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Re: Planet X: EARTHQUAKE Increase

John Latala wrote:
> On Thu, 21 Jun 2001, Michael Davis wrote:
> > Nancy is just another kooky doomsayer wandering around shouting that
> > the end is near. So soon after the Y2K fiasco I'm surprised that
> > anyone even gives here the time of day. I would think that people
> > should be fed up with doomsday scenarios.
> The internet is an interesting place. I heard it described once that the
> best thing about the internet is that it lets certain people get exposure
> they normally wouldn't get. On the other hand I've also heard it said that
> the worse thing about the internet is that it lets certain people get
> exposure that they shouldn't get.
> How would your perception of Nancy change it instead of reading her ideas
> in sci.astro she told them to you while you were both standing at a
> crossalk waiting for the light to change?
> "Hi. I'm Nancy. I hear these voices in my head warning me of all kinds of
> bad things that are going to happen to everybody."
> Does your attitude toward her change just because in the first case she's
> using a computer while in the second case she's not? Regardless of the
> medium being used what's the proper way to respond to a person who admits
> to hearing voices? In all the years I've been alive that's usually an
> indicator that someone needs help.

Hmmm.  Decision making via Mob Rule.  Not necessarily a good paradigm,
we tried that here in good-ole-USA a few years back, burning witches and
such in Salem Mass.  While your example is easy to understand, it is
fraught with problems.

I was walking downtown the other day on Main Street, by the Second
National Bank and Trust.  At the corner, I came across a bearded man,
very disheveled, dirty, with torn clothes and one shoe missing.  He was
swatting the air with his hands, seemingly clutching at flies.  He was
screaming about UFO's and how "they" were taking over his mind.  I
looked around and did not see any UFO's, or anybody else for that

I crossed the street to the other corner where I saw a black man.  He
was clean but wearing old clothes.  He was ranting and raving about the
horrors of racism, slavery, the domination of the white man, and how the
black man needed to band together and overthrow, by force, the shackles
that hold him down.  I looked around and did not see any "white only"
signs or slave markets.  Down the street was a door marked "Office of
Affirmative Action" next to the welfare office and the Job Fair.  A
racially mixed crowd was drinking and laughing at the lunch place.

I crossed again to the next corner and there was another man, dressed in
a fine silk suit.  His hair was immaculately groomed and recently cut. 
He was standing on a soap box with a Bible in his hand and shouting out
that the end of man was neigh, and he had personally seen the Four
Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding across the plains.  He was doing
battle, as he spoke, with the devil himself, and only if I repented
right now, would I be saved from the lake of fire.  I looked around and
did not see the devil, and the only person on a horse was a cop who
seemed to be writing out a parking ticket.  There was no lake of fire or
smoldering brimstone.

I crossed over to the fourth corner and saw a young man dressed in
tattered jeans (not the kind that were worn from use, but the kind that
had been attacked by a pair of scissors before being washed).  He had
long hair and was wearing sandals and a 'T' shirt that had a red circle
with the bar over the WTO logo.  He was shouting about how the Second
National Bank and Trust was corrupting third world countries and
enslaving their workers and how the corporate machine was abusing
workers and encouraging poverty.  I looked around and did not see a
"corporate machine", only a few Mexicans hiding in the shadows.  Every
once in a while, a truck would come by and they would all rush out,
shouting and carrying on, one would get in the truck and the rest would
go back to the alley.  I asked one of them what they were doing, and
they said looking for work.  They had crossed the Arizona desert in the
heat of the summer, nearly dying from heat exposure, so they could work
for $6.00 an hour illegally soliciting day jobs from this alley.  They
left me alone once they discovered I was not hiring.

I entered the bank and took the elevator to the observation deck. 
Putting a quarter in the binoculars, I looked for UFO's, racism, the
devil, and corporations enslaving workers, but all I saw was the
downtown skyline, the mountains in the distance, and the planes lined up
to land at the airport.


Which one of these men is insane?  Why? What is it about their world
view that makes them insane?  How do *you* measure insanity or mental
health when there is such controversy between supposed psychological
professionals about the mental state of this person or that?  (We have
all read of court cases where there were "dueling psychiatrists".)  How
can you be so sure there is not evil corporations with the WTO as their
tool, evil that must be battled, racism that must be overcome, or UFOs? 
Are you only willing to accept things that you have personally
experienced or do you consider yourself "open-minded" yet only willing
to accept things you can safely imagine?

Be careful with your definitions and be very careful what you ask for,
you might get it.  After all, Stalin used Mental Wards as a highly
effective solution for managing dissent, essentially imprisoning
thousands in what were really torture chambers.  Other regimes today
still use mental health as an equally effective excuse for managing
problematic viewpoints.

The metaphor of the raving psychotic lunatic is a powerful one, and
presumably allows us to recognize someone to be, at least, avoided,
separated, isolated from the sensitive women and children.  This
stereotype manages to safely ignore the statistical reality that the
mentally ill are actually LESS likely than the general population to
behave violently.  Somehow the seeming illogic of a psychotic is more
frightening than the "rational" greed of the common criminal or anger of
the wife beater.

It is not the challenge to your world view that is most telling, or even
its source, it is your response to it, and yes, the Internet really *is*
an interesting place.

P.S.  I went to Salem Massachusetts a few years ago.  It is a relatively
simple place given its notoriety - just another small New England town. 
Interestingly, what has taken over the place is New Age shops,
Witchcraft book stores, Tarot card readers, and all of the very things
the populace was so upset about so long ago.  I would swear you could
actually SEE people rolling over in their graves.  It was all *so*
The Small Kahuna