In the Magic Theatre

The philosopher William James once referred to philosophical rationalists as “tender minded” while philosophical empiricists were “tough minded”. Dealing with abstractions, as rationalists do, requires nothing more than a comfy chair, perhaps in front of the fire on a cold winter’s night with a nice cup of hot brandy to warm the stomach. Dealing with facts and, more importantly, the testing of facts requires you to get off the philosopher’s couch and go out into “the real world”. It is in this “real world” that engineering and science do their work (although today much of science is carried out on the modern equivalent of the philosopher’s armchair: a computer). The pragmatic philosophy which James espoused is a natural fit with the domains of life where you actually have to build something and test that it works.

Proving that things work takes time, energy and money and always more of these than you think it should. This should is itself an abstraction. You have a dream. You make a plan and in your plan you imagine the best case scenario, the shortest route to the goal where everything goes perfectly. That much can be done from the armchair. Turning the abstraction into reality requires dedication, focus, will power and persistence, among other attributes. Along the way, things go wrong, unexpected problems emerge, you get tired and you want to take short cuts. Sometimes you curse having ever started in the first place and you just want it to be over. That’s the workaday world of engineering and science. Only the tough minded need apply.

I recall a meeting earlier in my career which was at the start of a new project. The business people were outlining the reasons for doing the project. It was a nice story full of abstractions. I asked what seemed to me to be a simple and obvious question about one of the main outcomes the project was trying to achieve: “what percentage <of some metric> would you consider success?” The project manager had no answer and it was clear from her response that she hadn’t even thought about it. This is the norm in corporations. Often millions of dollars are spent on projects where nobody has even calculated the expected return on investment. Even on the one metric that you would expect businesses to care about, i.e. profit, the business plan doesn’t include a specific, measurable number. This makes sense politically, of course, because if you allow something to be tested you also allow the possibility of failure and therefore the possibility of being blamed for failure. Much easier to stay in the world of abstractions where things are not testable and failure can be glossed over.

That might work for business managers and politicians but it can’t work for engineering teams who are tasked with building something and need parameters to work with so that they can design and test a solution and know that it works. Let’s do a lightning overview of what that process looks like using an example that is very poignant at the moment. Imagine we are the engineering team at a pharmaceutical company. We have just started a new project where management has given us the task formulated as the following abstraction: “create a vaccine that is safe and effective against coronavirus”.

The first thing we need to do as engineers is break this abstraction down into testable statements. This involves asking questions like “what sort of vaccine”? “What does safe mean?” “What does effective mean?”

Let’s set aside the question of what is and is not a vaccine and focus on the two other abstractions in our brief: “safe” and “effective”.

“Safe” could mean any of the following:-

  • Causes 0 side effects or deaths
  • Causes some temporary side effects but no death or permanent injury
  • Causes some temporary side effects and some deaths and permanent injuries

But these are too vague for science and engineering. We need specific, testable parameters. For example:

  • Causes temporary side effects in no less than 97.56% of cases

This statement is better but it still contains the abstraction “temporary”. We need to be specific about that too:

  • Causes side effects that last shorter than 60 days in no less than 97.56% of cases.

That’s better but we still need to define what counts as a “side effect”. If our vaccine caused a pain in the arm for an hour after injections but otherwise no other symptoms we wouldn’t consider it “unsafe”. So, we need to be more specific. We could reformulate the parameter as follows:

  • Causes side effects that require hospitalisation within 60 days of treatment in no less than 97.56% of cases.

This is the kind of statement that can be tested but it’s just one among many testable statements that form the parameters by which the engineering team can start to design a solution and then to test that the solution works. We would need to do the same for the abstraction “effective”.

Is this attention to detail hard work? Sure is. But that’s just the beginning. The reason we create testable assertions is so that engineering team can design the solution and then we can test the solution to make sure it meets the criteria. In the design, implementation and testing phases, ambiguities pop up, unforeseen problems arise, new information comes to light and we need to continually refine our analysis. For example, let’s say you notice that people in your study are suffering heart attack at four times the rate seen in the average population. You didn’t include heart attack in your list of side effects because you had no reason to think it was relevant to this particular medication. Should you now include it? You’ll probably need to go off and investigate the cause of the heart attack to try and figure out whether it can be traced to the vaccine or whether it was a statistical anomaly. What if it’s not something acute like heart attack but the fact that people are reporting subjective feelings of fatigue or aches and pains. Do they count as side effects? If somebody has persistent headaches for two years, do we include this person in the statistics even if we can’t find any explanation that establishes why the vaccine caused it? These are all the kinds of questions that pop up along the way in an engineering project.

These three elements – the abstraction, the testable statements that prove it and the testing that verifies the testable statements – can be thought of as a hierarchical structure where you drill down from abstractions to testable statements and then come back up from testing to the statements tested and then back up to the abstraction.

The world of abstractions is simple and comfortable. The real work begins in the realm of testable statements and testing. It’s down there where it’s easy to get lost, bogged down in ambiguity, confused, demoralised and weary. That’s why empiricism is for the tough minded who can stay focused and know how to navigate up and down through the hierarchy.

Note that this is just the beginning of the “fun” when it comes to testing things like vaccines. Because vaccines deal with the living biological world which is always in a process of becoming, any testing is fundamentally time dependent and quickly becomes out of date. This is especially true with rapidly mutating respiratory viruses. [This is a non-trivial problem and in my opinion the cold, hard, reductionist, analytical methods of the intellect cannot adequately explain the biological world and a huge part of our problem is that we believe that they can.]

Another issue is who gets to say that 97.56% is the cutoff at which a vaccine is called “safe”? One person’s “safe” is another person’s “not safe”. This leads to a second issue which is that, although it is valid to generalise across populations, a statistical average guarantees nothing about the safety to an individual. This is especially true with medical interventions where the number of variables to consider is astronomical. Thus, it’s not actually possible to say that something is “safe” at the individual level. At the individual level there is always an element of risk and that risk cannot be known in advance. Even if a vaccine had proven 100% safe up until now, the next person who takes it could get sick or die from it. For them it wasn’t “safe”.

The statistical average can and should inform our decision, of course. This is the kind of personalised advice that a doctor gives before administering a medical intervention. It should always come with the caveat that statistical average are just that and there is an irreducible element of risk at the individual level. That’s why it is always the patient who must assume the risk of any decision about whether to go ahead with treatment.  

All this gets brushed aside when politicians intervene and demand that a vaccine is safe and effective. Politicians almost exclusively stay up in the world of abstractions for the reasons outlined earlier. In the world of abstractions, you can escape responsibility for failure; one of the key skills of any politician. Much public discourse relies on the unspoken assumption that somewhere “the experts” are doing the hard work of creating testable statements and then testing them. There is no reason, of course, why politicians couldn’t just report the findings of the experts. They could say that in 97.56% of cases there are no side effects. Strangely enough, this is exactly what the West Australian Premier did recently when he made the following statement:

“So far, the science shows that people with only two doses of a Covid vaccine have only a 4 per cent protection against being infected by the Omicron variant,” Mr McGowan said. “With a third dose it can provide a 64 per cent protection against infection.”

The statement was unusual not just because politicians normally avoid being so specific but also because these statements are not very flattering to the stated policy of the Premier. 64% isn’t a particularly impressive number. Nevertheless, it would be nice to have more such statements in public discourse because they give us something to bite into as good empiricists. Note that there is ambiguity in the Premier’s statement. Is the Premier is saying 64% of the vaccinated people are protected from being infected 100% of the time or 100% of the vaccinated have a 64% chance of not being infected any given time they are exposed to the virus? This is the kind of question we would ask when constructing testable statements. It’s also the kind of question a good journalist would ask so that the public can understand what is being said. Having clarified that, a good journalist should also ask the Premier to point to the evidence that proves the truth of the statement.

There was an example of this kind of reporting just recently in this unintentionally hilarious press conference from the US where a defence spokesman makes a claim about Russia which is challenged by a journalist who asks for proof. We could break the spokesman’s claim down as follows:

Abstraction: Russia might commit a false flag disinformation campaign in Ukraine

Testable statement: we have information about Russia hiring people to carry out the false flag

Testing: source evidence which shows that Russia hired people

In the video, the reporter asks the defence spokesman to provide the evidence, which in this case means show us the intelligence you have that Russia hired people to do the thing you say they are going to do. The spokesman responds by saying that him making the statement at the press conference IS the evidence which, the journalist rightly points out, is not real evidence. It gets funnier from there and I recommend watching the video for yourself.

Of course, this is merely funny (unless it happens to start WW3) but almost the exact same thing was attempted with the releasing of the pharmaceutical companies’ documents about the trials done on the corona vaccines. Originally it was ruled that Big Pharma could wait seventy five years before releasing their evidence, which amounts to not ever having to release it. But that was overruled and apparently the evidence is due to be released soon although still more than a year later than it should have been if you wanted doctors and the public to actually make an informed choice about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Why weren’t journalists (and doctors for that matter) demanding to see the evidence about the vaccines? We can come up with a host of reasons why but the truth is that they didn’t and neither did most of the people who got the vaccine. The willingness to follow the abstraction without demanding evidence represents a general trend away from tough minded empiricism and towards tender minded abstractions that has been in train for some time. Empiricism takes time and resources. Both of these are lacking these days because we are going backwards economically and because the “pace of life” has sped up. Actually, this speeding up is itself a symptom of decline. We don’t have time to do the job properly anymore. Journalism is a useful yardstick here because proper investigative journalism is an empirical science which takes time and therefore money to do properly. There is no longer any money for proper journalism and thus journalism simply parrots abstractions. That’s all it can do. Abstractions are quick and easy and don’t require any work.

With our abstractions no longer grounded in reality, our public discourse flails around wildly. It reminds me of the last quarter of Hermann Hesse’s book Steppenwolf where Harry Haller enters the “magic theatre” and there follows a kaleidoscope of abstractions swirling so fast it makes one nauseous to read it (as was intended by Hesse). We’ve all been sucked into that magic theatre in the last two years; locked at home watching the kaleidoscope of pictures on screens. In truth, it’s all just been one giant projection. One giant Rorschach test. Just like in Steppenwolf, the speeding up of the abstractions represents the culmination of a process that’s been building for a while. That process is a mental breakdown. That’s what Haller goes through in the book and what we are going through right now at the societal level.

It’s possible this mental breakdown is the end of a cycle. That’s what Hesse implies in Steppenwolf. It takes the nausea of abstractions spinning out of control to throw us out of the comfortable world of “rationalism” and back to reality. But the abstractions that are spinning out of control now are not just limited to the ones specific to a supposed new respiratory virus. Almost everything seems to be up for grabs including things like “democracy” and “science” both of which are fundamental to our understanding of what western society is. Viewed “logically” or “rationally”, it should never had gotten to this point. There were so many off ramps along the way that could have been taken. Viewed psychologically, however, it makes sense. Like wood on the floor of a forest waiting to catch fire, we had built up far too many dead abstractions not tied back to reality. They need to get burned away for something new to grow. Like Harry Haller, we are hitting rock bottom and it’s only once we have hit rock bottom that we can start the process of getting ready to face the real world again.

26 thoughts on “In the Magic Theatre”

  1. My work is one in close contact with the lowest classes’ realm of abstractions, and in an area where “cleanup work” by the authorities has been intensified recently.

    What they hope to clean up beyond mere undesirable bodies is unclear, as is whether there is any form of realization amongst the undesirables that to ditch the abstraction layer they too are actively participating in is a necessary first step.
    I’m not seeing any signs of that happening, the two Carola years barely registering. Experts in passivity and self-righteousness.

    With both the top and bottom paralysed, any middle-class engineer will be worth his weight in gold.

  2. Michael – it could be that this is just the beginning (actually, my analysis would be that Trump/Brexit was the beginning). How long does a society-wide mental collapse take? Maybe decades.

  3. You mentioned fuel building up on the forest floor. You’ve probably heard of fire suppression and what its long-term consequences are. Crown fires become not only a probability, but an inevitability. We have run out of cheap hydrocarbons, yet ironically a final conflagration is all that our civilization seems capable of imagining.
    Coming from a country where people probably felt a lot more useful and content picking up bricks in a charred moonscape than eating and partying themselves to death a few years later, the will it would take for their grandchildren to not want to see their even more miserable lives go up in flames is not a widespread trait. It won’t take decades, not here.

  4. Gday mate,
    Good metaphor the fuel build up on the forest floor. It was entertaining to let the village idiots run the show for a few decades, but there are consequences.
    What do you make of the events in Canada in the context of the story?

  5. Michael – we know all about fires here in Australia. White people have shown themselves unable to prevent massive bushfires here while evidence suggests the indigenous folk did. Once again, this points to the inability of analytical intellect to deal with “nature”. Fires are a lot like recessions. You want to have a lot of small ones. If you don’t, you end up with one big one. So a hysterical focus on “safety” which prevents any and all minor problems only leads to the build up of big problems. That’s pretty much where we are now across the board in the west. We have a series of big problems that are only getting bigger as we try to micromanage the small ones.

    Roland – one of the things that struck me about the truckers was that they have real leaders. On the other hand, Trudeau is not a real leader. He just happens to be Prime Minister. Same with our Prime Minister who is pathologically incapable of even the tiniest display of actual leadership. That strikes me as another example of empty abstractions. The people we give the title of leader are not leaders and continually fail the test of leadership. So the truckers convoy is an example of real leaders who don’t have official titles up against people with official titles who aren’t leaders. Whatever happens from here, the display of real leadership shown by the truckers will be very powerful, I think.

  6. “White people have shown themselves unable to prevent massive bushfires”. I think this is wrong in an interesting way.
    As you know, i am a long time member of the RFS and have a bit of an idea about how to deal with bushfires.
    White people as such were perfectly capable of preventing the fires, as long as the task of hazard reduction burning was left in the hands of local brigades. Usually the captain was a local farmer who had a deep understanding of local conditions and could easily pick the right time and approach for back burns. At some point in the last 20 years powers were more and more moved to the headquarter. This meant the task changed from easy and quick to organise to a lengthy buerocratic nightmare, that did in no way respect local conditions.
    This is actually one of the reasons that I am no longer active in the fire service.
    It illustrates your point nicely. A task that was handled based on rich empirical knowledge is now governed by abstract rules. We know the outcome.
    Another relevant point here is that unlike many other languages the english language has only one concept for “knowing”. German for instance has “kennen” and “wissen”. Two very different things. “Wissen” is logical and abstract, “kennen” is intuitive and concrete.
    Although this does not seem to prevent Germans from falling into the same trap as the English speaking nations.

  7. Roland – good point. So, it’s not so much a philosophical problem as the fact that white people probably weren’t dispersed as much as the indigenous and therefore didn’t have enough people on the ground where it mattered and, even when we did have people on the ground, we tied their hands behind their backs.

  8. The greatest Australian thinkers I know of, from P.A. Yeomans to Peter Andrews and Walter Jehne, invariably work in that field. Responding to the prospect of a Weltenbrand.

  9. Michael – yes. One way or another we’ll have to learn to live on this land. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it looks like we’re going to try all the ways that don’t work before trying the ones that do.

  10. Nice work Simon touches on a lot of the issues regarding the lack of negative feedback that is present in the modern world. This is what allows people to live in a completely abstract world. I remember Greer writing that late civilisations usually run into this problem as the movers and shakers all live in cities, where their daily needs are taken care of by others often at large distances. This leads the urban dwellers (and therefore the civilisation) to delve deeper and deeper into abstraction land as the real world eventually collapses around them.

    What’s crazy about our industrial civilisation is that this has even happened to the farmers themselves, which was brought home in the recent fertiliser price spike. Modern Industrial ag attempts to externalise costs and bulldoze past any negative feedback in a similar manner to the corporate world, while being completely reliant on massive fossil fuel inputs from diesel to spray to fertiliser. As a farmer myself I’m shocked at how much the subtle, contextual and intuitive knowledge base has declined or been outsourced to agronomists as everything is attempted to be patched over by more and more synthetic inputs. It’s another symptom of the problems noted in this discussion in which a fast paced, broad brush, beauracratic monster eats up any localised solutions.

  11. Skip – to a large extent we’re reaping the product of an ideology that was popular among the baby boomers that everybody had to go to university. I don’t know where that came from but my parents had it, so did my uncles and aunts and so did politicians at that time (Hawke and Keating). So, yeah, we sent everybody off to university and created jobs for them to run things not because it was a good idea but because our ideology said so. Now the main question is can we reverse the trend before everything collapses. I think the average person can “feel” the problem and that’s why there is this persistent background of anxiety in our society.

    Ugo – thanks for that. Great review. You’re correct that my writing is inspired by movie scripts. My first novel was originally written as a screenplay. I would love to see them turned into movies (anybody from Hollywood reading this?). I would say, though, that comedy is the one genre where the protagonist does not evolve. Rather, as you say, they end up right where they started. So, “the point” of comedy is that it is fun. Nothing more. Having said that, I would like to think that story also symbolically mirrors exactly what you noted. We are a society of social media friends rather than real friends, pornography and sexual titillation rather than romance, obsessed with money etc. We can cry about it or we can laugh. The book chooses the latter option.

  12. ” to a large extent we’re reaping the product of an ideology that was popular among the baby boomers that everybody had to go to university.”

    This is also a major problem in Germany. With the increasing quantity of students, the average quality decreased. If I combine my own observations with the stories of my parents, I can attest:

    1. University degrees are pretty much worthless, as I have seen people getting PhDs, where I wouldn´t even attest a university entrance qualification. Perseverance was their only positive trait. This not only applies to the humanities, which seem to be the breeding ground of our current crop of clueless politicians, but also to life sciences.

    2. University is pretty much just an extension of school with a more or less fixed curriculum to get as many students through as possible. Back when my mother was studying, the studies were way more free and within the responsibility of the student.

    3. The increased number of students dimishes the posibility to get into a mentoring relationship with the teaching staff. My mother has told me numerous stories about her deep relationship with all the professors which were part of her studies.

    4. Due to the mainly imaginary entitlement coming with even the most useless university degree, people don´t want to do any work below their qualification. I remember one conversation that I had with my wife and a few friends of her. They were all PhDs in a life science, yet they met at a training institute for further qualification, as they did not get a job with their PhD alone. All of them were complaining, that they are so qualified and still don´t get a job, while I was thinking: “Qualified for what? For an eternal life a the university maybe.” As a consequence of this overproduction of academics, we have a shortage of craftsmen and need to import them from other countries (construction is basically in Eastern European and Turkish hands as far as I know). In addition, the useless academics also are unhappy that they don´t get the job that they are entitled due to their “qualification”. As mentioned above, a lot of them become politicians. As a consequence, we seem to have the most stupid politicians imaginable in positions of power.

    I don´t see how we can solve these issues without a major collapse happening.

  13. Agree with Roland and it’s not just limited to the fire service – I think that “let’s get bigger and more centralized” narrative (with attendant bureaucratic power) is one of the grand narratives of the 20th and early 21st century especially after WW2, and accelerating even more in the last 20 years.

    I am a police officer in England and have seen a very similar process happen over the years – much more centralized, much more bureaucracy, much more paperwork, much more targets, much less empiricism or judgment or local knowledge. To give just one example of many, the despatchers who route emergency calls to police officers used to be locally based, familiar with the geography as well as the local troublemakers and could be relied upon for accurate guidance for police officers on the ground (like when doing a foot chase of suspects or whatever). Now they are in a couple of centralized hubs far away using Google Maps – I’ll leave it to everyone’s imagination how that is going..

    It seems to me that a similar process happened in medicine with bureaucratic “standards of care” and guidelines replacing the individual doctor patient relationship and judgment to greater and greater degrees.

    Of course, there is a balance – size does have benefits of scale as well as other benefits, and certain minimum standards (in policing or healthcare or fire handling) are beneficial, but the West as a whole probably went over the optimum balance somewhere in the 1990s, if not earlier, and is way down the Too Big side now..

  14. Secretface: great points. That matches my experience too. Another thing that I saw was that we let students choose an area of study for their honours thesis and beyond. Sounds like a good idea except there is rarely a supervisor who has specific knowledge of whatever they choose. It would be better to have the supervisor choose an area of study for the student that is within the supervisor’s specialty. That would also create the personal relationship that is lacking. As for whether we can turn it around, clearly every country needs to take a random trucker and put them in charge until it’s sorted out (only half joking).

    Anon: thanks for that. Interesting to know that this happening in other western countries too. I wonder how much of this is economic. We don’t have the money and resources to pay for people who know what they’re doing, so we get somebody far away with only generic skills and knowledge. Of course, they have to be using a Big Tech product so that we can pretend that it’s not really economic decline but “progress”. If Big Tech had its way, they would probably take over the police force and run it using robots.

  15. @secretface
    it seems like perseverance is the main factor of success in most areas these days. Maybe that explains the mess we’re in.

  16. University has just become a racket like everything else, with high school a feeder system to make sure the Universities get their share of paying customers. Instead of educating, they act as middlemen gate keepers to employment in the corporate or government employment matrix. All the 15 year plus education journey does is produce compliant worker bees who really struggle to think for themselves. The most interesting thinkers almost always drop out or finish and quickly go into something with more self direction.

    The numbing of critical thinking through this process has really been brought home over the last two years. My friends I met at university who are now employed in the corporate world or government professions (teaching, nursing) have been the most obedient covidian cultists, while my drop out friends who have more traditional hands on skills and employment have been sceptical, and far more likely to come out with an original thought regarding the whole drama. Now this can also be explained by the former being dependent upon following the party line for their income, whereas the latter has more leeway to say ‘get stuffed’ through self employment and less care about following the crowd. Their are also class issues at work. But it has been shocking to watch the usual assumptions of ‘intelligence’ be flipped completely backwards, and the term no longer means much. ‘Obedience’ might be a better term, which is interesting as we use that term with animals when they do a smart trick at our command.

  17. Skip – agree. The Canadian truckers and the tradies who I listened to during the livestream of that big tradie rally in Melbourne all spoke calmly, clearly and rationally about the situation. They knew exactly what was going on. Meanwhile, your average office worker has become a religious fundamentalist. I have a theory for why that is. Will be in my next post.

  18. @Skip
    That’s what i get too. Currently working in a corporate office. First time in 15 years, and I had quite forgotten how stupid these people are. Group think all around, with very few exceptions no one seems able to think a thought that has not been approved by the lame stream media.
    Hate the job, love the paycheck…
    Maybe I should treat it like an anthropological project. Investigating this bizarre cult from the inside.

    @Simon looking forward to that next post. I got a few theories on that too.

  19. Oh, I have a theory about that, too 🙂
    Ten years ago, Joe Rogan used to rave about his isolation tank and how the lack of sensual stimulation – in combination with some “herbal energy” – produced interesting experiences. (Dunno if he still does so.)
    That scales, but not in a good way.
    The office fundamentalists are part of a global isolation tank experiment where electric overstimulation in an energy-saturated physical environment devoid of any non-artificial physical contact produces results.

  20. Simon – I hope your mental breakdown diagnosis is right. Sometimes I think the West is sliding into dementia (population ageing, increasing redundancy, disorientation, a depression epidemic, loss of problem-solving skills & memory & language, shortened attention spans etc.), & thence to terminal dependency on the medical profession… Re the hysterical focus on ‘safety’: I saw this focus pushed to the limit when my mother was in aged care. It hastens physical & mental deterioration & death, & deludes relatives that their residents are getting real care. A lot of the time, ‘safety’ procedures are just for show, they’re not even consistent, effective or logical. (An example was when, due to Covid, all visitors had to get flu shots.) A mental breakdown – minus medical intervention & institutionalisation! – sounds way preferable w/ its prospect of an eventual return to the real world.

  21. Michael – that makes a lot of sense and ties in with my broad analysis. I have an anecdote on that front. When corona kicked off, i was working from home in my back room which has heaps of natural light. Plus, i was able to open the window onto my back garden which has chickens and lots of other birds etc. When the time finally came to go back to the office, (more than a year later), i found myself really struggling to keep my eyes open even though there was more social stimulation in the office. I think the lack of sunlight was the main issue. There’s been studies done on how lack of sunlight affects concentration and other cognitive functions, not in a good way.

    Shane – we certainly fit most of the symptoms for dementia at the moment. Societies can regenerate unlike individuals. Whether we will is a question that I don’t think we can know at this point. As for the aged care thing, yep, I saw the exact same with my grandfather. One of the things I’ve been thinking about in the last two years is how not to end up in one of those places. That will be my goal if I make it that far.

  22. @Anon
    Regarding the scale of human organizations and constructions, I can recommend the book “The Human Scale” by Kirkpatrick Sale. He argues that there is an optimal size for everything made by humans and that you run into trouble if something gets too big. Today, everything seems too big (corporations, government, etc.).
    Regarding your job experience as a police officer, I thought about the stories my mother told me about having a smaller police department within each city district. In addition to the advantages that you already mentioned, the people in the district often knew their police officer personally. I think that this greatly increases the acceptance of law enforcement in comparison to the current anonymous system. I have a lot of friends who actively hate the police, maybe this is somehow related.
    As my mother was growing during the so called “Wirtschaftswunder” in Germany, maybe this decentralized network of police officers was related to an abundance of resources. As we are transitioning to an age of scarcity, these services cannot be offered on a high-quality level, as stated by Simon.

    @Roland
    That could be the case. I would also add the being part of an alleged victim group or a “representative” of such a group is beneficial for success.

    @Skip
    I can also confirm that most of my friends from academia and colleagues at work seem to be completely brainwashed regarding Covid. Most of them don´t know that I am one of the dirty people. I am not sure whether they would accept that, as some of them function as signal amplifiers for the government.
    However, I have a small circle of friends from academia, which seem to be resistant to Covid propaganda. They are related to esoteric anthroposophical circles (Waldorf school, etc.). Maybe their indoctrination is different compared to people going through the state school system that they are more resistant to governmental propaganda.

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