Why Conspiracy Theories DEMAND Understanding!

๐ˆ ๐ซ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฆ๐›๐ž๐ซ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐’๐š๐ง๐๐ฒ ๐‡๐จ๐จ๐ค ๐„๐ฅ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐š๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐œ๐ก๐จ๐จ๐ฅ ๐ฌ๐ก๐จ๐จ๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ก๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ž๐ง๐ž๐. โณ

I remember watching the news coverage, the feelings of horror, the shock among the country that such an event happened. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

I even remember the news wrongfully attributing the killerโ€™s potential motive to his diagnosis of autism. โŒ

It wasnโ€™t easy for many people to comprehend. Who would want to let the feeling sink in that someone was actually capable of committing such horror on innocent lives? ๐Ÿ˜ซ

“๐‘พ๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’… ๐’๐’‡ ๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’๐’ ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’„๐’๐’Ž๐’Ž๐’Š๐’• ๐’”๐’–๐’„๐’‰ ๐’‚๐’ ๐’‚๐’„๐’•?! ๐‘ฏ๐’๐’˜ ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’‚๐’ ๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’๐’• ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’ ๐’‰๐’‚๐’‘๐’‘๐’†๐’?!”

It was around the same time this event happened that I was browsing YouTube one day and noticed a popular video trending on their home page. The video was over a half hour in length, a video I would not normally take the time to watch. ๐Ÿ–ฅ๏ธ

But the title of the video caught my attention: โ€œSANDY HOOK EXPOSEDโ€. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

I clicked on itโ€ฆand for the next half hour I was entranced watching the entire video! ๐Ÿ˜ต

๐ˆ ๐ซ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฆ๐›๐ž๐ซ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐’๐š๐ง๐๐ฒ ๐‡๐จ๐จ๐ค ๐ฌ๐ก๐จ๐จ๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ก๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ž๐ง๐ž๐. ๐๐ž๐œ๐š๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž ๐ข๐ญ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฌ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ซ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ข๐ฆ๐ž ๐ˆ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ซ๐จ๐๐ฎ๐œ๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ซ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

I remember watching the lengthy YouTube video and being shown a bunch of chopped-up news clips. I remember the video’s sound being muted, the subtitles of the video feeding me various questions and answers ๐Ÿ’ญ:

โ€œ๐‘ฏ๐’๐’˜ ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’๐’ ๐’ˆ๐’–๐’?!โ€ โ€œ๐‘ฏ๐’๐’˜ ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’š ๐’Ž๐’Š๐’”๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’”?!โ€ โ€œ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’Š๐’” ๐’”๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ๐’†!โ€ โ€œ๐‘บ๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Š๐’” ๐’˜๐’“๐’๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’†!โ€

I remember watching a clip which showed a father whose daughter was killed in Sandy Hook seemingly go from smiling to crying in seconds. Again, the subtitles were ready to tell me what to think: โ€œ๐‘จ ๐’๐’๐’“๐’Ž๐’‚๐’ ๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’๐’ ๐’…๐’๐’†๐’”๐’โ€™๐’• ๐’…๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’”!โ€ โ€œ๐‘ฐ๐’” ๐’‰๐’† ๐’‚๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ?!โ€ ๐Ÿ’ญ

I remember another clip which showed the mother of the daughter, but she was smiling and saying words you couldnโ€™t hear because the audio was muted. Again, the subtitles were ready to tell me what to think: โ€œ๐‘ฏ๐’๐’˜ ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’”๐’‰๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’”๐’ ๐’‰๐’‚๐’‘๐’‘๐’š ๐’‚๐’• ๐’‚ ๐’•๐’Š๐’Ž๐’† ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’”?!โ€ โ€œ๐‘บ๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Š๐’” ๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’š ๐’˜๐’“๐’๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’†!โ€ ๐Ÿ’ญ

I also remember the shocking realization I felt watching the video. There was this excitement, this sense of thrill within me that I was learning something the general public was not aware of. Only me and other viewers of this YouTube video were now privy to this private information! ๐Ÿ“š

The video brought me to the conclusion it wanted me to come to: that Sandy Hook never happened, that it was a hoax. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

…Looking back on this memory in hindsight, Iโ€™m glad I watched the video.

โš ๏ธ ๐๐Ž, ๐’๐€๐๐ƒ๐˜ ๐‡๐Ž๐Ž๐Š ๐–๐€๐’ ๐๐Ž๐“ ๐€ ๐‡๐Ž๐€๐—! โš ๏ธ

But watching this video helped me learn a valuable lesson early on in my life about how alluring conspiracy theories can be, how attractive they are on the surface, yet how hollow the cynicism lays underneath them. ๐Ÿ˜ 

Thankfully, at the time I watched this video I had enough skepticism to get additional perspectives on the videoโ€™s claims.

I quickly learned there was a TON of misinformation in the video. (For information on the video, you can refer to the Snopes article here: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/sandy-hook-exposed/ )

๐Ÿ“Œ The father who went from crying to smiling? There could be any number of reasons why that happened. ๐‘จ ๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’๐’† ๐’„๐’‰๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ๐’† ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‡๐’‚๐’„๐’Š๐’‚๐’ ๐’†๐’™๐’‘๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’๐’” ๐’Š๐’” ๐’๐’๐’• โ€œ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’๐’‡โ€ ๐’‰๐’†โ€™๐’” ๐’‚๐’ ๐’‚๐’„๐’•๐’๐’“ ๐’๐’๐’“ ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’†โ€™๐’” ๐’”๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’…๐’Š๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’๐’๐’Š๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’ˆ๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’.

๐Ÿ“Œ That mother who was smiling in the muted video clip? If you got to hear the video clip unmuted, youโ€™d quickly understand she was smiling because she was sharing positive memories about her daughter. ๐‘ฐ๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’๐’“ ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’‰๐’๐’‚๐’™ ๐’—๐’Š๐’…๐’†๐’ ๐’๐’†๐’‡๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’๐’‚๐’ ๐’‚๐’–๐’…๐’Š๐’ ๐’Š๐’, ๐’š๐’๐’–โ€™๐’… ๐’†๐’‚๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’š ๐’”๐’†๐’† ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’˜๐’†๐’“๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Ž๐’Š๐’”๐’๐’†๐’….

๐ˆ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ โ€œ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ญ๐ซ๐ฎ๐ญ๐กโ€ ๐š๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฏ๐ข๐๐ž๐จ ๐ฅ๐ž๐ ๐ฆ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐›๐ž๐ฅ๐ข๐ž๐ฏ๐ž. ๐ˆ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ ๐š ๐œ๐ฒ๐ง๐ข๐œ๐š๐ฅ ๐ง๐š๐ซ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž ๐›๐š๐ฌ๐ž๐ ๐ฎ๐ฉ๐จ๐ง ๐ฉ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฉ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ, ๐œ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ซ๐ฒ-๐ฉ๐ข๐œ๐ค๐ž๐ ๐๐ž๐ญ๐š๐ข๐ฅ๐ฌ, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ž๐ฑ๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐จ๐ซ๐๐ข๐ง๐š๐ซ๐ฒ ๐œ๐ฅ๐š๐ข๐ฆ๐ฌ ๐ฆ๐š๐๐ž ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ฅ๐ข๐ญ๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐ง๐จ ๐ž๐ฏ๐ข๐๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐›๐š๐œ๐ค ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฆ ๐ฎ๐ฉ. ๐Ÿ‘Ž

๐–๐‡๐€๐“ ๐ˆ๐’ ๐€ ๐‚๐Ž๐๐’๐๐ˆ๐‘๐€๐‚๐˜ ๐“๐‡๐„๐Ž๐‘๐˜?!

We can use Merriam-Websterโ€™s definition: โ€œA theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.โ€ ๐Ÿ“–

We can also use Britannicaโ€™s definition: โ€œAn attempt to explain harmful or tragic events as the result of the actions of a small, powerful group.โ€ ๐Ÿ“–

Letโ€™s also add in Dictionary.comโ€™s definition: โ€œA theory that rejects the standard explanation for an event and instead credits a covert group or organization with carrying out a secret plot.โ€ ๐Ÿ“–

The reason I wanted to give you all these definitions is thereโ€™s also a conspiracy theory online that the CIA created the term โ€œconspiracy theoryโ€ to silence people during the JFK assassination. This is False. ๐Ÿ‘Ž

(Source: https://www.snopes.com/news/2020/03/16/did-the-cia-invent-the-term-conspiracy-theory/ )

Even more, thereโ€™s a conspiracy theory that the source Iโ€™ve been citing above, Snopes, has a โ€œleftist propaganda political agendaโ€. This is again False. ๐Ÿ‘Ž

(Sources: https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2019/jun/19/viral-image/no-factcheckorg-didnt-bust-snopescom/

Snopes

https://www.allsides.com/news-source/snopes )

If youโ€™re starting to notice a pattern, the problem is that ๐š๐ง๐ฒ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  can be made into a conspiracy theory. The fact I’m even discussing it right now makes me susceptible to someone accusing me of being a โ€œshillโ€ or a โ€œsheepโ€. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

If you share contrasting information with a conspiracy theorist, they can easily dismiss it as just being part of the conspiracy. They can claim every fact-checking source I cited above as โ€œfake newsโ€ simply because it doesnโ€™t fit with their worldview. โŒ

๐Ÿคฌ โ€œ๐˜๐Ž๐”โ€™๐‘๐„ ๐’๐Ž ๐‚๐Ž๐๐ƒ๐„๐’๐‚๐„๐๐ƒ๐ˆ๐๐†, ๐ƒ๐Ž๐๐€๐‹๐ƒ! ๐˜๐Ž๐” ๐€๐‚๐“ ๐‹๐ˆ๐Š๐„ ๐‚๐Ž๐๐’๐๐ˆ๐‘๐€๐‚๐ˆ๐„๐’ ๐ƒ๐Ž๐โ€™๐“ ๐„๐—๐ˆ๐’๐“!โ€ ๐Ÿคฌ

Let me clarify: ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ ๐ก๐š๐ฏ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ% ๐ก๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ž๐ง๐ž๐ ๐›๐ž๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ๐ž! ๐Ÿ’ฏ

๐Ÿ“ I could tell you about Project SUNSHINE in 1956, where the United States Atomic Energy Commission wanted to measure the long-term effects of nuclear radiation on the body. The way they did this included collecting tissue from deceased childrenโ€™s bodies without permission from grieving families.

๐Ÿ“ I could tell you about Prohibition in the 1920s, where the federal government pressured manufacturers to add poisonous substances to their alcohol to make it undrinkable. Unfortunately this did not stop people, and it is estimated thousands died from drinking this tainted alcohol.

๐Ÿ“ I could tell you about MKULTRA, a CIA-sponsored program which started in the 50s and ended in the 70s, where experiments were done on human test subjects including the use of LSD, hypnosis, and electric shocks to develop methods the government could use for future interrogations.

All of these happened! ๐Ÿ’ฏ

Itโ€™s not that I donโ€™t believe conspiracies have never happened or that I believe world governments have never done anything shady before. They have! And thereโ€™s a lot of classified information we as the general public will never be aware of. ๐Ÿ‘

Citing the incidents above, itโ€™s very reasonable for a person to start feeling cynical towards the government or people in authority. They’re the ones we’re supposed to place our trust in, yet knowing these past wrongs makes it a lot harder to, right? ๐Ÿ‘

The difference with my perspective is ๐ˆโ€™๐ฆ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฃ๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ฉ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐š๐ฎ๐ญ๐จ๐ฆ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐œ ๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐š ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ฅ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ž-๐œ๐ก๐š๐ง๐ ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ง๐ญ. ๐ˆโ€™๐ฆ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐š๐ค๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฌ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ฐ ๐จ๐œ๐œ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ซ๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐š๐œ๐ญ๐ฎ๐š๐ฅ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ฒ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฆ ๐š๐ฌ ๐š ๐ซ๐ž๐Ÿ๐ฅ๐ž๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ง๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐จ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ข๐œ๐ข๐š๐ฅ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐จ๐ง ๐ข๐ง ๐š๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ. ๐Ÿ‘ฎ

Itโ€™s important to remember when we demonize โ€œthe governmentโ€ weโ€™re also referring to thousands of people, from the postal service to the armed forces to Congress, each with their own separate positions and functions, each with their own families and set of values, each of them living their own individual lives. ๐Ÿ‘ช

Itโ€™s this very problem of overgeneralizing I even have to remember myself! I’m guilty of it too! ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™‚๏ธ

I’m aware I have a habit of criticizing what I often call โ€œthe mediaโ€. I need to continue to remind myself it’s not a singular entity, that it consists of thousands of news outlets and thousands of individual people with different intentions and agendas. ๐Ÿ“ฐ

It would be foolish of me to assume the negative actions of 1 or 2 journalists was a reflection of the entire field of journalism, right?! ๐Ÿ˜…

My point is: donโ€™t let your obsession over a few bad apples spoil the entire bunch. Or as I always say: ๐ƒ๐จ๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ฐ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐š๐›๐ฒ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐š๐ญ๐ก๐ฐ๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ซ. ๐Ÿ‘ถ

The other day I watched the Netflix documentary โ€œBehind the Curveโ€ about Flat Earthers, people who believe the world is flat and that this truth is being covered up by NASA. ๐Ÿš€

I think for many of my friends youโ€™ll be quick to laugh even hearing that such a community exists. But I actually did take a valuable lesson watching the film, and Iโ€™ll tell you whatโ€ฆโฌ‡๏ธ

Sure, the Flat Earther arguments lack critical thinking. Sure, itโ€™s very easy to disprove their claims with less than five minutes of research online. Funny enough, the Flat Earthers even disprove themselves after they conduct a science experiment in the documentary! ๐Ÿ˜…

But putting all that aside, there is one valuable lesson I took away from the film: ridicule of Flat Earthers is NOT a helpful solution! ๐Ÿ’ฏ

In fact, telling someone theyโ€™re wrong can cause them to dig their feet deeper into their beliefs. Showing them contradictory evidence can strengthen their affinity for their beliefs. It is what’s known as the Backfire Effect. โ†”๏ธ

My point is: we need to apply this same understanding with the people around us. ๐ŸŒŽ

๐ˆ๐ญโ€™๐ฌ ๐›๐ž๐œ๐š๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž ๐ˆ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐๐จ๐ฐ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ซ๐š๐›๐›๐ข๐ญ ๐ก๐จ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ฆ๐ฒ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ˆ ๐š๐ซ๐ ๐ฎ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ž ๐ž๐ฆ๐ฉ๐š๐ญ๐ก๐ฒ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ข๐ญ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐จ๐ซ๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐ฌ.

It’s not to say their ideas don’t lack critical thinking or that these ideas don’t cause harm to others. They do. It’s to say, as the saying goes: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” You won’t change anyone’s mind by ridiculing them. ๐Ÿ™Œ

Mick West says the same thing in his book โ€œEscaping the Rabbit Holeโ€. The former co-founder of Neversoft Entertainment, Mick first became introduced to conspiracy theories when he was studying aviation weather for his pilotโ€™s license. ๐Ÿ‘จโ€โœˆโ€

He was introduced to the Chemtrails conspiracy theory, the belief that condensation trails left by aircrafts are toxic chemicals being sprayed by the government to poison people. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

What initially started as a website he created to debunk the theory led him to debunking many more theories. As of today, Mick is the founder of Metabunk and has spent over 10 years debunking conspiracy theories. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

But thereโ€™s a difference between Mick and many others who just want to prove conspiracy theorists wrong online. ๐Ÿ›‘

From his many interviews with current and “former” conspiracy theorists, he advocates for understanding and respectful communication. โค๏ธ

In his book โ€œEscaping the Rabbit Holeโ€, he argues weโ€™re ALL susceptible to conspiracy theories. Like while I myself personally don’t believe in most conspiracies, even I still at times am prone to feeling cynical towards pharmaceutical companies, to give one example. ๐Ÿ’Š

๐‘พ๐’† ๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’๐’Š๐’†๐’‡๐’” ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐’„๐’๐’๐’”๐’‘๐’Š๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’š ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’๐’“๐’Š๐’†๐’” ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’„๐’‚๐’–๐’”๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’š ๐’‰๐’†๐’๐’‘ ๐’–๐’” ๐’”๐’Š๐’Ž๐’‘๐’๐’Š๐’‡๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’Œ๐’† ๐’”๐’†๐’๐’”๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’„๐’๐’Ž๐’‘๐’๐’†๐’™ ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’๐’…. ๐Ÿ˜จ

๐‘ป๐’‰๐’†๐’š ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’—๐’Š๐’…๐’† ๐’–๐’” ๐’‡๐’†๐’†๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’” ๐’๐’‡ ๐’‘๐’๐’˜๐’†๐’“ ๐’•๐’ ๐’”๐’Š๐’•๐’–๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’๐’” ๐’˜๐’† ๐’‡๐’†๐’†๐’ ๐’‘๐’๐’˜๐’†๐’“๐’๐’†๐’”๐’” ๐’๐’—๐’†๐’“. ๐Ÿ˜จ

๐‘ป๐’‰๐’†๐’š ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’—๐’Š๐’…๐’† ๐’–๐’” ๐‘ช๐’†๐’“๐’•๐’‚๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐‘บ๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’๐’Š๐’‡๐’Š๐’„๐’‚๐’๐’„๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’˜๐’†’๐’“๐’† ๐’‚๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’”๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’‚๐’“๐’† “๐’‚๐’”๐’๐’†๐’†๐’‘” ๐’•๐’. ๐Ÿ˜จ

๐‘ป๐’‰๐’†๐’š ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’Œ๐’† ๐’–๐’” ๐’ˆ๐’†๐’๐’–๐’Š๐’๐’†๐’๐’š ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’๐’Š๐’†๐’—๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’๐’… ๐’Š๐’” ๐’‚ ๐’…๐’‚๐’“๐’Œ ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’”๐’„๐’‚๐’“๐’š ๐’‘๐’๐’‚๐’„๐’†, ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’˜๐’†’๐’“๐’† ๐’‚ ๐’Ž๐’Š๐’๐’๐’“๐’Š๐’•๐’š ๐’๐’‡ ๐’Š๐’๐’…๐’Š๐’—๐’Š๐’…๐’–๐’‚๐’๐’” ๐’˜๐’‰๐’ ๐’Œ๐’๐’๐’˜ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’•๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’•๐’“๐’–๐’†, ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’๐’†๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’๐’†๐’…. ๐Ÿ˜จ

๐‘ฐ๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’๐’…๐’—๐’Š๐’†๐’˜, ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’† ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’‚ ๐’Ž๐’๐’๐’”๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’š ๐’„๐’๐’๐’”๐’†๐’•. ๐Ÿ˜จ

The unfortunate part is just that some individuals fell deeper down the rabbit hole than most of us ever did. ๐Ÿ•ณ๏ธ

So, Mick’s personal mission with his work is not about shaming conspiracy theorists but rather on helping them climb out of the rabbit hole their cynical minds have become stuck in. ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™‚โ€

His biggest piece of advice: be respectful and understanding. Remember: it couldโ€™ve just as easily been you under the same circumstances. ๐Ÿ‘ค

๐Ž๐Ÿ๐ญ๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐ข๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐จ๐ง๐ž๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ก๐ฎ๐ซ๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐จ๐ง๐ž๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐ง๐ž๐ž๐ ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ. โค๏ธ

Apart from our susceptibility to conspiracy theories, we all as human beings suffer from whatโ€™s known as cognitive biases. They are patterns of thinking which psychologically distort how we view the world. ๐Ÿ‘€

Some of the most common biases include:

๐Ÿง  Negativity Bias. Weโ€™re more likely to give attention to negativity than we do to positivity.

๐Ÿง  Confirmation Bias. Weโ€™re more likely to believe information which reinforces our worldview and more easily dismiss information which goes against it.

๐Ÿง  Black-and-White (Dichotomous) Thinking. Weโ€™re more likely to see the world in polar opposite extremes. Good versus Evil. Us versus Them.

๐Ÿง  Illusory pattern perception. Weโ€™re more likely to see patterns among things which have no relation to each other. Itโ€™s why in science thereโ€™s the principle: โ€œCorrelation does not mean causationโ€.

But one of the biggest culprits, especially being illuminated now in our culture, is:

๐Ÿง  The Dunning-Kruger Effect. Weโ€™re more likely to overestimate our ability at something weโ€™re actually really bad at. The unintelligent individual is more likely to overestimate his intelligence, while the intelligent individual is more likely to underestimate his intelligence.

Or as philosopher Bertrand Russell put it back in 1933 as a response to the rise of Nazi Germany: โ€œ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’ƒ๐’๐’†๐’Ž ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’Ž๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“๐’ ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’๐’… ๐’Š๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’”๐’•๐’–๐’‘๐’Š๐’… ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’„๐’๐’„๐’Œ๐’”๐’–๐’“๐’† ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’†๐’๐’๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’†๐’๐’• ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’‡๐’–๐’๐’ ๐’๐’‡ ๐’…๐’๐’–๐’ƒ๐’•.โ€๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™‚โ€

Again, we ALL suffer from these biases, some of us worse than others. They are not limited to conspiracy theorists, although they may be more greatly illuminated through their example. ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ

But the reason Iโ€™m sharing this all with you today is because during times of stress and anxiety, especially during these times of COVID-19, conspiracy theories are far more prevalent and far more likely to be embraced as truth. ๐Ÿ‘

Conspiracy theories increased after 9/11. They increased after Sandy Hook. They increased after the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting. And they are now increasing during COVID-19. Iโ€™m sure youโ€™ve already seen the 5G conspiracy being shared. ๐Ÿ“ก

More than ever, itโ€™s going to be easy to fall into these cognitive traps so I want to remind us all to be extra mindful of this. ๐Ÿง˜โ€โ™‚โ€

This is NOT a “conspiracy” problem; it’s a human problem, deeply rooted in cynicism, distrust, and paranoia. ๐Ÿ˜จ

As Dale Carnegie reminds us: “๐‘พ๐’‰๐’†๐’ ๐’…๐’†๐’‚๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‘๐’†๐’๐’‘๐’๐’†, ๐’๐’†๐’• ๐’–๐’” ๐’“๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“ ๐’˜๐’† ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’…๐’†๐’‚๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’†๐’” ๐’๐’‡ ๐’๐’๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’„. ๐‘พ๐’† ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’…๐’†๐’‚๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’†๐’” ๐’๐’‡ ๐’†๐’Ž๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’, ๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’†๐’” ๐’ƒ๐’“๐’Š๐’”๐’•๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‘๐’“๐’†๐’‹๐’–๐’…๐’Š๐’„๐’†๐’” ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’Ž๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’—๐’‚๐’•๐’†๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’‘๐’“๐’Š๐’…๐’† ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’—๐’‚๐’๐’Š๐’•๐’š.”

๐Ÿคฌ โ€œ๐˜๐Ž๐”โ€™๐‘๐„ ๐๐ˆ๐€๐’๐„๐ƒ ๐€๐†๐€๐ˆ๐๐’๐“ ๐“๐‡๐„ ๐“๐‘๐”๐“๐‡, ๐ƒ๐Ž๐๐€๐‹๐ƒ! ๐–๐€๐Š๐„ ๐”๐!โ€๐Ÿคฌ

The questions I challenge everyone to ask themselves:

๐Ÿค” Do you possess your beliefs? Or do your beliefs possess you?

๐Ÿค” Are you able to step outside your own ideology and understand your criticโ€™s points of view?

๐Ÿค” Are you able to steelman your opponentโ€™s arguments and understand their position thoroughly before dismissing them completely?

In addition, I challenge you:

๐Ÿ’ช To get sources from multiple points of view, including information that may go against your beliefs. Not all information is created equal.

๐Ÿ’ช Stay aware of your cognitive biases and genuinely seek to understand other people’s points of view. See if you can steelman their argument.

๐Ÿ’ช Give others who disagree with you the benefit of the doubt. Donโ€™t automatically assume malicious intent. Perhaps you may learn something from them you didnโ€™t know before.

This is not just a reminder for you all, but also for me! I need to hear these reminders at times too! Again, Iโ€™m not immune to a lack of self-awareness. It’s an ongoing process! ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™‚๏ธ

WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER! โค๏ธ

.

Below, I am providing resources which have greatly helped me develop my critical thinking skills! โฌ‡๏ธ

๐๐Ž๐Ž๐Š๐’

๐Ÿ“˜ โ€œEscaping the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respectโ€ by Mick West – https://amzn.to/3hKPnNS

๐Ÿ“™ “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts” by Carol Tavris & Elliott Aronson – https://amzn.to/2X7QFuj

๐Ÿ“• โ€œHow to Think โ€“ A Survival Guide for a World at Oddsโ€ by Alan Jacobs https://amzn.to/39DdBXr

๐Ÿ“— โ€œThinking, Fast and Slowโ€ by Daniel Kahneman – https://amzn.to/30UV4lG

๐Ÿ“™ โ€œYou Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways Youโ€™re Deluding Yourselfโ€ by David McRaney – https://amzn.to/3hLuQbV

๐Ÿ“˜ โ€œThe Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Darkโ€ by Carl Sagan – https://amzn.to/3jR8Oq8

๐Ÿ“• โ€œThe Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religionโ€ by Jonathan Haidt – https://amzn.to/2P2Ddna

.

๐Ž๐๐‹๐ˆ๐๐„ ๐‘๐„๐’๐Ž๐”๐‘๐‚๐„๐’

๐Ÿ“ผ CrashCourse Navigating Digital Information โ€“ A 10-episode series dedicated to teaching critical thinking skills for browsing the Internet. https://bit.ly/2EnmatQ

๐Ÿ“ผ CrashCourse Philosophy โ€“ A 46-episode series dedicated to teaching philosophical ideas, which in turn practices your critical thinking skills. https://bit.ly/3faLlwH

๐Ÿ“ผ CrashCourse Media Literacy โ€“ A 12-episode series dedicated to teaching the history and psychology of media. https://bit.ly/3f3YuYg

๐Ÿ“„ A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis of Psychological Research on Conspiracy Beliefs: Field Characteristics, Measurement Instruments, and Associations with Personality Traits – https://bit.ly/30WLrCR

.

๐•๐ˆ๐ƒ๐„๐Ž๐’

๐Ÿ“ผ Wisecrack โ€“ What Makes REAL Science? – https://bit.ly/3hR3pxz

๐Ÿ“ผ Wisecrack – How Conspiracies Changed & The Decline of Expertise (Flat Earth, Anti-Vaxxers) – https://bit.ly/335qcl1

๐Ÿ“ผ Wisecrack – How Fake Science (Pseudoscience) Can Fool You! – https://bit.ly/330Puki

๐Ÿ“ผ Wisecrack – The Internet was a Mistake – https://bit.ly/39EfzqC

๐Ÿ“ผ SciShow โ€“ The Science of Anti-Vaccination – https://bit.ly/2X6IQ8i

๐Ÿ“ผ SciShow Psych – Why Do So Many People Believe in Conspiracy Theories? – https://bit.ly/3gmdPEM

๐Ÿ“ผ Late Night with John Oliver – Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories – https://bit.ly/3fbTjWj

Why I Never Forgot That TOWN! (PERSONAL)

๐ŸŒซ๏ธ โ€œIN MY RESTLESS DREAMS, I SEE THAT TOWNโ€ฆโ€ ๐ŸŒซ๏ธ

When I was in elementary school, I would often spend the weekend at my dadโ€™s house. ๐Ÿ 

I fondly remember those weekends! They were the epitome of what Iโ€™d call: PURE Relaxation and Indulgence! Or as some people today might call it in modern day: the IDGAF-weekend! ๐Ÿคฃ

On Friday nights heโ€™d pick me up from school, and before we went to his house weโ€™d stop for dinner at the nearby Burger King drive-thru. ๐Ÿ”

Another weekend we may have stopped at the local hot dog place. ๐ŸŒญ

Or heck, another weekend maybe weโ€™d order a bunch of pizzas for pick-up! ๐Ÿ•

As I write this, all the memories are starting to come back to me! I remember the times my dad, sister, and I would order a few huge pizzas, each with different toppings, along with a few liters of soda, and we’d pick them up from the local pizza place. ๐Ÿฅค

We’d spend the rest of Friday night binging on pizza, soda, and watching movies! ๐Ÿ“บ

For those who know me now, let me clarify: eating healthy was NOT at all a factor for me back as a young teen! ๐Ÿ˜…

And I remember one of my favorite movies Iโ€™d watch again and again was โ€œGood Burgerโ€, a very dumb comedy but all of us shared the same sense of humor! ๐Ÿ˜‚

But as time passed, my sister got older and found other ways to spend her weekends. Eventually these weekends became just my dad and I spending time together. ๐Ÿ‘ฅ

But no worries, it wasnโ€™t just a pile of junk food and movies. We also had VIDEOGAMES! ๐ŸŽฎ

I can vividly remember the days of me packing up my PlayStation 2 into a suitcase every weekend before heading to my dadโ€™s house. Iโ€™d wrap up the console and game controllers in towels because I didnโ€™t want them to bang around in the suitcase during the travel there. ๐Ÿ‘

And so, every weekend Iโ€™d pack it up in a suitcase with other PlayStation 2 games, and Iโ€™d bring them over to my dadโ€™s house to play. ๐Ÿ˜

Sometimes weโ€™d stop at Blockbuster and Iโ€™d rent other videogames. For those not old enough to remember (I am getting OLD), Blockbuster was a store you could go in to rent movies and videogames for a set period of time and fee. ๐Ÿ“ผ

If youโ€™re still not familiar, this was all before Netflix! ๐Ÿ˜œ

Anyways, I remember renting MANY videogames including Pokemon games for my GameBoy Color, multiplayer games so I could play with my dad, and gamesโ€ฆthat definitely my mom wouldnโ€™t approve of me playing at such a young age. ๐Ÿ˜…

But Dad did! ๐Ÿคซ

I canโ€™t mention how many times I begged my dad rent the videogame โ€œGrand Theft Auto: Vice Cityโ€ for me. It was my favorite videogame, and I played for hours on end! โณ

To explain the game in the most politically correct way, you play a gangster in an open-ended city environment where you are pretty much able to do whatever you wanted. Most often than not that anything included some sort of crime and avoiding the cops! ๐Ÿš”

Mom, if youโ€™re reading thisโ€ฆnow you know! โค๏ธ

๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ โ€œDONALDโ€ฆYOUโ€™RE RAMBLING AGAIN! WHATโ€™S YOUR POINT WITH THIS POST?โ€ ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ

Donโ€™t worry, Iโ€™m getting there! This post is NOT about this game. This post is NOT even about hanging out at my dadโ€™s on the weekends!

If you remember the title at the beginning of the post, you may see where Iโ€™m headingโ€ฆ

๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ โ€œโ€ฆUH, NO? RESTLESS DREAMS? WHAT TOWN? PLUS, YOU DIDNโ€™T WRITE A POLARIZING CLICKBAIT TITLE TO GRAB MY ATTENTION! Iโ€™M ABOUT TO STOP READING DONALD!โ€ ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ

Feel free, I donโ€™t blame you! Iโ€™m sick of trying to endlessly please others anyway. And thatโ€™s why Iโ€™m even writing this post in the first place! โค๏ธ

What I really wanted to share with you all is a part of me a lot of you donโ€™t know about. For most who have met and known me the past few years, youโ€™ve seen many facets on my diamond. ๐Ÿ’Ž

But itโ€™s time for another facet to be illuminated, if not for you all but for my own authenticity! I say I’m going to be more real, so here you go…! ๐Ÿ˜Š

For those of you who have read my previous posts, Iโ€™ve lately become very passionate about the Psychological Development of the Individual.

I truly believe that if more of us took the time to analyze and understand ourselves that we’d discover there’s so much more to our greater potentials we have yet to unravel! โค๏ธ

But as a matter of fact, this passion for Psychology isnโ€™t new for me. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

In fact, if you want to know where my real passion for Psychology first started, it was HERE! It started way back here at my dad’s house when I was a teenager…

It was when I visited the town of Silent Hill. ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ

What used to once be a resort town has become a ghost town. What used to be a town filled with tourists is now completely empty, its streets shrouded in an endless fog. The complete history of Silent Hill remains a mystery, but what is known is it has a dark past. โŒ›

To clarify, Silent Hill is NOT a real town. It is actually the fictional creation of some Japanese videogame developers back in the early 2000’s, who made a series of survival horror videogames centered around this mysterious town. ๐Ÿ”Ž

But there was one particular game I played as a young teen at my dad’s house that caught my attention more than most: “Silent Hill 2”. ๐ŸŒซ๏ธ

โ€œDONALD, HORROR AND VIDEOGAMES ARE NOT MY THING! WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH PSYCHOLOGY?โ€

Iโ€™m getting there, donโ€™t worry! ๐Ÿ˜Š

So apart from me shooting up gangsters in “Grand Theft Auto” every weekend at my dadโ€™s house, I was also entranced playing the Silent Hill series and continuously renting it from Blockbuster too! ๐Ÿ’ฟ

It was the first โ€œhorrorโ€ game I can say I ever really wanted to play. Because Iโ€™m really not a big โ€œhorrorโ€ person! ๐Ÿ˜…

But something really caught my interest about the games, especially “Silent Hill 2”. It wasnโ€™t so much the “horror” or the โ€œmonstersโ€ in the games as much as it was about the story and its themes. ๐Ÿ“–

I was fascinated by how deep the storylines went, how complex (and all-too-human) the characters were, and how there was so much happening beneath the surface of the game! ๐Ÿ”Ž

Itโ€™s important I emphasize again: Iโ€™m NOT a big horror buff. But I realized that Silent Hill was not just some haunted house of โ€œboosโ€ game. What I was discovering for the first time in my life was what was commonly referred to as the genre of psychological horror. ๐Ÿ˜จ

Unlike other horror thatโ€™s filled with tons of jumpscares and gruesome violence, this horror dealt with the mind. Sometimes the greatest fears are the we create in our heads. Sometimes itโ€™s what you DON’T see thatโ€™s actually scarier than whatโ€™s actually there. ๐Ÿง 

โ€œVIDEOGAMES BEING โ€˜DEEPโ€™?! GIVE ME A BREAK DONALD!โ€

In order for you to greater understand what I mean, Iโ€™m going to briefly share with you the storyline of Silent Hill 2. โฌ‡๏ธ

It tells the story of James Sunderland, a man who is still grieving the loss of his wife Mary from 3 years prior. One day, James receives a mysterious letter from his Mary, saying sheโ€™s “waiting for him” in the town of Silent Hill, in their โ€œspecial placeโ€. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

Yes, you read that right. He receives a letter from his late wife who died 3 years prior from a terminal disease saying sheโ€™s waiting for him in the town! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Still haunted by his grief and determined to seek closure, he heads to Silent Hillโ€ฆand what he soon finds is far more haunting than he could ever imagine…! ๐Ÿคซ

In order for you to better understand the โ€œpsychologyโ€ Iโ€™m referring to, Iโ€™m going to have to spoil the twists of the story for you all. For those who may want to actually play the game without spoilers, Iโ€™m giving you a warning NOW!

๐Ÿ›‘ DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER! ๐Ÿ›‘

๐Ÿ›‘ SERIOUSLY! ๐Ÿ›‘

๐Ÿ›‘ THESE SPOILERS ARE WHY THE GAME IS STILL CONSIDERED A MASTERPIECE TO THIS DAY! ๐Ÿ›‘

โฌ‡๏ธ OKAY, HERE WE GO! โฌ‡๏ธ

Eventually, James finds his way to he and Mary’s โ€œspecial placeโ€ that she referred to in her letter. After hours of playing the game, we as the audience are finally confronted with the truth about what happened to Mary…๐Ÿ™Œ

We realize that James, the character weโ€™ve been playing the entire time, is NOT the hero of this story. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

The letter he received from Mary didnโ€™t exist; it was just a black sheet of paper. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Mary didnโ€™t die 3 years ago; it was only a few days ago. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

And Mary didnโ€™t die of her terminal disease; James killed her in a desperate act to end both of their suffering. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

James didnโ€™t actually go to Silent Hill to find his wife; the guilty part of his unconscious drew him there so he could face the truth. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

The monsters James encounters in the town are not real monsters; they are manifestations conjured out of Jamesโ€™s personal fears and desires. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

The other people he meets in the town may be real, but they are merely a means for James to continue coming closer to the truth. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

One character he meets is a woman who looks exactly like his wife. But her name isnโ€™t Mary; itโ€™s Maria. Sheโ€™s not conservative like Mary; Maria is seductive and sexual. Sheโ€™s not independent like Mary; Maria is overly needy and dependent on James. ๐Ÿ˜ญ

But throughout the game, James continues to finds himself in helpless situations with Maria, where he keeps having to see her get killed by something outside his control over and over again. And for every time she turns up miraculously okay, another situation soon happensโ€ฆ๐Ÿ˜ซ

In finding out the truth, we realize that Maria isnโ€™t real. Sheโ€™s representative of who James wished Mary was. Maria is only a pawn created by the town to torture James, for every time she dies James is always unable to save her. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

And it is only when James fully confronts his demons, when he’s face to face with the truth, that the town no longer has power over him. It is only when he has made closure with his past that he is then free to leave Silent Hillโ€ฆ

So yeah, itโ€™s no Grand Theft Auto! ๐Ÿ˜†

But psychologists like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung would have a field day psychoanalyzing this game! ๐Ÿ’ฏ

So there you have it! As unlikely as it sounds, my fascination with Psychology really did start off on a much DARKER note to say the least! ๐Ÿ˜…

And donโ€™t worry, even for the sake of this post I am still covering the bare minimum. There are way darker themes in the game I didn’t even mention here. Play the game if you dare! ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

So yeah, perhaps some of my followers are shocked reading this, thinking a guy like me could ever ever be interested in stuff like this, to think the โ€œHappy Guyโ€ wasnโ€™t always about sunshine and rainbows! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m not afraid to embrace the dark. It helps the light shine even brighter! โ˜ฏ๏ธ

But as you can see these days, my love for psychology has clearly evolved from not just focusing on the darkest places but also to the brightest. But Iโ€™ve never forgotten my roots. Iโ€™ve never forgotten how “Silent Hill 2” was the starting point for me. ๐Ÿ‘

One thing is for sure: I would NOT be as passionate about Psychology today had I never visited Silent Hill…and squinted my eyes every time I heard nearby monsters in the game! ๐Ÿคฃ

It means a lot to me, to say the least! Yes, itโ€™s quite a darker topic, so I doubt youโ€™ll see me make any other posts about it in the future. But I wanted to share it with you all because it’s a part of me you don’t typically see! It’s always been there, just not as openly shared…and now it is! ๐Ÿ˜

If there’s anything you as a reader can take from this, “Silent Hill 2” reminds me how we all create our own subjective reality, for better or for worse. We may not have a town physically manifesting our hopes and fears but our minds certainly manifest how we see ourselves and other people. ๐Ÿ‘€

It reminds me how powerful the unconscious mind is, how itโ€™s influencing our lives even when weโ€™re not consciously aware of it. ๐Ÿง 

It reminds me to always look beneath the surface of what we say and do. So often there’s always far more than meets the eye. ๐Ÿ‘€

It reminds me how we need to make peace with our inner demons or they can mentally wreak havoc on our lives. ๐Ÿ™Œ

As Oscar Wilde put it: โ€œWe are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.โ€ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

๐ŸŒซ๏ธ โ€œIN MY RESTLESS DREAMS, I SEE THAT TOWNโ€ฆโ€ ๐ŸŒซ๏ธ

Why Change Is POSSIBLE! (PERSONAL)

๐Ÿ˜ฑย 4 YEARS!!!ย ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

This afternoon I took a look at my calendarย ๐Ÿ“†ย and my eyes started to water.๐Ÿ˜ญย I couldnโ€™t believe it! 2 weeks from now it will have been 4 years.ย ๐Ÿฅณ

Itโ€™s hard for me to still fathom itโ€™s really been that long!ย ๐Ÿคฏ

The song โ€œSeasons of Loveโ€ asks: โ€˜How do you measure a year?โ€™ย ๐ŸŽถย But my mind is still trying to wrap around how to measure the past 4!ย ๐Ÿ˜…

๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธย “What are you talking about Donald?!”ย ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ

I should probably explain! 2 weeks from now it will have been exactly 4 yearsโ€ฆ๐Ÿ”Ž

…since I was under 25.ย ๐Ÿ˜ฑย I was so young then, but 4 years later I’m now just a grumpy old man!ย ๐Ÿ˜ญ

๐Ÿคฃย JUST KIDDING!!!ย ๐Ÿคฃ

Seriously though, 4 years ago I was That Guy on the left in the photo.

๐Ÿ“Œย 4 years ago I was That Guy who binged on junk food every day.

๐Ÿ“Œย 4 years ago I was That Guy who drank 3 to 4 cans of soda every day.

๐Ÿ“Œย 4 years ago I was That Guy who refused even substituting his drinks for Diet Soda.

๐Ÿ“Œย 4 years ago I was That Guy who was so picky about eating vegetables heโ€™d literally gag trying to swallow them because of his fear of textures.

And where did this inability to change bring That Guy?ย ๐Ÿค”

To weigh over 234 pounds.ย โš–๏ธย To have junk food and soda as his addictions and closest companions. To feel tired and sleepy more often than not.ย ๐Ÿ˜ดย To never like being in photos because of the way he looked. To always feel the need to lift his chin up so his double chin didnโ€™t show.ย ๐Ÿ˜”

That Guy really didnโ€™t like how he looked or how unhealthy he ate. But regardless, him holding onto his comfort zone outweighed any inspiration to try and be thinner or be happier.ย ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

If any of you can read this and relate, youโ€™re not alone!ย โค๏ธ

I donโ€™t necessarily mean with weight but with our general unwillingness to change things in our lives a small part of us really wants to change. While thereโ€™s that part of us that really wants to change, we nevertheless donโ€™t change.ย ๐Ÿ˜•

๐Ÿšฌย You know quitting smoking would benefit your lung health. But you donโ€™t.

๐Ÿ”ย You know eating less junk food and more vegetables would help you lose weight. But you donโ€™t.

๐Ÿšดย You know exercising would help keep your muscles strong. But you donโ€™t.

But why? Why donโ€™t we change? If itโ€™s really as simple as doing or not doing something, then why donโ€™t we do it?!ย ๐Ÿ˜ต

Because we as humansโ€ฆare complicated!ย ๐Ÿ˜…

For one thing, we are creatures of habit. Itโ€™s easier for us to break an old habit than it is to build a new one.ย ๐Ÿ‘ย Youโ€™ve probably heard the term: โ€œOld habits die hard.โ€ Itโ€™s very true, and I’ve experienced it before too!ย ๐Ÿ˜

Building a new habit requires a lot of focus.ย ๐Ÿ‘€ย It requires consistent effort. Until it becomes a full on habit in your daily life, itโ€™s going to continue feeling difficult.ย ๐Ÿ˜“

But don’t be too hard on yourself either! Think of it like this: say you’ve smoked for a decade and then decide to quit.ย ๐Ÿšญย You will then be faced with a smoking habit decades old all while you’re building the new habit to not smoke. Of course this won’t be easy! It’s an uphill battle with your Habitual Brain!ย ๐Ÿ˜Š

As much as Iโ€™d love to tell you new habits are built overnight, they arenโ€™t.ย ๐Ÿ‘ŽIt’s why most people don’t succeed doing it. If building a new habit was so easy to build, everybody would do it!ย ๐Ÿ‘

But again, youโ€™re not alone!ย โค๏ธย That Guy in the photo wasnโ€™t willing to either! Sure, he wanted to be thinner and healthier, but why would he substitute that for all the short-term pleasures he experienced from junk food and soda?ย ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

He even told himself: โ€œI don’t have to worry about my health until the doctor says I have to.โ€ย ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

So what happened 4 years ago that set That Guy down a path into who is now, Me present day?ย ๐Ÿค”

๐ŸŒŸย His desire to change had to become stronger than his desire not to change.ย ๐ŸŒŸ

โš ๏ธย The problem was That Guy was always focused on his short-term pleasure; he was not focused on the long-term pain.

โš ๏ธย He was focused on the pleasures of junk food and soda; he was not focused on the long-term medical issues heโ€™d have because of them.

โš ๏ธย He was focused on himself; he was not focused on the people who were trying to help him and whose advice he kept ignoring.

So when That Guy saw the path he was heading down for years to come, it planted a Seed of Horror in his mind that he had to change NOW!ย ๐Ÿ›‘

Like Scrooge in โ€œA Christmas Carolโ€, it was his vision of a horrific future which pushed That Guy to say: โ€œEnough is enough!โ€ย โŒ…

So here I am now, after 80 pounds lost, a No Soda policy, and many vegetables consumed!ย ๐Ÿฅฆย That Guy has evolved into Me on the right. I like to call him Ace. Ace has since let That Guy retire, because now Ace likes running the show!ย ๐Ÿ˜Ž

So there’s something you really need to know!ย โœ‹

๐Ÿ‘ย Iโ€™m not going to pretend like this physical transformation happened overnight. It didnโ€™t.

๐Ÿ‘ย Iโ€™m not going to put on an act like it was the easiest thing to do in the world. It wasnโ€™t.

๐Ÿ‘ย Iโ€™m not going to try and make you believe I never zig-zagged during my transformation. I didโ€ฆmany times!

But what I will tell you though is that it is indeed possible for you to change when you set your mind to it.ย โค๏ธ

One of my favorite speakers Les Brown talks about the Power of Possibility: โ€œSometimes we canโ€™t say โ€˜I can do thatโ€™. But what we can say is that โ€˜itโ€™s possibleโ€™.โ€ย ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ

๐ŸŒŸย If you can allow yourself to visualize the possibility of a future greater than the one you’re living now, youโ€™ve already provided an opening for yourself to step forward.ย ๐ŸŒŸ

So with this post I want to plant the seed in your mind that it is possible for you too, in whatever it is youโ€™re looking to change!ย ๐Ÿ˜„

Iโ€™m not saying it will be easy. Iโ€™m not saying it will always be fun. But when you have doubts come up, remind yourself why you started in the first place.ย ๐Ÿค”

๐Ÿ‘คย Do something today your future self will thank you for.ย ๐Ÿ‘ค

Lastly, I have to give credit to the most powerful visual exercise I ever experienced which sealed the deal for me to change all those 4 years ago.ย ๐Ÿ‘

It was attending Tony Robbinsโ€™s โ€œUnleash the Power Withinโ€ event for the first time that I experienced what is known as the Dickens Process.ย ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

I’d love to tell you more, but Iโ€™d rather you experienced the event for yourself without spoilers. I can tell you how a candy bar tastes, but itโ€™s a whole other thing to actually taste it.ย ๐Ÿซ

I’m not saying attending the event is your only tool, only that it’s a damn fine one in your Arsenal for Change if you do! It was for me!ย โค๏ธ

COMMENT below if youโ€™ve attended UPW before or are interested in attending!ย ๐Ÿ˜

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DONATE TO MY PATREON:ย https://bit.ly/2HTZHpF

How Good Intentions HARM! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

โค๏ธย “IT’S THEIR FAULT!!!”ย โค๏ธ
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Think of a child who is crying. Think of the parent who acknowledges the child’s crying and gives them what they want. Done consistently over time, the child learns that crying and being loud will get them what they want. But eventually, as the child gets older, the challenge becomes for the parent to distinguish:
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~ a child’s crying from when it’s an actual reasonable situation (child gets physically hurt)ย ๐Ÿ‘
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~ a child crying because they didn’t get what they wanted (couldn’t get candy while shopping)ย ๐Ÿ‘Ž
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The parent doesn’t want to reinforce bad behavior because that says to the child they can repeat the behavior in the future.ย ๐Ÿ˜ญ
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โš ๏ธย Society is now reinforcing bad behavior.ย โš ๏ธ
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The issue I’m seeing happening more and more is society not effectively making it through the second half of what parents have to do. We’re not often enough separating the cries of individuals which are legitimate from the ones which are infantile tantrums under the guise of an adult body.
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It’s now more of the default today to assume that if someone cries, it is automatically legitimate. Therefore in our good intentions to stop and prevent suffering in our society, we unknowingly cause more of it! We are rewarding both the good AND bad behavior.ย ๐Ÿ˜ฒ
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In our emotional hastes, innocent people are now getting caught in this crossfire. With a mob mentality, it becomes an irrational witch hunt. There’s a play called The Crucible which tells the story about the Salem Witch Trials in the 1600’s. “I saw [name] with the Devil!” cried the hysterics of some characters in the story. Innocent characters are shunned and killed because of other’s false accusations.ย ๐Ÿง™โ€โ™€๏ธ
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With a single accusation and critical thinking thrown out the window, innocent people are being punished without considering their possible innocence. A stigma is born, and it sticks out like a sore thumb.ย ๐Ÿ˜ฌ
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It’s being taught in our society that if one complains hard enough that a person gets what they want. While behavior for legitimate concerns is reinforced, so is also the behavior of people alternatively seeking attention, validation, and self-worth.ย ๐Ÿคฌ
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It’s in our behavioral psychology: ALL our behavior, good or bad, serves a purpose in our lives. Yes, we in fact do things which are destructive towards ourselves and others because it fulfills human needs we’re not getting from healthier alternatives. Could a part of that include: our internal happiness?ย โค๏ธ
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As for these individuals: the moment they are no longer rewarded in society, the moment they are no longer receiving recognition from outside sources, my fear is they will be left feeling helpless. They will be in for a very rude awakening: the realization that they in fact live in a world which does not revolve around “Me”. They’ve been taught for so long that it does, but in realizing it they’re going to hit a deep existential depth within themselves that is not going to be pleasant.ย ๐Ÿ™
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I’ve lived it myself.ย โค๏ธ
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The truth is life does not work that way, as much as we’d all like to believe in the illusion of a utopian world. I did for a while myself! But truthfully, life is constantly changing. The world is constantly changing. The big lesson I wish to share with you all is if we constantly rely on finding happiness outside ourselves, we’re going to continue being disappointed. We’ll experience long-term suffering when it really doesn’t have to be the case.ย ๐Ÿ˜”
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I say this not as an anecdote but because I had to learn this lesson too. I learned that if I wanted to live in a way which was more fulfilling, more happy, more satisfying, I had to leave the behaviors and emotional home I was in for so long. I had to be okay with accepting the “harder truths” of life, even if it wasn’t pleasant. But because I now accept them, and because I’ve had the experience being on both sides of the coin, I feel so much more alive today because of it!ย ๐Ÿ™Œ
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๐ŸŒŸย I would NOT be where I am today if I kept believing the world needed to revolve around me. I would NOT be where I am today if my happiness was dependent on someone else accepting who I am. I would NOT be where I am today if everything in life went exactly the way I “wanted” it to.ย ๐ŸŒŸ
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I am gay, yes. I was diagnosed with Autism, yes. If anyone wants more “ammo”, I was also diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety, yes.ย ๐Ÿ‘
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But if you or someone else doesn’t accept me for it, that’s fine. I probably won’t talk with you often. If you discriminate me for it, so be it. I will find more tolerant people to be around. I love the person, but I don’t reinforce bad behavior.ย ๐Ÿ‘
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Just like a parent wouldn’t.ย ๐Ÿ˜‰
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So many people want to change other’s beliefs in the name of righteousness. But pushing your opinions onto others and saying they “have” to believe what you believe is not where long-term change is going to happen.ย ๐Ÿ‘
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What is actually worth your time and energy is working on yourself: becoming a better person, setting an example rather than spouting an opinion, showing rather than telling, being good for yourself so you can be better for others.ย ๐Ÿ˜„
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Words and insults don’t mean anything unless you give them power. There are moments sometimes where someone else’s words have sparked a tenseness and change in my emotions, no doubt! It happens. But when it does happen, I take a step back to remind myself: My emotions can often times be irrational.ย ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ
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๐ŸŒŸย Don’t let your feelings dictate your behavior; let your behavior dictate your feelings.ย ๐ŸŒŸ
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Long-term change will always come from the inside-out, not the outside-in. When I am good for myself, I will be even better for others around me. Paradoxically, helping me helps others. Having my roof clean will let me help someone else whose roof needs a bit more cleaning.ย ๐Ÿ‘ฅ
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I say this because I don’t want more people to suffer. I’m sure you don’t either.ย โค๏ธ
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Think of the political party divide: Do Republicans and Democrats BOTH want to make the country better? Some may shout “NO”, but what is the only difference is they have different solutions to the same problem? I believe we’re all more on the same side than we think.ย โ†”๏ธ
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Let’s all talk together more!ย โค๏ธย #TranscendLabels

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