Re: Reality Based and Truth Seeking
From: cohoyote [at] (
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2021 05:24:49 -0700 (PDT)
Excellent post. Thank you.

Abe Ross
Treehouse Village Ecohousing
Nova Scotia

Aug. 17, 2021 8:57:53 a.m. Fern Selzer/US/CA/95003/NBC via Cohousing-L 
<cohousing-l [at]>:

> Hi Jill:Eisenstein’s article that you sent the link to,  was also sent to me 
> by an anti-VAX friend.  I find it offensive enough that I must say something. 
> There were hundreds of thousands of Germans, many not even in the military, 
> knowingly involved with transporting, supervising, and killing Jews, gypsies, 
> homosexuals, and people with disabilities. All those people, and the 
> scientists who collaborated with Hitler knew they were harming people.   So 
> to compare them to pro-vax people is offensive to me.  If people who are for 
> the vaccine are incorrect, which I highly doubt, they are motivated by the 
> wish to save everyone, not by the desire to kill off the people who they 
> think are contaminating the species.   Your post probably went through 
> because the moderator did not know what was in the article. I hope he will 
> post my response, even though it isn’t really relevant to co-housing and 
> sounds argumentative.   I have been carefully following much anti-vax 
> rhetoric.  This article was especially offensive, but it also is distorting 
> the facts in sneaky ways, just like the others I have read. 
> I agree the issues that Sharon has raised are important in our co-housing 
> communities.  Here is another article about the difficulty of seeing truth- 
> “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds” by Elizabeth Kolbert.  (Written after 
> Trump but before QAnon)
> FernNew Brighton Cohousing
> Message: 2
> Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2021 15:25:18 -0700
> From: Jill B Murray <jillbmurray [at]>
> To: cohousing-l [at]
> Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Reality Based and Truth Seeking
> Message-ID: <37E1D4F2-EBFE-402E-BF36-D26947D2D51E [at]>
> Content-Type: text/plain;    charset=utf-8
> ?
> ?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 quickly.
> 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 
> today??!
> 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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