re-1: escaping the matrix


Richard Moore

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I hope all of you had a good family Christmas. With the help of Skype, I was able to be virtually present with my two family gatherings in California and on Kauai. It really is nice to be able to see people, particularly the little kids who aren’t old enough to participate in an audio connection. Sue Skidmore sent me one of those lovely animated Christmas cards, which I’d like to share even though it’s a bit late now:

It seems we have a new topic, one that brings us back home, to ‘escaping the matrix’. Thanks to Claudia Woodward-Rice for initiating this shift back onto friendlier ground. I’d like to apologize for any unnecessary upset that was caused by our intense foray into the climate issue. At the same time, I’m not sorry for the foray itself. I found it valuable as many of you did, both for the dip into science, and the extra light it shed on our belief thread. 

With no further ado, on to the dialog. There were so many responses that I’ll post some today and more tomorrow. I do realize this list can take a lot of your time.
From: Bill Blum
Date: 26 December 2009 01:48:49 GMT
Subject: Re: escaping the matrix

I’m very surprised at your expressing such insults about your readers: “I was hoping that with a simple scientific topic it might be possible to get people to think for a change. I suppose I should have known better.” … “The goal of getting people to think seems utterly hopeless (apart from those of you who already think).”
Who do you think you’re talking about — a bunch of Sarah Palins?  George W.?  FoxNews? 
You must feel rather disappointed and frustrated to descend to such a level.  On the climate issue the fault may lie with you; for example by placing such total confidence in the ice-core temperature measurements of centuries ago.  I have a hard time accepting those results unquestioningly.  And you’re much too conspiracy minded.
I’m taking the time to write all this because I generally have great respect for your political and historical analyses.
  Your friend,

Hi Bill,
My apologies go especially to you, the only member of the cyberjournal community (other than Chris Thorman, my friend and publisher) where we’ve each visited one another in person on our home ground. My comment about ‘not thinking’ did not apply to you. Heavens to Betsy, I did not mean to imply that if you don’t agree with me you aren’t thinking! Indeed, if I wanted everyone to agree with me, I’d be looking for sheep, not thinking people.
Your doubt about ice-core temperatures is very reasonable. I could reply to that, the dialog could continue, and that would be a ‘thinking dialog’. But let’s leave that alone for this posting. I am a bit disappointed and frustrated, as you sensed. But it is not because of disagreement, it is because of those who abandon reason and descend into irrational defensive behavior when they have no logical arguments to present, or are too lazy to present them. The second message below, from Stewart Galye, is an example of that. 
I do take exception to your comment about Palin & Fox News. You seem to be implying that liberals are reasonable people and conservatives are not. That’s what I believed back in ’94 when I started cyberjournal, but I’ve long since learned otherwise. For example, liberals tend to defend Obama with just as much irrationality as conservatives attack him with. Fox News and the New York Times are both propaganda channels, each owed by folks from the same Bilderberger crowd, and each aimed at a different audience in order to create social divisiveness. 
When it comes to things like the New World Order and world government, Fox News presents a much more accurate perspective than does the New York Times. Of course Fox presents that perspective with a warped spin, just as the New York Times presents its perspectives with a warped spin. Subtracting out the warped spin, in each case, is what thinking is all about. Refusing to look at anything from Fox News, or assuming that everything they say is lies, is not a thinking position. By the way, I’m not saying this applies to you, I’m just expanding here on the liberal vs. conservative theme.


From: ML Polak
Date: 25 December 2009 15:11:14 GMT
Subject: Re: escaping the matrix

 In some sense, the biggest problem we face is the susceptibility of liberals to mass-media propaganda. I’ve posted several good analyses of that, from a psychological perspective, but everyone thinks it applies to everyone but them.

so true! mlp

From: stewart gale 
Date: 25 December 2009 12:11:48 GMT
Subject: RE: escaping the matrix

Bugger me
You’ve been looking at this climate change malarkey since Dec 11th and you’ve discovered its all a fraud. Aren’t you brilliant?
Please remove me from this ridiculous list
Hi Stewart,
Yes, by spending many hours a day researching, two weeks was more than enough time to survey the available arguments and get a reasonably complete picture of what’s going on with the science, and with the propaganda. On the other hand, if you have a fixed belief in advance, and refuse to look at all sides, no amount of time will shed any light on the issues. 
bon voyage,
From: “Milton Block” 
Date: 25 December 2009 08:34:23 GMT
Subject: RE: escaping the matrix

  For me you are doing a fantastic ‘job’. Loved your research on global warming, saved me a lot of time and confirmed my views for some time from my own research.
  I tend not to rely just on figures, but what makes ‘sense’ to me, right or wrong, but hopefully, am always open to the other point of view. It is a beautiful thing to see as many aspects and views of the problem as you can handle, otherwise, how can you come to any worthy conclusion, if you do not have a worthy understanding of all points of view, and possible discover you are wrong sometimes? Experience teaches you to not jump in too quickly. Also, if you know the answer, you must know everything!?
  Perhaps also, there are greater forces at work, and ‘when the time is right’ all will be revealed, but hopefully each of us can be a part of the solution and not the problem – easy to say, but to honestly act upon it is not so easy, takes considerable self inspection, and beside, when is the right time to start?
  To accept there are problems and to have a level of understanding to discern the real ones and the cons, has been beneficial for me, but where I think we need to put our attention after that, is on the solutions. Once again, very easy said, but, if you are serious, where do you start? The first idea which now makes sense to me is that the ONLY way they will be solved, is by the PEOPLE, ask John Lennon. No answers come from governments or any number of institutions set up outside of the peoples approval or control to tell us what to do – just look at the mess they have created. From this point forward, and nothing has changed, the future is what we the people create…
  …So, tell me what it is exactly you/we want to create??? If we do not know clearly, then what do we create? Confusion? What do we have now?
Richard, you have put forward many ideas I think, but you can not do it all. Nor can I, or anyone. Did Jesus fix everything last time? No. Next time? I say no. We must fix it and not avoid our responsibility. I would love to see comments through your list and with your guidance, on exactly, exactly, what it is we want life to be. Perhaps starting with ourselves. How will we each be? And, what is stopping us?
  Can we move beyond “All we are saying, is give peace a chance” to “We are the Peace”.  What are our core needs? For me it is Love, Peace and Beauty. Are these the real wealth? The real currency of life? Let ONLY these things influence your creation and I bet the real solutions will come. But we need to have the intention to get through the stumbling blocks.
  Notice though, how these things already really influence you. You think it is money, but is it really? Once we have a basis, then the practical issues can be resolved in the right way.
   Many things to discuss…
 Thank you Richard.

Hi Milton,
Thank you for a very thoughtful contribution. I agree very much that we need to talk about solutions, and that it is our responsibility – we the people – to identify solutions and pursue them. In my book, I refer to this responsibility as the ‘transformational imperative’. 
The most disempowering myth of our times is the belief that we live in democracies. This myth causes us to waste our time with the political system. Bush showed us that the government can do whatever it wants, despite public opinion, and that elections can be rigged. Obama shows us that any surge in public dissatisfaction can be co-opted by a smooth-talking huckster. And belated discovery that he is a huckster is no help, because then people just vote the Republicans in again. Electoral politics is a spiral descent into hell. 
I agree with your suggestion that identifying solutions begins by thinking about what “we want to create”. What would a decent society look like, and how would it operate? Until we get a handle on these questions, the issue of “how to get there” is meaningless. 
But we must not fall into the trap of trying to design a utopia. Utopian thinking comes from the engineering part of our brains, and we aren’t good enough engineers to design a good society. Society is an organic thing, not a machine. Where we need to look, in my view, is at the spectrum of human cultures that have existed throughout history, extending long before civilization began. By looking at cultures we can see what works well, what doesn’t work well, and why. Although designing is beyond our ability, synthesizing from working models may not be. 

You speak wise words: “Love, Peace and Beauty. Are these the real wealth? The real currency of life?” At the same time, we need to grow food, house ourselves, make decisions, resolve conflicts, exchange with one another, etc. Cooperation and competition both have a role to play, each in its own way. Without cooperation and love we get a dog-eat-dog society. Without healthy competition we get economic atrophy. These lessons can be learned not only by looking at human cultures, but by looking at all life forms, from bacteria to mammals. 
thanks again,
From: Kenneth Pollinger
Date: 25 December 2009 18:35:28 GMT
To: Richard Moore <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: escaping the matrix

  I thoroughly enjoyed this email.  I feel for your disappointment but as Jed McKenna stated:
“We ultimately have to become DISILLUSIONED (break through ALL illusions) about EVERTHING in order to face and deal with Reality.” See Spiritual Enlightenment, by McKenna.
  Rather than continually trying to build a world-wide organization or even a GRAND PLAN of transforming culture/society/structures, maybe, just maybe, we need to form small intimate Circles of Transformation. Change myself first, then society MAY follow.
But change myself first?  What does this mean?  For me, it’s the innerself first, especially overcoming egoism, judgmentalness, pride, prejudice, grandiosity, etc. And then contemplating and acting in a compassionate way (each one to decide what that means).
  And if societal change does NOT happen, at least there will be some of us who can offer alternative ways of being-in-the-world that others MAY want to emulate.  But if not, such is life!  And we MAY have to accept this as a fact and stop beating our heads over coming up with the GRAND PLAN, leading only to more frustration and more disappointment and another type of illusion.
  You have certainly tried–in many ways–your best.  I, unfortunately, see your continual frustration and disappointment–almost despair–with changing the BIG PICTURE. I wish you luck on the NEW attempt–but it might also turn out to be another illusion. I hope not.
  I realize that I stress the spiritual dimension, but as a sociologist and student of politics, “the circulation of the elites,” unfortunately seems to be an ingrained principle in society.
It’s hard enough dealing with my own “shadow” but undertaking what you have tried, many times, makes me feel for you. As an ex-Jesuit, and frustrated “revolutionary” in Latin America, I’m getting VERY tired even just thinking about what you frequently propose and those who seem to “love” the “mindfucking” that Fritz Perls talks about. Are we just mentally masterbaiting, periodically?
  Can’t wait for your–and others’ response.
  And, may 2010 be better for you!!
Ken Pollinger, Ph.D., ex-Jesuit (
PS Come to Costa Rica and take a break.

Hi Kenneth,
Thanks for your thoughtful contribution. 
I find it ironic that you make a distinction between a grand plan and circles of transformation. I say ironic, because my own grand plan happens to be that we form circles of transformation! But I don’t characterize such circles as being a way to ‘change myself’, but rather a way to change the way we relate to one another and work with one another. I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with us as individuals, not even the fact that we get stuck in beliefs and forget to think rationally much of the time. Even though it frustrates me, it isn’t a sin, and it won’t prevent us from transforming society. It seems to be part of the human condition.
I don’t believe that we need to overcome egoism, judgmentalness, etc. in order to transform society, although such goals are useful to us personally. And we can act compassionately even with those drawbacks. There have been cultures that we would see as wise, even though most of the individuals in those cultures were not spiritually enlightened. The ‘circulation of elites’ (nice phrase) has characterized ‘civilized’ societies, but it has not characterized human cultures generally. We’ve been around for at least 100,000 years, which means we’ve lived through at least one ice age. Civilization only began about 6,000 years ago. Before that, as hunter-gatherers, we made decisions together on an egalitarian basis. 
Hmmm, Costa Rica. I might just take you up on your invitation one of these days. 
From: “Lincoln Justice”
Date: 25 December 2009 19:36:36 GMT
To: “Richard Moore” <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: escaping the matrix

  No matter what others say or think, I appreciate the question you raised about climate change.   I learned a lot and discovered the importance of a healthy skepticism.   I have been a perpetual student and have been asking so many questions of my teachers in school that they hated to have me raise my hand.
  Regarding a new topic for discussion…. how about healthy FOOD. There is a new movie that focuses on a positive message rather than dooms day. We have been showing it as part of the Well-Fed Neighbor program.   It could be a new focus for discussion and action:
Here is a word from the producers:
FRESH is more than a movie, it’s a gateway to action. Our aim is to help grow FRESH food, ideas, and become active participant in an exciting, vibrant, and fast-growing movement.

Thanks for all you do to help us escape the matrix.
Lincoln B. Justice

Hi Lincoln,
Yes, healthy food, and transforming the way food is produced, is an essential part of social transformation. I didn’t include your full quote from the movie URL, but I recommend people click and check it out.

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