paranoia

The “lizard people” conspiracy theory is one of the more fantastical narratives that have found a niche within modern conspiracy culture. This theory suggests that shape-shifting reptilian aliens have infiltrated human society to gain power and control. They are often depicted as occupying high positions in government, finance, and industry, manipulating global events to serve their sinister agenda.

Origins and evolution

The roots of the reptilian conspiracy theory can be traced back to a mix of earlier science fiction, mythological tales, and conspiracy theories. However, it was British author David Icke who, in the 1990s, catapulted the idea into the mainstream of conspiracy culture. Icke’s theory combines elements of New Age philosophy, Vedic texts, and a wide array of conspiracy theories, proposing that these reptilian beings are part of a secret brotherhood that has controlled humanity for millennia — a variation on the global cabal conspiracy theory framework that shows up in a lot of places.

The Lizard People conspiracy theory, as illustrated by Midjourney

Icke’s initial ideas were presented in his book “The Biggest Secret” (1999), where he posits that these entities are from the Alpha Draconis star system, now hiding in underground bases and are capable of morphing their appearance to mimic human form. His theories incorporate a broad range of historical, religious, and cultural references, reinterpreting them to fit the narrative of reptilian manipulation.

Persistence and appeal

The persistence of the lizard people conspiracy can be attributed to several factors. First, it offers a simplistic explanation for the complexities and injustices of the world. By attributing the world’s evils to a single identifiable source, it provides a narrative that is emotionally satisfying for some, despite its utter lack of evidence.

Second, the theory thrives on the human tendency to distrust authority and the status quo. In times of social and economic upheaval, conspiracy theories offer a form of counter-narrative that challenges perceived power structures.

The Lizard People are bankers too

Third, the advent of the internet and social media has provided a fertile ground for the spread of such ideas. Online platforms allow for the rapid dissemination of conspiracy theories, connecting individuals across the globe who share these beliefs, thus reinforcing their validity within these communities.

Modern culture and society

In modern culture, the lizard people conspiracy theory occupies a peculiar niche. On one hand, it is often the subject of satire and parody, seen as an example of the most outlandish fringe beliefs. Shows, memes, and popular media references sometimes use the imagery of reptilian overlords as a humorous nod to the world of conspiracy theories.

On the other hand, the theory has been absorbed into the larger tapestry of global conspiracy culture, intersecting with other narratives about global elites, alien intervention, and secret societies. This blending of theories creates a complex and ever-evolving mythology that can be adapted to fit various personal and political agendas.

Despite its presence in the digital and cultural landscape, the reptilian conspiracy is widely discredited and rejected by mainstream society and experts. It’s critiqued for its lack of credible evidence, its reliance on anti-Semitic tropes (echoing age-old myths about blood libel and other global Jewish conspiracies), and its potential to fuel mistrust and paranoia.

Current status and impact

Today, the reptilian conspiracy theory exists on the fringes of conspiracy communities. While it has been somewhat overshadowed by newer and more politically charged conspiracies, it remains a staple within the conspiracy theory ecosystem. Its endurance can be seen as a testament to the human penchant for storytelling and the need to find meaning in an often chaotic world.

The Lizard People, young dapper and woke crowd, by Midjourney

The impact of such theories is a double-edged sword. While they can foster a sense of community among believers, they can also lead to social alienation and the erosion of trust in institutions. The spread of such unfounded theories poses challenges for societies, emphasizing the need for critical thinking and media literacy in navigating the complex landscape of modern information.

The lizard people conspiracy theory is a fascinating study in the power of narrative, belief, and the human desire to make sense of the unseen forces shaping our world. While it holds little sway in academic or scientific circles, its evolution and persistence in popular culture underscore the enduring allure of the mysterious and the unexplained.

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Words, words, and more words.

In a world of increasing disinformation, it’s more important than ever to be armed with actual information. And being curious about the meaning, nature, and origins of things is a rewarding journey in and of itself.

Think of these dictionaries as tools for your mind — they can help you make connections between concepts, understand the terminology being used in the media and all around you, and feel less lost in a sea of dizzying complexity and rapid change. A fantastic vocabulary also helps you connect with people near and far — as well as get outside your comfort zone and learn something new.

Dictionaries List

This section includes dictionaries and definitions of important terms in important realms — and is continually being built out. Stay tuned!

Terms and Concepts

Authoritarianism and American Fascism

Authoritarianism is a political system where a single leader or a small group holds significant power, often without the consent of the governed. Decisions are made by authorities without public input, and individual freedoms and democratic principles are usually suppressed. The government may control various aspects of life, including media and the economy, without checks and balances. This leads to a concentration of power that can foster corruption and human rights abuses. In an authoritarian regime, obedience to the authorities is often emphasized over personal liberties and democratic participation.

Psychology

Definitions and terms relating to the study of the mind, including ideas from social psychology, political psychology, positive psychology, and Buddhist psychology.

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Why do we do the things we do?

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior, encompassing a wide array of topics such as mental processes, emotions, cognition, development, personality, and social interactions. It seeks to understand how individuals think, feel, and act, both individually and in groups.

It fascinates me endlessly and — because you’re here! — I am guessing it fascinates you too.

psychology and the study of the mind

Learn More:

30 Common psychological biases β†—

These systematic errors in our thinking and logic affect our everyday choices, behaviors, and evaluations of others.

28 Cognitive distortions list β†—

Cognitive distortions are bad mental habits and unhelpful ways of thinking that can limit one’s ability to function in the world.

24 Logical fallacies list β†—

Recognizing and avoiding logical fallacies is essential forΒ critical thinkingΒ and effective communication.

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McCarthyism refers to the anti-communist political repression and paranoia that swept the United States in the 1940s and 1950s, beginning during the tenure of its originator: Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin. It was a period of intense fear and suspicion of communism during the Cold War that manifested in government investigations, trials, and blacklisting of individuals suspected of being communists or communist sympathizers. The era was marked by a pervasive fear of subversion and betrayal, as many Americans believed that communists were working to infiltrate and undermine American institutions.

The roots of McCarthyism can be traced back to the early 20th century, when communism was viewed as a major threat to Western democracy. The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the rise of the Soviet Union fueled anti-communist sentiment in the United States, which intensified during the Red Scare of the 1920s. However, it was not until after World War II that anti-communist fervor reached its peak.

National anti-communist paranoia

In 1947, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9835, which established a loyalty program for federal employees. The program required all federal employees to undergo a background check and sign a loyalty oath, swearing that they were not members of the Communist Party or affiliated with any other subversive organization. The program was intended to weed out any suspected communists from the federal government, but it soon became the basis for a broader campaign of anti-communist witch-hunts.

In 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy rose to national prominence with his claims of widespread communist infiltration in the federal government. In a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, McCarthy claimed to have a list of 205 known communists in the State Department. He provided no evidence to support his claim, but the speech propelled him to the national spotlight and began a period of intense media fascination with the Senator’s provocative claims.

Over the next several years, McCarthy became the face of the anti-communist crusade. He chaired the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and conducted public hearings and investigations into suspected communist activity. Many of his targets were innocent, and his tactics often included intimidation, character assassination, and guilt by association.

Army-McCarthy hearings

McCarthy’s tactics eventually led to his downfall. Between April and June of 1954, he conducted televised hearings to investigate alleged communist influence in the Army. The hearings were a disaster for McCarthy, as he made unfounded accusations and engaged in verbal attacks on witnesses. As the hearings progressed, McCarthy’s behavior became increasingly erratic and confrontational. He bullied and intimidated Army officials and witnesses, often interrupting them and accusing them of lying. His behavior turned public opinion against him, and the hearings marked the beginning of his decline.

The turning point of the hearings came when Army counsel Joseph Welch famously confronted McCarthy after he had attacked a young lawyer in Welch’s law firm:

“Senator, you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Joseph N. Welch, Army chief counsel
Taking down Senator Joe McCarthy and McCarthyism

The exchange was a defining moment in the hearings, and it marked the beginning of the end for McCarthy’s political career after millions of Americans witnessed his aggressive demagoguery. In fact it went on to become one of the most famous moments in the history of congressional hearings, and is often cited as an example of the power of a well-timed and well-delivered rhetorical response.

The hearings ultimately failed to uncover any evidence of communist infiltration in the Army, but they did expose McCarthy’s reckless and abusive tactics and damaged his reputation. They also demonstrated the power of televised hearings in shaping public opinion and holding government officials accountable.

Historical influence of McCarthyism

McCarthyism had far-reaching consequences for American society. Thousands of people were investigated, blacklisted, and lost their jobs or were denied employment on suspicion of being communist sympathizers. The entertainment industry was particularly hard hit, with many actors, writers, and directors being blacklisted for their political beliefs. The unfounded smears against Hollywood contributed to a negative sentiment on the right-wing that continues even to this day.

The era of McCarthyism also had a chilling effect on free speech and political dissent. Many people were afraid to express their opinions or engage in political activism, for fear of being labeled a communist or communist sympathizer. The era demonstrated the dangers of political repression and the importance of protecting civil liberties and freedom of expression.

McCarthyism was a dark period in American history that was characterized by political repression, paranoia, and fear of communism. It was fueled by the perceived threat of subversion and betrayal, and it led to the persecution of innocent people, the erosion of civil liberties, and a chilling climate of fear and suspicion. The legacy of McCarthyism serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of political repression and the importance of protecting free speech and civil liberties in a democracy.

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authoritarians gather for a witch hunt

Many people around the world were shocked in the aftermath of World War II. How could “polite” society break down so utterly, so swiftly, and so zealously? Why did authoritarian personality traits come to dominate human affairs, seemingly out of nowhere? How thin is this veneer of civilization, really?

The authoritarian personality is characterized by excessive strictness and a propensity to exhibit oppressive behavior towards perceived subordinates. On the flip side, they treat authority figures with mindless obedience and unquestioning compliance. They also have an aversion to difference, ambiguity, complexity, and diversity.

How did they get this way? Are people born with authoritarian personalities, or is the authoritarian “made” predominately by circumstance?

Authoritarian personality studies

A braintrust of scholars, public servants, authors, psychologists, and others have been analyzing these questions ever since. Some of the most prominent thinkers on the subject of authoritarianism were either themselves affected by the Nazi regime, or lived through the war in some capacity. Other more recent contributions have built on those original foundations, refining and extending them as more new history continues to unfold with right-wing behavior to observe.

Continue reading Essential thinkers on authoritarian personality theory
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Personality disorders are a group of mental health conditions that are characterized by persistent and inflexible patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that deviate significantly from cultural norms and cause distress and impairment in various areas of functioning, such as work, relationships, and self-image. Personality disorders typically begin in adolescence or early adulthood and tend to persist over time.

There are several types of personality disorders, each with its own unique set of symptoms and diagnostic criteria. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is the standard diagnostic tool used by mental health professionals, identifies ten personality disorders organized into three clusters based on their shared features and clinical presentation.

Cluster A personality disorders

Cluster A personality disorders include paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders, which are characterized by odd, eccentric, and suspicious behavior. People with paranoid personality disorder have a pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others and may interpret benign remarks or events as threatening. Schizoid personality disorder is marked by a lack of interest in social relationships, emotional detachment, and solitary pursuits. Schizotypal personality disorder involves eccentricities in speech, behavior, and appearance, as well as unusual beliefs and experiences.

Cluster B personality disorders

Cluster B personality disorders include borderline, narcissistic, histrionic, and antisocial personality disorders, which are characterized by dramatic, erratic, and emotional behavior. Borderline personality disorder is characterized by unstable mood, self-image, and interpersonal relationships, as well as black and white thinking and impulsive and self-destructive behavior. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) involves a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and an exaggerated sense of entitlement. Histrionic personality disorder is characterized by excessive emotionality, attention-seeking behavior, and exaggerated expressions of emotion. Antisocial personality disorder involves a disregard for the rights of others, a lack of remorse or guilt, and a tendency towards impulsive and irresponsible behavior.

Antisocial personality disorder, or ASPD, includes individuals colloquially known as sociopaths and psychopaths. All of the disorders within Cluster B include excessive narcissism as a foundational core, and within ASPD that extreme self-regard has a dark and amoral character referred to as malignant narcissism.

Cluster C personality disorders

Cluster C personality disorders include avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders, which are characterized by anxious, fearful, and perfectionistic behavior. Avoidant personality disorder involves social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to criticism or rejection. Dependent personality disorder is marked by a pervasive need for others to take care of them and an inability to make decisions without excessive reassurance or advice. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder involves preoccupation with rules, order, and perfectionism, as well as rigidity and inflexibility in one’s beliefs and values.

Effects and treatment

Personality disorders can cause significant distress and impairment in various areas of functioning, such as work, relationships, and self-image. People with personality disorders often struggle with interpersonal relationships, have difficulty maintaining employment, and may experience problems with substance abuse, self-harm, or suicidal ideation.

Treatment for personality disorders typically involves a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and support from family and friends. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and schema therapy are all effective in treating personality disorders. Antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic medications may also be prescribed to manage specific symptoms. It is essential to seek help from a mental health professional if you or someone you know is struggling with a personality disorder.

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In paleologic thinking, logical arguments flow from a false premise. Typically this premise is something emotional, religious, and/or mythical, and believed very strongly by their ingroup.

The logic goes, “because I feel strongly about this, it must be true” — which, of course, can lead one down any number of rabbit holes or garden paths.

It relates closely to magical thinking, where the childlike sense of imagination carries darkly into adulthood to fester Machiavellian dreams of power and revenge.

Paleologic in politics

Professor Jerrold Post wrote about the paleologic of the paranoid personality disordered in his 1997 book, Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred. The nature of paranoia itself lends greatly to its role in American politics over the centuries — profound social distrust is simply bad for the fabric of a nation.

Our country has been under the fraying sway of distrust and bitter partisanship for so long. One way to avoid going further over the edge is to find a way to reduce the temperature, and commit to self-examination of our society, our culture, and our language along with our laws and our lawmakers.

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Integrative complexity is a statistical measure of how much a person’s thinking and reasoning involves the incorporation of multiple perspectives and potential outcomes, along with the related precursors to acquiring them. Its score reflects the structure of an individual’s thoughts, and the richness of their problem-solving and decision making abilities.

The integrative complexity measurement has two components:

  1. Evaluative differentiation — Ability to acknowledge that reasonable people may have different beliefs, and that making decisions collectively will involve balancing competing interests.
  2. Conceptual integration — Skill at giving context to others’ points of view, and/or coming up with ideas for compromise that two (or more) opposing sides might come to the table on.

Relation to:

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Power is the crushing sensation delivered from somewhere vaguely Above.
It is obtuse; inscrutable.
Ever-shifting and mercurial.
Confounding.
Contradicting.
Nakedly self-interested.
Confident. Conscienceless. 
Faceless. Meaningless.
A black hole sucking everything in.
A black boot in every face.
A blackness.
A contradiction; a cognitive dissonance.
The bitter taste on one's tongue.
The gnawing fear.
Capriciousness.
Corruption.
Hypocrisy.
Paranoia.
Bombastic grasping.
A slap in the face.
An endless arms race.
A shallow grave.
A cold stare.
A trap.
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