalitarianism (Mussolini's famous dictum of “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State” applies to both). So what's the problem with writing about it? Do psychologists resent taking sociology and philosophy seriously?

2) Yes, maybe these days, because it goes against the desired zeitgeist. The problem is, there really have been conspiracies around, which no one wants to acknowledge even as the truth comes out. The Russia collusion that should have been a massive political scandal on the perpetrators, the strange billionaire who funds district attorneys who will not uphold the law, the complicity of our National Institutes of Health in the origin of the Chinese Death Virus and the refusal to stop funding said research in 2020 despite a presidential order, the code of silence and outright lies over Hunter Biden's laptop and exposed shenanigans prior to the 2020 election, the "fortification" of the election, the failure to report the weakness of the vaccines and even their risks (which was not the media's position in 1976 when there was mass vaccination but a Republican president), the criminal attacks on parents by school boards, the failure of lockdowns to stop anything but prosperity, the elite class's refusal to abide by the rules it wishes to impose on the rest of us for everything from policing and disease spread to global warming, the non-punishment of most upper echelon types for any malfeasance, the support by the same for rioters while our cities burned, and on and on.   

3) Which leads us to the fact the elites in our society have been failing us for a long time, and COVID exposed them not only as failures, not only as hypocrites, but also as thieves, cowards, and bastards, who do not care about the poor and actively hate the middle class that feeds them.

My advice to those in charge of stuff: If you want the people to stop believing in conspiracies, stop conspiring. As Jacques Abbadie once wrote, "One can fool some men, or fool all men in some places and times, but one cannot fool all men in all places and ages." What do you expect us to think when you've been so very bad?

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Deep thoughts.

From the deep thoughts factory at FredCo.

🧠 According to the Cleveland Clinic, your brain processes 70,000 thoughts per day. This means that by the time you turn 50, you've had approximately 1,278,340,000 thoughts. That seems like a lot, especially if, like me, the bulk of your thoughts are devoted to Is there anything to eat? and I'm tired. But if you had one thought for every dollar spent by the federal government's $1.9 trillion budget this year, you would be more than 74. And that's just the budget, which doesn't include mandatory spending, or entitlements, which was $4.6 trillion in 2020. Think THAT many thoughts and you'll be almost 180.

🐕 Buridan's Ass is the philosophic example of the donkey that starves to death, being unable to choose between two identical and equidistant bales of hay. It is tough to be caught in a dilemma like that, as with a smart or athletic student who can't decide between two great colleges that offer a full ride. Most of us are more familiar in real life with the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't type dilemma, where two or more choices all suck in roughly equal proportion. In real life, the donkey would probably just wander over to one bale and eat. If you tried it with a Golden Retriever, he would eat both meals and go running off to find something to play with or pee on. 

🐶 Speaking of dogs, one of the advantages of having them around is that they make you feel productive even when you aren't. Adult dogs sleep up to 14 hours a day. I only want to sleep that long. 

😴 Speaking of sleep, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the reason you don't usually punch and kick people while dreaming is that "Your arm and leg muscles become temporarily paralyzed, which prevents you from acting out your dreams." Isn't that helpful? Last night I dreamed I was with James Bond as one of a bunch of his sidekicks, planning to kidnap a foreign agent by getting him drunk. It devolved into a hunt for the hodag along a city street, all previous plot elements forgotten. If I'd been running and punching and leaping in bed as well as in sleep, someone could have gotten hurt. Or it might have made a video for the 'gram. 

💤🛌 Which brings us to what I was doing between bouts of sleep, which was taking out the dogs. Large dog Tralfaz got it in his head that he had to go out 700 times last night, and of course Izzy (a.k.a. Me2!Me2!) wanted to go as well. I tried to be patient because it could be chemo-related, but I am a tired puppy myself right now. The Harvard Health Letter reports that deep sleep may be when the brain clears toxic waste created in the normal course of cell life. And my brain feels pretty toxic this morning. So that's enough thoughts for now. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The cold, hard truth.

I think I may have pulled this gag before, but it's still true. Oh, too true.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Cruel to be kind.

I poisoned one dog on Saturday, and I'm turning the other over to strangers to be cut up on Friday.

I'm feeling kind of guilty over it. You can't explain it to them. But it's for their own good. 

Big dog Tralfaz, who just turned eight, got these giant lumps on him last summer. Once some initial tests and a lumpectomy confirmed that it was cancer, we started him on radioactive chemotherapy. Just two pills, once a month, for six months. The first two doses worked splendidly, and the remaining lumps receded. His liver enzymes shot up too, so the vet said give it a month off and then start it again. So, I just did.

These chemo pills cannot be chewed, of course, and getting capsules into this hairy beast is a challenge. Ultimately I have settled on tricking him with the offer of a treat and then shoving them into his throat far enough so he has to swallow them. He coughed one up anyway, so I had to repeat it--and I have to move fast because those gel caps dissolve quickly. I only have the two, specially ordered from a compounding pharmacy; I don't have a whole bottle of chemo pills like aspirin. 

Dogs will never understand that the faster you swallow something, the less you have to taste it. It's the only way anyone eats kale, or so I'm convinced. 

The pills kill his appetite for a day or two, but he's otherwise doing marvelously well on them. I am in fact poisoning him; that's how chemotherapy works. Paracelsus stated a long time ago that the dose makes the poison, thus chemotherapy's mission is to kill you just enough to wipe out the cancer without actually going all the way. Some people on it react so poorly that they prefer to just let the cancer take its course. I'm grateful that Tralfaz is not suffering this much. We had decided out the outset of treatment that if this was very hard on him, we would stop the chemo, but so far so good. 

He's an older guy, and while we can't explain it to him, presumably has that philosophical nature that older dogs get about the misfortunes and vicissitudes of life. Baby Izzy, almost but not quite nine months old, does not have this attitude. But what he does have is loose cartilage in his elbows, and hip bones that aren't quite large enough to keep the leg bones from popping out from time to time. The latter doesn't seem to bother him as much as the sound of it bothers us, but the vet assures us that his hips will be arthritic and painful when he is older unless we get him a hip replacement. He's too young for that now, but they can do arthroscopic surgery on his elbows. 

They'll probably have to keep him at least one night, and there's the rub--this is the dog who can't stand it if I go upstairs for a shower while my wife's working. He hates to be alone and isn't shy about telling us. It's made for all sorts of problems at bedtime. How's he going to take it when we have to leave him at the animal hospital overnight?

Luckily the hospital is a 24-hour facility, so there will be staff around; also, they will probably keep him doped up pretty solid from the time we drop him off Friday. But I'll worry about the little dude the whole time he's gone.

On a less sentimental note, this is costing a fortune. Tralfaz has pet insurance, which helps, but Izzy started to limp at a very young age, before he was insured; we thought he'd just twisted something, so we took him to the vet. Bam, preexisting condition, no expenses at all can be charged to his health policy. Bleah.

All this comes on the heels of losing Nipper last February. He also had cancer, but it was so incredibly aggressive that there was no treatment that could help. Poor little chap. 

I wish I could explain everything to them in a way they would understand, but of course you can't. It makes me wonder how parents with babies who need serious medical care keep from losing their minds. God bless them all. 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Tire-D of the cold.

The last two weekends have been cold snaps, as if the weeks had been rubber bands and when Friday hit, SNAP! Ouch! Negative degrees for you!

I am usually out and about on Saturday mornings. A week ago I had taken my wife's car and left it in the cold for an hour; when I got back the dashboard helpfully informed me that all four tires were now about four pounds under optimal pressure. That was quick!

This is something that happens every year, at least when we have truly cold temperatures, as Firestone explains here. The thing is, I never knew it when I was younger and drove crappier cars. The 1988 Chevette did not tell you the tires were low. Even my old Saturn had no idea what shape the tires were in. But my wife's 2019 car tells you everything, including whether you forgot to buy eggs at the store. (You did.) The idiot lights came up all aglow when I was on my way home that Saturday. 

My wife is the kind of person who takes idiot lights seriously. But me, I figured, the car's in the garage, she's not going anywhere for a couple of days -- maybe they'll re-inflate! And then Wednesday came and she had to drive forty miles, and I knew she'd be upset if the car was still sending up flags. I figured I'd better find out.

So, I said, "Honey, before you leave, I must ascertain whether your tires are safe for the ride."

NO, of course not. I waited until she was in the shower, then I took her car out. At once--Ping! Ping! Ping! All tires showed up as low PSI.

I immediately drove to the nearby gas station that has a free air pump, only to find one guy filling his tires and two more waiting on line. No doubt they all had their wives' cars.

Then I tooled to my mechanic, who charges a buck for the air machine.

Looks just like this place.

A buck's worth was enough for the job, and the tires were satisfied. I returned her car and off she went. 

Yesterday, my car, a 2011, flashed its idiot light after I left it in the parking lot for an hour. Another cold snap, another pressure loss. My car doesn't tell me which tire is low, though. Hell, my car didn't tell me what had happened the day I got a spoon stuck in a tire. I don't know if it was one tire or all of them. 

So I just drove home. I'll get to it. Or maybe it'll warm up and they’ll re-inflate.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Winter haikus.

Snow falls on the path
One flake, two flake, three flake, and
Oh my achin' back

Dog sits on the ice
Rejoicing in nature's bliss
He got a fur coat

My friend has moved south
Shows me pictures of beaches
He can go cram it

Some ski in winter
Some sled, some skate, and some board
I pay the gas bill

Snow is the only
Weather with which you can play
Gimme a yo-yo

I hate summer's heat
But I won't die picking it
Up with a shovel

Friday, January 21, 2022