Sunday, May 13, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012


1984 by George Orwell [Eric Blair] Published: 1949

Image: Penguin edition, date unknown. 1959 Swedish edition, designed by Olle Eksell -

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Links Debunking Pseudoscience

Cognitive Dissonance Theory, Blavatsky, UFOs, etc.: Links Debunking Pseudoscience - by Professor W. Rory Coker, University of Texas

Cutting down the dissonance: the psychology of gullibility - Christina Valhouli, Columbia University

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


From the 1979 film, HAIR

Cognitive Dissonance

From "Leon Festinger (1957) proposed cognitive dissonance theory, which states that a powerful motive to maintain cognitive consistency can give rise to irrational and sometimes maladaptive behavior. According to Festinger, we hold many cognitions about the world and ourselves; when they clash, a discrepancy is evoked, resulting in a state of tension known as cognitive dissonance. As the experience of dissonance is unpleasant, we are motivated to reduce or eliminate it, and achieve consonance (i.e. agreement).

"Cognitive dissonance was first investigated by Leon Festinger, arising out of a participant observation study of a cult which believed that the earth was going to be destroyed by a flood, and what happened to its members — particularly the really committed ones who had given up their homes and jobs to work for the cult — when the flood did not happen. While fringe members were more inclined to recognize that they had made fools of themselves and to "put it down to experience", committed members were more likely to re-interpret the evidence to show that they were right all along (the earth was not destroyed because of the faithfulness of the cult members).

(...) Evaluation of Cognitive Dissonance Theory"There has been a great deal of research into cognitive dissonance, providing some interesting and sometimes unexpected findings. It is a theory with very broad applications, showing that we aim for a consistency between attitudes and behaviors, and may not use very rational methods to achieve it. It has the advantage of being testable by scientific means (i.e. experiments).

"However, there is a problem from a scientific point of view, because we cannot physically observe cognitive dissonance, and therefore we cannot objectively measure it (re: behaviorism). Consequently, the term cognitive dissonance is somewhat subjective."There is also some ambiguity (i.e. vagueness) about the term 'dissonance' itself. Is it a perception (as 'cognitive' suggests), or a feeling, or a feeling about a perception? Aronson's revision of the idea of dissonance as inconsistency between a person s self-concept and a cognition about their behavior makes it seem likely that dissonance is really nothing more than guilt." Read the article: Cognitive Dissonance by Saul McLeod, published 2008 Simply Psychology

Maybe it's guilt, or maybe it's just a human condition that comes with being part of this world. That's why we have the serenity prayer. :-)

Related articles: Replicating Dissonance - by Dave Nussbaum

Partisan Psychology: Why Do People Choose Political Loyalties Over Facts? - by Shankar Vedantam, May 9, 2012 NPR

Added on May 10, 2012: Links Debunking Pseudoscience - Professor W. Rory Coker, University of Texas / Christina Valhouli, Columbia University

On Cognitive Dissonance

When I was an active member of a makeup forum, right around the time I first started conversing online, there were members who were eager to explain cognitive dissonance theory to me. These were the same people who couldn't fathom someone being in an interreligious relationship (but they didn't seem to have issues with dual citizenship - go figure). Honestly, I felt like the theory itself was more confusing than any kind of dissonance, but that could be my own cognitive dissonance at work. All I know is that if you overanalyze, you can become irrational by seeking to become too rational - which is what you need to watch for with rationalism, objectivism, or reading Seth books. The danger in over-rationalization is that real life isn't a set of numbers you can predictably crunch. Life is full of grey areas, especially in matters of the heart, or morality, which is why it's so hard to get opposing sides of the political spectrum to listen to each other. But there's some dissonance you can avoid by following your heart over your head - or, if you prefer, vice versa. I prefer the former, which is not always "wise" but what's good is probably "good" in the long run, which I hope will ultimately be what was wise, too.

Two things I'll share with you are not meant to judge anyone who decided differently in their own lives as to what to do in these scenarios. One time, I was asked to do a voice-over with a Chinese accent. I said I couldn't do it - not because I couldn't fake one, because with people I'm close to, I do all kinds of accents, not just regional ones, but I didn't want there to be a recording with my name on it showing me making fun of someone's accent if I couldn't actually speak the language well enough to mock. It was a decision based not only on my own challenges of learning English - mind you, I was never put in ESL, and went straight to regular class upon arrival - but on self-preservation. This Chinese accent that I could have done in that nasal tone associated with the language in all its dialects, could have been done had I swallowed my pride or maybe guilt, and gotten paid to do a simple thing asked of me. Saying no in a professional setting leads to not getting more work. It can lead to regret if the consequence of the action is especially punishing or ostracizing. However, it could also save you from getting into other kinds of trouble later, the initial reason why I chose not to do it in the first place.

Another experience I'll share is about the last time I went head-to-head with a network boss, back when I still had my TV gig. They wanted me to say something a bit racist towards black people, a line that was written by someone who was fresh off the boat, and I refused. I knew it would cost me, but by that point, I also knew the show had had a long run, I wasn't getting younger, and the whole staff was so sick of doing the show every week, they were telling me how sick they were of seeing me everywhere. People get cabin fever, and it's hard to keep ideas fresh if your lifestyle is an unending cycle. But I held my ground and that was that. I don't regret my decision and I doubt I ever will. I knew I couldn't represent this great city and talk ill of the people here in a foreign language, even if no one here ever discovered the recording in my lifetime. I want people to know I truly loved this city that gave me everything (including meeting my bosses, which was actually through music), that it wasn't something I pretended to love because I and my family were promised the world. Would I be crazy enough to live here if I didn't love it so? Or is loving this city what's crazy to begin with? There I go overanalyzing, and so I shall stop.

So, like everyone, I have embarrassing things that people can find out about me to humiliate me with if they wanted to looked for them, but they won't hear me getting paid to act racist. Sure, people are forgiving when they feel forgiving, but I don't have the same kinds of freedoms to act any way I want, because I'm an immigrant, forever an alien even if I've been here way, way longer than I ever spent in the country of my birth. And I don't judge others for saying racist things haphazardly in everyday life if I know their hearts. It's the same reason I can let go of racist things comedians say on-screen, because I know show biz is exactly that - a show, getting an audience any way it can. And I could rant and rave like an old lady about the injustices I see on TV, and change nothing. But I couldn't go there myself, the convoluted crossroads where you lose your entire soul. Protecting the powerless is where I drew my own line, to avoid cognitive dissonance. If people try to make me feel bad or stupid for my own arrogant decision to hold onto that particular set of ethics, so be it; it's not a reflection on me if I didn't feel I had any choices but the ones I made.

Would you call my mental state cognitive dissonance? I'll leave it up to you to analyze, because I've had people analyze me before, and the talks were helpful to have someone there to mirror my own thoughts, but all they really did in the end was suggest I get prescriptions for valium or something to help me think about their theories more.

Added on May 9, 2012: Here are some articles re: cognitive dissonance theory. As I read them, I was reminded of how one of those makeup forum members had messaged me saying she was surprised how "strong" I was. Maybe the psych people have been studying my behavior through these beauty forums. Well, I'm not on any pills as of yet, so maybe that's what they meant by that - who knows?

Related link: Cognitive Dissonance - May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Algonquin Round Table

Algonquin Round Table. Al Hirschfeld

From PBS: "The period that followed the end of World War I was one of gaiety and optimism, and it sparked a new era of creativity in American culture. Surely one of the most profound — and outrageous — influences on the times was the group of a dozen or so tastemakers who lunched together at New York City’s Algonquin Hotel. For more than a decade they met daily and came to be known as the Algonquin Round Table. With members such as writers Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross (founder of THE NEW YORKER) and Robert Benchley; columnists Franklin Pierce Adams and Heywood Broun, and Broun’s wife Ruth Hale; critic Alexander Woollcott; comedian Harpo Marx; and playwrights George S. Kaufman, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, and Robert Sherwood, the Round Table embodied an era and changed forever the face of American humor." Continue reading:The Algonquin Round Table - About the Algonquin - November 8th, 1998 American Masters, PBS

Marina Abramovic Wanted to Open Her Performance Art Institute in Bushwick, But Brooklyn Was Too Toxic

From Gallerist NY: "“What’s very special about Brooklyn, for me, I was very interested in Bushwick,” Ms. Abramovic continued. “But when we came to Hudson, we liked what we found. A practical reason that we didn’t, though, is if you wanted to do something, you had to clean it up, everything was so contaminated, it would have cost as much to clean up the building as to buy it.”" Read the article: Marina Abramovic Wanted to Open Her Performance Art Institute in Bushwick, But Brooklyn Was Too Toxic By Matt Chaban and Rozalia Jovanovic 5/07/12 GalleristNY

The museum will be set up near Dia: Beacon in Hudson, a thriving art community in Upstate New York: What Marina Abramovic's Giant (Insane) New Museum Will Look Like By Annie Georgia Greenberg, Refinery29

Monday, May 07, 2012

Ofra Haza - Im Nin'alu

Beautiful singer Ofra Haza, the Madonna of Israel! "Im Nin'alu" from Yemenite Songs (1984) and Ofra Haza (1997)

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Chasm - Callous Spectre / Vehement Opposition

Have a happy and safe Cinco de Mayo! Death Metal from México - Uploaded by alzaraza on You Tube

From the album Farseeing The Paranormal Abyss (2009)

Friday, May 04, 2012

RIP Adam 'MCA' Yauch of The Beastie Boys

We'll always fight for our right to party because of you. Adam Yauch, MCA of Beastie Boys, Passes at Age 47 - Fri, 04 May 2012 EVR

Hard Rock And Heavy Metal Musicians React To Passing Of BEASTIE BOYS' ADAM 'MCA' YAUCH - May 4, 2012

TNY: Cartoons from the Issue of May 7th, 2012

Enjoy! TNY is on the ball. Cartoons from the Issue of May 7th, 2012 - The New Yorker

"The Ghost of Osama bin Laden" by Ralph Nader

The Ghost of Osama bin Laden By Ralph Nader - April 30, 2012 The Nader Page

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Alan Ebnother
Oil and pigments on aluminum, 40 x 40 inches
View of work in Color Blind
Minus Space

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Newt Gingrich - Defending God in the Public Square

Guess what? You get an Amen, Newt Gingrich. However, "large purple banana" tells me you listened to too much Prince on the campaign trail. God Bless America -- see you in 2016 (or as VP nominee?)!

Races of ancient Egypt, Nubians, Libyans, Asiatics, Egyptians, Kemet, the DEBATE is OVER.

YIKES! Ummmmmmmmmm, I don't know why Osama comes up as an "Asiatic" in this video (???). It's a bit shocking but it's still very interesting and well done. Music: 009 Sound System "Trinity" - Uploaded by raidio1 on You Tube