How do we know?

a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.

. .

Déjà vu all over again

We’ve talked about it here on the blog previously; e.g., a rather potent quote by Anaïs Nin that leverages Jungian wisdom. She said: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are [my emphasis].” This doesn’t end with subjective personal sense perceptions; but also influences our rational perceptions of others and our discernment on claims of what is rational and what is fact.
Factors like confirmation bias and negative partisanship (e.g., “…as we are.”) function as filters in how we decide regarding claims on fact. As all facts are interpreted, we need some shared understanding on how we know stuff in any given discourse. These two videos provide some crucial background:


Our filters influence how we interpret difficult issues humans face as individuals and as communities. Those aspects of ourselves that we can’t abide (like being “a racist” even in an internalized Systemic Racism sense) are rejected and repressed into an unconscious shadow. 
Last week we began looking at how this works in relationship to the reality of systemic racism and anti-racism. This week let’s peek at the intersection of some effects of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and anti-racism in our Social Dilemma times. In as much as everyone growing up in America has internalized Systemic Racism [iSR], in that sense everyone is racist. This is a baseline systems reading of the situation:

Long-tailed legacy

When I was a kid in the Midwest sixty years ago, White supremacist ideology [Wsi] was willful and unapologetically right out in the open. It reflected the legacy of systemic racisme.g., Wsi and its artifacts both historical and extant.
With President Lyndon Johnson’s signature, the 1964 Civil Rights Act decreed that Wsi, and the inequality that flowed from it, were over—well, according to the brand new law, anyway. New laws rarely change unapologetic minds, let alone hearts. Many people were only able to begin having a proper disdain for racism by denying that part of themselves and repressing it into their unconscious mind. 
So, the Wsi that was unapologetically expressed one day was illegal the next; and yet there was no truth and reconciliation process, or, sadly, any healing process of any kind. People were basically told, “OK, we’re all color blind now, it’s the law, so act like it.” Political correctness became an intimidating thing.
In practical terms for most people, whatever unreconciled dimensions of one’s own relationship (both conscious and unconscious) with racism that remained (remember, just previously, racism was OK fine, out in the open) was repressed, shoved down so one would not somehow expose oneself to the cruel  consequences of shame and shunning. 
People didn’t talk about race, far too risky.
No recognition.
No repentance.
No reconciliation.
No healing.
“If no one talks about it, then it doesn’t exist.” —James Baldwin
‘Color blind!’ ‘Act like it!’ And, now, one form of “cancel culture” is political correctness on steroids.
This is how so many people (and their offspring) became “fragile” on the race issue (that is, they shoved their own willful racism and/or unaddressed iSR into their ‘shadow’).


Even if we willfully ignore information about appropriately addressing our iSR, we overtly (unconsciously, too) deny “racism” is any part of us. However, there’s a naturally spontaneous mechanism that exposes our unconscious condition. We tend to find an irresistible (e.g., we “trigger”) way to project our unwanted parts of ourselves. 
In general terms, in our Social Dilemma times many have found a place to unload the racism they’ve internalized, denied, and repressed to shadow.
Generally what happens is a celebrity—probably as a result of unaddressed iSR of their own—will say something very vague that still seems problematic to some. Then, of course, based on little more than a gray screen of a social media post, a virtual mob attacks the celebrity as a “racist!” Probably a “KKK-racist” for effect. By projecting my unaddressed and unconscious iSR onto the poor fool who let their unaddressed iSR be exposed, I am able to present a face that says: I AM NOT A RACIST! 
A recent example is the story of Daniel Elder. After a particularly difficult night in his Nashville community (Courthouse set on fire) he posted to Instagram:
Granted, not smart. However, given that Elder posted it, he activated the projection mechanism in many people.
*The Left* mobbed Elder by projecting their iSR shadows onto him.
*The Right* projected their iSR onto Elder protestors [e.g., “woke anti-racism” is racist, claims *theRight*].
Both sides projected their confirmation bias and negative partisanship.
How do I know? [I’ll have space to unpack that next week.]


Our unaddressed internalized Systemic Racism creates problems for us in various ways personally and as communities. 


Next week: post-truth and epistemology (how we know stuff). Come see. 

[this post approx. 825 words (3 min. read)]

Your thoughts? 

I never know what I’ve said until I hear the response. What did you hear? 



5 thoughts on “How do we know?

  1. I have some proofreading experience and would be glad to proofread your blog before you post it. You would just have to give me a deadline by which you needed it returned. I thought this particular post read pretty well. The only real “error” I noted was that you opened a statement with quotation marks and never closed the quote.


    1. Thank you, Doug!

      If it “read pretty well” but for one *error*, that’s very encouraging. 🙂

      It’s tricky because to be fair to you (or any editor), I’d need to work a week ahead. However, I like to write in conversation with real time current events, so, yeah, that gets difficult working a week ahead sometimes.

      So, my proposal would be that if you were willing (on whatever weeks you could fit it in) to read the piece as soon as you get a chance after I publish and then send me an email with any problems you see. Then I could fix the editing as soon as I’m able. Not exactly like publishing a style-manual-edited-and-approved edition every Sunday morning on the first click, but way better than what I have going now. [I publish Sunday at 7 a.m.//and yes I know you’re already a bit busy on Sunday morning. When I say “as soon as you get a chance” I really mean *whenever* you can get to it, and not some expectation of mine.]

      I would definitely appreciate that kind of assistance. Then, those who are particular about mechanics can hold off their reading till later in the week after the proofread edit is in palce.

      What do you think about that?

      Respectfully, Michael L McKee


  2. A timely post that might help some people open to understanding confirmation bias. Almost everyone thinks they are the one that doesn’t do it and it is the rest of the world. I was fortunate in a way that for 30+ years one of my primary jobs was in tech manufacturing data gathering, aggregation, analysis and then making recommendations. Those trained in this work know that inherent biases can skew these studies. Bias in gathering the data, describing the problem/scope, analysis techniques used, and in parsing the results all could affect the conclusion and recommended actions to address issues.

    In my case, the engineering and manufacturing departments were only too happy to point out any biases in the studies and over the years I learned how to recognize my own. For the average person, I don’t know if they can really “get this” especially when discussing subjects not measurement based. My circumstance was unusual in that routinely I was rewarded by superiors and peers for being neutral and letting the data guide me and not the other way around. That doesn’t mean that in my normal life I don’t succumb to confirmation and/or cognitive bias because as you summarized, it is inherent in human nature.

    Somewhat off-topic for this post but fitting to the overall thrust of your blog, I came across this post by Dr David Brin concerning how to deal with the willful use of PT’s against the citizenry. Possibly there might be a tidbit or two you and this blog’s readers may find useful in how to combat the manipulative techniques used by those in power. As the video with Ezra Klein summarized at the time, our country had a President who was elected in spite of receiving fewer votes, with a Senate majority that was elected with fewer votes and a Supreme Court populated with justices put in power by the party receiving fewer votes. Democratic values have been marginalized in the US in order for a minority to hold onto power far longer than they should have.


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