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psych - heavy

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  • prometeus57
    ... some thinking that may be out there but which I haven t come across.
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 4, 2002
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      --- In carfree_cities@y..., "S Baddeley" <s.j.baddeley@b...> wrote:
      > I am feeling in need of some original thinking on this or possibly
      some thinking that may be out there but which I haven't come across.<

      Theory #1: Auto Lobby.

      In this theory, a conspiracy (errr ... lobby) exists to prevent
      progressive action on the issue.

      Such conspiracies are easily documented. For example, the broad
      conspiracy to prevent useful action against massacres conducted
      by "allies". Here's how it works:

      Phil Lesley, author of a handbook on public relations and
      communications, brilliantly describes how state-corporate propaganda
      works to maintain public passivity:

      "People generally do not favour action on a non-alarming situation
      when arguments seem to be balanced on both sides and there is a clear
      doubt. The weight of impressions on the public must be balanced so
      people will have doubts and lack motivation to take action.
      Accordingly, means are needed to get balancing information into the
      stream from sources that the public will find credible. There is no
      need for a clear-cut 'victory'. ... Nurturing public doubts by
      demonstrating that this is not a clear-cut situation in support of
      the opponents usually is all that is necessary." (Lesly, 'Coping with
      Opposition Groups', Public Relations Review 18, 1992, p.331)

      From http://www.zmag.org/content/Mideast/edwardsjenin2.cfm

      Now, Conspiracy is a good solid theory but unfortunately for us, it's
      distinguished by what it doesn't explain more than what it does
      explain. After all,

      1. why do people 'prefer' to be passive when something is 'non-
      alarming'?
      2. what makes something 'non-alarming' in the first place?
      3. why do people listen to the media at all?
      4. why is it that we don't fit the profile?

      All of these questions are about people's psyche so we must turn to
      psychology for an answer to that question. And it happens that my
      favorite psychologist is Lloyd deMause so I'll be speculating based
      on his work.

      > Is it possible that a powerful unconscious (unconscious because to
      entertain it publicly even to one self would be unacceptable) source
      of the dynamic conservatism that affects our society when road safety
      measures are contemplated is that we do not mind the statistics as
      they stand, indeed could tolerate even worse ones. The risks involved
      in motoring, <

      Let's be much more radical than that. Instead of assuming that people
      tolerate blood, gore and death, let's assume that people
      subconsciously *want* blood, gore and death. Hardly a controversial
      premise when you think about it. Just look around you at the carnage
      in the media, in movies, in computer games. Just look at how many
      wars the USA gets involved in on a regular, clockwork basis;
      averaging about 1 war every 4 years, as opposed to every 5 years for
      France, and with no wars *ever* started on the first year of a US
      President's term. The only question is *why* people want motorist
      fatalities.

      So Theory #2: Bloodthirst.

      Well, it could be part of the regular infanticidal ritual which is
      generational warfare (WW2, Vietnam, et cetera). A lot of casualties
      seem to be kids after all.

      Or it could be more direct. After all, cars are symbols of wealth and
      freedom (we know they're not but they're symbols all the same) and
      what do people do when they have wealth and freedom? They go on a
      rampage of self-destructive behaviour in order to punish themselves
      and destroy the wealth (a well-documented dynamic without which
      history is simply incomprehensible). Drive a car? Then the death of
      some innocent pedestrian is just part of "the price we pay" for that
      freedom.

      > We know we can mobilise many policy initiatives to reduce public
      danger. A succession of high profile responses to single figure
      fatalities on the railways demonstrates this. Publicly and privately
      we marvel at the disproportionality of the public response to rail
      crashes compared to the far greater social and personal damage caused
      by road crashes. But we continue to find it hard to grasp why this
      shocking disparity exists. My wife says you entrust yourself to a
      train or plane or bus in a way that you don't entrust yourself to a
      car. This creates very different expectations and assumptions about
      responsibility for others and one's own safety. <

      For one's own safety, maybe. For others' safety, no way. The fact
      that drivers feel like they're in control of their own cars shouldn't
      affect how they view other drivers. And it doesn't; consider how
      common it is for people to think that "everyone else is a bad
      driver". So even if you trust your own safety to yourself, why should
      you trust an innocent bystander's safety to all those bad drivers out
      there? You wouldn't.

      The crucial difference between trains and cars is that trains are
      neither signs of personal wealth and status (because they are not
      personally owned or used), nor are they symbols of personal freedom.
      That would explain why people don't feel the need to offer blood
      sacrifices to the great train gods.

      Additionally, when there's a train accident, it's not possible for
      people to imagine themselves in the place of the perpetrator. A train
      accident is something like an Act of Nature. It's a tragedy and
      should be avoided at all costs.

      In contrast, when there's a car accident, then it's possible (easy in
      fact) for motorists to imagine themselves in the place of the
      perpetrator. At that point they can sympathize with the perpetrator,
      expressing "how horrible" it must have been, blah blah blah. And
      hell, they probably *want* to be in the place of the murderer!
      Because ultimate it's better to be the victimizer than the victim!

      With trains, there are only victims so that's a tragedy. With cars,
      it often seems like there's only victimizers. Subconsciously, that's
      a Good Thing.

      > So it is not as if the means do not exist to stop this problem, but
      the will to stop it is sapped by powerful psychological inhibitions
      of which the most powerful is that speeding is enormously
      stimulating - or rather the loss of the opportunity to speed relative
      to the potential speed available to you at a touch of your
      accelerator creates such distinctively uncomfortable sensory
      deprivation that policies designed to reduce the sensory experiences
      of speeding and the opportunity to speed are felt as far greater
      infringements on freedom than the relatively remote infringements
      that might be imposed on someone elses' freedom by killing or
      injuring someone as a result of speeding. <

      The problem with this psychodynamic is that it requires an enormous
      amount of rationality on the part of motorists, especially motorists'
      subconscious. And that rationality just doesn't exist.

      When people rationalize tobacco smoking, they do so on a conscious
      level. If there is any subconscious input, it's completely irrational
      like the desire to fit in, or pure self-destructive impulse.

      People's subconscious desires are not /pleasant/. If they were, they
      wouldn't have to be subconscious in the first place!

      When people engage in other self-destructive activities, such as
      cocaine use, the part of them that finds it pleasant is the
      *conscious* part and it's their subconscious that seeks to destroy
      itself.

      People's subconscious desires are typically irrational and
      unpleasant. There is no evidence nor argument to indicate otherwise.
      The "subconscious pleasant thrill" doesn't have any evidence backing
      it, and contradicts all good psychology. Incidentally, there's one
      famous case where a psychologist argued that subconscious pleasure
      caused them to become neurotic. That was Freud in his
      infamous "delayed response(?)" theory where children are supposed to
      *want* to be sexually abused.

      > It is a cliché that an Englishman's home is his castle. The phrase
      is used to signal the issues of personal liberty that arise when
      legislation (such as that against domestic violence and child abuse)
      is formulated that entails regulating private space. <

      Now *that* (domestic violence and child abuse) is much more easily
      explained in terms of the Cycle of Abuse, repetition compulsion,
      growth panic, persecutory alter, et cetera ad nauseum.

      You wouldn't be far wrong if you said that people *want* to abuse
      their children, at least subconsciously. It's a powerful dynamic and
      people don't want interference with that dynamic. Not for any
      abstract libertarian "no state/public interference" principle but
      because they *need* to abuse their kids.

      Again, if most people don't believe libertarians' "no interference"
      principle in the case of cars, what makes you think they believe it
      in the case of their homes?

      The notion that "a man's home is his castle" isn't so much an
      explanation of anything as it is something which needs explanation.
      One such explanation might be that ownership and privacy provides
      people license to do what they subconsciously feel the need to do
      without the activity ever entering an arena where it would have to be
      rationally (consciously) justified and debated.
    • S Baddeley
      Many thanks for this. It s just the kind of speculative thinking I was looking for to factor into my attempts to understand what s happening - I am reading it
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 7, 2002
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        Many thanks for this. It's just the kind of speculative thinking I was
        looking for to factor into my attempts to understand what's happening - I am
        reading it and digesting.

        This is not a response but an additional observation based on a talk given
        by a BBC journalist who was speaking about this at a conference in London
        yesterday organised by RoadPeace. He asked us why editors would score the
        headline "Train Crash: 3 dead" far higher than "Road Accident: 3 dead".

        When you go on a train you put yourselves in the hands of a public body -
        which even though its now private is perceived as public. You entrust
        yourself to it. Furthermore, and perversely, death is more of a news item on
        the railways because so increasingly rare. He quoted small attention given
        to rail crashes in the 1920s when they were more frequent. On the roads
        drivers see themselves as "mutually complicit players in a game of risk."
        This view persists even where there is no or minimal mutuality as with cars
        and walkers or cyclists.

        Furthermore journalism likes victims and it is easy to depict a decent
        motorist as victim of speed cameras. He may have been driven over the limit
        ("fast is not automatically unsafe - otherwise we'd ban fire engines and
        ambulances", he argued) but otherwise safely as a victim of a system for
        collecting fines that won't even be spent on making the roads better for
        motorists. He agreed it was bizarre that such people could be painted as
        victims alongside people killed and injured but this was part of the "logic
        of journalism".

        Simon






        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "prometeus57" <prometeus57@...>
        To: <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Wednesday, June 05, 2002 4:12 AM
        Subject: [carfree_cities] psych - heavy


        --- In carfree_cities@y..., "S Baddeley" <s.j.baddeley@b...> wrote:
        > I am feeling in need of some original thinking on this or possibly
        some thinking that may be out there but which I haven't come across.<

        Theory #1: Auto Lobby.

        In this theory, a conspiracy (errr ... lobby) exists to prevent
        progressive action on the issue.

        Such conspiracies are easily documented. For example, the broad
        conspiracy to prevent useful action against massacres conducted
        by "allies". Here's how it works:

        Phil Lesley, author of a handbook on public relations and
        communications, brilliantly describes how state-corporate propaganda
        works to maintain public passivity:

        "People generally do not favour action on a non-alarming situation
        when arguments seem to be balanced on both sides and there is a clear
        doubt. (snip)
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