Interviewer: Richard Grannon
Transcript by Vianne Fischer, DK
Richard Grannon: Richard Grannon
Sam Vaknin: SV
Richard Grannon: You were saying, the social media shaped people's approach to the real world, it shaped their approach to debate. I mean, we can definitely see that in the political sphere. Do you think that there is a rising tide of anti-intellectualism because of social media?
SV: Yeah of course. Not even social media, but the internet. You see, throughout human history we had something that I, between me and myself, call sacred spaces. Sacred spaces were physical spaces, where only certain people were given access. Of course one prime example of a sacred space is a book. A book was a space. Only certain people were given access. A television program or a movie, or in earlier times hieroglyphs, religious rituals and so on. There was always filters, there was always a gatekeeper, someone or a group or a committee or someone who looked at your qualifications, your background, your motivation, emotions, your stability or I don't know what. Whatever the criteria/no criteria may have been, they granted you access or denied you access to a privileged space.
Internet was the first time where all space was created equal, and there was no longer privileged space. Pennsylvania State University, Richard Grannon, Sam Vaknin and Sam Vaknin’s goldfish, all had identical space, identical access - and the ability to put up content that was indistinguishable, in the sense that it used the same characters, same images. This egalitarianism of space, spacial egalitarianism, was automatically translated in people's minds to, what I call, malignant egalitarianism.
For me malignant egalitarianism is the counter-factual, the wrong, belief or conviction, that all people are created equal, as far as their access to the truth and to knowledge. All people are created equal in some other senses, there is no debate about this, or people are created equal as far as their right to live, right to life, well maybe with my exception [Richard Grannon laughing]. All people are created equal as far as access to opportunities, they should have equal access to opportunities etc. etc. We all know the list of uncontested equalities. But it is absolutely untrue, that all people are created equal; either in their capacity to acquire knowledge and verify the truth, or in their willingness to do so. Utterly untrue.
Why did we develop this mass delusion? And we did!
First of all, there is, as I said, the issue of space. Everyone has equal space. If I have the same space like a university, automatically it might be translated or interpreted by some people, that I'm as authoritative as the university, as irudite as university, with the same background, same history and so on so forth.
I’ve identified 4 clusters of pathologies, which led to the development of malignant egalitarianism. But before I go into these four clusters, I want to say why malignant egalitarianism is at all important.
Because it would spell the end of the species if it is not overcome - and this I’m saying judiciously - it would spell the end of the species if it is not tackled, and tackled soon. In the absence of expertise, in the absence of truth, in the absence of knowledge, we will not survive as a species.
Nothing differentiated us from any other extinct species. We are weaker, we are smaller, we are badly designed in many respects. For example, we don't have fur to protect us from the weather. I mean, we are not well constructed for survival. The only thing, of course, that stands between us and annihilation, is the truth, knowledge, the ability to discern them, to generate them, to accumulate them and to pass them on. The only thing. If we give this up, there is no relative advantage and we will go extinct. It's extremely obvious.
Richard Grannon: 100% agree, 100 % agree.
Sam Vaknin: I think there are 4 pathologies, that led to this situation:
The first one is of course narcissism. Narcissism is of a few strands.
You'll have to bear with me, because I prepared this presentation, because I have no interest to hear what you have to say [both laughing]. A big honesty, isn't this commendable?
Richard Grannon: The honesty is commendable.
Sam Vaknin: Yes, shouldn't I be praised for my honesty, however sadistic it may be? [laugh]
So, narcissism is of a few strands:
First of all there is, what I call, identicalness. They believe, that we are all identical.
Then there is omniscience. Omniscience got a boost. Omniscience is pathological defensive narcissism. The narcissist belief, that he knows everything, that you cannot teach him anything. Therefore narcissists have resistance to learning, because they perceive learning as narcissistic injury, as a challenge to their omniscience. This used to be the preserve of narcissists. Most people would have said: Yes, I really don't know many things, yes please teach me, I would like to learn.
What changed that, is the internet. Suddenly everyone knows everything, because everyone has access to Wikipedia. That's it. Now everyone is omniscient with a single click of the mouse, or even with the tap of the screen. You want to know what happened in 1066, it’s a tap away. So, in which sense, for example, is a professor of history a superior to you? He knows what happened in 1066, and so could you. You're both of equal knowledge. Only you chose not to realize this potential, but it exists. And it doesn't require a lot of work, it's very easy. So, you’re omniscient by definition.
Then there is the issue of confusing information with knowledge.
Information is unstructured raw. When you take it and process it, it becomes knowledge. The internet encourage us to think, that information is knowledge. Everything comes in ”huge dollops of guin”, you know, and we tend to confuse this with knowledge. So if you know what happened in 1066, you have information, you don't have knowledge at all. You don't know the context, you don't know the true history, the background, the decision making, nothing. You know the information. So, we confuse information with knowledge.
This is again something that narcissists do. What narcissists do in order to impress you: They accumulate a lot of anecdotes, a lot of anecdotal information. They accumulate a lot of bits of informations. Then they throw it at you. And they overwhelm you, they paralyze you with this river of endless… and you say ’wow this guy's amazing, he’s so knowledgeable’. He is not! He's a trash bin of anecdotes, factors, spiring it up.
The next thing (remember there is 4 clusters) that has to do with narcissism, is attention span deficit. We have a deficit of attention span owing to technologies, that encourage us not to pay attention. But it's also a narcissistic trait. Think for a minute, if you are omniscient, why should you pay attention? Paying attention is by itself narcissistic injury. It means you are less than perfect. You have to invest an effort in order to become perfect, so we are less than perfect. It's a narcissistic challenge. Attention span problems have a lot to do with rising narcissism.
Then there is dichotomous thinking, also known as splitting. Dichotomous thinking means black and white, evil and good, right and wrong, enemy and friend, and so on, dividing the world in two axises. This of course doesn't encourage sensitivity to nuances and subtleties and so on, and it's also a narcissistic thing. It also contributes to the feeling, that you know everything. And you know everything as well as anyone else, because the dichotomous thinking doesn't require training. It's pretty instinctive or I would even say reflexive. So if you engage in it, you're as good as anyone else. So again, it equates you with everyone else.
Finally, there is a kind of tendency for shortcuts and shorthand, like cliffsnotes. The world has become one giant repository of cliffsnotes. I even saw services telling you ’Why read the books, we will send you summaries of the books, and then you can read 4 books a day. We can send you summaries’. I saw services of this kind. There are apps, that send you resumes of films, so you don't need to see the film. Shortcuts and shorthand connected to everything else. I say: The attention span is dead!
But this has to do with something even deeper, and that is the perception of complexity as narcissistic injury. If it's complex, it's against you. If it's complex, it's an insult. In other words: Everything that is complex, is perceived as a direct attack on your omnipotence, omniscience, godlike perfection and so on so forth. For the very simple reason, that the vast majority of people cannot perceive, cannot understand complexity. For them it's a challenge. They feel challenged by the very fact that it's complex, so they resent complexity.
The whole thing I just mentioned, identicalness and so on, is actually a rejection of complexity, in favor of one dimensionality - Marcuse’s: ”One-Dimensional Man” - reducing the world to a simple dimension, to allow everyone to feel godlike. Because if you're not godlike, you are zero. Dichotomous thinking, either hero or zero. Nothing in between.
How to become a hero, how to become a god? Reduce the universe! Don't enhance yourself, reduce the universe. That ties into pathological envy. Pathological envy is not about emulating or imitating and becoming better. It's about reducing and destroying the object of frustration. In this case the object of frustration is the whole world. I resent the fact, that I cannot understand 99% of what's happening around me. I don't understand physics, I don’t understand politics, I don't understand nothing.
And so, I have two choices. I have a choice between two alternatives. I can say ’listen, I don't understand politics and physics and biology and chemistry, so I'm not being an idiot. Which is true in the vast majority of cases. Or you can say ’well, actually it's not so complex, I mean this is all bulls***, it's all in Wikipedia, we need to norm this’. In other words, reduce the world. Reduce it, simplify it, spread it out, make it one-dimensional. Then you feel at home. There's no complexity anymore. This is narcissism and rejection of complexity.
The second cluster is what I call unmooring. Unmooring is the most fascinating core of malignant egalitarianism.
Mooring, which was the state before the internet, was when you knew where the anchor was. You were sailing in a choppy ocean, but always knew your course, you knew the stars, you knew the anchor. The anchor was your doctor, the professor, the gatekeepers, the authority figures, the stars were the intellectuals. I mean, you knew your relative positioning. There were certainty in the world: The certainty of erudition, the certainty of learning, the certainty of history, historical precedent, the certainty of authority. There was certainty. This I call mooring.
Don't misunderstand me. Many of these experts were wrong, many authorities got it [wrong], it's not the issue. But there was a process to weed out mistakes and errors, and that process was known as a scientific method. So, part of the mooring was to trust the process. Not necessarily the end results of the process, but the belief that the process in every sphere, in science, in politics, in journalism, that the process will ultimately lead to a good place. Yes, you could have many Nixon's, but the system will work. Yes, you could have many many mistakes in physics, but there would be an Einstein. Yes, you could have many many fake news, but ultimately New York Times will win. I mean, there was some compass. The internet destroyed all this, and now we are unmoored.
Again, I identified a few strands:
The first is truthiness, the belief that truth is relative. Anything could be true at any given period in any given place, and dependent on observers. Things are not true or untrue, they are true on condition or they are true relative to or they are true supposing. They are true, but! So until the internet, everything was true or false. Now we have a third condition: True - false - possibly true.
Richard Grannon: I've noticed that idiots love that belief, they cling to that belief, and they'll thrust it in your face proudly: ’You know, it's only true for you, but just because it's true for you, doesn't mean it's true for me’.
Where do we go from here?
Sam Vaknin: For example, you can say the earth is round. ’Why? YOU believe that’. I mean, we're not talking about your beliefs about trauma, which could be debated. Well, looking at your muscles, maybe it's a bad idea. [Richard Grannon laughing]. I'm talking about: Is the earth round, does vaccination create autism. I talk about scientific facts. Everything is up for grabs. There is truth-false and what you choose to be true or not. In other words: Truthiness empowers people to decide what is true, even if they have zero qualifications to decide what is true. It's again a form of narcissism.
The second strand in unmooring, is the multiverse. I call it the multiverse, the multiverse delusion. The multiverse delusion is: Well, maybe it's not true right here and now, but because everything could be possible somewhere at some time, it is possibly true. You know what I’m saying? I'm not kidding.
Richard Grannon: It's logic, but it's a perversion of logic, it’s like a fake logic.
Sam Vaknin: It's an irrelevant logic. Yes, there could be a universe, in the infinity of time there could be a universe, where Adolf Hitler would be the world's leading altruist, and it would be Nelson Mandela who opened Auschwitz. Absolutely there could be such a world, but how is this relevant? We will never have access to this world, we are not sure when it will materialize, let's say maybe in 15 billion years… It's not relevant. This kind of people say: Well, maybe it's relevant, maybe it's true here and now, but it's possible to be true somewhere sometimes. So I call it the multiverse delusion.
Then there is a third strand, which is paranoia and distrust. Distrust of mainstream media, of government, of experts, of scientists, of commentators. Everyone is assumed to have an ulterior motive, a conspiracy, hidden agenda, so there is utter distrust.
Distrust of authority is a very healthy thing, nothing wrong with that, but only on condition that you agree on a protocol or a methodology to replace one authority with another. If you discard ”the authority baby” with ”the protocol bathwater”, you are left with no possibility to establish authority; all with the universal challenge that says: No one and nothing is ever in authority. Which is the current state. By the way, what I'm describing is by now universal. 10 years ago it was French groups, now it’s universal.
If you talk to people today, they don't say: ”Listen, the New York Times sucks, it has an agenda, it has hidden motivatons, profit motive, it has this, it has that. But I believe, that if we establish another paper and it will be designed this way, it will be okay.” They are saying: ”You can't trust any media” or they are saying ”All scientists are fake.” I mean, they don't allow for authority to emerge at all.
Authority is critical for truth and knowledge. Critical. It is a logical fallacy to accept truth and knowledge only by virtue of authority, because there is no possibility to have truth and knowledge without authority. None. You go to a doctor. He is an authority, otherwise they will not be treated properly. And indeed, that's one of the major battle fields, where millions and tens of millions of people are challenging doctors, telling them: ”This is your version and this is my version. I can treat cancer with herbs and crystals, and you can treat cancer with chemotherapy, that’s what YOU say. Maybe.” I mean, it's equally valid. This is the result of [paranoia and distrust].
The next issue is disintermediation. Disintermediation is a general process, where people got rid of gatekeepers. The result is, that last year  3.2 million books were published on Amazon Kindle alone, 3.2 million. Until the year 1900, the cumulative number of books published in human history, was 10 million. In a single year 3.2 million were published on Amazon Kindle.
Richard Grannon: All of them excellent, well written? [laughing]
Sam Vaknin: There are no gatekeepers. Because they're no gate gatekeepers, no editors, no readers, no proof readers, no nothing. Because there’s not gatekeepers, we are flooded. This creates a problem known as discoverability. How do you discover the perl among the swine? How do you separate trash from good content? Because we just agreed that there is no authority, there's no way to do that.
Discoverability became the major problem, even in academia. Major problem. There are fake academic journals, fake academic conferences, fake books. Books with fake content, books with nonsense, nonsense masquerading as books. We are drowning in a swamp of trash, and in, excuse the expression, s***. Drowning. There ARE perls, absolutely there are perls, but they are missed because of discoverability. So, the combination of disintermediation and discoverability problem, is threatening our ability to make any kind of progress. Even in science it’s difficult to make progress, because you have millions of papers, that are not vetted, not peer-reviewed, not numbered, and you don't quite always know where [they are].
Of course there are still surviving gatekeepers, but they're challenged. They’re challenged even for example by academics. We have a massive movement of academics called ”The Open Access movement” that challenges establish peer-reviews academic journals. I would say about half of all academics in the world belong to Open Access movement. They want everything on the internet, free, mostly without peer review. It's a massive challenge.
Of course, within Open Access, there are still those who support gatekeeping, but even that is not the same gatekeeping. It's really lacks gatekeeping. Why? Because of publish or perish. The more you publish, the more your tenure is secure. All this leads to money. Amazon Kindle is because of money. People publish books to make money. In academia they want open access for money. It all leads to money. Money has replaced all other values, and here is the thing: Money IS the great equalizer! If you have a million dollars and I have a million dollars, we’re absolutely equal. We are not equal in the realm of knowledge, but we are equal as far as money. If money is the only value, we are equal, absolutely equal.
Money has become the only value. Why has money become the only value? Because it's the great equalizer. People think that money corrupted institutions and generated technology. No, no. Rising narcissism corrupted institutions, generated technology and elevated money to be the main value. Exactly opposite of the process. It was rising narcissism that created all this. In the 1950s, for example, there was also many rich people, money was revered. But Einstein was Einstein, he was the rock star of that period. People valued learning and erudition far more than money. Why, there was money? Because narcissism was not on the ascent. Now that it's on the ascent, it transformed our values, our technologies and everything else.
The next cluster is hallow affect. The hallow effect is simply, that if you're a celebrity in one field, then automatically you are assumed to possess privileged access to information in authoritative knowledge in other, totally unrelated fields. You see actors interviewed on politics, politicians interviewed on literature, authors interviewed on science, scientists interviewed on philosophy and so on so forth. I'm not just saying that you shouldn't interview footballplayers or chefs. I'm also saying that you shouldn't interview a biology Nobel Prize winner on ethics. He’s utterly unqualified to discuss ethics, as Maradona is. The hallow effect is poisonous and toxic. Not only when it is applied to non intellectuals. Actually much more so when it's applied to intellectuals, because they are assumed to possess universal thinking tools. And they don't. They don’t because of specialization. Today there are no universal geniuses. Everyone, you know, is very focused.
Of course the hallow effect is intimately connected with the celebrity culture. The thing is, that in the past we had very limited number of celebrities. When you wanted knowledge and information, there were celebrities of knowledge and information, so you advertised in Carl Sagan and so on. Today tech empowerment, the power of technology, made everyone an instant celebrity, if they choose to.
We have two examples: Instant celebrity. Celebrity, which used to be an obstacle, a hurdle, you had to earn celebrity. Today it’s much less of a problem. If you are a girl and you have enough bananas, you can be a celebrity. Much less of an obstacle. That creates an interesting paradox. On the face of it you can say, ’what can a girl with a banana teach me,’ and ’this is horrible’ and you know. But wait a minute. She has 16,8 million followers! She can shape their minds, she can affect them. This gives her inordinate power. Should I not listen to her by virtue of this power? In other words, it's a very confusing situation. On the one hand I agree, that she doesn't have the prerequisite qualifications, background. But on the other hand she has something else. She has power. We have always listened to men of power. We've listened to Julius Caesar and to Napoleon and so on. She has as many citizens as Napoleon did, and she looks much better, so shouldn't I listen to her?
Richard Grannon: They call them social influencers, don’t they?
Sam Vaknin: Yes, social influencers. So there is a dissonancem even in me. When I see that this girl say something about life, which she never does, but if one day she will say something about life, I am not very likely to ignore her completely. As I should have, because she's a teenager, not a very well developed teenager, playing with bananas. So I should have said, ’well many chimpanzees do that’. I should not read her posts. But again, I know I will, because I would say to myself, ’17 million other people are exposed to this post, what does it mean?’ So it creates a dissonance.
Tech empowerment creates power clusters, redistributes power. It never redistributes knowledge or information or intellect or anything else, but it redistributes power.
Ultimately it's all about survival. We need to identify powerful people, because if we misidentify them, we end up in Auschwitz. We need to know who is powerful and who is not. That, perhaps, is the most critical piece of information. You don't need to know what happened in 1066 in Hastings. You really don't. But you absolutely need to know, absolutely, what the chief of the police has in mind about you, if he's about to raid your apartment or not. I mean, this is relevant piece of information. A woman, a girl, who has 17 million followers, I need to know what she's thinking or not thinking.
So there’s this issue of empowerment via tech, which redistributes power and renders people, interesting or relevant, because of their power. Of course this automatically creates an anti-establishment wave, because if power is distributed, then establishment cannot exist.
Establishment is a monopoly of power. It's a concentration of power. Establishments throughout history monopolize power, and then rarefied power via a military, via police, via the courts. For example, look at the desperate attempts of the State Department to control WikiLeaks, in the time of Hillary Clinton. Nothing, nothing, they couldn't do anything. The most powerful, powered monopoly on earth, the United States government, a mammoth, a juggernaut, could not control a few retarded hackers, who jumped from server to server. Power has really shifted, and that destroys establishment.
Now I’m coming to your opening statement, which was when you were much younger [Richard Grannon laughing]. In your opening statement you asked me, ’are people against intellectuals’?
Well, yes, because in this anti-establishment wave, everyone who was identified with establishment, was carried away. Intellectuals and experts, at least from the 18th century, not before but from the 18th - I would even say 17th century - intellectuals and creative types like musicians and artists, all of them identified themselves with the establishment. This is a major break in human history. What happened? Until the 17th century creative people and intellectuals were dissidents. They never identified with establishment, they were prosecuted by the church, and persecuted by earthly power. They were always the revolutionaries.
Suddenly in the 17th century, there was a new system of patronage. If you were Mozart, you received a monthly stipend from the potent of Bavaria. If you were Herschel, if you were Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the powers that be, started to finance you. It’s from the 17th century, that there was an enormous break, where intellectuals and experts compromised themselves. They became employees of the establishment, or protegees of the establishment. And of course, the greatest example is the atomic bomb, where a group of hundreds of physicists, compromised themselves and worked for the government in creating a weapon of total mass destruction.
So when people started this anti-establishment wave, empowered by technology and redistributing power, they swept everyone, who compromised himself, away. I must admit, that all intellectuals and all experts are beholden to the establishment. Beholden. They work in establishments like universities, which are heavily financed by government. I mean, they are part of the establishment. If you get rid of the swamp in Washington, if you get rid of politicians, you will get rid of intellectuals, you will get rid of experts, because they are part of this. This is what’s happening.
The attack is not necessarily on intellect, because the people who are tackling intellectuals, pretend to be intellectuals. It’s not that they are saying, ’we don't want to be intellectual, we want to be idiots’. They say ’no, I'm just as good as you, and the only thing between us is, that I am independent. You are paid by the mainstream media or by university, but I'm independent. We’re same level, but I'm independent.’
It's not that people are anti-intellectual or anti-intellectualism, that's absolutely wrong. I’ve read it many times, but it's completely wrong. This is still the ideal: People want to be intellectual, they dream about it, they claim that they are. But the new ideal is independence, anti-establishment.
Similarly with expertise. People don't say ’we don't want experts’. They say first of all ’I’m as much an expert as you are, because I have access to the biggest library in human history, to the internet. With a few clicks of the mouse, I can know anything I want about anything, so I'm as much an expert as you. But the difference between us is, that I'm independent’. In other words, this is what José Ortega y Gasset called in the 1930s: ”The Revolt of the Masses”. It's about regaining power, recapturing power. So it’s a power game.
When these ”newfound intellectuals” and so-called self-styled experts came on the scene, deposing the old establishment. First deposing the old establishment symbolically on the internet, you couldn't talk if you were real intellectual. I remember, that when real professors trying to contribute to Wikipedia, they were chased away. I remember that, chased away. So the internet became ”expert-intellectual-free zone”, and to this very day you find no one, no intellectual. I mean, show me one forum, where some professor is, gone. Even forums of professors for professors, died. I used to be a member of many of them.
First they liberated the Internet. The masses liberated the internet, and made it independent zone. But then they liberated government, Duterte, Erdogan, Trump, Bolsonaro. They’re all revolt of the masses.
So they’ve liberated government now, but now they are faced with a unique situation: Who will certify - there is an issue of certification - who will certify, that they’re experts? How can they prove, that they’re intellectuals?
What they did:
1. They found areas of knowledge, where you can become instant expert. For example, if I ask you to be an expert or intellectual in nuclear physics or astrophysics, it might take you a while and - really don't be offended - but I doubt very much, if you’ll make it. If I ask you to become an expert on football, it take you a month, if you're very slow. And if I ask you to become an expert on astrology, a week. Suddenly fields of knowledge, which allowed you to claim, verifiably and truthfully, that you're an expert within a month or a week, came to prominence.
If you go to discussion boards of astrology, you will find 3 million people, 5 million people, and I'm not exaggerating. If you go to discussion boards of nuclear physics, you'd be lucky to find 8 hundred. People go to these boards of astrology, why? Because each and every single one of them claims to be an expert: ’I'm making natal charts, I discovered this, the conjunction of awareness with…’ I don't know who. They're all experts. And you know, when you analyze what they are writing, they ARE experts, because astrology requires a week. They’re real experts. People who are experts on British football, they’re real experts. They will tell you what Chelsea did and what Manchester did, they really know what they're talking about. So, suddenly these fields: Pseudoscience, occults, sports, they became prominent. No one talks anymore about physics, because these fields allow you to feel good, and allow you to feel like a real expert.
2. The second thing that happened is political correctness, and what I call malignant intolerance. You see, if you declare yourself an intellectual, then you declare yourself an expert.The first thing you have to do, is to find a field, where you can reliably claim it, and others can confirm that you are, because they also reliably became experts. So you choose idiotic fields like the ones I’ve mentioned, fields that are easy to master and immediately you can become an expert.
But the second thing you must do: You must suppress speech. Because if you don't suppress speech, real expert from real fields may challenge you. So, suddenly it's bad taste, not bon ton, or even I would say ”illegal behavior”, to say to someone ’you don't know what you're talking about’ or ’you're an idiot’ or ’this is nonsense’. How do you talk, how do you, listen, here’s the links, and they send you links to other idiots.
Richard Grannon: Yes, blogposts and YouTube videos, garbage.
Sam Vaknin: And not only do they argue with you and sending you irrelevant links, but you are immediately outcasted by the entire community.
Richard Grannon: Yes, you'll be dump piled.
Sam Vaknin: You'll be thrown out, you’ll be ostracized, dump piled as you said, because you did not suppress your speech.
So, we have political correctness.
The equivalence of political correctness online is ”Netiquette”. If you read manifestos on etiquette, they are absolutely authoritarian, dictatorial, speech-suppressing texts, pretending to be free speech, ultra-extreme-free-speech manifestos. Utterly Orwellian newspeak, utterly a William text: ’Number one: We believe in unbridled, unmitigated free speech, anyone can say what they want. Number two: Never tell anyone that he’s not right, try to see the others point of view. Number three’… and so on. So, suppression of speech became critical factor, together with the rise of pseudo-sciences and occult nonsenses and so on. This is catering to the gullibility and naivety of people online.
This is the cluster C, hallow effect. Hallow effect used to be limited to real celebrities and real intellectuals, but now everyone can become celebrity and expert.
Here is the two salient points that I’ve made:
1. It’s not an anti-intellectual campaign, it’s actually pro-intellectual. Everyone wants to be intellectual. They try to becoming.
2. People, who claim to be experts in many of these fields, are real experts. Only, they chose such fields in which you can become an expert in a day. They reduce the bar. In most universities in United States, including all Ivy League's universities, they reduce requirements and exams by 50%.
Richard Grannon: I knew they reduced a lot, but didn't know it was 50%.
Sam Vaknin: 50% according to objective…
Richard Grannon: To keep the students going in, to keep pumping them out in the other end, they just brought the standards down.
Sam Vaknin: Because there were lawsuits! This level allows only white, rich kids to enter. They must be reduced to allow blacks and Asians and Nigerians and I don’t know what else - and snails and octopus’ - to enter University and so on. Everyone is reducing standards as a deliberate policy, in order to avoid being accused of political incorrectness, suppressing speech and so on.
Richard Grannon: Elitism?
Sam Vaknin: Elitism.
Another thing that's happening: Many of these pseudo-sciences and so on are becoming legitimate academic fields. Two universities in the United States, no sorry, two states in the United States (I think one of them was Kansas), two states in the United States now accept military experience as academic credit. So if you sweated in Iraq and swallowed sand, that would count, as far as I remember, for twenty Cranes. I’m not kidding. Of course there is the widely reported phenomenon of athletic achievements in lieu of academic success, widely reported. But this is back door policy. There is front door policy, where sewing, cooking, sports, sports like hobby, not professional sports, and so on, are considered academic disciplines. Driving car, there are numerous community colleges, were learning to drive a car is an academic credit.
What’s happening is, that acadimia not, as it’s used to, presents a kind of cloud to which you aspire, but they go down to the people, and cater to their needs to feel special, unique, experts, intellectuals.
Richard Grannon: And this is not for cynical, monetary gain, because they want to get more people through the door?
Sam Vaknin: To some extent, but no, I don’t think so.
Richard Grannon: It's actually pressure.
Sam Vaknin: Catering to the ethos, to the emerging ethos of ’we're all equal, we all have what to contribute, everything we say is meaningful, we can all be whatever we want to be’, etc. etc. etc.
Richard Grannon: It makes me nauseous when people say that, because I always think, well what if you had a child with a brain tumor and you were saying ’we'll all brain surgeons, we’re are completely equal, everybody has a right to be a brain surgeon. You wouldn't. It's total f***** hypocrisy.
Sam Vaknin: And if you think this doesn't happen, you're wrong. You can go online and find groups of mothers, who argue with brain surgeons, what should be the right procedure. They say ’the brain seizure was wrong, he should have used this procedure, that procedure, I know of a healer in Philippines, in Brasil, who do this. Yes, brain surgeon authority is also challenged, is absolutely also challenged.
I told you the story of my authority on inverted narcissism, somatic narcissism and cerebral narcissismchallenged. Why I'm saying, that I’m an authority of this subject, perhaps THE authority, is for the simple reason, that I invented these concepts! But I'm challenged daily.
Richard Grannon: I've had people come to me and say, that you [Sam Vaknin] don't understand inverted narcissism, and they tell me ’this is why he doesn’t understand it’. I’m telling them, ’he invented that’. [laughing].
Sam Vaknin: I’m challenged daily on this. Some of these people know that I invented it.
I'm mentioning this as an anecdote, because here is a clear case, where I can claim authority. If I say I'm an authority in physics, some people agree/not agree. By the way, people who have no training in physics, the vast majority of people who commented on the Cronon field part of the interview, if not all of them, had no background in physics whatsoever. Yet they felt absolutely qualified and argued ’it's wrong, it's right’. It's utterly sick and dangerous, if we conduct education by poll. Education is not democratic, it's authoritative, its authoritarian, its dictatorial.
What are we trying to do? We are trying to take the tenets of democracy, one man - one vote, everyone is equal. By the way, this I never understood as well: Why is everyone equal in democracy? I don't ascend it. I think it's an utterly nauseating, mind-fucking, sick concept in my view. Not everyone is equal and not everyone should have equal vote, absolutely not. But let's assume for a minute they adopted this tenet in education and online. Everything has been democratized in the worst sense of the word.
The last thing is really about social contest, not context, but contest. It's all about relative positioning, as closing the circle. It's all about relative positioning. If I’m not as much as an expert or intellectual as you, I enver you, it’s pathological envy. My relative positioning is inferior, inferior/superior, everything is a power play, it’s a competition. Everything is about winning and losing, and so on. Even coinage, which had nothing to do in the past with winning or losing, is now converted into winning or losing. Elections of course are about winning and losing, but so is education, so is expertise, so is parenting. Everything is about winning and losing. This is the capitalist ethos.
So we had a very malignant confluence of what we call capitalist democracy. The worst tenets of capitalism and the worst tenets of democracy were put together, coalesced, and so on. So we have relative positioning.
Then there is a question of which to belong.
I did a study few years ago of the reptilian movement. These people, some of them are doctors of medicine and some of them professors of, or at least one professor of physics, some of them professors of theology and philosophy. I have names in mind, I'm just not mentioning them. They believe sincerely, that Earth has been invaded by reptilians and they took over dead personalities. Like Elizabeth ll, who is actually a reptile. Only these reptilians have the ability to shape-shift and present as human, but they're not human. If someone cuts Elizabeth ll in two, they would see a reptile. They have a whole list: Obama is reptile, Elizabeth ll is reptile, I don't remember the others.
Richard Grannon: You said there's professors on this list?
Sam Vaknin: Yes, highly educated people. Professors in theology, philosophy, physics and so on, middle class people, businessmen, I mean not by any definition human trash, is represented. This reptilian movement numbers how many people do you think? I mean they're talking about real reptiles, it's not a metaphor, reptiles invaded the earth long time ago. They have a council, committee of reptiles, underground and they manage the world.
Richard Grannon: That makes sense because it's nice and cool underground. [laughing]
Sam Vaknin: It's cool and a miniature world and so. How many people do you think are members of this?
Richard Grannon: 200.
Sam Vaknin: 200 what? 200 in absolute terms or 200,000?
Richard Grannon: 200 total people who believe that.
Sam Vaknin: Several million.
Richard Grannon: Million believes that Obama is a shape-shifting reptile?
Sam Vaknin: And Elizabeth ll. I understand Obama, but Elizabeth ll [Richard Grannon laughing], so several million. They have conferences and congresses, literature, vast literature. They debate, they have forums, they debate the intricacies, because there are many types of reptiles and also: ’Is it an earthly reptile, is it a terrestrial reptile, or is it a reptile, that we would identify as a reptile, actually is not reptiles’. So there’s already camps arguing about the reptilianness of the reptiles. Now they're talking about eggs or biology, ’is the reptile representative?’. I’m completely serious.
Richard Grannon: Where's the evidence? I mean, they're doing this based on?
Sam Vaknin: I'm completely serious. By the way, some of these highly educated people spend hours every day on these forums, arguing. I’ve asked myself a very interesting question: Why? There is no doubt in my mind, that a combined professor of theology and philosophy, one of the brightest minds, I know him personally; there was little doubt in my mind that he doesn't believe that elizabeth ii is a reptile, although he does believe ,in other conspiracy theories like ’nine-eleven’, but I thought that was a step too far, a bridge too far. I asked me why?
Suddenly it occurred to me: It's not the reptiles, it's belonging. It's a group, it's a community, it's sharing something, being welcomed, being accepted, your eccentricity, your insanity is being accepted. It's about belonging. The need to belong overrules everything. If the condition to belong is to accept that Elizabeth ll is a reptile, I mean f*** Elizabeth ll is a raptile, it's belonging, it’s crucial. This is what creates cults, and this is what creates other equally insane beliefs, like that a Jew illiterate carpenter died and rose from the dead, which is about as insane as believing that Elizabeth ll is a reptile.
Belonging would go a long way toward explaining malignant egalitarianism, because when you are equal to everyone else, by definition you belong. You can for example communicate with them. If you are not equal to me, why would I communicate with you? I would fend you off, f*** off. But if you force me to accept, that you are equal to me, you have a right to my time, you have a right to communicate, you belong with me in the same group. This is coerced belonging. Malignant egalitarianism is coerced belonging. They forced me to belong to their group, and if I refuse, I’m punished severely. Which I think is my story online by the way.
I never cater to the vanity and so on of people. I always say my social media is ….. (?) 52:22.
I never ever play this game ’you’re equal to me’. You are not equal to me, no one is equal to me. Statistically there are six people equal to me in the world, and I don’t know where they are. Probably one of them is an Indian. So, no one is equal to me. I never play this game ’anyone is equal to me’. And because I refuse to play this game, I'm possibly one of the most hated figures online, possibly, I think it’s a great explanation why I am.
I don't allow them to belong and I refuse to belong. It's like the famous saying by Groucho Marx: ”I would not want to belong to a club, that will accept me”. I would not want to belong to a club, where these people are members. And there's no bigger snob and humiliation than this. Of course, in the age of egalitarian, malignant egalitarian, it’s the biggest possible attack.
There’s a final point:
Suppressing speech requires you to suppress memory, suppress history, suppress timelines. Because if you have memory, and if you have history, and if you have timelines, contradictions might occur. For example, if we’re arguing and then I tell you, ’but listen, A preceded B’, I can undermine your argument. But if A and B are the same plane temporarily, I can never use chronology to undermine you.
Again a personal experience: I had been blamed for plagiarizing you, Ross Rosenburg, HG Tudor and so on. Thousands of people have written to me, that it's ugly and disgusting and reprehensible, that I stole ideas from you and from Ross Rosenberg and from HG Tudor and so on. Many people claimed, that I’m claiming to be a psychopathic narcissist, because I saw the Tudor is selling many books. That's why I decided… [to not belong]
There's only one problem with that: I proceeded all of you by 15 years! [Richard Grannon laughing] But of course, on YouTube, on the internet, all texts are created equal. Of course you can go and see what was the date, (Richard Grannon: They’re all time-stamped), they're all time-stamped, but who pays attention to that. I mean you switch, it comes like avalanche, so everyone is equitapuranious, everyone is at the same time. And then if you dislike Vaknin, you will automatically assume, that he stole from Grannon. Of course if you dislike Grannon, we assume the opposite. So time plays no role, there's no history, no memory, nothing. I saw this in political argumentation.
This of course creates also confusion regarding cause and effect. So they would confuse why something happened, because they think the effect is the cause. This is also part of malignant egalitarianism, because if we are all created equal, we’re also created equal, not only in space, not only in intellect, but also in time. The fact that you are 57, or I'm 57, gives me no right to be over you, otherwise we will not be equal. We cannot be equal, if my age gives me some advantage, if my memory does. By definition, if I’m 57, I've more memory than you, like period, defined. So automatically I'm superior to you. This has to be immediately eliminated, I mean some serious threat to malignant egalitarianism. So history itself and memory are eliminated.
I think, now perhaps you can understand better, why I consider this a threat to the species?
Richard Grannon: Absolutely.
Sam Vaknin: What are we without history, without memory? No memory, no identity. Without identity, without knowledge and without authority to distinguish and discern what is true what is not. What are we without these things, chimpanzees? And not very well equipped chimpanzees. We don't have fur, we don't have muscles, badly designed chimpanzees. We stand no chance whatsoever, if we give up these things.
Now the only question that is in my mind: Did we invent the Internet in order to give up this? Are we suicidal? Or is it a byproduct, unexpected byproduct? I don't know.
Richard Grannon: You're saying it's a major threat to the species, because we could lose our sense of objective truth an objective reality altogether.
Sam Vaknin: We could lose truth and reality, information and knowledge, memory and history. For example, there's no identity without memory, so we will ultimately use lose our sense of identity.
If you think this is a theoretical threat, let me refer you to the debates about artificial intelligence. If the species had a very strong sense of identity, they would never have felt threatened by artificial intelligence. If you know who you are, you're never threatened by the other. It’s because we have lost, over the last 50 years, our sense of identity, that we no longer know what is human, what is not, what may replace us. We feel existentially anxious and threatened, because we don't have the tools, that kept us superior and supreme in the animal kingdom: Our knowledge, our information, our identity, our memory, our history and the authority to tell us which is which, or at least the authority to design a system to tell us which is which.
We lost all this, and we threw it over 50 years. It's the biggest dislocation in human history! Ever. Like millions of times worse than the fall of Rome, and I mean that was bulls***. There's nothing compared to this. And then of course we feel threatened by aliens. We have a million alien movies suddenly. We feel threatened by zombies.
Richard Grannon: Zombies and aliens everywhere.
Sam Vaknin: We feel threatened by artificial intelligence, because we don't know who we are. What is the difference between zombie and human? The core of these movies is, what is the difference. Should we feel pity on zombies, should we kill them. What is the difference between alien and human, will aliens be kind to us. It's all about this.
I think the debate raging now whether artificial intelligence will replace us, kill us or destroy us, is because we have no clear core and nucleus and kernel of identity. If we had, we would never, never be threatened by the other. You see it in nations also. When a nation loses its compass, its identity, its clear identity, it suddenly feels threatened by others, immigrants, invasions you know. But when it's with a very clear sense of mission and identity and so on. Britain has been in glorious, glorious isolation for centuries and never felt threatened. Although, if you look at the situation geographically, Britain should have felt very threatened.
It’s nothing to cross the channel, nothing to cross the channel, and Britain had been invaded more than any other country in Europe, more than any other country in Europe. But because it had a clear sense of identity in kernel and core. Never mind it was delusional, it was imperial, it doesn't matter, because it had this, it never felt threatened.
There was a much bigger influx of immigrants in 1900 and after the razzia ended, much bigger. Today with much smaller numbers. I mean suddenly Brexit and hysteria, because your identity is threatened. So all of us as a species have lost our identity. It's no longer completely clear who will lead us, who’ll teach us, what is true. We have no orientations, total disorientation, total. You go online, I challenge you, I will give you no name of a topic, go online, tell me what is a reliable source, what is not. You're intelligent, you're well-versed, you are a computer literate, I'm just flattering you (Richard Grannon: Thank you). But I'm telling you, that you will not be able to succeed to discoverability, to tell me which is real, which is not. Luckily I will give you a topic which will not challenge your survival, but what if we were to challenge your survival?
For example, conspiracy theories are about this exactly, because if they are true, they challenge your survival, but if they are not true, they’re okay. It's a problem of discoverability, you go online, you don’t know what to say, are they true, are they not true, what the f***.
Richard Grannon: You never really know what the quality of the information is. There is a German guy I know, who runs a gym. He was in the German army and he says, he's a national socialist. I said to him ’well, then you must be very worried about Islamic immigrants coming into the United Kingdom and into Germany’. He said ’no’. He said, that if the UK has a sense of identity and as the stronger culture, then it will win and there's nothing that needs to be done. If you're the weaker culture, then you will lose and you deserve to. That is the winning philosophy.
Sam Vaknin: We are losing our identity. Again you can see that: Zombies, aliens, we don't know where we are, where we belong, who are we.
Richard Grannon: Disintegrating. The whole matrix, the whole simulation seems to be disintegrating.
Sam Vaknin: Disintegrating. That's why I said in the previous interviews, that I see hope only in artificial intelligence. Frankly, because I think we lost the script, completely lost the script.
The only thing I have no answer to in my mind (because I'm grandiose, I have answer for everything), but the only thing I have no answer to: Did we develop this technology to kill ourselves, to offer ourselves or is this really an unfortunate externality, I mean by-product? I don't know. Sometimes I think it's the former, sometimes the latter. Sometimes I think we as a species reach a conclusion, that's it, it's over, and let's finish it. Sometimes. Because Internet is a suicidal medium, absolutely suicidal. Sometimes I think ’no’ that we created it, and - the monster took over and now we're f***ed. I don't know what to decide.
If you analyze text on the internet, for example in support groups and so on, they are utterly utterly pathologized. People express extreme depression, they are utterly desperate, extreme desperation. Many people say, it would be better if everything ended. There's a lot of doom series. Very very very few, even in happy forums like new mums, you got a new mum forum. I had the occasion to visit many new mum forums, for reasons we’re not going into, and I read consequently thousands of posts. Thousands literally, because I spend like months. And listen, not one happy post, not one happy post like ’Wonderful, I'm gonna have a child, it's so great, you know’. Instead: ’To bring a child to this world, drugs, this, that, vaccinations, …., I don't feel good, I feel this, I feel dead, my stomach, my eyes, my head’. I mean, no moment of happiness, no joy of anything. New mums, the most happy thing it should be.
Richard Grannon: Maybe it represents a kind of Pandora's box. We open it and it shows us who we are. Maybe a demonstration with the software faults, that we've got running (Sam Vaknin: Possibly). Maybe then it could be a tool for evolution by saying: Look, you've got to sort this out, this out, this out. Narcissisme, not just narcissism as it's normally said, but the way that you have just delineated it into these different strands, that kind of narcissism, these are real software faults, that really have to be …
Sam Vaknin: But how are you going to do that without authority, without knowing what is true, what is not, what is knowledge, what is not.
Richard Grannon: It can only be with in authority.
Sam Vaknin: We undermine everything. We even cannot tell anymore what is true, what is not. That is why people send me emails about inverted narcissism. We trust Vaknin even if he invented an agenda. Or maybe he invented it, but he doesn’t follow the recent developments. So I mean, utter distrust. I mean, its total breakdown of communication, total. So people will become sort of autistic, they talk to themselves, they shoot selfies. I told you, selfies are 60% of posts. They talk to themselves, they shoot selfies, they masturbate. It's only basically self-contained, self-sufficient activities, where you have zero dependence on other people.
You talk about intimacy, are you kidding me, it's a suicidal act to be intimate. It gives you so much power. The woman who would be intimate with you, gives you so much power. I mean, she has to be insane to do that in this world. It's about power.
The redistribution of power through the internet, was a rebellion against monopoly of power, but what it created… There was limited amount of power when it was concentrated in the hands of the few, they were very powerful. When you take the same power and distribute it over five billion, it's very very little power. Everyone has tiny tiny power and feels actually disempowered.
I think there is another massive misunderstanding about the internet. There is a perception, that the internet empowers. Internet empowers technologically, but disempowers personally and emotionally. You feel disempowered, you feel so swept by toxic sludge, that you can no longer control or breathe in or breathe out. You feel drowning. Most people describe internet experience as drowning. So it disempowers, because everyone got a tiny tiny morsel of power you know.
It empowers you to act. So this creates actually decompensation, acting out. The experience of the internet is decompensating, it's disintegrating and then you act out. When you act out, you have powerful tools, so you're acting out is amplified. Then, because it's amplified, it has toxic effect on million other people and they feel disempowered. That's a network effect. Not optimistic at all.
Richard Grannon: Let us stop there.
Sam Vaknin: Yeah, let us stop here before I disempower, disembowel… [Richard Grannon laughing]
Transcriber: Vianne Fischer, DK.
Headlines and text sections are added for readable reasons.
Vianne Fischer, DK
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