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Biased perceptions

Feb 06, 2002 07:04 AM
by kpauljohnson

Here's a paragraph from Charles Tart's Mind Science that merits 

"Once we have an idea, a concept of something, that concept tends to 
strongly bias the construction of our perceptions, so we see the 
construct. When something fearful comes along, for example, it tends 
to constellate fear. It organizes, constellates everything around 
itself to reinforce fearful qualities, and of course the fear is then 
much worse. Most of all our attention is sucked up into a highly 
charged construction that may seriously distort our understanding of 
the actual state of the world."

I'll apply this to Dallas and myself. He has gotten an idea, a 
concept of what my books are about, what my approach to HPB is, that 
so strongly biases his perceptions that nothing I or anyone else can 
say-- even a friend of his like Daniel-- can ever compete with the 
construct. And it seems extremely unlikely that he ever actually 
read any of my books to check them against this construct. He 
perceives a dichotomous world in which authors are either 
resurrecting old charges against HPB, or exalting her. They're 
either seeking to make money and gain notoriety, or they're trying to 
serve the Masters. Now, although my books say very little about 
HPB's private life and morality, although they are noncommittal about 
the paranormal claims concerning her, and although many other 
Theosophical readers perceive them as friendly to HPB, none of that 
matters. Dallas has a mental construct, constellated with fear, of 
authors who are reviving old attacks and out to harm HPB and 
Theosophy. That highly charged construction is so powerful that the 
actual state of reality has no chance of being perceived.

Now, along come Brigitte and Steve, who actually are reviving some 
old issues, and Dallas and Adelaisie start attacking historical 
inquiry about HPB in general, and I get dragged in and post a lot in 
defense of the principle of independent historical inquiry. (And 
denouncing those who have stifled it or tried.) Without actually 
reading any of my posts, Dallas decides that they are along the same 
lines as Brigitte's presumed attacks on HPB, and equally disgusting 
by the same criteria. Bottom line: Dallas, the "Paul Johnson" who 
disgusts you is a creation of your own imagination, and if you 
actually read my books or my posts you'd learn that. You were loaded 
for bear before I ever came along, and when I did you saw me as a 
bear and have been shooting intermittently ever since.

As to how this applies to me: my own construct of fundamentalist 
fanaticism running rampant everywhere does tend to constellate fear. 
Whatever movement one looks into, the hydra-headed fundamentalist 
monster can be found trying to stamp out independent thought. But 
even though such a construct and constellation gives some comfort, 
helps me understand why so many people in so many faith traditions 
are being so relentlessly hateful to those they perceive as heretical 
internal enemies, it also tends to stereotyping. It leads one to 
react towards the perceived pattern rather than the individual 
argument. To seeing people as agents of something diabolical. In 
fact, while a pattern does exist, perhaps the only way to prod people 
loose from fundamentalist fanaticism is to deal with them as 
individuals and address their individual concerns.


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