It’s gone off like a pig in a cake shop; the amount of ‘likes’ the viral Facebook page, “The Mind Unleashed”, has attained (currently around two and a half million, with oodles of shares and likes – marketing manna from heaven!) Like many other viral Facebook pages, it lures people in with affirmations, platitudes of dubious worth, plagiarised conspiracy theorist memes, and dangerous medical misinformation served up as wisdom.
The target audience is the superficially-leftish end of the spectrum; the well-meaning but politically naive, and those who just don’t like to see the underdog kicked; from people who haven’t had the opportunity to acquire genuine critical thinking and/or research skills, to the histrionic-sanctimonious; the aspiring George Galloways; the would-be-cult-leaders.
I have a special loathing for the piece of disinformation, beloved of “The Mind Unleashed”, and oft repeated without reference to anything other than anecdote, that cannabis can cure cancer. Aside from anecdote never being a good basis for medical advice, this rubbish is just plain wrong, and could encourage people with cancer to disregard sound medical advice from oncologists. People have already been killed by this kind of thing.
This may be sinister, but it’s not this sinister aspect of “The Mind Unleashed” that I want to draw attention to.
The sinister aspect of “The Mind Unleashed” I want to address belongs to the general category of being-overtly-shit-to-members-of-social-groups. “The Mind Unleashed” is anti-Semitic. To be on board with “The Mind Unleashed”, is to enable the hatred of Jews.
I trust that at least some new-age-type-folk may object to such hatred.
Manny Schewitz, of Forward Progressives, writes that you “…dig down a little deeper as I have suggested and you’ll find Holocaust denialism and other anti-Semitism…”. I obviously agree with Schewitz on two points; that there is anti-Semitism at “The Mind Unleashed”, and that people should do a little digging for themselves.
Schewitz doesn’t provide an example of the anti-Semitism he’s talking about, but rather, alludes to the “gateway” nature of the types of conspiracy theories that “The Mind Unleashed” uses; i.e. their propensity to lead towards “anti-Semitism”, and conspiracy theories about “reptile people” and “chemtrails”. Again, I think people should do a little digging for themselves, and I do think that in this case, it’s not a difficult ask. However, I will still provide an example…
(“The Mind Unleashed”, 2013)
Contrary to the initial comment, Israel is a democracy, in the same sense that Western democracies are democracies; flawed, but with the people still able to topple their governments non-violently (albeit with difficulty). Specifically, Israel has traits of a liberal democracy. It is for example, unique in its region for the degree to which it recognises the rights of gay folk.
(It’s worth reading up on the political actions of Haj Amin al-Husseini before and during WWII, if you think that the actions of the modern state of Israel are the sole cause of anti-Semitism in the region, or if you think Palestine was just hunky-dory for Jews, back in the day. The facts of Haj Amin al-Husseini’s history also serve to demonstrate the existence of a penchant for fascism in Palestine, that persist to this day.)
As for the Rothschild conspiracy theories, I won’t go into any great detail because such details aren’t pertinent to the point I want to make. Suffice to say, RationalWiki has it dealt with deftly, and in short order.
So… The an admin for “The Mind Unleashed” makes a contribution to discussion by recommending an article, asserting that it constitutes “RESEARCH”, as if “Goce” were in need of chastisement. So what did this “RESEARCH” being linked to consist of? What does “The Mind Unleashed” consider a quality source of information?
“…The reason the Rothschilds claim to be Jewish is that the Khazars under the instruction of the King, converted to the Jewish faith in 740 A.D., but of course that did not include converting their Asiatic Mongolian genes to the genes of the Jewish people.
You will find that approximately 90% of people in the world today who call themselves Jews are actually Khazars, or as they like to be known, Ashkenazi Jews. These people knowingly lie to the world with their claims that the land of Israel is theirs by birthright, when in actual fact their real homeland is over 800 miles away in Georgia…”
(Andrew Hitchcock, Date Unknown)
It’s widely accepted, although not entirely undisputed amongst historians, that the Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Jews who migrated to Rome in the 2nd century B.C.E. It is known that there was a Jewish presence in Rome at this point, due in no small part to their support for Julius Caesar, which earned the subsequent loathing of Cicero (Hans Lewy, Olamot Nifgashim: Studies in Jewish Hellenism, 1969).
After centuries of increasing intolerance towards Jews, and Judaism, as a result of rising Christian theocracy, Jews were extended greater tolerance under the reign of Charlemagne, allowing for Jews to re-settle north of the Alps. By the eleventh century CE, Rabbinic Judaism had reached Ashkenaz (medieval Jewish Germany). While vague on the details, this is all very conventional.
Andrew Hitchcock doesn’t even attempt to debunk any of this, instead trotting out via bare assertion, that the Ashkenazi Jews are really Khazars faking their ethnicity. While there was a school of thought among genuine scholars that the Ashkenazi Jews had Khazar ancestors, there’s a world of difference between this, and the outright denial of a people’s Jewish identity.
Hitchcock doesn’t even bother to direct the reader to the 19th century postulations about Khazar ancestry, nor the more recent Khazar-ancestry hypothesis postulated by Eran Elhaik. Hitchcock’s essay smacks of the same kind of poorly researched, confirmation bias riddled, ethnic identity-policing that Andrew Bolt is known for.
Furthermore, as genetic studies published last year show, even the more respectable Khazar ancestry hypotheses are wrong (Costa et. al., A substantial prehistoric European ancestry amongst Ashkenazi maternal lineages, 2013). On both counts; genes and identity, Hitchcock is talking rubbish, hence “The Mind Unleashed” is parroting rubbish under the guise of “RESEARCH”.
There’s a whole lot more that’s wrong with Hitchcock’s essay, such as his telling use of the term “bloodlines” (and the associated genetic fallacy he’s engaging in), but that’s more detail than I need to go into. My focus is on potential anti-Semitism, rather than shoddy research and epistemological shortcomings.
It gets worse… Let’s have a look at some choice quotes just from the front page of the website that “The Mind Unleashed” drew its “RESEARCH” from, to get a better idea of what they consider a reliable, trustworthy source.
“It’s time for ALL citizens of the world to unite and boycott ALL JEWISH DOCTORS, JEWISH DENTISTS, JEWISH LAWYERS, JEWISH LANDLORDS, JEWISH JEWELERS, JEWISH CLERKS, JEWISH BUSINESSES, JEWISH RESTAURANTS AND ALL JEWISH WORKERS UNTIL ISRAEL MAKES PEACE WITH THE PALESTINIANS!!!!! HIT THE JEWS IN THE ONLY PLACE THAT THEY REALLY HURT, THEIR POCKETBOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS BOYCOTT WILL MAKE ISRAEL NEGOTIATE!!!!!!!! EVERYONE JOIN IN THIS BOYCOTT!!!!!!!!!
“A good time for the Jews is not a good time for mankind. The blessing of the Jews is a curse for others. The regimes that are “good for Jews” are rarely good for anybody else.” — Israel Shamir”
(Daryl Bradford Smith, accessed 2013)
Daryl Bradford Smith manages all of this while declaring ipse dixit, that his writings aren’t racist, or xenophobic. I’ll leave you to decide how plausible this denial is.
This is what “The Mind Unleashed” considers the work of a reliable source, so please take that under consideration.
For my part, I’ll be encouraging my friends to ‘unlike’ “The Mind Unleashed”, and to check out a few of these details for themselves. I may ‘unfriend’ a number of them should they not take things seriously enough.
I can already hear the most likely excuse…
“Oh, I don’t subscribe to “The Mind Unleashed” because of that… I find the affirmations motivating.”
Which would really a bit like saying…
“Oh, I didn’t join the KKK for the racist ideology. It’s just that I found the pointy hood comforting.”
“No, no. I didn’t sign up with Golden Dawn for the violent fascism. I just go along for the meetings and protests because they make me feel less lonely.”
Given that a few of my friends who ‘like’ “The Mind Unleashed” consider themselves anti-racists, who issue edicts on Facebook as if they were left-wing activists, I’ve got reason in some cases, not to go easy. My ongoing friendship with lefties, and anti-racists, is contingent on them actually being left and anti-racist.
So what can you do?
There’s an obvious suggestion I could make, at the risk of sounding self-serving, which is to share this post wide and far. However I’m not sure how successful that would be, and as it happens, I have a few other suggestions.
Encourage your friends who subscribe to the page to do a little digging for themselves, instead of passively being spoon-fed. Crap like that spread by “The Mind Unleashed” only does as well as it does because the practice of being spoon-fed advice is so well accepted.
Also, you can get on to RationalWiki
and push for them to prioritise the issue by up-voting “The Mind Unleashed” on the to-do list here.
Update: RationalWiki has started an entry on The Mind Unleashed. Good work everyone! (And thanks, RationalWiki!)
Given that social media is the vector in question, if you’re a Facebook user, it’s not necessarily a bad idea that you explain to “The Mind Unleashed” subscribing friends, why you take anti-Semitism and bigotry seriously, and that this is why you are ‘unfriending’ them. Then proceed to ‘unfriend’ them. This is probably somewhat of a last measure.
My final suggestion is just to talk about the issue on social media. Bigotry abhors scrutiny, so you may get some pushback, but if we let things like “The Mind Unleashed” parasitize well-meaning lefties (or anyone else), it’s only going to lead to unnecessary suffering.
This crap needs to be opposed more vigorously.