Cultural Insanity, the Key to Understanding Our World & Ourselves: with Current Political and Environmental Examples, and Historical Case Studies

Cultural Insanity, the Key to Understanding Our World & Ourselves: with Current Political and Environmental Examples, and Historical Case Studies

by Jeffrey Wynter Koon
Cultural Insanity, the Key to Understanding Our World & Ourselves: with Current Political and Environmental Examples, and Historical Case Studies

Cultural Insanity, the Key to Understanding Our World & Ourselves: with Current Political and Environmental Examples, and Historical Case Studies

by Jeffrey Wynter Koon



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The concept of cultural insanity provides a better way of understanding much of what is wrong in our society and in the world today—and how it got that way—and some ways to improve it. Where our own culture is involved, we and all other individuals in our society are party to it, yet largely blind to it, and to varying extents partake of at least some of its craziness. Accordingly, correctly grasping the idea of cultural insanity will also reveal pathways to improve one's self-understanding, develop a more realistic worldview, and help liberate the mind from the unseen mesh of cultural implants and biases. Cultural insanity is characterized foremost by features of a society/culture that unnecessarily thwart the development of human potential. (My compilation here of the "elements of human development" describes most of these potentials.) Because "unnecessarily thwart" means that there must be viable alternatives, allowances may need to be made for a culture's level of technology, its people's levels of consciousness, and more. Part One includes the theory and methods for cultural insanity analyses, along with many examples of current and recent cultural insanities from U.S. politics, history and the environmental realm. Parts Two through Four are historical case studies that consider witch-hunts, religion vs. science in the Middle Ages, and the discoveries of geologic time and evolution. With the distance in time to keep bias at bay, the reader can see a cultural retrogression toward greater cultural insanity, a culture that resisted possibilities to advance human potential, and a once-buried (and thus discounted) cultural insanity that was exposed but is still present today. The reader can also more fully understand the methods and nuances used in the analyses and recognize parallels in society's problems today. Virtually (if not) all cultures are, or have tendencies to be, culturally insane in some respects, and it is immensely important to understand why this is so. To some extent the causes of such general cultural problems are rooted in the evolutionary history of our species, including the way our brains operate. Awareness of the nature of these processes, along with more fully conscious thinking, and the use of evidence, reason and scientific methods, can reduce the negative effects these influences have on culture(s). The same techniques are needed to break out of our enculturated mental straitjackets. To liberate oneself from cultural insanity, it is important to incorporate all the important relevant facts. You may need to face head-on any competing values or worldviews. And exclude stereotypes, fake facts, and one-sided interpretations based on cherry-picked data; and discount all nonrepresentative anecdotes/stories. Information silos will mislead you. And with more of our cultural blinders off, or at least perforated, we can get a better grasp of the problems and damages that cultural insanities cause our society—and envision better alternatives to improve the development of human potential. Many of our society's problems are U.S.A.-centered. But there are also damages which our country, along with many others, are causing. Together, we are causing a Sixth Extinction and overpopulation; we are overconsuming the Earth's resources and depositing waste and chemicals everywhere; we are causing global warming; and we are living in a world in which many "social" media are manipulating our grasp of facts and reality for their own benefit. Too often these cultural insanities are being denied, ignored, or otherwise given low priority and, hence, are frequently being left in exacerbated forms for subsequent generations. Some of these cultural insanities endanger all humanity. A greater liberation from our own culture's insanities offers new hope for the development of human potential without so much destructiveness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781098341602
Publisher: BookBaby
Publication date: 02/09/2021
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 718
File size: 19 MB
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About the Author

This book presents a lifelong synthesis of an evaluator, survey researcher and data analyst who has specialized in student/human development. I do not use "social" media, but my website will be at (note the spelling). Anyway, here's some of my history:
At the Berkeley Student Cooperative, I was House Manager of Oxford Hall for 3.5 semesters in 1962-64. I got a bachelor's in History in 1964. In the mid-1960s, I worked as a typist-editor-interviewer for a project on the "change and development of college students" at the Center for Research and Development in Higher Education at Berkeley. Having saved some money, I and my lady friend at the time went to Europe for a year in 1968-69. Living out of a bare-bones VW bus, we stayed in Hannover, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Malaga, Marrakesh, and Genoa.
Subsequently, I worked on research for the above project, and then for a study of community-based encounter groups. And I was admitted to the Higher Education program at Berkeley, earning a master's in Counseling Psychology first.
As a graduate student in the later 1970s to 1981, I studied the university itself, in part via a heavy involvement in student government—the Associated Students (ASUC) and the Graduate Assembly. I was a student representative for 5 years on 3 Academic Senate committees, and on a University-wide committee on planning and a task force on student participation in university governance. As "Academic Review Unit Coordinator" for the ASUC, I completed a set of survey-based student evaluations of their undergraduate major academic programs—which are in ERIC (e.g., "Engineering and Physical Science Programs at Berkeley: An Academic Review Using Comparative Student Evaluations"—and others like that in the Humanities, Life Sciences, and Social Sciences; & for Lower Division). Despite some Googling, I could find no record of having twice been one of the three finalists for the position of University of California Student Regent.
But Google can find my Ph.D. dissertation (1991, by Jeffrey Wynter Koon) and the book-length report for my master's (Types, Traits, and Transitions: The Lives of Four-Year College Students). A 1995 article by Koon and Harry G. Murray is in the Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 66, No. 1 ("Using Multiple Outcomes to Validate Student Ratings of Overall Teaching Effectiveness").
Two of my paper presentations in the 1980s were printed in the proceedings of conferences on assessment and college student ratings of teachers. From the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s, everything else overlapped with my being the lead childcare person and school-community involvement person in our family of four in St. Paul. I was active in every PTA, and District-level committees on topics such as curriculum, school/program evaluation, and the achievement gap. And I averaged at least one survey a year (design, analysis, report) of parents and/or students for one of my kids' schools.
From 2000 through 2012, I annually reported on the results of a survey of juniors (involving program ratings) done for Principal Mary Mackbee at Central High. There too, in 2003 and 2005, I demonstrated the validity of high school student ratings of their teachers. In 2007, I circulated my analysis of why NCLB was a poor law. And, for 2006-07, I voluntarily provided a multiple regression-based, value-added analysis of state test data in reading and math for St. Paul's schools, grade levels 4-6.
From 2012-2015, I volunteer-worked (with Ann Hobbie, parent representative on a state Dept. of Education "work group," as my means of access and as collaborator) successfully to include student evaluations of teachers in Minnesota's K-12 teacher evaluation model, and was then asked to serve on their Survey Design Team.
Finally, over the course of 3 trips, I also spent another 5 months in Europe with my wife (with stays in London, Paris, Trier and Florence).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 1

Introduction 3

Part 1 Formulating the Theory of Cultural Insanity 15

Chapter 1 Introductory Overview 15

Overview of Several Contexts 16

Some Useful Conceptions of Social Realities 18

The Idea of Subcultures 21

Chapter 2 Some Characteristics and Examples of Cultural Insanity 24

Subcultural Insanity as It Relates to Cultural Insanity 24

Cultural Insanity Comes in Degrees 31

Cultural Insanity and Reality 32

Brief Examples of Cultural Insanity 33

Chapter 3 The General Criterion That Defines Cultural Insanity: Unnecessarily Thwarting the Development of Human Potential 38

Proviso #1: Level of Technological Development 53

Proviso #2: Level of Consciousness 54

Chapter 4 Other Indicators of Cultural Insanity 66

Continuing to Believe in "Information" Long Since Revealed to Be Erroneous 66

Repeated Failures to Obtain Expected Outcomes from Particular Actions or Policies 66

Policies and Practices that Produce Gross Injustices or Terrible Side Effects, Such as the War on Drugs 72

Failure to Attempt to Solve Problems 78

Not Learning from Other Cultures 79

Chapter 5 The Brain and the Stories It Constructs 81

Chapter 6 Deficiencies in Thinking Processes that Sustain Cultural Insanity 86

Rationalization 87

Anecdotal "Evidence" 87

Confirmation Bias 88

Receptivity to Emotional Appeals; Advertisements; Consumerism 90

Fear, Hate, Stereotyping, Scapegoating; and Victimization 93

Victimization, Multiculturalism, Political Correctness, and Free Speech 98

Suckering for Political Spin 110

Overlooking, Disregarding, and Denying the Major Threats to Our Country and Our Planet 117

Chapter 7 Threats to Our, Our Children's, and the World's Future-the Denial or Disregard of Which Are Major Cultural Insanities 119

Environmental Destruction and the Sixth Extinction; Unsustainability 119

Overpopulation 133

Overconsumption and Waste(s) 139

Global Warming 148

Popular Delusions that Support Culturally Insane Policies and Lies 156

Over-reliance on Technology to Come to the Rescue; and Some Other Overlooked and Prospective Cultural Insanities Closely Associated with Particular Technologies 168

Chapter 8 Antidotes for Weaknesses in Human Thinking Processes 179

The Use of Reason and Evidence 179

Weighting Evidence in Evaluation: Fact-Value Interactions 194

The Need to Re-evaluate Our Basic Assumptions, Values, Beliefs, and Feelings 198

Part 2 The Cultural Insanity of Witch-Hunting 207

Chapter 9 Overview of the Destruction Wrought by this Cultural Insanity 207

Chapter 10 The Original Witchcraft 209

Heresy Blended in 210

Chapter 11 Several Church Laws & Doctrines Needed Changes to Fit Witchcraft Theorists' Views 212

Magic 212

The Flight of Witches, and Their Gatherings 214

Early Tests of Witches' Flight 216

Body-to-Body Contact with Demons & the Devil 216

Why Suddenly Witches, Starting around 1400? 218

Proving It All 218

Early Witchcraft Cases 219

Chapter 12 Women; Women and Witch-hunting 222

The Extreme Focus on Women in Witch-hunting 222

Women in Society 224

Celibacy's Role in Limiting the Potential for Women's Development 230

Incorporating Stereotypes of Women into Witchcraft Theory 237

Chapter 13 Sources of a Few Churchmen's Worry and Doubt Arising from Society and from within the Church 239

Doctrinal Concerns Affecting the Development of Witchcraft "Theory" 243

Chapter 14 A Review and Somewhat Closer Look at the Development and Progress of Witchcraft "Theory" 248

The Malleus Maleficarum and the Papal Bull Affirming the Existence of Demons Having Sex with People 250

Getting the Beliefs in Witchcraft into the Minds of Secular Authorities Too 254

Chapter 15 Real Threats to Secular Authorities Put Them on Edge; Concern about Witches Fades 257

Belief Systems 259

Rebellions and Wars 261

Is the Apocalypse Getting Under Way? 264

Chapter 16 Who is to Blame for the Threat to the Ruling Classes? 267

Who Specifically Was Victimized, and Why 269

Chapter 17 Questioning Catholic Iconography, Demonology, and Ultimately Witchcraft 279

The (Protestant) Rejection of Icons 281

Demonic Possession Cases 283

The Amazing Disproof of Witchcraft, in Spanish Basque Lands, 1611-1612 284

The Confessor's Anonymously Written Work about Witches' Pre-Execution Confessions 288

Chapter 18 Why Were Witch Hunts Abandoned? 290

Awakened from the Cultural Insanity 294

Part 3 Cultural Insanities Derived from the Church's Efforts to Eliminate Possible Threats to Doctrine Arising from the Development of (Proto-)Science 303

Chapter 19 Introduction & Purpose 303

Background to this Part's Subject 308

Chapter 20 Precursor Considerations 312

How Much Credit Does the Church Get for What "Churchmen" Do? 312

Which Institutions and/or Who Should Get How Much Credit for What University Faculty Do? 319

The Church as Patron, Generally 327

Chapter 21 The Church Sustains Literacy: ˜500 through about 1000+ 335

Charlemagne's Legacy 337

Monasteries and Their Contributions into the High Middle Ages 341

Chapter 22 Technology as a Conveyance of Proto-science through the Darker Ages and Beyond 346

Monasteries Were Among the Early Conveyors of Subsistence Technology 347

Other Sources Conveyed Technology Forward in Time Too 350

But Some Technologies Were Lost 352

Early Advances in Technology Are Mainly Adaptations of Roman, Chinese, or Arab Technology 355

The Church's Patronage as a Contributor to the Advance of Technology in the High and Late Middle Ages 357

Chapter 23 Education Begins to Spread 366

Abelard 370

Gratian's Dialectical Compilation of Church Law 375

The Education of Women 375

Chapter 24 The Continuing Development of the Universities; Challenges to Church Doctrines and Church Suppression Thereof 377

Aristotle's Work Begins to Arrive in Christendom 379

The Church's Struggles Against Aristotle 384

The University of Paris in the 1270s 387

Chapter 25 Observational and Hands-on Aspects of Aristotle Ignored; Aristotle Too Little Tested 397

Chapter 26 Scholasticism 403

Some Aspects of Scholasticism and the Disputation, and Their Drawbacks 403

The Overemphasis on What Happens After Death 412

Ockham and Nominalism 413

Chapter 27 Medicine, Surgery Medicinal Plants, and Animals 418

The Humors, Temperaments, and Elements 420

Medicine; Galen; Anatomy 422

Paracelsus: The First Major Critic of Medical Practice 425

Surgeons the Exception: Some Learning from Experience 426

Plants, Drugs 428

Animals 430

Chapter 28 Three Important Church-related Contributors to Proto-science and Science 432

And Copernicus 438

Chapter 29 Most Real Advances in Proto-science Come Via Artisans and Craftsmen 443

Optics/Visual Theory 444

Overview: The Development of Technologies, 1000-1600 446

Chapter 30 Renaissance Humanists, Cities, and Rulers Interfacing with Artisans 456

Humanists Help Bridge the Gaps 456

Reducing the Doctrinal Grip of the Church and Social Class on the Minds and Activities of Humans 462

Printing and the Vernacular as important Vehicles for Releasing Artisans' Knowledge 473

Chapter 31 The Reformation and Counter-Reformation 478

Anti-Science Institutions of the Catholic (Counter-) Reformation 483

Ways Used All Along by (Proto-)Scientists to Minimize Threats of Church Retribution for Disapproved Ideas 490

Chapter 32 Summary of Principal Medieval Church-related Cultural Insanities 494

Final Thoughts on Revisionist Historians Who Assign the Church a Positive Role in Promoting Science 494

A Broader Context: Other Church-related Cultural Insanities in the Same Time Period 497

A Summary of Cultural Insanities Involved in the Church's Impeding the Development of (Proto-)Science 499

Part 4 Cultural Insanity in the Denial of Geologic Time and Evolution 513

Chapter 33 The Old Order and Its Deductive Approach to "Science"; Francis Bacon's Challenge and the Inductive Approach 513

The Old Order in 1600: A Slowly Weakening Foundation 513

Francis Bacon's Scathing Critique of the Scholastic-Aristotelian System 515

Francis Bacon's Proposed Methodology for Science 520

Chapter 34 Beginnings of Systematic Observation of the Earth without Reference to the Supernatural, and of Doubts about the Scientific Adequacy of the Biblical History of the Earth 525

The Royal Societies 525

Early Questions about the Age of the Earth and about the Character of Shells on Land 530

Robert Hooke 534

Chapter 35 The Challenges Diversify and Extinctions Confirmed 541

The Comte de Buffon 541

Progress in Classification Systems; Genus and Species; Linnaeus; Cuvier 543

Progress on the Identity of Fossils and Recognizing Extinction; Role of Noah's Flood Becomes Dubious 546

Progress on the Age of the Earth 561

Chapter 36 Darwin's Contribution: Identifying and Marshalling Evidence to Show that Descent with Modification (Natural Selection) in an Environment, Acting on Variability within a Species, Is the Mechanism by Which Evolution Proceeds 567

Fossils Discovered Shortly After The Origin of Species Was Published 572

A Snapshot of Where Evolution Stood in 1880 573

Chapter 37 After Darwin 576

Chapter 38 Summary of Evidence Confirmatory of Evolution & Geologic Time 580

Introduction 580

The Evolutionary Context for Religion 585

Chapter 39 The Young-Earth Creationist Contrast 603

Introduction 603

Some Key Scientific Errors in the Bible 605

Some Specific Literalist Biblical Interpretations That Do Not Work Scientifically, Notwithstanding Rationalizations Concocted by their Purveyors 609

Introduction to Table Summarizing Science & Health News Articles 630

Chapter 40 Young-Earth Creationism: The Cultural Insanity of It All 638

Introductory Summary: Remembering What Got Us to this Point 638

How the Development of Human Potential Is Thwarted and Cultural Sanity Sabotaged 642

Undermining the Future of the Country and of All Humanity 649

References Cited 660

Draft Index of Principal Topics and References 683

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