The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Monday, November 7, 2022

How to Beat Propaganda: the Grokking Strategy

We CAN beat propaganda, but it takes some effort to avoid falling prey to the simple, yet effective, methods that the powers that be (PTB) use to control us. You need first of all to understand that there is no such thing as an "authoritative source." All sources can be wrong, and many are there to trick you into believing that something is true when it is not. So, you need to listen to everybody and trust nobody. In this way, you can "grok" your information and not be grokked by the PTB.

I remember how, as a young scientist, I spent long hours at night perusing scientific journals in my department's library, at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. The administrators wisely kept the library open all night for us, students and postdocs, to nibble at the treasure of knowledge stored there. It was the equivalent of what we do today when "surfing the Web", it was just slower and more laborious. But it was a great experience: I soon learned that not all the articles found in scientific journals were trustworthy, nor were the scientists who had published them. When I started my career, frauds and lies in science were still rare, but even in "high-level" scientific journals, there were plenty of evident mistakes, unjustified assumptions, sloppy work, or, simply, irrelevant babbling. 

It was a different story when I was a student. As a student, you are supposed to be "trained." The term comes from the Latin "trahere, ‘to pull.’ It implies that your teachers can force you to learn whatever they think you must learn. So, you can pass exams in college without having understood anything of what you regurgitate to your examiners. But things change completely when you become a professional. You must learn to consult many sources and sift good information from the bad. If you are a good professional, you listen to everybody and trust nobody.

We can describe this attitude by the term "grokking," invented by sci-fi author Robert Anson Heinlein to indicate the kind of in-depth understanding that professionals have of their field. In Heinlein's fictional Mars, "to grok" also means "to drink." You assimilate knowledge just like you assimilate the water you drink. It is strictly related to the concept of "empathy" as discussed by Chuck Pezeshky in his blog. (It is also part of the concept of "virtual holobiont," but let me skip that, here).

The "grokking-style" learning is based on the idea that you don't trust a source just because it is "authoritative." No. You are the one who decides whether what you are being told is true or not. And you base your evaluation on having more than one source, and critically evaluating all of them. It applies to scientific research, but also to all kinds of information collection in ordinary life. Or, at least, it should apply if you want to really understand what you are learning. 

It is here that we have the problem, a big problem. Universities don't teach you how to grok. Probably, it is because the old saying is true: nothing worth learning can be taught. At least, not in the traditional way. Even good professionals are often completely naive when they leave their specialized field and are exposed to propaganda. Yet, it is not impossible to learn how to grok. It is a recursive affair: you must grok how to grok!

Nowadays, with a tsunami of propaganda submerging all of us, I am discovering that many people I know use the same grokking strategy that I use. Typically, we avoid TV and mainstream media, and we use aggregators, feed readers, and similar ways to access multiple sources. Many people seem to have developed this learning strategy by themselves. Not long ago, my good friend Anastassia showed me how she does it: she has hundreds of telegram channels she follows. She clicks on the titles of posts that seem interesting to her, reading them if they turn out to be really interesting. She doesn't trust any of them, but she listens to all of them. I have a feeling that there is some correlation between this style of learning and the fact that she is among the brightest people I know. 

Personally, I tend to use feed readers rather than Telegram (I described the method in a previous post), but it is the same idea. In addition, some blogs and sites are structured as aggregators, and they will do a good job for you by alerting you about new information arriving (a good one that I follow is Raul Ilargi's "Automatic Earth."). In any case, you want to be in control of what you receive: so, no Facebook, no Twitter, nothing like that, even search engines are biased. You don't want others to decide what you see. You want to be in control of the information you receive. You listen to everyone, and you trust no one. 

This method of managing information has the advantage that it makes you nearly invulnerable to propaganda. I say "nearly" because we are all human beings, and we all tend to believe in what we would like were true. But, surely, a good grokker is a hard target for the classic propaganda techniques that consist mainly in suppressing the sources of contrasting information. Then, by repeating the same thing, over and over, it becomes true (you surely remember Karl Rove's statement about "creating our own reality"). If you watch TV, you are their slave, but if you are reading this blog, you probably aren't. So far, it is still possible to collect a fan of information sources sufficiently distant from the official truth to be able to grok the situation. 

On the other hand, there are problems with this strategy. One is that, by abandoning the mainstream sources, you risk rolling down the other side of the disinformation hill. In this case, you'll find yourself fishing out rotten morsels from the soup of madness that often surrounds "alternative" news sources. You know, things like the moon landing hoax, graphene in the Covid vaccines, viruses that do not exist, and the like. It is bad information that comes in part from people who have gone Martian coconuts, and in part from paid disinformers who just want to trick you. As an example, Igor Chudov makes a good case for the "viruses do not exist" meme as a psyop created by the PTB. He even could identify the site that created the meme and diffused it. You risk "inverse grokking," which means that the powers that be are grokking you!

The other problem, much more serious, is that if you are a serious grokker, you place yourself outside the mainstream beliefs and views. You may find that your friends and family think that you are "strange," that when you walk toward someone you know in the street, she may cross the street to avoid getting close to you. And woe betides those who try to discuss with non-grokkers. You will be ignored (at best), ridiculed, and even insulted by people whom you thought were your best friends. I don't have to tell you that being in this situation can be bad for your mental health and, in some cases, for your physical survival. You may remember the ominous sentence about the unvaccinated, “what do we do with these people?” expressed by Canadian prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It sounds very much like what was said about the "Jewish Problem" in the 1930s. You know how some people thought they could solve it. Some solutions are truly final.  

So, knowledge carries a risk, something that has been known from the time of Adam and Eve. On the other hand, we are always seeking truth, an activity that every good person on this planet should pursue. And so, onward, fellow grokkers! All you have to lose is your ignorance. 

If you have time, you can tell me in the comments the way you use to gather and process information. I suspect that many readers of this blog are good grokkers, but many of them may use creative methods. 

In the following, some excerpts from a post by "John Carter" which inspired these reflections of mine. Note, though, that if you read his whole post, you may notice that not even he is completely immune from being grokked by reverse propaganda. Probably it is also my case.... alas. See also a recent post by Todd Hayen on "Off Guardian" that expresses very similar concepts. 

What Are Your Sources?

"If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end with doubts, but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties." - Francis Bacon

Excerpts from a post by John Carter on his blog, "Postcards from Barsoom"

"Where do you get your information from? What are your sources?"

I really hate this question.

Part of it is that a lot of the places I tend to go to collect information would strike the normie as batshit insane conspiracy sites. Once you're on the other side of the great hyperreality bifurcation, you're experiencing a world in which very fundamental assumptions of the old societal mainstream, ranging from 'what is true' to 'what is moral', are no longer taken for granted and, indeed, are widely rejected.

Another part of it is that a great deal of what gets circulated within the hydra originates with anonymous or pseudonymous writers. By the very nature of communicating one's thoughts from behind a veil, it is impossible to verify whether they really know what they're talking about. A normie used to the anodyne pronouncements of credentialed experts being fellated by talking heads on CNN will find the idea of taking seriously the words of random Internet schizos to be a bit jarring.

But the single biggest reason I dislike this question is that it's the wrong question. 'Sources' have absolutely nothing to do with how I gather information; and from what I've seen, that's true for most of us.

The general assumption in normieland seems to be that there are reliable and unreliable sources of information. The former carry the stamp of approval of established authorities, who go to great lengths to ensure that the information they communicate has been extensively vetted for accuracy, with obvious mistakes removed by dedicated teams devoted to the rigorous vetting of every piece of information that gets included. The latter consists of wild speculations, rumours, and crazed ramblings. There's some nuance there - most people will admit that politicians, bureaucrats, and corporate marketing executives will usually put some spin on the information they communicate - but in general the heuristic that gets applied is "there are reliable sources, and unreliable sources; all you need to do to have an accurate view of reality is to limit your information diet to the former and ignore the latter."


When you're attempting to scale the walls of Chapel Perilous in the weird corners of the Internet, you don't have the luxury of relying on authoritative sources. The very concept of 'authoritative source' loses all meaning, and of necessity one develops a very different approach to information gathering and belief formation. Inside the datastream of the Internet, no one perspective is privileged as being unimpeachable. Nothing is to be trusted. Nothing is ever to be 100% believed. Everything one comes across, from any source, whether an established blogger with hundreds of thousands of daily readers or some rando in the comments section, is greeted with more or less the same response:

Here's what I do; and I suspect it's pretty much what the rest of you do, too:

I've got a variety of news aggregators I tend to go to, each more or less reflecting the worldview of the individual or team who maintains them through the lens of the topics that attract their attention. I skim these feeds and occasionally click on something if it catches my own attention. There are a few forums that I frequent, where various topics are discussed, and people share links to things they think are interesting together with whatever impressions they have of them. Social media plays a similar role; while I'm not on Twitter or Facebook, I do subscribe to a couple of hundred Telegram channels, some of which I'll peruse throughout the day, once again clicking on anything that looks interesting. Add to this an archipelago of blogs which provide some degree of original analysis, but are mostly the Internet's editorial page; in these cases, I gravitate towards those authors I find to be consistently interesting. Then there are podcasts and livestreams, most of which take the form of a free-ranging conversation between hosts and guests.

In most cases I have no idea about the identities or credentials of the authors, and I could generally care less. The contribution of an anon on 4chan can be every bit as insightful and correct as the analysis of a facefag whose CV I can review in detail. Equivalently, the facefag can be every bit as wrong as that of the shitposter. The salient detail is not the identity of the person originating the information, but the structure of the argument.

When perusing something, at the same time that I'm evaluating the information, I'm also evaluating the worldview that produced the information. What are the ideological biases of the author? Is he a libertarian, a post-liberal, an old-school leftist, a nationalist, a trad-Catholic, a deep ecologist, a neoliberal managerialist, a critical race theorist? Does the author have something to gain from what he's writing - is he trying to get me to buy something, or being paid to advance a perspective that will enrich his paymasters? The author's perspective is inseparable from the argument being put forward, as it structures what the author considers to be interesting, and what he believes to be axiomatically true and false - creating attentional foci and blind spots.

This doesn't mean that something is to be rejected or accepted merely because it conflicts or accords with a worldview I find personally agreeable - that's ultimately just a version of the 'authoritative source' mindset, one that leads straight into an echo chamber. In principle, valuable insights can come from almost anywhere. The purpose of the exercise is rather to discern the model of reality that produced the perspective leading to the information being organized as it has been.

All models are by their nature simplified schema that fail to capture the full complexity and nuance of the world. They emphasize some things and omit others. That's why it's important not to get overly attached to them. However, some models are more accurate than others, much more likely to correctly predict unfolding events. By foregrounding the models that produce the hot takes, one begins constantly testing these models against one another. As events unfold, one notices which models are more, and which less, accurate. New information can then be evaluated on the basis of the model that generated it, and its probability of being accurate weighted accordingly.

As this goes on, one inevitably begins to construct one's own model of reality, simply by combining the elements that seem to have worked from the models that one has been exposed to. There's nothing particularly special about having a model of reality - we all do, of necessity; the advantage lies rather in that this process becomes conscious and deliberate. One makes one's own model, rather than simply accepting whatever model is offered by 'authoritative sources'.

The normies still trapped in the mass media holodeck cling to the certainty that their 'reliable sources' can be trusted, and the result is that they inhabit a nightmare world of shifting illusions that has driven them quite entirely mad. It frequently happens that they wake up to one or another of the lies of which the control system is built, but having perceived the deception on a given topic, they react by looking for an authoritative source elsewhere that they can rely upon. Invariably in this case, they get trapped in a different lie - trading the regime ideology they've left behind for a new ideology, one that they accept whole as uncritically as the one they were raised with. That's what that boomer in the bar was looking for. His first instinct, upon being confronted with plausible arguments that he'd been systematically misled by the legacy media, was to reach for something he could trust. To trade one gospel for another.

In truth, there are no reliable sources, and there never have been. Paradoxically, it's only by letting go of the desire for reliability, by holding things conditionally rather than absolutely true, and by constructing one's own provisional reality model, that one can find one's sea legs on the shifting and uncertain waters, and successfully navigate the ocean of the real.


To finish, an updated list of the blogs I follow (UB)

  1. Anti-EmpireAlgora Blog
  2. Bracing Views
  3. Brownstone Institute
  4. Climate Etc.
  5. Clive Best
  6. ClubOrlov
  7. Collaborative Fund
  8. Consent Factory, Inc.
  9. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick
  10. Edward Slavsquat
  11. eugyppius: a plague chronicle
  12. Exapt Press
  13. Fear of a Microbial Planet
  14. Fight Aging!
  16. RSS feed
  17. Glenn Greenwald
  18. Gut Microbiota for Health
  20. Il Chimico Scettico
  21. Il Pedante
  22. Il Pedante
  23. imetatronink
  24. Impressions of a Holobiont
  25. It's About Empathy – Connection Ties Us Together
  26. Julian Jaynes Society
  27. Just Emil Kirkegaard Things
  28. Kelebekler Blog
  29. La cruna dell'ago
  30. La Cruna dell'Ago
  31. Lettera da Mosca
  32. Madam Mayo
  33. Marty's Mac 'n' Cheese
  34. Mattias Desmet
  35. Meryl’s COVID Newsletter
  37. Moon of Alabama
  38. Nuova Accademia Gnostica S.A.W. di Firenze
  39. OffGuardian
  40. oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith
  41. Our Finite World
  42. Paolo Gulisano blog
  43. Patrick J. Buchanan – Official Website
  44. Peak Oil Barrel
  45. Peter Turchin
  46. Post-Woke
  47. Postcards From Barsoom
  48. Prof. Harald Walach
  49. Rational Ground – Clear Reasoning on National Policy for COVID-19
  50. Resistenze al nanomondo
  51. Resource Insights
  52. Retraction Watch
  53. Roy Spencer, PhD.
  54. Sebastian Rushworth M.D.
  55. Shrew Views
  56. Simon Sheridan
  57. Steve Kirsch's newsletter
  58. Tehran Times
  59. Tessa Fights Robots
  60. The age of loss
  61. The Automatic Earth
  63. The Inquisitive Biologist
  64. The New Normal
  65. The Philosophical Salon
  66. The Reading Junkie
  67. The Slavland Chronicles
  68. The Upheaval
  69. The van says…
  70. The Vineyard of the Saker
  71. Trust the Evidence
  72. Umanesimo e Scienza
  73. Unmasked
  74. Vinay Prasad's Observations and Thoughts

Note added after publication: Several people have expressed surprise at the fact that I placed 74 links in the list. "How can you follow so many blogs?" they ask. The fact it that I don't "follow" all of them. I skim through the list of titles and I open the links that I think are interesting. Then, I may or may not read the whole post -- some people publish posts that are so interesting that I can't miss them. But not all those linked here, only a minority Note also that almost all these links refer to single-author blogs which publish no more than one-two posts per week -- often even less frequently. I make an exception for "The Automatic Earth" by Raul Ilargi, which publishes daily, because it is so interesting. But some links that you see in the list above have already disappeared from the updated list. For instance, I removed "Tehran Times" -- too many posts, and too flatly aligned with the Iranian government. 


  1. That’s an interesting post. Here are a few quick reactions. (One of my favorite quotations is from Winston Churchill, “I’m sorry this letter is so long. I did not have time to make it short.”)

    • Circularity
    Skepticism and caution are good, but they can lead a person around and around. One of my friends had three COVID vaccinations, but decided to stop there. I think that he has been reading anti-vax sites. But there are so many of these sites — which one does he select? Ironically, he has to use conventional science to make that call.
    • Belief
    One of the weaknesses of the English language is to do with the word “belief”. If someone says that they do not “believe” in say global warming, is their opinion based on hard scientific analysis, or on something they once read on the internet? (A similar critique can be applied to the word “think”. When someone says, “I think . . . “ I assume that that person is not actually thinking. He or she is trotting out a stale prejudice (pre + judge)).
    • Time
    You list 74 sources of information. Where does the average Joe find time to read all that information? He works hard at his job, he then drags home to help the kids with their homework, maybe he takes them to a Little League ball game before putting them to bed, and then tries to find time to handle his family’s personal finances. There are only 25 hours in a day. (On a personal note, I find that I am reading less material — there is so much dreary repetition.)
    • TV
    You criticize the conventional television outlets. Maybe it’s different in Italy, but I find the mainstream media evening news to be quite balanced.
    • Homework
    You may recall that I wrote quite a few posts for you to do with the recent Limits to Growth (LtG) book. Whether you agree with my analysis or not, at least I had read the book in depth, and conducted serious research on it. Before I listen to someone I want to be sure that they have burned at least a little midnight oil.
    • Follow the Money
    I read the work of a blogger who writes about the Ukraine war. He work is thorough and unbiased. But, the other day, I noted that he is now carrying advertising at his blog. That’s a red flag.
    • Willingness to Admit Error
    I have been writing about Age of Limits issues for over 10 years. It is scary to see how often I have been wrong. I look for the same willingness to admit error in others. For example, there were many people who forecast that the economies of western Europe would partially collapse due to the lack of Russian natural gas. So far, that has not happened. Maybe it won’t happen. In which case, are these writers willing to fess up?

    The above are quick, off-the-top-of-the-head comments. I look forward to other reactions to your post.

    1. Just a note on one of your points, Ian. About 74 links in my feed, it is a small number in comparison to what some friends of mine have. They have hundreds -- but of course they don't read all of them. Even with "just" 74 links, it means a few dozen links arriving every day. I can't possibly read all of them. But there are a few in the list that I never miss. Some people are truly great sources of information and ideas.

    2. Ah... another comment on one of your points. You may have noticed that even the Seneca Effect blog has some advertising on a side. I keep it in part to have some idea of how many people follow the blog, and in part because I think it is correct to use it to offset the small costs to keep the domains for this and other blogs. Those people who put some advertising on their blog do so in the open -- it is a sign that, at least, they are not paid by the dark forces, otherwise they would have no need for the pittance you can make with advertising.

    3. Another commenter mentioned that he is following fewer sources; you refer to the “cacophony of news”. I am going through the same process. With regard to climate change, there seems to be a near infinity of articles, blogs and videos that describe the problem/predicament, and that go on to say that “they” (whoever “they” are) need to do something.

      I only pay attention now to articles that (a) put forward practical ideas for what we do at 8 o’clock on Monday morning, and (b) have a grasp of the laws of thermodynamics.

    4. Hello ChemEng.
      BASF has announced that it is leaving Germany permanently. Maybe it will take a while, but your evening news will tell you what that means. You will then have another opportunity to see a mistake.
      Honestly, quick spontaneous comments are not your strength.

      Hello Ugo
      I have discovered for myself the advantage of being a kind of troll from time to time. Then, within a discussion, I take the position of the other side, or the criticized group, and look for their arguments. I admit to having fun annoying my people, but very often I gain new insights.

      Grüße von Marcus aus Berlin

    5. Take it lightly, Marcus. I say "listen to every sources," but that doesn't mean trolling them!!! But I agree that sometimes it is fun. And, in any case, humor is a powerful weapon in the meme battle.

  2. Great post! I now understand why I stopped reading newspapers, significantly reduced mainstream TV and stopped being (too) active on (some) social media: I am on the way to become a grokker. But beware, Ugo: I do not trust you :-)

  3. Ugo Bardi concluded:
    "In truth, there are no reliable sources, and there never have been. Paradoxically, it's only by letting go of the desire for reliability, by holding things conditionally rather than absolutely true, and by constructing one's own provisional reality model, that one can find one's sea legs on the shifting and uncertain waters, and successfully navigate the ocean of the real."

    I also frequent The Automatic Earth, and have since very early 2008. I wondered what took the crash so long to happen. it's a good aggregation site, and many commenters are good. It does not stay rigidly to an one position or topic, which I appreciate.
    Zero Hedge is quick and punchy, somewhat sensationalist. is a site that has far-left, far-right and far-out stories, which I have viewed sometimes for over 20 years. Caveat emptor, but if you want to see what ideas are circulating at the periphery, it's good to scan.
    We have a lot of concordance in what we look at otherwise, and I hold all things in abeyance until I have clear proof and clear understanding, which is worthy of decisive action. That's not so often, but when there is a moral insight, like "the unvaccinated" are the new "untermenschen", one must act promptly and decisively to turn away from that path. We know where it leads. Hell on Earth.
    I also enjoyed reading Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, back in the 1970s. It seems to have stuck with me.

  4. Good post, Ugo. I am afraid I completed the process, and after following many many alt media channels, I now limit myself to Ourfiniteworld and sporadic visits to your blog and consciousnessofsheep. On one hand I am impatient with those who do not put the energy crisis front and center. I can not even finish an article which tries to explain, say, the war on Ukraine as an ideological struggle. And I have no time for more than that now that I have left academia and embarked in a new project. I am also working much more, to exhaustion sometimes.

    1. Yes.... as time goes by, you tend to avoid the cacophony of the news and focus on just a few sources

  5. Hello Mr. Bardi,

    Are you still using your email address? If not to where might I send you an email?

    Edward A.

  6. OK great post but the graphene on the vaccines is true.
    A friend of a colleague of someone who doesn't want to be named confirmed this...
    Internet never lies!

    1. Naah.... Peter, I have some experience with microscopy. The photos reported on the Web are created by bulls from their rear.

    2. Ah, I guess sarcasm does get lost on written posts...
      I shall leave with yet another nugget from the magic world of the internet.
      During vaccines time a guy posted on LI the image of an electric circuit watermarked TOP SECRET and COVID VACCINE.
      Hundreds of comments below, "there we have it!".
      Then someone posts"this is a guitar amplifier circuit", to which they replied "you see, they want to turn our bodies into amplifiers!".

    3. It seemed to me that you were a true believer!!! You can't believe how many people are fully convinced of this idea

    4. And, yes, many also believe that the graphene somehow generates (or is affected by) the microwaves of the 5G network and that resonates with the microchips placed in our body by the injections, whatever....

    5. Ugo, the current 5G wavelength is 1-10 mm. I teach astronomy and I can not but be surprised by how many organic simple molecules we can identify in galactic molecular clouds just in the range 1- 1.5 mm. How can you be so sure that continuous exciting of some biological molecules will not have consequences for normal bio-chemistry?

    6. Yes, I agree with you that the 5G thing may be dangerous. But the secret of madness consists in exaggerating the normal. So, people jump the repeater and land on the side of graphene amplifying the 5G signal, which is then picked up by mysterious microchips injected with the vaccine.......

    7. That is all good and correct, but a simple perusal of the data shows without a doubt that mortality in Europe has increased by 6-7% throughout the seasons since the vaccine rollout. It did not increase in the six months between the first covid wave and the first vaccines. So I conclude that vaccines are primarily responsible. Of course this is nowhere close to the increase in mortality needed to keep up with declining resources. We can then argue whether it is DNA changes, immune degradation, graphene, or a combination which involves 5G assistance. In that respect graphene is a possible but not certain cause.

    8. You are a good grokker. But note that in Italy we don't see that effect. We need more grokking

  7. Billions of tonnes of material have been shipped from the US to Saudi Arabia starting in 1947 - to build an oil pipeline to the Mediterranean....

    To camouflage the fact of that - the operation has actually been no more than an Energy swap - taking Pennsylvania and Texas oil, US coal and woods, British coal and woods, Baku oil, Iranian oil - burning them all - to build the line - what has raised the need for a non-stop worldwide propaganda - since...

    Our Western Civilisation has been ploughing the sea with moving finite fossil resources from one place to another - and that needed a non-stop propaganda worldwide - to make it look - a Civilisation...

    A mishmash propaganda of E=mc^2, WW I, QM, Brave New World, the Soviet Union, Orwell's 1984, the theatrical Arab Israeli conflict, WW II, Black Holes, Gulf Wars, Russia-Ukraine war - along what's called Democracy and Market Economics...

    Today, our Western Civilisation is uncomfortable with itself, worried, nervous, traumatised, disturbed - looks and feels mental and lost...

    Saudi Arabia oil must be about drying-out by now...

    Past and now gone Pennsylvania and Texas oil, US coal and woods, British coal and woods, Baku oil, Iranian oil, Russian oil - should have never been moved from nation to nation...

    Today, the little remaining of Iraq's and others' oil, coal and natural gas - should not be moved worldwide, if not increasingly kept in - the underground in peace...

    That would have built for humans a real and long lasting Civilisation:

    "No energy store holds enough energy to extract an amount of energy equal to the total energy it stores.
    Energy, like time, flows from past to future".


  8. The memorising & regurgitation of approved knowledge just to pass exams is so true, I realised this after my Bsc at 21 and felt quite depressed about it; few of the subjects taught you to think, most where just short-term memory exercises. The damage that does is huge and reveals itself in later consequences, most of my colleagues in my subsequent work-life were academically educated, some hugely so, yet most can't think for themselves. Those with MBA's only quote neoliberal orthodoxy, those with Phd's only the currently approved majoritarian view of their field, all conformists whatever the nominal qualification.

    I naively thought the point of education was to learn to think for yourself, so when the available knowledge changes, so do you, otherwise we'd still be stoning witches and burning round-earth believers to death. The evolution of academia into a University-industrial-complex has accelerated and sealed this sad trend, with most places of higher learning now being just more hugely profitable corporations. Here in the UK, a lot make most of their profits from property development, then milking students of direct fees and renteerism off substandard student accomodation, while awarding meaningless degrees and underpaying staff. It's the ultimate neoliberal utopia.

  9. Now I have a name for how I have been processing information since John Kennedy was Killed. Grokking.
    Good example of repetitive concepts to achieve manipulation is “unprovoked war”. This is a clue that maybe it was “provoked”.
    I read (a lot) about national and world issues for entertainment. I work on local issues as you can still do a lot of good locally.
    On the national and world issues I keep to myself mostly, but when someone such as good friend or family drops some nonsense in a conversation, I might give them something to think about. Avoiding an argument but room for thought. Example: They Say we do these forever wars because we care about these people and they need freedom, democracy, etc. I share they should go to wickopedia (sp) and look up the countries with the largest oil reserves. You will see it is a partial the hit list of where the footprint of US steps.
    Yes I go to a lot of different aggregators of news and views.
    One thing I have noticed is the repetitive scenarios , even though the names change.
    I appreciate calling attention to the Scientific theory. The use of the term “Conspiracy Theory” Is just a way to tamp down discussion of opposing information and views.

  10. On a philosophical note, is the truth a fool's errand? In my personal experience no good journalism goes unpunished and I don't see how that can be any different. Every living thing evolved camouflage and deception, a deer can barely be perceived against a background of similar tones. A fly doesn't understand that their jerky flight path increases evasiveness but does it all the same.

    Does any truthful person make for an easy target, especially in science or journalism, or does one perhaps have to become orange crested, poisonous, or a phantom menace?

    1. Truth is a delicate thing. It is not appropriate to expose it to everything and everybody. Eventually, truth always wins, but it takes time. And, in the meantime, the wise man cultivates discretion.

    2. Yeah, not many people are ready to hear such simple truths as every story you've ever ran on the subject of road violence is pre-approved by the motoring industry: ever "accident", collision, court report, police report, everything; and they go so far as to saturate the press and invent stories at certain times to perjure live court cases, coroner's reports, and government department meetings.

  11. It is an interesting text on propaganda but it misses the most important, the essential, and it is curious from a scientist: the capacity of observation! Before advising such or such reading, one should not forget to keep grounded in reality. Anything you can find on the Internet or any other media will always be less important than your ability to observe, analyze and draw conclusions by yourself about what you are looking at carefully. Most people see things without looking at them, let alone studying them. To take a trivial example, I've always been making fun of people who follow their GPS with blind faith when they should be studying their route. Unfortunately this trend has never been reversed. People have completely lost touch with reality. What they see on a screen becomes more real and true than the world around them. Is there a word for that?
    Yes, you should not believe or trust anyone. The only person we can trust is ourselves. To see that the majority of people delegate their intellectual capacity to others is a phenomenon that will deserve to be studied one day, provided that there is someone left on earth who still has the capacity.
    My only advice will not be a reading list but rather to turn off your screen, go outside, look at the sky, the birds, the trees, talk to people and even to strangers. Doing this IS the best way to escape from the propaganda. (by the way, you cannot beat propaganda, I should explain this in an other comment).The world is much bigger and richer than anything printed words can say.
    Only then you can come back and sit and turn on your computer, but never more than one hour a day. This is enough! When I see a reading list with 74 links, I will tell you: your brain can not handle this. You will never ever be able to understand all those things. Spending one hour a day studying one article will be much more fruitful than zapping from blog to blog. What you need is time to think. Reading too much will only create confusion in your mind.

    1. You beat me to it Thierry...I've watched people follow their GPS into ridiculous places...Driven since I was 16, all over the US and in cities without one. I look at the toys and think...this laziness is what is destroying the environment. People just smile when I pull out my old Asahi Pentex...only camera of my life...the one thing I do think is that, at my ripe old age of 74, I've had a lot more time to study reality and watch the world...have experiences and understand the different person I am for them. The people who are glued to their not watching. One of the most bizarre travel experiences of my life was when a colleague (American but a friend from Cairo) asked me if I would show him the SW...Santa Fe/Taos etc when I was living outside of Durango. He spent the time in the car on his computer...and much of it in the hotels..reviewing his stocks, investments. He said he could look at pictures of where we went later...

      However, I do review a lot of links and the comments on the pieces when I want to understand and track down information. Even if I don't understand the scientific info, I'm still going to be able to hear the warning gongs from what I can grasp. I don't have to understand everything in order to grasp enough to process more and become aware and decide if its worth seeking more depth.

    2. If you read carefully, Ugo Bardi does provide a list of 74 blogs but doesn't actually recommend reading a single one of them. Possibly they have been posted for transparency or to provide context to the blog post. Reading/viewing a small number of thought provoking sources, taking time to consider them and then sharing those thoughts in real life conversations works well for me at least from an enjoyment perspective.

      Reading too much online can give a distorted impression of reality. To give one example from what you find online you'd think hardly anyone would want a covid vaccine. But turn up to a vaccination centre and there can be big queues. Also from speaking to someone who has volunteered at a vaccination centre the elderly would typically be overjoyed to be getting something that reduces their vulnerability to covid while those middle aged and below might be more hesitent. I've also had conversations with relatively young people who don't want to be vaccinated simply because they don't see the point of being vaccinated against something their immune system can handle anyway. None of this is really sensationalist to gain much traction online.

      To conclude real life conversations are often the most enjoyable and interesting way to learn and you have a far better idea of the credability (or lack of) of someone you know personally.

    3. I listed 74 feeds, but that doesn't mean I read all of them. I skim through the list, and maybe I read a few posts per day. As I say in the text, some of these authors are so interesting that I can't miss their posts! And, as a further note, I mentioned my friend Anastassia, she has at least two hundred links that she follows, or, rather, she skims through.

    4. But you are right. There is a serious risk of over-internetting oneself. I try to avoid that, but it is hard, I recognize that.

    5. I added a note to the post to explain my reading strategy

  12. There is nothing quite as delicious as acquiring new information that confirms one's existing biases.

  13. To add to this, when I went into library science, it was said that a good librarian could remember 10,000 titles in her head. It might be true, and when I read lists of links, I can pick them off in seconds and put them on my email for future reference. I almost always know which of them I might want to go back to and do an easy search for. In this sense, I find Ugo's lists helpful. I used to go to many of those once a month at the beginning of the month to see if they would lead me to an understanding of what was behind the covid panic...eventually I could...from skimming those blogs and also from well placed personal contact info...but it took me a long time, and there are still stray pieces that turn up to help make a coherent historical picture of why/how we have been so thoroughly sold out. Bernays rules...still.


  14. Ugo, an off-topic question, if I may.

    What does "fert" means when it appears on an Italian coin?

    Admittedly this was a trial coin only.

    It is puzzling me and my numismatist friends.

    1. Ah... Interesting question: I had never thought about that myself. But "fert" is the motto of the Savoy royal family. The beauty of this motto is that nobody, not even the Savoy family members, know anymore what it means! There are several possible interpretations at

    2. Thank you for looking, Ugo

      Very strange that nobody knows what it means. It does suggest, though, that Italy must be a fake country to use such a motto. Italy should therefore be returned to the Pope immediately, and Mrs Melons should apologise for all the trouble the Italians have caused over the years. :-)

    3. Let me guess and have some fun! There was a lot of iron (ferrum) in Savoie and that was probably the main wealth there because they probably sold it to other kingdoms. So the F is for Ferrum.
      Then Amédée VI was a knight so the E is for Eques. Ferrum Eques, the Iron Knight, that sounds good! (Amédée used to wear an iron ring around the thigh as an errant knight).
      Then we have Saint Maurice who is the patron saint of Savoy. He was originary from Thebes. T is for Thebes.
      Saint Maurice was a roman soldier. R is for "Romanus"
      Ferrum Eques, Romanus de Thebis. FERT. Do I get I right?

    4. Thierry. That's a French name, isn't it? And what did the French invent? Surrealism. Yes, that figures.

    5. It was an example of grokking. Take any topic, do your researches and try to join the dots. Whatever the result is, you will learn fascinating stories such as Saint Maurice whom I did not know anything about two days ago.

  15. I recommend

  16. some suggestions,,39.81,661 (click on 'earth' to open dashboard))

    I excluded the half dozen sites that appear in Ugo's list.
    these may not suit all peoples tastes,
    caveat emptor !