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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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On Facebook I posted


Attempted Home Invasion

A brown skinned young man in white Tshirt removed the screen from our bathroom window, which was about 4 inches open at the time. I was working in my office and heard him, dropped what I was doing to go investigate, and scared him pretty badly. He was about to pull the window open further, but dropped the screen on the ground and bolted. I gave chase and ran after him barefoot as he leapt into a small, robin's egg blue, custom pick-up driven by another man with curly dark hair. They proceeded just fast enough to leave me gradually behind down Marin Ave, left onto Casino, left onto Yuba, and right on Shasta to turn right onto Amador, the service road to I-80, before I lost them. It was 12:46 when I got back into the apartment in time to answer a call from Lisa and beg-off temporarily in order to call 911. Despite our Richmond address they forwarded me to the San Pablo Police. Officers arrived just after 1:00. One went on to scout while the other took my statement, made a strenuous case for our being in San Pablo and not Richmond, dusted for prints in and out, found none and offered as much hope of other results, and then went on his way as Lisa was arriving home around 1:30 with Rosie, fertilizer, seedlings, and anti-snail measures.


Among others, Judith Elze replied:

Sorry to hear that, sounds pretty scary. Still there is one question I would have regarding your description, Brandon: Is it of any importance that this guy was brown skinned?


Hoping to give a real (long enough to fully answer without getting self-indulgent) answer, I wrote this:

EXCELLENT question. It matters and doesn't matter in different ways, perhaps best clarified by what I call Role Splitting, acting like there are different roles being played to get at complexity and better understanding. As Homeowner, Martial Artist, Husband and Father I don't feel influenced by his skin color and I would have grabbed a person of any pigmentation by the head with the same eagerness. As Citizen, my duty is to provide officers of the law with all details likely to lead to the apprehension of the culprits, and colors (of clothing, vehicle paint, pigmentation, etc.) are very high on the list of the psychological factors which make a positive ID possible. The statement I released was the one I gave the police officer and makes better communication about a shared danger more likely between me and my extremely racially varied neighbors. As Conflict Professional and Activist, I assume there will always be racism in my decision-making and questioned the need to include skin color in a public description. I then sat with the dilemma and resolved to publish the report as I gave it to the police to allow my otherwise private actions to be seen and questioned for the purposes of generating an inquiry such as this, because that is what I preach to my students and clients. Thereby, I would not be potentially negatively affecting another person’s, especially a brown-skinned man's, life while escaping scrutiny myself as a white, middle-aged man with the attendant privileges. At this time I would describe him in the same way, publish what I published again, and am ready for further feedback.