Betrayal

Trumpf built his entire administration upon demanding unctuous loyalty from his allies and now finds himself wounded by what he sees as their shabby betrayal of him. He is entirely without integrity, using one standard for assessing the self and another for judging others depending on egoistic motives. This sort of switch can occur more or less consciously. When mental habits are very strong little conscious effort is needed to have them be executed. Hence, they playout more or less automatically. Should the duplicity become apparent to the self one can use rationalization to feel better (i.e. cognitive dissonance reduction operations). These include: Coming to believe more strongly than ever that one’s positions are right, and denigrating the others as themselves being without integrity. When the treasonous person really starts to lose it they can have psychotic delusions of grandeur that go beyond the distortions of dissonance reduction. Psychosis is the Big Leagues of psychological defense. (By the way when Trump was thought to say ‘Bigly’ he was saying ‘Big League’ in New Yawkese. Few if any seem to have noted this).

In any case, leaders set examples of ‘how to think’ for followers. Currently a bit less than half your neighbors think like Trumpf. The horror of this is illustrated by seeing the ten commandments through the eyes of Trump-like thinking:

The Ten Commandments as seen by a Trump personality

  1. I am the Lord your God (“I am a stable genius.” )
  2. You shall have no other gods before me (“I will be very angry at Mike Pence if he doesn’t listen to me.”)
  3. You shall not take my name in vain (Say whatever comes to mind. Be wild and impulsive.)
  4. Observe the Sabbath (“Kosher, Shmosher. Let’s play golf!”)
  5. Honor your father and mother (If they have given you millions of dollars.)
  6. You shall not kill (Have your followers do it for you.)
  7. You shall not steal (Stealing assures always winning)
  8. You shall not commit adultery (Why not?)
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (“To hell with fake news. They always lie about me. It’s a witch hunt”.)
  10. You shall not be envious of what your neighbor has (“Envy and greed are good…the Dow has hit records during my reign!!)

The ‘Congress Riots’ were Reality TV

The January 6th invasion of the congress is being described in grave tones as: ‘The most dastardly day in US history’;’ Our country’s worst hour’; ‘The greatest threat to democracy’, and so on. The deaths and the scenes of yahoos defiling the nation’s sacred space were nauseating. But at some level it was just another day in Reality TV America.

January 6th wasn’t the French, Russian, nor American Revolution. In those real government overthrow attempts, the actors actually had some values they were interested in risking their lives for. Did Trumpf put his life at risk? No he didn’t. He ‘fought’ like a TV wrestler fights. Trumpf wasn’t even there in the front lines with his admirers but back in the White House watching things on TV. The Congress Riot Actors wore wild costumes like the TV wrestlers do. The whole thing was another meaningless act in the last 40 years of The American Howdy Doody Show . It will likely inspire hope that things will change. But will they?

Ventriloquist’s dummies’ appear to have meaningful conversations if the audience imagines the dummy is real. Anyone who has taken Trumpf seriously, who thinks him real, is the dummy. Do you take him seriously? Seriously? Yes? YOUR’E FIRED!!! I think a Trumpf mob member’s greatest wish is to not be fired. To not lose their seat in The Ivanka Peanut Gallery (recently remodeled for 7 Billion Fake Trumpf Peanut Dollars ). They would be so alone then. So sad. Not merely not great again but having never been great even once.

The only beliefs or values at issue in the Trumpf Show have to do with stage craft. The art of making others ‘suspend disbelief’ and getting good ratings. Trumpf’s stage craft is limited to getting unsophisticated fans of TV wrestling and 80% of the people living in Red States to believe patently false absurdities. It has been TV wrestling and The Three Stooges since day one with Trumpf. Reverse Birther Theory even proves that Trumpf is the formerly unknown Fifth Stooge—Donald Fine Trumpf.

Denial, Lies, Cyberwar, Conscious and Unconscious

For forty years Republicans have claimed to be fiscal conservatives. But obviously they have not been. No one in recent memory besides Clinton has balanced the budget. Gullible people near poverty vote for conservatives! Besides the seeming match in social values, conservatives are no friends of the needy and, their claims of being helpful to those in need are so hollow.

Why then do those they don’t support, support them? I think it is a form of denial. Being poor in America is a sin. Those who are barely making it fantasize they are part of the middle class. As the middle class disappears, those without think they are not without, and use credit cards to support the denial (until bankrupt). Such individuals are easy prey to politicians who fed them blatantly untrue claims encouraging them to be proud middle class citizens. It is the big lie. The most powerful, stupid lies go over best: War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery and so on.

The manipulation of meaning has become easier with the rise of information technology. Warfare, including cyberwar, has always included the notion that killing leaders is the surest way to win battle. That is, cutting off the enemies’ head leads to victory. The “head” is a shorthand for “thinking”. Bodies are destroyed to kill the brain and mind. Body damage is collateral damage.

It is now apparent that Russia has hacked the hell out of the US computer infrastructure. They have co-opted the nervous system of America. Specifically, they have hacked the automatic information processes that run the country. This is analogous to having taken control of the Autonomic Nervous System, the part of the nervous system that runs the organs of the body, out of awareness mostly. The Central Nervous System which includes the brain, is the target for influencing beliefs, for propaganda. The brain is the seat of conscious thinking. Attempts to alter conscious thoughts must be much more sophisticated than usurping automatic processes. Changing beliefs from the bottom up avoids barriers such as morality, feeling, and logical thought as means to fool people with big and little lies.

The current method of warlike influence seeks to avoid the resistances to belief change within the self. It subverts the self from the unconsous at a point where meaning is not questioned. “Is that information from my body (my computer infrastructure) true? If it isn’t, who can be trusted to provide valid data?” In the very near future, we will be wishing that the worst dangerous liar we had was Trump. Instead, we will have to question whether the information coming to us from our bodies, computers, and the social world have anything to do with the truth.

Dating in the 21st Century

People meet others today online, in bars, and the old fashioned way, thru friends. On dating sites, all sorts of algorithms are used to match people together. It is a high tech method to make more efficient the pairing process. So, these methods skip over “natural” ways people make decisions about whom they wish to affiliate. In bars and other more or less natural settings in which people still meet in the 3D world, they still need to make decisions: Who to approach? What to say? Will they like me?

Is there a way to combine the power of data processed by computers with data gained in real time? The widespread use of biofeedback apps worn by daters can measure one’s physiological response to another person. Does my body indicate liking for the other? Am I in the right mental and physical state to make a decision about them? If the other person has access to such data and the biology matches up, a match might be made on the basis of high tech even in a natural settting.

Given the rapid surge in biofeedback apps it should not be surprising to learn that such devices exist. They might be worn on the wrist in an Apple iWatch for instance. This allows users to unobtrusively gaze at the watch to make the critical decisions about approach and avoidance. One such device is the Body-Mind reader. Tap the links below to see what it is like.

https://kickstarter.com/projects/402184652/body-mind-reader-biofeedback-app-a-mood-ring-that-works

Device Home – Body-Mind Health (williambernstein.com)

From the book “Sophistication”

Self Help books

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie was published in 1936. It is still one of the better-selling books in the world. Carnegie was somewhat sophisticated about human psychology.  He had read the work of Sigmund Freud, who died in 1939. Freud’s ideas about how the mind operates consciously and unconsciously are called psychoanalysis or depth psychology.

I read Carnegie’s book long ago, but I am pretty sure it suggests that influence over others can be promoted by using their names a lot, being friendly, and dressing nicely. Wearing a hat may have also been suggested. These recommendations were not psychoanalytic depth psychology.  But they were plausible enough and people bought the book.

Since How to Win Friends, thousands or millions of books have been written that help readers become more popular, happy, rich, thin, spiritual, and so on.  These are called self-help books. Self Help books are ‘how to’ books or instruction manuals. They promise to increase readers’ success in achieving social goals like popularity and wealth.  This is somewhat different than manuals that help you fix a car, for example.  In self-help instruction manuals, you are the car.

This book may be of some practical help to readers. It is based very loosely on a formal neuroscience theory (Bernstein 2011, 2014, 2015). The theory, experiences I’ve had doing biology and psychology, plus some limited knowledge of Yiddish have contributed to what I say here.

The book describes four states of mind that we all experience.  When a state of mind becomes very habitual or chronic, it defines who you are.  It is your personality.  I call these mind states or personalities: shmo, schmuck, schadenfreudist, and sophisticate.

 A personality is made up of all of one’s strong habits of thinking and acting.  We have thousands or tens of thousands of habits that are in mutually controlling relationships.  If some of your habits persist long after childhood, such as being afraid of strangers, you probably have what is called a personality disorder.

In any case, our personal mental habits influence the nature of the decisions we make.  The primary function of the mind, which sits in the brain, is to make decisions.  Most generally we can only make three kinds of decisions in response to objects in the world and in our minds: avoid, approach, or freeze.

You can move your legs and approach another person on the street. Or, you can run the other way when you see them.  And freezing or ‘playing dead’, has some advantages. Physical approach involves moving your muscles. Mental approach involves moving your mind’s eye to attend to or avoid specific contents of mind (e.g. thoughts, feelings, intentions).  Moving the mind’s eye is neurologically very much like moving the muscles that control the eyeballs next to you nose.

Decisions controlling your organs are made mostly automatically, unconsciously in the brainstem. The neocortex, which sits on the top of brain, is where conscious awareness works to form intentions and control overt behavior and private thoughts.

Unlike other organs that have very few conscious inputs, the lungs are controlled 50% by nerves emanating from the neocortex. Breath control is so important in yoga inasmuch as the lungs represent equally unconsous and conscious processes—the borderline between psyche and soma. 

Deciding explicitly or unconsciously to avoid thinking about an upcoming colonoscopy is somewhat like avoiding looking at parts of the body associated with the feared procedure. That is, the derriere.  Conflicting thought and conflicting real things can cause confusion and nervousness.  Being nervous can degrade a person’s ability to think and make good decisions.

I am assuming here that a person in a mental state of sophistication can make better decisions than others. If sophisticates make better decisions than do shmos, schmucks, and schadenfreudists, they should be more successful at work and love than others.  This book offers some suggestions about to become more sophisticated.  These might lead somehow to you becoming more successful in life.  Or not.

Post-Election America

Many pundits have warned that the polarization of America that began with Reagan and spun out of control with Trump will continue and worsen. I don’t think so. Without an immature leader at the helm, polarization should at least stop accelerating. The importance of a leader has never been more apparent than over the last four years. Up until 2016, all presidents, competent and incompetent, were “presidential”. They continued a tradition of behaving overtly with civility and humility. How unseemly it is when the powerful boast of their power. Trump constantly behaved from a more or less unconscious assumption that he lacked power. He had to fire everyone who disagreed with him. Some democracy.

Lyndon Johnson made awful decisions on Viet Nam. But he was otherwise a great president. He kept his less than civil habits behind closed doors. And, he had a sense of humor. Trump on the other hand is completely without a sense of humor. Have you seen him at one of those dinners where the powerful gather to poke fun at each other? He is entirely tone deaf. And frankly, so have been the late night talk show hosts who assumed that they had hit the jackpot with a dope like Trump as president. The problem is that Trump is inherently a sad bully. Making fun of a bully who is constantly trying to overcompensate from a, more or less, unconscious assumption that he is essentially without competence and power is very hard to do. It is like ridiculing a disabled person. Nothing sticks to Trump because he has the emotional intelligence of a child. His defenses are too impermeable.

He should have been ignored not ridiculed each and every night for four years on talk shows!! You can’t get to an 8 year old who says when insulted, “I know you are but what am I?” Partisanship will persist. But it will lessen without a humorless, insecure, child in the White House who has made everyone, left and right, miserable. Trump’s biggest effect on the country was to leave all his critics unable to effectively criticize him. He was not funny and none of the critics were funny. He should have been entirely ignored. Why listen every day to a liar? You can say what he lied about with ‘fact checking’. But what a waste of time.

Observations on an Experiment with the Body-Mind Device

The other day, I made a demonstration video on the effect of depressive and activating stimuli on the output of the Body-Mind Reader. Making that video was a pain. I’m new to Youtube production, but I rather imagine those of you who do this sort of thing, have had days like this, where nothing goes right. Take 1: Barrage of text messages. New Tik Tok video for you! Call the bank! Take 2: Cat walks on keyboard. Take 3: Internet goes on the fritz. You get the picture.

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Chronic fatigue, POTS, and HRV

As Dr. Bill has been working on the Body-Mind Reader, he’s been focused on people who have insufficient parasympathetic tone. Using the car analogy, this would be a person who isn’t good at putting on the brakes, and it would be manifested by difficulty thinking properly.

I’ve grown interested in the converse; namely, people who are riding the brakes all the time.

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Considering Heart Rate (HR) and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Simultaneously with the Body-Mind Reader

Heart Rate (HR) and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) each indicate aspects of physical and mental functioning. Compared to Low HR, High HR indicates the person has more ENERGY. HRV, the change in the interval between heart beats, is a measure of CONTROL. Greater variability produces greater CONTROL. When we consider these variables simultaneously, we can assess the degree of ALIGNMENT in one’s nervous system. The chart below shows nine combinations of ENERGY and CONTROL. When aligned, CONTROL is proportional to ENERGY. We can think of ENERGY as the accelerator of a car, and CONTROL as the brake. More braking is required at high speeds than low speeds. Having too much or too little braking creates an unbalanced, unaligned nervous condition.

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