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Extrapolation Traps

In early springtime, you see the fresh growth of leaves and weeds and grass. You think to yourself, “If it keeps up this way, by Independence Day the whole of earth will be puffed out in green suffocation.” But the first growth is the most rapid, and as higher leaves give shade, the lower growth slows.

One of the key tactics of propagandists, be they on vaccines or immigration or race baiters or war hawks or anti-traders or campus speech zealots or . . .

One of the key tactics is the extrapolation trap. You start with some handful of stories of badness. “Ms. Liza Greenlawn found a lump of fresh dirt in her yard, and upon excavation she found a bone!” Oh my. Next week, Greenlawn’s neighbor up the way, Dr. Maggie Hayfever, finds her own bowl-shaped dirt pile and another bone.

The propagandist takes to the Twitter and behold:

Mutant lawn monsters are growing clones of themselves by burying their bones.

And now you’re worried. You cannot bear the idea! Whole towns being devoured by these lawn monsters! Uncivilized!

But it’s the same story, over and over. Fido burying his bones as he’s done for generations.

The president hears about a caravan, and suddenly we need to the National Guard down on the border. Your uncle heard that Obama was going to do this Jade Helm takeover of the country.

  1. A seed of doubt or worry.
  2. You run with it, thinking of all the things that could happen next.
  3. TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It)


  1. Survivors of a school shooting demand action.
  2. Bills are floated to reduce gun purchases by high-risk persons.


And yes, to an extent the worries about the rise of fascism follow this pattern. The president sucks at his job and frequently resorts to idiotic attacks on basic democratic institutions including the judiciary, the press, and so forth.

The institutions are fighting back. When and if they ever capitulate, in the least, you should worry. But as long as due process is being followed, we should watch and speak out and push back, but we should not extrapolate his 280 characters of hate into a full-scale emergency.

There’s a difference between having a fire in your house (in the fireplace) and your house being on fire.

(There are other countries where the fascism has metastasized and is now a very real threat. The fire has spread from their fireplaces. To the extent that the USA is not in a position to help quench those flames through diplomacy, our current administration deserves full blame. Our nation was founded resisting tyranny, and it should always stand for that cause.)

It is vital to keep perspective. Extrapolating is good at worst-casing of things, but the real world tends not progress always in one direction without shifts in pace, course, method, etc.

The Line Between Advertising and Manipulation

There shall be no compulsion in religion.

— Quran, 2:256

There was always the question of what separates a cult from a religion. And the answer is fairly straightforward. It’s compulsion. Deceitfulness and isolation of members. Arm-twisting.

The goal of the manipulator differs from the advertiser. The manipulator wants to suck you in, make you read story after story about the same thing until you believe that it’s everywhere.

Take vaccines. It tells a story. Beautiful kid gets a vaccine and everything changes. Suddenly they have this disorder. It could happen to anyone. Protect yourself: read the same story over and over. Because more information is the only protection, and with a dearth of information, repetition is the only way.

Same with anti-immigration. They aren’t publishing the millions of immigrants, legal or not, who ate a nutritious breakfast. That’s for damn sure.

Same with this wave of stories about free speech on campus. You’re on the mailing list. You have to know the latest outrage about how some kids who are neck-deep in debt didn’t want to pay for to a cultist to have a soapbox. Boo hoo.

This is a pattern. You get fed the same story over and over. Crooked crooked crooked Hillary Hillary Hillary. E-mails e-mails Benghazi e-mails e-mails.

Repetition is a key to learning. Repetition is a key to learning. Repetition is a key to learning.

  1. Identify a fear. Examples: autism, crime, suppression of speech, loss of guns, public corruption.
  2. Attach the fear to something. Examples: vaccines, immigrants, college campuses, Democrats/Obama, Hillary Clinton.
  3. Repeat it a lot. Forever.

Cults also make you feel like you belong. These manipulative causes make you feel like you’re red-pilling a bunch of sheeple with your guantlet of truth. Like share reply subscribe. Like share reply subscribe. Like share reply subscribe.

Because they don’t know, man. They are going about their lives sipping their Starbucks and they don’t “know what the queers are doing to our soil!” (The Dead Milkmen, “Stuart”) Being important feels good. You’ve got your little mission. Gotta keep up with the movement.

Don’t get me wrong. There are causes worth pursuing. But being a footsoldier is not the way. Supplanting your identity with a cause isn’t healthy, no matter how worthy the cause.

Advertisers are fairly open about the fact they want your money. They hope you enjoy their product so you’ll buy more, but they don’t want to hang out. They don’t hold meetings. Multi-level manipulators hold meetings.

The manipulators, they want you to hang out. Bring a sleeping bag and a sack lunch. We’ll provide the Kool-Aid. They want your money. But it’s in support of the cause. It’s the cause first. You were called. You were chosen. You alone can fix it.

God, what a waste of potential.

Cult Thinking and Terrorists

Looking at some of the links between cultist thinking and terrorism.

Tragic events pain us, and even more so for the failure of media to put them in the proper context. The media fails to educate, to the point they prefer to run with gossip and innuendo to purely educational content to fill dead air.

On some issues they may paint a fair picture, such as when they cover cults. Most of the time the cult harm to society comes in alienation and wasting of resources. The media seldom covers cults unless their harm grows far beyond this basic level, to mass suicide or worse.

But many events we see in the news are intimately related to the sort of cultural relativism needed to understand cults. None more so than terrorism, and the world view that allows for it.

First one should might contrast the reaction to domestic incidents with those that take place overseas. The media tends to barely report terrorist bombings in Iraq, for example. They certainly do not follow any manhunts, seek out family, neighbors, and other acquaintances to interview, and the like.

This itself shows the sort of tribal and cultist worldview. The value difference based purely on nationality or locality becomes essential to terrorism and cults in general. But that value finds itself lacing most any culture.

The feature of the media that stands out as an unanswered question (the media should both ask questions and answer or seek answers to questions): ‘how could terrorists kill the innocent (children, civilians)?’ But worse than media, this sentiment arises from elected officials (which suggests the need for a Constitutional Amendment requiring continuing education for all legislators).

The basic formula of the cult, of terrorists:

  1. The world differs from how you learned to view it (and therefore from how your teachers view it and how their group views it).
  2. There will be calamity unless either most people come to view it correctly.
  3. For peoples’ minds to change, YOU must participate in some activity that you wouldn’t do without our programming.

It’s a little more involved, especially using ego control (using emotional abuse to train the person to become dependent on the cult (and more importantly on fulfillment of their promise) for emotional health), isolation (to prevent opportunities for cognitive dissonance), and other techniques.

The belief that one’s soul hangs upon carrying out a religious/ritualistic promise to the gods, and that not continuing once promised would essentially doom one to hellfire illustrates why many single out religion as a problem. But that can be said equally of any religion that posits the existence of a hell, and pointing to the non-cultist believers as both wrong and faithful simply strengthens the belief.

To understand the act of terror one must unpack the meaning not as it appears to the asker, but to the terrorist or cultist worldview. Ultimately the prevention of terrorism relies upon this sort of thinking. Some measure of terrorist acts may be prevented through law enforcement and military operations. Most terrorism will need to be literally disarmed through cultural actions not violent actions.

But society needs this sort of understanding not just for combating terrorism, but cults, racism, and fascism of all sorts. We need to be taught to unpack our own culture from time to time and recognize the dysfunctional and functional parts. It doesn’t ruin a thing to understand it, yet it seems a part of our culture believes exactly that it does.