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By "mythology" I mean the whole system of narratives rehearsed, conclusions drawn, and actions taken which correctly and incorrectly identify some Big Idea or system of related Ideas as The Reason--the hinge on the which the door of action swings.

A stunted myth=lie idea prevents people from realizing they have a tool in their hands already--story/fiction--which can improve their functional understanding of the world, and frequently is deployed by those in power with the most money/influence over communications (media).

Myth is much maligned. It is common practice to use the word "myth" as an epithet, an indictment against someone who uses ideas as propaganda, con games selling contra-factual and often voluntary self-delusion.

Thomas Szasz deemed mental illness a mythic and monstrous beast, and proclaimed that 'mental illness' was a fiction. Insanity, he has continued ever since to claim, is not a real disease, whose nature has been progressively scientifically unveiled; mental illness is rather a myth, forged by psychiatrists for their own greater glory. Szasz

I think Szasz is pathetically out of his depth. I say pathetically because he has in his hand the very precise tool with which to address the real and chronic problems before him and uses it as a blunt instrument, thereby robbing his issue of a potential cure and making himself and his cause vague and almost ridiculous in the process, as he is well read in the very literature which could have prepared him for his campaign.


The problem is too simplistic a definition of myth.

(more coming here)


Szasz is not alone. Caitriona Reed wrote on December 9, 2010

that "It's not that there's a problem with 'f e e l i n g' nostalgic. In fact it may be one of the greatest sources of genuine inspiration and creativity. The issues is what we make up around it. Join me on "The Social Myth Busters" on Voice America in two hours

Mythbusters is a popular TV show which reduces myth to scientifically remedial popular misconceptions and debunks these as delusions. It makes for an interesting premise if you don't mind that myth is never actuall discussed. I guess The Flashy P$uedo-$cience Behind Common Ignorance! would make a lousy title. But would you watch a program that proclaims itself "Dustbusters!" and then fails to so much as take a damp cloth in hand?


This page of research deals with examples of sloppy thinking and other habitual and voluntary ignorance where "myth" is mauled, warped, and generally demeaned, thereby robbing people of one of the most versatile tools in the human experience for unearthing understanding and passing it to later generations -- the narrative imagination.






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