19 episodes

This is a discussion of Circles Theory, a new framework for individual and social psychology that explains how democracy should work, why it is currently under attack, and how it can be saved.

Saving Democracy with Circles Theory Daniel Dodge

    • Society & Culture

This is a discussion of Circles Theory, a new framework for individual and social psychology that explains how democracy should work, why it is currently under attack, and how it can be saved.

    The Most Gullible Third of Voters is Every Democracy’s Greatest National Security Risk: ‘We Must Know Who They Are, We Must Not Hate Them, But We Must NEVER Vote On Their Side’

    The Most Gullible Third of Voters is Every Democracy’s Greatest National Security Risk: ‘We Must Know Who They Are, We Must Not Hate Them, But We Must NEVER Vote On Their Side’

    SDCT0019: “In a democracy,” it is said, “people get the government they deserve.” The strength or the weakness of a democracy lies in its voters — the quality of the government reflects that of the voters.

    But government doesn’t reflect the quality of ALL voters — only those that win. The winning voters get the government they deserve. When the best, most competent voters win, we get the best government. When the worst voters win, when the dark underbelly of a nation comes out on top, then democracy yields a terrible result: a delusional, irrational, antisocial, incompetent government. Our government is only as good as the voters that win.

    So what kind of government do America’s enemies want us to have? The worst, probably. Our adversaries want democracy to misfire — they want the side of the most incompetent to win. They would assist the party of incompetence by tampering with elections, hacking into computer systems, offering-up dirt on opponents, and fabricating fake news stories for social media.

    If democracy’s strength is in its voters, then its greatest weakness is in its weakest voters. That’s exactly where America’s enemies have aimed their attack, at the minds of the Most Gullible Third, because predators always go after the slowest gazelles in the herd. If our enemies, foreign and domestic, strike hard with weapons of information warfare — with propaganda and disinformation — they can turn around this third of the voting public to attack the very country that they claim to love.

    Not everyone is equally gullible for social media containing fake news posed as real, or for dishonest memes designed to inflame needless social discord. Information warfare only work well on, I’d estimate, about a third of the population (anywhere between 25 and 45 percent judging by public opinion polls). As a matter of national security, we must know which Americans most easily fall victim to malign influence campaigns.

    Here are a few identifiers of our enemy’s softest target of attack:



    * The Most Gullible Third enjoy being lied to multiple times per day — they take lies “seriously, but not literally,” largely for the sake of entertainment. They sense no danger in being deceived. Life is just a dream to them, a reality television show where nothing matters other than to be amused.

    * They are less educated, they place less value on education, and they believe that education sucks the common sense right out of people’s minds.

    * They mock the smartest, most educated citizens as “elite” and out of touch.

    * They believe the worst students in class are actually the smartest.

    * They believe “conservative” means TO NOT CONSERVE ANYTHING — other than racism and bigotry; that to “conserve” is to send in a human hand grenade, to blow up the establishment, to demolish norms and traditions, flaunt legal, ethical, and moral standards, trash our international alliances, and unravel institutions that have long given stability to our republic.

    * They are easily manipulated by cynical and selfish autocrats and oligarchs to kill democracy and to serve only the interests of the most powerful few.

    * Technically, the Most Gullible Third possess a mental posture of excess cognitive accommodation toward a very small subset of the total Reality-Logic-Social environment, leaving them unable to perform either focal (in-and-out) or peripheral (side-to-side) comparisons of information. About a third of any human population has this combination, which causes them to be particularly susceptible to the effects of political propaganda and disinformation.



    We need to accept the Most Gullible Third of voters as a permanent part of our nation, and also as a permanent risk to our national security.

    • 48 min
    The Psychotic, Irrational, and Antisocial Styles of Small Circle Politics: Unreceptiveness Toward External Reality, Logic, and Social Information

    The Psychotic, Irrational, and Antisocial Styles of Small Circle Politics: Unreceptiveness Toward External Reality, Logic, and Social Information

    SDCT0018: The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that isolated systems move toward a state of disorder. Human minds and groups become isolated systems to varying degrees when they reject their external environments, thus failing to benefit from outer error-correcting information that distinguishes right from wrong regarding thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

    There are three external “answer keys” — Reality, Logic, Social Environment (the “RLS environment“). Rejecting these leads to psychosis, irrationality, and antisocial behavior, respectively.





    * The Psychotic Style of small circle minds and politics comes from rejecting a big zone of external Reality. It is characterized by an anti-scientific, anti-factual, delusional, ignorant, post-truth style of thinking. A “tiny bubble” small circle political party rejects most of science and facts, basing policies on perceptions that bear little or no resemblance to external empirical evidence.

    * The Irrational Style of small circle minds and politics comes from rejecting a big zone of external Logic. It is characterized by anti-intellectualism, an acceptance of logical fallacies and a disregard for good mathematical analysis. A tiny bubble political party bases policies on faulty arguments, favoring emotional impulses and gut instincts to sound reasoning.

    * The Antisocial Style of small circle minds and politics comes from rejecting a big zone of external Social considerations. It is characterized by social inconsideration ranging from impoliteness (“political incorrectness”) to criminality and corruption, and is typically fueled by an excess of “fix, fight, and flee” — greed, anger, and fear — arising from the most primitive part of the brain, the limbic system. A tiny bubble political party forms policies that oppose the will and the best interests of the majority of citizens, thus violating social contracts and commitments to the public good.



    Occam’s razor states that all things being equal, the simplest explanations are usually the best:



    * The simplest possible explanation for psychotic delusions and ignorance, which are breaks from reality, is that the mind has simply become unreceptive toward a big zone of external reality.

    * The simplest possible explanation for irrationality, which is a break from logic, is that the mind has simply become unreceptive toward a big zone of external logic.

    * The simplest possible explanation for antisocial behavior, which is a break from the norms of orderly society, is that the mind has simply become unreceptive toward a big zone of external social considerations.



    At least one theory in psychology needs to contain these simplest possible explanations for psychoticism, ignorance, irrationality, and antisocial behavior. Unless there’s a similarly obvious theory that can outcompete it, Circles Theory should be accepted by the academic world as a necessary school of thought in human psychology, sociology, and political science.

    Small circle, tiny bubble political parties, with their big zones of unreceptiveness toward Reality, Logic, and Social information, are largely delusional, ignorant, irrational, and antisocial, and thus, are unfit to lead any nation anywhere on Earth. Tiny bubble minds and politics must be on the losing side of future elections if democracy is to reflect the best of humanity and not the worst.

    • 40 min
    A Scientific Definition of Evil: Excess Extroverted Assimilation Directed at the Social Environment

    A Scientific Definition of Evil: Excess Extroverted Assimilation Directed at the Social Environment

    SDCT0017: Science is supposed to be value-free — it’s not supposed to make moral judgments. In the eyes of science, things are just as they are; they’re neither good nor bad. But, can science form a systematic definition of morality? Moral judgments of good and evil are important to the human mind, so why shouldn’t a science of the mind try to address the question, “What is evil?”

    A zone of excess extroverted social assimilation can be thought of as a “zone of evil,” because the characteristics of this mental posture match up with the traditional folk understandings of what it means to be sinful or evil.

    This episode compares Big Circle political parties, such as the Democratic Party in the U.S., with Small Circle “tiny bubble” political parties such as the U.S. Trump-Republican Party. As illustrated in Venn diagrams discussed in episode 2 (SDCT0002), the size of the zone of extroverted assimilation (which could be the size of the zone of evil) is inversely proportional to the size of the circle of accommodation. In other words, a Big Circle political party cannot have a big zone of evil, because accommodation and extroverted assimilation are contradictions in terms. By definition, it is impossible for a Big Circle political party to be “evil” toward the majority of its social environment. If it was, it wouldn’t be an authentic Big Circle political party.

    On the other hand, it’s quite possible for a Small Circle “tiny bubble” political party, which has small circles of accommodation but large zones of assimilation, to be “evil” toward the majority of the social environment. An evil Small Circle political party would lack empathy or compassion, be dishonest, manipulative and mean-spirited, cruel, sadistic, unlawful, immoral, unethical, and generally antisocial toward the majority of the social environment — toward the majority of the citizens or of humanity in general.

    This episode focuses on the Trump-Republican White House, and its policy of prosecuting all unlawful U.S. border crossings as crimes requiring immediate imprisonment, for which families must be separated, and where parents are sent to jail while their children are housed in detention centers. This policy (which Trump reversed the same day this episode was published) has been termed “cruel and inhumane” by all but the far right Small Circle side of the political spectrum. We also note Donald Trump’s advocacy for torture, which he’d like to see as “worse than waterboarding,” his suggestion that the U.S. should be as vicious and violent as terrorists (“We have to fight fire with fire,” June 29, 2016), his comment that he would kill the innocent children and family members of terrorists (“You have to take out their families,” Dec 2, 2015), his moral equivalence between Nazis and those who oppose Nazis (August, 2017), his casual cruelty and bullying, and his overall lack of respect for the rule of law, for honest communication, for other norms of civilized behavior, and for moral and ethical standards.

    All of these characteristics of Trump, his supporters, and of the “tiny bubble” Trump-Republican Party show a basic lack of human empathy, as well as a meanness and cruelty, that matches up with both the expected characteristics of excess extroverted assimilation, and Western culture’s traditional folk understandings of evil as described by “The Seven Deadly Sins.”

    • 39 min
    The Big Circle Left vs the Small Circle Right: How Big Is Your Circle of Family? A “Tiny Bubble” Political Party Rips Babies Out of the Arms of Mothers and Tears Families Apart

    The Big Circle Left vs the Small Circle Right: How Big Is Your Circle of Family? A “Tiny Bubble” Political Party Rips Babies Out of the Arms of Mothers and Tears Families Apart

    SDCT0016: The single most basic question for citizens and their government alike is this: How big is your circle of family? Is it just you and your own children? Does it include anyone outside of your own home? Can a circle of family contain your entire country? Can it extend beyond your nation’s borders to embrace refugees and migrants? A “big circle” political party has a big circle of family. A “small circle,” or “tiny bubble,” political party is the mirror opposite.

    A circle of family is a circle of empathy, of compassion, of love, and of moral duty. In the language of Circles Theory, this is a breadth of mental accommodation to influences outside the self, in one’s Reality, Logical, and Social environments (the “RLS environment”).

    If your circle of family is so small that it does not extend beyond your own household, then you are apt to gravitate toward the “tiny bubble” far right side of the political spectrum. Your party, the Trump-Republican Party, is currently ripping children from the arms of their mothers at the U.S.-Mexican border, closing the U.S. to Syrian refugees, referring to much of the world as “sh**hole countries,” and turning its back on all 194 other countries of the world and 100 percent of future humanity by refusing to help preserve a livable climate for our planet. “Big circle of family” governments will lead the world toward peace and prosperity; “tiny bubble” governments will lead toward calamity and the eventual extinction of life on Earth.

    • 37 min
    The Golden Mean Bell Curve: Maximum Good is the Balance Between Selflessness and Selfishness, Between Valuing a Nation’s Whole and Its Parts

    The Golden Mean Bell Curve: Maximum Good is the Balance Between Selflessness and Selfishness, Between Valuing a Nation’s Whole and Its Parts

    SDCT0015: This episode compares synecdoche (whole substituting for parts or vice versa) to three types of attention deficit disorder, and to two standards of academic achievement. Minds that focus too much on the whole will focus too little on the parts. Applied to politics, this suggests a government that overvalues public interest and undervalues the interests of individuals. Conversely, minds that focus too much on the parts will focus too little on the whole. This suggests a government that overvalues interests of individuals and undervalues that of the public.



    There’s one type of far left synecdoche, where the interests of the whole nation displace those of the parts — public good is gained from excessive sacrifices from individual citizens. There are two types of far right synecdoche: 1) where all the parts of the nation matter (all the individual citizens matter) but the whole doesn’t (that’s called “soap suds” libertarianism), and 2) where only one part of the nation matters (one individual leader matters), but again the whole doesn’t, nor do the other parts (that’s called “single tiny bubble” authoritarianism).

    The advantage of focusing on the whole without going to excess is that it yields a “big picture” understanding of systems and relationships between parts. However, it takes more effort to understand the whole of an issue, or of a nation, just as it takes more effort to assemble a whole jigsaw puzzle than to merely collect some or all of its pieces. Minds that are academically inclined will try to collect all of the parts and put them together to form a whole picture, while minds with less ability and less curiosity, that place less value on education, will be satisfied with only a fragmentary and partial understanding of the issues. I think it’s safe to predict that “big hearts and big minds” would do better in school and would skew toward the political left, while “small hearts and small minds” would be less academically inclined and would tend to gravitate toward right-wing politics. Higher education is valued more by the whole-focused political left and less so by the parts-focused political right, who would agree with Marco Rubio when he said, “We need more welders and less philosophers.” The philosophers, representing the big circle left, would look at the whole of human existence, while the welders, representing the small circle right, would fasten metal parts to each other.

    • 36 min
    The Public has a Duty to Support the Rights of Citizens, and Citizens have a Duty to Support the Rights of the Public. If the Public Shirks its Duty, Citizens are Tyrannized; if Citizens Shirk their Duty, the Public is Tyrannized.

    The Public has a Duty to Support the Rights of Citizens, and Citizens have a Duty to Support the Rights of the Public. If the Public Shirks its Duty, Citizens are Tyrannized; if Citizens Shirk their Duty, the Public is Tyrannized.

    SDCT0014: This episode continues the theme of synecdoche, which is a cognitive tendency to substitute parts for the whole or whole for the parts.

    A nation, as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts, which are the individual citizens. The freedom of the whole is different from the freedom of the parts; the freedom of the public and the freedom of individual citizens are symmetrical opposites.

    If the public has all of the freedom, citizens will have no freedom and will be tyrannized, and if individual citizens have all the freedom, the public will have no freedom and will be tyrannized. It is therefore the duty of the public to support the freedom of citizens, and it is the duty of citizens to support the freedom of the public.

    The Golden Mean — a state of perfect balance between the freedom of the whole (the public, the big circle) on the left, and the freedom of the parts (individual citizens, the small circles) on the right — is where there is no tyranny against either the citizens or the public. The goal of good government is always to maintain this balance between opposites.

    It is a malpractice of government to give all the freedom to either the public or to individual citizens. In the United States, this balance has been disrupted, such that too much of the freedom has been given to powerful selfish individuals, and the American public has virtually no collective freedom to control its own government. (Google the phrase, “Study: US Congress Literally Doesn’t Care What You Think.”)

    • 35 min

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