Re: Reality Based and Truth Seeking
From: Jill B Murray (
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2021 15:25:28 -0700 (PDT)

Great essay and thank you for taking the huge leap into simplifying those 200 
pages! :-)

As to your question, one concern I would be very reluctant to bring to a 
meeting, however, at some communities I might not have to make that decision 
because it seems I would not be allowed at the meeting in the first place, is 
that of the bias against unvaccinated people and the lumping of them into a 
group of ignorant, uncaring, selfish, and infectious beings. 

This issue has become so polarizing and I feel one of the reasons is that there 
has been no platform made available for the various sides of the issue to 
discuss their views and findings.

Many people who have chosen not to get the vaccination have scientific, moral, 
spiritual, medical and rational reasons for not getting vaccinated. However, 
much of the credible data and research that has come out is stamped out 

Why are “the powers that be” so fearful of having an open, reality based 
inquiry into such an important issue facing humanity at this time?

I usually remain silent whenever this topic comes up, however your post Sharon 
helped me to see that it is important that my voice be included. 

Here is one perspective that I can pass on that has not been shut down, yet. It 
is a recent essay by Charles Eisenstein and below it his response to the 
misreading and backlash to the essay.

And Sharon, I absolutely loved your postscript, “Before I started writing 

Pierce Jill Murray (she/her)
Community seeker
Live in Idyllwild, California

> On Aug 15, 2021, at 1:15 PM, Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l 
> [at]> wrote:
> (It’s a long way down to the relevance of this to cohousing, but stay with 
> me.)
> By happy accident I just read two books back to back that helped me 
> understand the psychology and power of the truth deniers phenomenon.
> _Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s Rise to Power_ by Konrad Heiden
> Jonathan Rauch’s _The Constitution of Knowledge: A defense of the truth._
> How do you make sense of people who do not correct in the face of 
> overwhelming evidence? People who can deny that they said something that they 
> have just been shown a video of themselves saying. Who seem to have unlimited 
> energy to spread disinformation in every possible corner of the media — 
> including rallies in huge sports stadiums.
> I wanted to read about Hitler because I realized I knew little about how he 
> actually came to power and functioned within his government. The Hitler 
> expert on recommended Der Fuehrer as the best first book to 
> read because it was written contemporaneously by an historian who actually 
> interviewed everyone himself and researched written sources before the 
> “outside” understood what was coming. 
> This is generally discouraged because contemporaneous history is thought to 
> be biased, a part of the story it writes. Not in this case. Heiden's writing 
> ended in 1942 and the book was printing and published in 1944. It took a long 
> time for books to be published then — a two year process. His interviews and 
> paper tracking was done well before the world was forced by the war’s final 
> revelations to face reality. What Heiden saw in the 1930’s, the world was 
> still refusing to believe in the 1940s.
> Hitler’s personal interests and the methods he and his perpetrators used are 
> exactly like Trump's and his enablers. Neither Trump nor Hitler could have 
> succeeded without other people eliminating the opposition and providing the 
> funding. From his first attempts to gain political power, Hitler’s people 
> killed opposing politicians and he was given multiple government positions 
> that funded his movement. Trump’s opposition was obliterated with payoffs, 
> threats, and outrageous lies. He used the illusion of his business prowess to 
> prop up the illusion of his finances. Hitler took over the public 
> institutions and created his own super-bureaucracies. Trump blew up the 
> public institutions, fired hundreds of agency staff, and replaced leaders 
> with people of his choosing in empty offices. 
> There were times when I had to stop and remind myself that I was reading 
> about Hitler and not Trump. In most places, just doing a search on “Hitler" 
> and replacing with “Trump" would have produced a text that was just as 
> accurate. Heiden gives multiple examples of the deceit of the propagandist: 
> they believed not a word of what they say. It just gets them the attention 
> they want. It’s questionable whether Hitler had any feelings at all about 
> Jews one way or the other. They were just convenient for stirring up hate. 
> Trump had no cares for his supporters and routinely legislated against them. 
> And used their ills to distract from his own actions in other areas.
> Fortunate for me that I did read these two books back to back because 
> watching the build up of Hitler at the same time as watching Trump not leave 
> office was depressing. All seemed futile. But then Rauch examines the Trump 
> presidency and explains how deniers, disrupters, and disinformation spreaders 
> win and how to defeat them. They win because the path they take is an easy 
> one when used to defeat reality-based truth-seekers. They don’t even have to 
> create a new reality or come up with a better solution. They only have to 
> spread doubt and discontent and confusion—no answers, no ideas, only emotion. 
> The things they do seem like a larger danger because their premise is so 
> outrageous, it can’t be refuted. One is struck dumb instead. They know 
> proving or refuting a negative is impossible. All they have to do is create 
> and spread false, suggestive information—no proofs required. And the digital 
> world has made this so easy to do. Free speech goes both ways.
> Rauch begins by exploring the nature of knowledge—who decides what it is? 
> What is it and how is it constituted? Making a huge leap into simplifying 200 
> pages of wonderful history and analysis, I’ll say it comes down to 
> understanding that:
> 1. We only have our own senses with which to search for the truth. We are 
> inherently limited in what we can know and biased by our limitations.
> 2. Knowledge is constructed in dialogue with others using their perspectives, 
> understanding, and biases to check our own. Reality-based truth-seeking 
> people construct knowledge through communities of knowledge. In systems 
> language, the dialogue provides the necessary corrective feedback loops. The 
> broader the dialogue, the deeper the understanding. Knowledge is socially 
> constructed. 
> The importance of transparency and the sharing of information is what has 
> speeded up the construction of knowledge since 1600. COVID vaccine was the 
> first vaccine developed in this open source environment. That is the reason 
> the labs were able to do in 12 days that would have taken 12 years in the 
> 20th century.
> The sole aim of tyrants is to disrupt that process of reality based inquiry. 
> Denying it causes us to question our own senses and to distrust those of 
> others. As a result the truth-seekers are flummoxed—their language and all 
> their agreements so far are taken away. What do you say when someone says we 
> will win because we are basing our campaign on alternate facts? 
> Propagandists win by producing outrage on one side and silence on the other. 
> Why were so many people silent and ineffective against Hitler and Trump?
> Rauch puts the kabash on that in the last 50 pages, however. The defense and 
> ultimate defeat of propaganda is in (1) preserving diversity of opinions, (2) 
> speaking up, and (3) insisting on speaking the truth. 
> To have a measured response it is vital not to treat their absurdities as 
> anything at all. Their pronouncements are irritating and dumbfounding, but 
> are not cataclysmic. The earth is not flat just because they say it is. Don’t 
> give them that much power. Let them die on the vine if that is all their 
> ideas are worth. 
> Rauch quotes Lincoln as saying we need to speak up with "reverence and 
> reason.” Not give them the outrage that will steer us off course and into 
> meeting their objectives for them. They need us to complete what they begin.
> The connection to cohousing, finally —I found a purpose for diversity. It 
> isn’t just about wearing the badge of civil rights on our left sleeve; it’s 
> about preserving and enlarging the reality-based truth-seeking community. The 
> one that self corrects and thrives on difference. Where everyone speaks up 
> with “reverence and reason.” Silence does neither.
> In the ongoing discussions about how to attract minority populations to 
> cohousing, this answers my question, “What is skin-color difference going to 
> get you?" Why is this important? How would it change the community except to 
> make us look less like the homogenous, white, middle-class community we don’t 
> want to be?
> We need diversity and inclusiveness to continue constructing knowledge.
> My next question, which no one has answered either, is do we really 
> understand what diversity we have now? How much diversity is living right 
> next door but gives in to silence? Rauch discusses the many ways we are all 
> silenced by the norm in the room. Every community reports that governance 
> smooths out over time. Why? Because silence has smoothed it? Or has knowledge 
> smoothed it out?
> Do we know why people have different opinions than ours? And why theirs are 
> as valid as ours? And how to form a wholistic world view from including both 
> of them?
> Homework: What three concerns would you never raise in a meeting because 
> others would view doing so as divisive, sympathy seeking, or not the 
> direction anyone else wants to go? 
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines, Washington DC
> "Behavior is determined by the prevailing form of decision making." Gerard 
> Endenburg
> Before I started writing today, this is the text I sent to the work-day lunch 
> preparer:
> Could you save me some taquitos? I’m working on bylaws stuff and writing a 
> cohousing article and can’t take the risk of being distracted by 
> cohousing!!!!! Can I come down later and pick up a container in the fridge? 
> She came up and I exchanged a hunk of sourdough bread I baked last night for 
> a plate of taquitos and a slice of watermelon.
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