Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joseph DillardDr. Joseph Dillard is a psychotherapist with over forty year's clinical experience treating individual, couple, and family issues. Dr. Dillard also has extensive experience with pain management and meditation training. The creator of Integral Deep Listening (IDL), Dr. Dillard is the author of over ten books on IDL, dreaming, nightmares, and meditation. He lives in Berlin, Germany. See: and his YouTube channel.


Integral Groupthink

Joseph Dillard

It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
— Jiddu Krishnamurti
Groupthink is important to recognize because it is not individually authentic, nor is it creative.

Does integral groupthink exist? If it does what does it look like?

Clearly, what constitutes integral groupthink is subjective and different people will arrive at different conclusions. Therefore, this assessment is hardly meant to be definitive but more designed to stimulate your own thinking and perspectives on this topic.

Groupthink is important to recognize because it is not individually authentic, nor is it creative. Instead, it is internalized mass mind. Development, including evolutionary adaptation, rely on collective interdependence, including the internalization of cultural norms. The first decades of our life are devoted to this essential enterprise. Therefore, groupthink is a survival strategy and every individual, every organization, is going to rely on it, at least to some extent.

We can see this clearly with conscience, which we typically assume is our own individual, intuitive sense of right and wrong, but is in fact largely an internalization of socio-cultural and familial norms. Another example is adolescent “individuality,” which is largely a reflection of peer groupthink, despite fierce denials that it is nothing of the sort.

In business, individuals generally consider themselves to be autonomous actors, while their choices and actions are largely controlled by who pays them. As Upton Sinclair famously noted, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

As Krishnamurti points out, sanity includes questioning groupthink, rather than subscribing to the mass delusion of this or that consensus worldview. Science provides one example, in that it questions its own premises, theories, and findings, yet is itself not immune to groupthink. Any belief system or experiential reality that claims to transcend mid-prepersonal science (as Integral AQAL claims to do) has to include this same ability to question its own premises, theories, and findings. If it does not, or refuses to do so, it is inviting an absolutist, sclerotic, sleepwalking demise.

In general, those of us who subscribe to an Integral worldview as a form of groupthink do so because Integral AQAL helps us make better sense of the world and because it validates our identity in some way. Generally, these validations boil down to some version of, “I am smart, good, and spiritual, but I am clever in my presentation of modesty.” However, when challenged, we can easily become more like Trump or Hillary Clinton, and simply proclaim our own superiority based on power, status, or wealth – success, as typically measured by a secular world, or as being more intelligent, based on our ability to spot logical fallacies, talk in color jargon, and throw out deprecatory bon mots. If that fails, our trump card is that we are more “spiritual,” based on our access to various mystical experiences on the line of spiritual intelligence. These are forms of groupthink, and it is worthwhile to question the assumptions on which they can be based.

It is therefore healthy to ask, “What is groupthink on this or that issue likely to be? Could I be a victim of it?” As Integralists, we are wise to ask, “What is the consensus worldview of Integral AQAL? If I believe it, why do I?”

No one individual who considers themselves “integral” is going to accept all of the following assumptions. They may strongly disagree with some of them. In fact, I would be surprised if you don't strongly disagree with some of them. The point is not to generate a list of “correct” stereotypical examples of integral groupthink, but to get you to think about those assumptions that you make that lead you to define yourself as integral (or however you choose to define yourself) and to take a good, hard look at them. In the following, I have given some of my reasons for my skepticism regarding some fundamental assumptions of Integral AQAL and our current worldview in general. By all means, feel free to disagree with this particular delineation of integral groupthink.

Idealism is integral

Idealism biases the interior quadrants.[1] Favoring the UL in particular does not balance the four quadrants of the human holon, hindering the tetra-meshing of all four quadrants, thereby stifling level-to-level development. This is not to say characteristics of idealism are not important, even essential. Without them we have reductionism and flatland. Integral AQAL has a distinctive idealist bias as a fundamental component of its collective groupthink, but those within an idealistic worldview may adamantly disagree.

A scientific worldview is intrinsically reductionistic

Scientific worldviews include the physiosphere and the prepersonal, transcending them as noospheric worldviews of the mid-prepersonal. There is no reason why scientific worldviews cannot include transpersonal worldviews as well as transpersonal state experiences and awarenesses. For example, scientists can understand and accept the cognitive multi-perspectival map of Integral AQAL as well as have mystical experiences. There is no reason why scientists cannot have experiences of the sacred as profound as those of anyone else. To assume scientific worldviews are intrinsically materialistic, atheistic, or “flatland” is a caricature and discount which can serve to defend the exceptionalistic claims of our own world view and preserve our convenient, comfortable, but likely false identification with 2nd Tier or transpersonal stages.

Mystical experience indicates transpersonal levels of development

Criminals and children can have mystical experiences, as do many who take psychedelics. Have criminals and children achieved transpersonal levels of development? Mystical experience indicates access to transpersonal states, not attainment of stable transpersonal stages. To confuse states and stages is a Stage/State fallacy. Parsimony requires us to assume transpersonal states, unlike transpersonal levels, are characteristics of the prepersonal, until evidence demonstrates otherwise. This conclusion is a direct threat to a central tenet of Integral groupthink, that mystical experiences imply self development to transpersonal stages.

Mystical revelations reveal Truth

World views, including Integral AQAL, are prepersonal beliefs, unless validated by science. We know this, because the Pre/Trans Fallacy requires that for truth to be transpersonal it has to include personal level definitions of truth. Therefore, until validated by science, any truth, including those disclosed by Integral AQAL, are reasonably presumed to be prepersonal.

Prepersonal truths are real, valuable, and significant within their own domain. Healings from placebo, if they last, are as genuine as any other sort of healing. Information from horoscopes, channelers, tarot, I Ching, and mystical revelations can be evidential and transformative. Problems only arise when prepersonal truths claim scientific, that is, mid-prepersonal, credibility. As long as they do not, and are valued in their own evidential and world view contexts, they are to be honored and respected. In my own life, I have had quite a few transformative prepersonal experiences, for which I am extremely grateful.

Spiritual realization means you are moral.

There is no correlation between mystical experiences and morality. A quick review of the lives of the spiritually realized whose personal histories have not been lost in time will soon disabuse most people of the fantasy that such claimants are more moral than many people deemed healthy prepersonal in their development.

High intelligence implies you are moral.

There is no correlation between high intelligence and morality. Barack Obama should supply all the evidence one needs to puncture that particular example of groupthink.[2] The Clintons, Werner Von Braun, Oppenheimer, Machiavelli, and the Koch brothers come to mind as further examples.[3]

We are mostly rational beings making rational decisions.

George Lakoff and a host of other cognitive scientists have demonstrated persuasively that most of what we consider rational decision-making is controlled and directed by pre-rational, prepersonal “embedded cognition.”[4] Most of our “thinking” justifies our pre-rational beliefs and preferences. Thinking is best assumed to be in the service of prepersonal emotionally-based preferences, not the other way around. It is wise to not believe the vast majority of what we think. We constantly make mistakes in perception and judgment, based on pervasive but largely invisible cognitive biases, cognitive distortions, and logical fallacies, because they support our identity and world view. Information that contradicts either our world view or our sense of self creates cognitive dissonance.

In an example of a cognitive bias called the confirmation bias, we select for information that validates our world view and identity while selectively ignoring those facts that invalidate it. For example, we typically interpret mystical experiences as validating our world view. Wilber's perspective on evolution provides a good example, in that his confidence that what he has experienced on his line of spiritual intelligence, in mystical experiences, is true, regardless of what science has to say about it. Fervent belief in prepersonal state experiences uses reason to support both a world view and an identity that are dependent upon them while discounting or ignoring data that contradicts both, because to do so creates cognitive dissonance, threatening our sense of self. Groupthink is easier than having to re-examine who we are and the premises upon which we have built meaning in our lives. It is also much more comfortable than dealing with the possible ostracism that follows from challenging collective groupthink. It is probably wise to assume that although you and I may understand the cognitively multi-perspectival map of Integral AQAL, that our thinking is as subject to entrainment to prepersonal biases, worldviews, and identity as “deplorables.”

This does not mean that all reasoning is in the service of pre-rational belief. Regarding specific task accomplishment, we can and do think rationally, even when we are unaware of how that rationality is shaped by unrecognized prepersonal cognitive biases.

Self development is integral development

Self development generates integration based on waking priorities, which often emphasize excellence in selected lines over balance and cognition over ethical behavior. This is because for self development, the cognitive line leads rather than the line of ethical behavior. The result is a lack of integration of the self with society/culture. Due to a lack of balanced individual development, the development of society/culture becomes fixated. Self development as well as collective development remain self-reinforcing echo chambers of groupthink.

The way out of this conundrum is to amplify those processes that emphasize the fundamentals of ethical behavior. Steven Pinker has enumerated several of these factors, including law, commerce, reason, and a broadening circle of identity.[5] These assume respect, reciprocity, trust, and empathy, fundamental aspects of ethical behavior.

Self development will lead us out of hubris and exceptionalism

Self development tends to lead us into identification with our strong lines at the expense of balance. Typically, this means identification with the cognitive line and this or that auxiliary line: spiritual intelligence, musical or proprioceptive abilities, for example. Our self-system line is identified with our strongest lines, leading us to ignore our weakest lines. Our weakest core line tends to be that of morality, because both early personal collectives and most relational exchanges value cohesiveness and accomplishment over ethical behavior.

Self development will make us moral in our actions

Self development leads to justification of whatever we choose to do, think, and feel, based on our intentions, which support and validate our sense of self as a moral person. Our intentions are closely correlated with our moral judgment, studied by Kohlberg and his adherents. This research shows that moral judgment, like cognitive development in general, evolve developmentally through stages of amorality, pre-conventional, post conventional, and post-post conventional (the last added by Wilber).

When perception clashes with objective reality, as is often the case, for example, with PTSD, we can be confronted with overwhelming cognitive dissonance, because we are constantly reminded that our sense of self is independent of ethical behavior. The independence of ethical behavior from intention has been verified by the replication of the famous Milgram shock experiments. Regarding PTSD, US military veterans are currently killing themselves at the rate of about twenty per day. The commonly assumed correlation between moral judgment and ethical behavior has not been demonstrated.[6] The reasonable and parsimonious assumption is to presume that this assumed correlation not exist until evidence demonstrates that it does.

Self development is all development

Self development does not include, by definition, the development of others. The LR quadrant involves our interaction with others, not the perspectives, experiences, or independent existence of others. Self development, while recognizing multiple perspectives, views them from the perspective of the self. We understand others' perspectives from our perspective. Even higher levels of development on the empathetic line, as elucidated by Hoffman or Selman, do not indicate that our own perspectives are surrendered, but only that other perspectives are taken into account. Again, self development orbits around the locus of self-centered perception, not the perspectives of others. However, the development of our LR quadrant is dependent on perspectives independent of self development, such as those of outgroups, law, and intrasocial perspectives.[7]

The implication of this challenge to groupthink is that self development is not the same as overall development, because self development can and does occur independently from ethical behavior – respect for the priorities and interests of others. People can and do develop to 2nd Tier and beyond and maintain either an amoral or pre-conventional morality. It is groupthink to assume that the transpersonal is inherently moral and that self development is overall development.

The word “spirit” points to that which is clearly transpersonal

“Spirit” can point to prepersonal, personal, or transpersonal meanings and experiences, depending on the intent of the speaker. Consequently, “spirit” and “spiritual” are inherently ambiguous, and unless carefully defined, misleading.[8]

Using spiritual terminology does not make one spiritual

There exist various Integral, New Agey, and “evolutionary” sources that attempt to gain credibility by citing scripture and the statements of mystics, often to confirm the validity of their own mystical experiences. As noted above, these can indeed validate those experiences at the level of prepersonal truths, but any higher claims require validation by more stringent truth criteria. Spiritual terminology can indeed be used to support prepersonal spirituality; it is only when one claims a higher level of development that this is insufficient.

Using scientific terminology does not make a belief system scientific

In Freud's day and throughout most of the 20th century, the language of dynamics, as in “psychodynamics,” derived from the laws of physics, were used to confer a scientific aura to psychology. Today, quantum everything is employed in an attempt to provide a scientific sheen to prepersonal beliefs and world views. Beware of anyone who attempts to support spiritual or psychic claims with quantum anything. Analogies to computers is another common contemporary appropriation. The brain is not a computer and consciousness cannot be reduced to the operations of systems in the LR. Quantum and computer-based analogies are examples of groupthink appropriation of scientific-sounding language in what may be an attempt to bolster credibility.

Self development is fundamental to integral

This is not only true but absolutely essential at prepersonal and early personal levels of development. Beyond that, self development becomes less and less integral, because it inflates the self at the expense of the perspectives of others. Self development runs off and leaves overall development. This is true even with cognitive multi-perspectivalisms such as Integral AQAL, because they remain based on the self as locus of development, as is indicated by the various functions of the self enumerated by Wilber as characteristics of the self-system line.[9]

Dreaming is superfluous because it represents early to mid-prepersonal levels of development which we have included and transcended in our self development

Dreams are primarily a manifestation of early and mid-prepersonal consciousness, as they are common in most mammals. Dreams are not integrated into the self, as indicated by our inability to consistently understand them, both while we are dreaming and afterward, when awake. This strongly implies that an early to mid-prepersonal state has not been integrated into our overall development. Therefore, we have not included or transcended dreaming in our self development, and it is hardly wise to conclude that dreaming is superfluous to overall integration.[10] Running off and leaving any coherent relationship with dreaming is another indication that self development, past early personal, comes at the expense of overall development.

Broader Forms of Groupthink that Condition Integral Groupthink

Integral groupthink bleeds into socio/cultural groupthink because integral is a belief system that is embedded in larger socio-cultural contexts. Therefore, looking at groupthink-based assumptions of Integral AQAL is not enough; we also need to consider broader socio/cultural perspectives, behaviors, and laws that contextualize assumptions common to Integral. The controlling norms of any society are designed to manufacture consent by providing narratives that justify their objectives, masked and presented as the will of the governed. Here are some examples.

We are free

Yes and no. Within any context, we have options. Whatever context we are in will not only limit our freedom but define who we are and what we are capable of becoming. We are products of arbitrary parents, (including their genetic make-up), culture, language, teachers, friends, and opportunities. If those were different, we would be entirely different people. Who we are is a product of our scripting, at least until adolescence, when generally only superficial and reactive changes are made, and generally for all of our lives thereafter. We are free, and what we do does make a difference, but to underestimates the exterior and interior constraints on our freedom is a comfortable, reassuring form of groupthink.

The US is a democracy

The US is an oligarchy, and our individual votes have little to almost no effect on governmental decision-making, policies, and laws.[11] The two-party system is a charade, demonstrated by the continuity of fundamental policies regardless of who is elected. These realities are carefully ignored and discounted in order to manufacture our consent for policies that destroy prosperity, opportunity, and quality of life for the vast majority of citizens. To believe otherwise is probably to serve as a willing prisoner in The Matrix, a “useful idiot” for power centers that have little to no concern for our well-being.

I can trust my government and media

Skepticism, to be differentiated from pessimism, reductionism, and denial, is a mark of mid-personal development. Earned trust in one line does not imply trustworthiness in any other line.[12] We need to withhold trust until transparency and accountability warrant it. Unfortunately, due to groupthink and forces of human psychology, we tend to assume those we trust in one domain are trustworthy in all others. This is a massive, self-destructive error. Government and media in the West have been captured by a powerful plutocracy which punishes both financially if they do not do its bidding. Alternative media, because it is largely financially independent, is a partial exception to this general principle.

Politicians work for my interests

Politicians work for those who fund their next re-election campaign and almost always vote as their party leaders tell them to; otherwise they lose power within government. There is little relationship between campaign promises and in-office voting records. Believing that our favorite presidential candidate can or will make a real difference in the governance of the country is an example of the myth of the strong solitary leader, a myth that the Deep State, political status quo, and mainstream media work hard to maintain.

Unelected public officials work for the public good

Unelected public officials often are altruistic and desire to serve the public. However, all of us are at least partially motivated by fundamental relational exchanges, including safety, wealth, status, power, and security. To the extent that public officials work to secure or increase their job security, they are likely to be incentivized to reduce transparency and accountability when these may threaten job security, or when reduction of same is rewarded with job advancement. When working for the public good supports basic relational exchanges, unelected public officials may work for the public good; when it does not, public officials may still do so, but it becomes less likely.

Politicians, scientists, business leaders, government employees, lawyers, police, and other authority figures have our interests at heart

Perhaps the greatest socio/cultural awakening of our time has been the realization of this fallacy. Follow the money; until proven otherwise, fundamental relational exchanges of safety, wealth, status, power, and job security are the most likely primary drivers of human activity. The greater the power over others, the greater the transparency and accountability that is required. In practice, greater power and status results in lower transparency and accountability. There are multiple factors that explain this principle, and one of them is surely our identification with those who have accessed relational exchanges that we desire. They become “ego ideals,” or figures who we identify with because we admire or respect their accomplishments. Support for Trump, Obama, and Hillary Clinton are examples of this phenomena. To hold ego ideals accountable is to threaten our own self-image. A further result of this groupthink is a general lack of popular interest in uncovering the corruption of the powerful and holding them accountable. We can easily see how this principle applies to leaders of Integral and other gurus and pandits.

Status, power, and wealth indicate higher levels of development

Status, power, and wealth indicate development in specific lines associated with status, power, and wealth. The conflation of attainment of these relational exchanges with competency ends up electing people like Trump, Clinton, and Obama. Numerous studies demonstrate that wealth generates a sense of privilege that discriminates against those who are perceived as poor or impotent.[13]

People are basically good and altruistic

People are basically adaptable. Like chameleons, we will assume those roles, say those things, and do what we believe is in our best interest. This includes shocking people to death.[14] Recognizing the fundamental adaptability of human nature does not mean that people are basically evil or selfish, but that we tend to conform to circumstances and expectations that we view as supporting our self development, regardless of its consequences for our overall development. This is a fundamental form of groupthink, which sabotages ethical behavior.

We're the good guys

Our sense of self is largely dependent on believing that what we believe is true and what we do is good. Believing that we and those in our ingroups are good, is a way of reducing cognitive dissonance regarding our beliefs and our actions. In the absence of critques by outgroups that do not share our groupthink, we have no way of objectively determining whether or not we really are “good guys.” We are simply assuming same because our ingroups say so, it makes us feel comfortable and secure to believe it, and because it reduces cognitive dissonance which threatens our sense of self.

Liberals and progressives are more highly evolved than conservatives

Liberals and progressives, like conservatives and libertarians, are largely blind to the destructiveness of their own groupthink. This principle holds regardless of various studies showing that liberals access executive frontal and pre-frontal cortical areas more than do conservatives, and it also holds true for integralists who believe they are 2nd Tier.

We are rational

Reason largely serves pre-rational beliefs, world views, preferences, and identity. We know that we are delusional because we can look at our past and see many choices that we thought were good and right that we now find wrong, embarrassing or delusional. In the future, we are likely to look back at our choices today and say, “I was delusional.” Similarly, Integral assumptions that we identify with and are therefore subjectively enmeshed with, will someday be objectified and recognized to be pre-rational manifestations of groupthink in ways we do not now recognize.

I know who the bad guys are

Who we think are the bad guys is largely dependent on what we have been told. Unless someone has personally abused us, or unless scientific consensus is on our side, we don't know how trustworthy or admirable the actions of others are; we just think we do, in what amounts to groupthink.

I know who is good and who is evil

Good and evil are at least as much assessments of intention as of objective behavior. While we can determine what actions generate socio/cultural and personal balance and harmony and which do not, we cannot determine interior motivations unless they are self-disclosed, and even then, subjectivity does not mean those personal accounts are trustworthy. UL quadrant realities are, by definition, private. Depending on consensus ingroup assessments to determine who is good and who is evil is to be dependent on groupthink. For greater objectivity, consult outgroups. These will be subject to their own groupthink, but at least they will have objectivity in relationship to our own groupthink and that of our ingroups.

Trump voters are deplorables and idiots

Trump voters are angry at disenfranchisement and a loss of opportunity, largely economic. Those who do not recognize their legitimate grievances may not be deplorable or idiots, but they share a similar groupthink.

Hitler was evil

It is important to the manufacturing of our consent that we believe millions of Germans were somehow deluded or evil instead of acting similarly to how we would have acted in similar circumstances. Hitler brought great prosperity and pride to Germany and Germans prior to WWII and in its first two years; most Germans supported him, and they weren't evil. It is a testimony to the power of groupthink that to even make this statement is likely to trigger a lot of people.

Stalin was evil

Under Stalin, at horrendous cost in lives, Russia defeated some 80% of the Wehrmacht, leaving the West to mop up. That in no way negates the evil of the killing of millions by Stalin's purges and war against independent farmers. What it does indicate is that when historical figures are portrayed as all good or all evil, that some narrative is being manufactured, and we need to examine what it is to keep from being manipulated by it.

Assad is a dictator

How are we to define what it means to be a dictator? Assad was democratically elected.[15] The evidence that Assad gassed his own people is not credible.[16]

Russia and China have authoritarian governments

What are we actually claiming when we say that the Russian and Chinese governments are authoritarian? That the US doesn't have an authoritarian government? Both the Russian and Chinese governments are largely democratically elected, with meritocracy playing a much greater role in Chinese leadership than in the West.[17] It appears to me that a much better question is, “How satisfied are the citizens of these respective nations with their governments?” According to Forbes' Statistica, as of 2017, 58% of Russians say they trust their government while 30% of US citizens say they trust theirs.[18] Regarding China, according to a 2017 Pew survey, on satisfaction/dissatisfaction of the direction of the country, over 90% of polled Chinese stated they were satisfied while 30% of US citizens said they were satisfied.[19]

The US and British are the heroes of WWII

See above. The nuclear and/or napalm bombing of German and Japanese civilian populations were most certainly horrendous war crimes that equaled, if not surpassed in their evil, anything that Germany or Japan did. This is not to excuse the crimes of either but to challenge groupthink to hold itself to the same standards it insists apply to others.

The US and West are forces for good in the world

In some ways, the US and West have indeed been forces for good in the world. To the extent that they have encouraged democracy and human rights, the power of citizens in comparison to governments has been improved globally by their actions. However, to the extent that the US and West have imposed colonialism, a neoliberal economic system, illegal wars on the world, and emphasized profit and consumption at the expense of the sustainability of the environment, the US and the West have worked to centralize power at the expense of citizens around the globe and the carrying capacity of the earth. Integralists need to recognize their own capacity for both good and evil and be cautious about their assumptions regarding both.

The Holocaust killed 6 million Jews

Inconvenient truths indicate that this number is highly unlikely, but whatever the number, it was far less than some 20 million people killed by the US in illegal wars since WWII.[20, 21] Again, groupthink means that one can be accused of “hate speech” and anti-Semitism, arrested, and imprisoned for merely questioning this sacrosanct manufactured narrative. Legislation in the US is now criminalizing same in the US, making the questioning of groupthink a crime and those who do so criminals.[22]

Telling the truth about Israeli apartheid is anti-Semitism or hate speech

Who gets to determine truth? Fundamental to the acquisition of truth is access to all pertinent information. When that information or discussion of it is censored, truth has been declared to be pre-determined. The result is socio-cultural repression and stagnation. It seems clear enough what the purpose of groupthink regarding Israel is - to protect Jews, Judaism, Zionism, and Israel. We then have to ask, what is it about those particular collectives that merits singling out for protection over other collectives? Israel is a nuclear-armed state that practices colonialism and apartheid.[23, 24] Jews possess a percentage of the world's wealth greatly in excess of their percentage of the world's population.[25] Israel and Zionism control aspects of the foreign and national policies of the US, the UK, France, and Germany.[26] Jews gain admission to Ivy leagues at a rate that far exceeds either their demographic representation or scores on admission exams.[27] Prevailing groupthink forbids the criticism of Israel. Even the mentioning of the above facts is taboo. Integralists need to decide if they want to remain part of a groupthink echo chamber or think issues through for themselves and develop their own principled position.

Anthropogenic global warming is a conspiracy theory

Based on accepted truth criteria, anthropogenic global warming is a proven fact, supported by at least 18 international scientific organizations comprised of thousands of scientists.[28] Those who disagree are useful tools of the oil industry and Deep State. Their skepticism toward established science supports a catastrophic status quo.[29]

Homeopathy, energy medicine, astrology, and psychic phenomena are real

Yes, these are real as prepersonal experiences. In order to be considered scientific, they must meet the standards of empirically-validated rational truth, which requires duplicatible, published peer research. Unless and until they do so, they are rightly considered to be real on the level of prepersonal truths. It is groupthink to believe they rise to the level of science, much less the transpersonal.

Vaccination should be illegal

Vaccinations have saved millions of life and herd immunity may have saved ours.[27] If we do not maintain it, we put at risk the lives of our children. The anti-vaxxer movement is a pre-rational belief system and form of groupthink. This does not mean that an unquestioning belief in vaccinations is not also a form of groupthink; there exists plenty of evidence of harm and death from vaccines, corrupted scientific research, unfair profit motives in vaccine manufacturers, and undisclosed harmful side effects in new vaccines. However, none of this negates the reality that vaccines and vaccination have saved millions of lives and that herd immunity is a proven way to protect public health.


We can either experience alienation by challenging prevailing groupthink or we can provide ourselves temporary self-rescuing from the experience of alienation by not challenging it. Which do we prefer? At prepersonal and early personal levels of development a case can be made for temporary self-rescuing in the service of the creation of an integrated sense of self. Past that point, the case for accepting first the groupthink assumptions on which our sense of self is based and then our identity itself, becomes weaker and weaker.

We create cognitive dissonance in others when we fail to reinforce others' sense of who they are. For example, if you were “triggered” by any of the challenges to groupthink assumptions I listed above, it is helpful to ask, “Why? What was it about that answer that challenged or threatened my world view or sense of identity?”

When we challenge those groupthink assumptions that are fundamental to someone's belief system we threaten beliefs with which they identify. The more closely others identify with this or that belief the more likely they are to become defensive when we challenge their core assumptions that support their world view and identity. Expect to be labeled a bigot or ignorant - anything to make you wrong and maintain their world view and belief system.

Many people, perhaps most, choose a life of defending the sense of self they built up at prepersonal and early personal stages of self development, and therefore live Thoreau's “life of quiet desperation.” They may think, “I am miserable and live a lie, but at least I have my friends, family, job - my financial and emotional support system.” Just how much do we fear the backlash we know we'll receive from our friends, loved ones and acquaintances if we start questioning groupthink that validates our personal and collective identity in our family, work, and groups we affiliate with? What do we think is likely to happen if we start talking about perspectives we know threatens the world views of our ingroups?

Try talking about the virtues of polyamory to your spouse, of authoritarianism to democrats, of the value of questioning to those centered on faith, of reason to the emotional, of controlled economies to free marketeers, of collectivism to libertarians. We know quite well what will happen. It's not always easy to be on the outside of consensus reality. When we challenge a tightly-held orthodoxy we become as popular as a frog in a punch bowl. Friendships can end. We will be ostracized. When we start questioning ourselves, groupthink, and consensus worldviews, we close ourselves off from a full sense of participation in our society. But then, what does it mean to fully participate in a society that we now find is based on lies and delusions?

Our degree of reactivity to questioning of our core beliefs is a good gauge of how entrenched we are in a pre-rational world view and belief system. The condemnation of Socrates is a classical example. Staying on the same wavelength as everyone else has its advantages and its costs. Regarding advantages, it allows us to fulfill and maintain basic relational exchanges we need for life and development: safety, food, wealth, status, power, and security. We can easily find ourselves trading critical thinking skills for agreement and acceptance in order to further these basic relational exchanges.

The other extreme is to wear autonomy, questioning and challenging of groupthink as a badge of honor, which makes us come across as something akin to a rebellious adolescent or self-righteous asshole. There is quite a bit of the former at Earpy's Saloon, an Integral Facebook watering hole where Integralists gather who ideologically resemble the inhabitants of the famous bar scene in the first Star Wars.

While rebellious adolescents are superficial and obnoxious, at least they are attempting to find themselves, which is far superior to meekly submitting to our need for herd validation. To my tastes, some inhabitants of the integral noosphere find this balance well: Frank Visser, Michael Bauwens, David Lane, Bruce Alderman, and Pascal Layman are examples that come to mind. However, the majority of us seem to either be exercising adolescent autonomy, confirming to integral herd groupthink, or simply tuning in and listening, attempting to get more information or figure out where Integral is headed. There is nothing wrong with that; it just means we all need to be increasingly vigilant to the ever-present siren call of groupthink.

Specific heresies will vary depending upon the social circle, but the inability to voice them necessarily comes with the same sense of alienation. We muster selected cherry-picked facts to justify our positions. Seldom, if ever, do we ask, “What would be the consequences for my sense of self and my world view if others were right and I was mistaken?” To that end, I have asked myself that question about each of the assumptions I have listed above.

I doubt that groupthink is optional. I hardly assume that I am immune to groupthink. I am not advocating for a particular set of beliefs but for vigilance regarding our own groupthink. As such, it is probably important to note that Integral AQAL groupthink is far more advantageous than some other forms of groupthink I can think of. It is also important to note that simply recognizing our own particular groupthink is not enough, because we may simply make the traditional adolescent maneuver and replace it with compensatory, equally inauthentic, alternative forms of groupthink that we believe are not groupthink.

This is one very important reason why I identify with, interview, and consult dream characters and the personifications of life issues. Together, they provide “subjective sources of objectivity” that help me recognize when my own priorities are out of alignment with emerging potentials that point toward our unique and individual life compass. Together with feedback from others and our own judgment, this input provides “triangulation” in problem solving and generating objectivity that helps to recognize groupthink but hardly supplies immunity to it.

In the movie The Matrix, Neo lived a dream. He was actually plugged in, with his life siphoned off as captured food for a parasitic host. How are our lives plugged in to the same delusions that everyone else is living? We are sure we are different; the elite, the exceptional, the woke. We may ridicule those who think they are but who we view, according to Integral AQAL, at having a more limited world view and self-definition. Are we any different? What if we are in fact not more integral than these, but only think we are because we have a broader map of the territory? That is, because we have higher development in the cognitive line?

Such a thought is too terrifying for some of us even to contemplate, regardless of our level of development or affiliation with Integral, because it is too threatening to our sense of self. You and I probably believe we are exceptions to this principle, but are we? The entire notion of self, and a self which requires defending, generates the problem. Once that centralized, stable identity is viewed as a functional prop to do work in the world rather than who we are, giving up the groupthink assumptions that validate its existence is a relatively easy thing to do.


[1] “In philosophy, idealism is the group of metaphysical philosophies which assert that reality, or reality as humans can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In contrast to materialism, idealism asserts the primacy of consciousness as the origin and prerequisite of material phenomena. According to this view, consciousness exists before and is the pre-condition of material existence. Consciousness creates and determines the material and not vice versa. Idealism believes consciousness and mind to be the origin of the material world and aims to explain the existing world according to these principles.” Embree, Lester; Nenon, Thomas, eds. (2012). Husserl's Ideen (Contributions to Phenomenology). Springer Publishing. p. 338, cited in Idealism, Wikipedia.

[2] Under Obama there were 5 million foreclosures on loans, mostly to the lower and middle classes. He had access to tools to limit and reduce this damage; he didn't use them. Frank; T.A., Hope vs. change: Why some Democrats are turning on Obama's legacy. Vanity Fair.

[3] “Moral intelligence” is not the same as correlating intelligence with moral behavior. Lawrence Kohlberg has measured high moral intelligence but has not been able to show any correlation with ethical behavior. Kolenchuk, T., “There is no moral question that qualifies for inclusion on an IQ test. There is no question on an IQ test that can be considered a moral question. Having a high IQ does not help anyone find good moral answers, but does not detract the person from finding good moral answers. Having a strong sense of morality does not preclude anyone from performing well on IQ tests, and does not necessarily help them either. (f any correlation can be found between the two - humans have an almost infinite ability to find correlations - it's more likely to be a completely random finding than an actual relationship.”

[4] Lakoff, G, Johnson, M., Philosophy in the Flesh. Basic Books, 1999.

[5] Pinker, S., Enlightenment Now. NY, Viking, 2018.

[6] Krebs, Dennis L.; Denton, Kathy (1 January 2005). "Toward a More Pragmatic Approach to Morality: A Critical Evaluation of Kohlberg's Model" (PDF). Psychological Review. 112 (3): 629–649; Carpendale, J (1 June 2000). "Kohlberg and Piaget on Stages and Moral Reasoning". Developmental Review. 20 (2): 181–205.

[7] Dillard, J., IntegralDeepListening.Com.

[8] See Wilber, K., Integral Spirituality for five distinct meanings of the words “spiritual” and “spirituality.”

[9] Devos, K., Self-System: “A third-person descriptor for the overall self. The self-system is the locus of identification, will, defenses, metabolism, and integration (i.e., balancing the various levels, lines, states, and types of consciousness).” Integral Life.

[10] Although a number of experienced and intelligent researchers have done so. For example, see the neurologically-based theories of Hobson, McCarley, Solms, and Jie Zhang.

[11] An analysis of 1,779 recent policy outcomes in a new study by researchers at Princeton and Northwestern has found that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy,” while average citizens “have little or no independent influence.”

[12] For an excellent assessment of the chronic duplicity of both the government and media regarding “Russiagate,” see Greenwald, G., The Inspector General's Report on 2016 FBI Spying Reveals a Scandal of Historic Magnitude: Not Only for the FBI but Also the U.S. Media

[13] See Piff,, Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior

[14] See the Milgram shock experiments and the Zimbardo prison experiments. The Milgram experiments have been duplicated multiple times in different cultures and the Zimbardo findings are consistent with those of Milgram.

[15] “In June of 2014, Assad won Syria's Presidential election with 88.7 percent of the vote, in the country's first multi-candidate election in almost five decades. In a country which had a population of 17,064,854 in July 2014 (according to an estimate from CIA World Factbook), over 10 million people voted for Assad. 73.42 percent of the Syrian population voted in the election, with voting only taking place in government controlled areas.”

[16] Evidence now strongly suggests that the claim he gassed his own people was propaganda to generate public support for an illegal war against Syria. For example, See, Hitchens, P., PETER HITCHENS reveals fresh evidence that UN watchdog suppressed report casting doubt on Assad gas attack

[17] Roberts, G., China's congresses in action. Unz Review.

[18] McCarthy, N., Which countries have the most and least confidence in their governments? Forbes

[19] Roberts, G., Selling democracy to China. Unz Review.

[20] Ron Unz, of the Unz Review, writes, “…for decades I had always read the undeniable fact that the Nazis had exterminated 4 million inmates at Auschwitz, with most of the victims being Jews, and Lipstadt certainly treated that number as absolutely rock-solid historical reality. But in the early 1990s after the fall of Communism, the official total was quietly revised downwards to as little as 1.1 million. The fact that a sudden reduction in the official Holocaust body-count by 3 million has had so little impact upon our public Holocaust media narrative hardly seems to inspire great confidence in either the total figures or the media reporting of them.”

[21] Lucas, J.A., US Has Killed More Than 20 Million People in 37 “Victim Nations” Since World War II Global Research.

[22] There is presently a great deal of research available, some of it by Jews like Ron Unz and Norman Finkelstein, that question the standard holocaust narrative. For example, this article questions that number based on scientific analysis of certain sites reputed to account for large numbers of Jewish victims of the holocaust: Wear, J. What Happened to Jews Sent to the Aktion Reinhardt Camps? Unz Review.

[23] “Israel is widely believed to possess weapons of mass destruction, and to be one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The US Congress Office of Technology Assessment has recorded Israel as a country generally reported as having undeclared chemical warfare capabilities, and an offensive biological warfare program. Officially, Israel neither confirms nor denies possessing nuclear weapons.” Wikipedia, Israel and Weapons of Mass Destruction.

[24] White, B. UN report: Israel has established an apartheid regime. Al Jazeera.

[25] Sailor, S. “Per capita, Jews are a little over 100 times more likely to become billionaires than the rest of the human race.” Jewish wealth by the numbers.

[26] In the US this is evident not only from the policies toward Israel of Donald Trump but the consistent passage of pro-Israeli legislation by the US Congress. In the EU the anti-Semitic smear campaign against past Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and widespread EU “hate speech” laws designed to stifle dissent from majoritarian views regarding the Holocaust and what constitutes anti-Semitism provide examples.

[27] Unz., R. Racial Discrimination at Harvard.

[28] NASA: Global Climate Change

[29] The list of scientific organizations that support anthropogenic global warming is indeed impressive. These include the American Association for the Advancement of Science, ("Based on well-established evidence, about 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening." (2014)3

  • the American Chemical Society (“The Earth's climate is changing in response to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and particulate matter in the atmosphere, largely as the result of human activities.” (2016-2019);
  • the American Geophysical Union (“Human-induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.”);
  • American Medical Association (“Our AMA ... supports the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fourth assessment report and concurs with the scientific consensus that the Earth is undergoing adverse global climate change and that anthropogenic contributions are significant.”)
  • American Meteorological Society (“It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide.”? American Physical Society (“Earth's changing climate is a critical issue and poses the risk of significant environmental, social and economic disruptions around the globe. While natural sources of climate variability are significant, multiple lines of evidence indicate that human influences have had an increasingly dominant effect on global climate warming observed since the mid-twentieth century.”);
  • The Geological Society of America (“The Geological Society of America (GSA) concurs with assessments by the National Academies of Science (2005),
  • the National Research Council (2006), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse-gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s.”);
  • 11 International Science Academies: Joint Statement: (“Climate change is real. There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world's climate. However, there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.”
  • U.S. National Academy of Sciences (“Scientists have known for some time, from multiple lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth's climate, primarily through greenhouse gas emissions.”)

[30] There are other forms of rational truth, notably logic and a priori postulates. As Karl Popper explains, empirical truth rests on falsifiability. Tautologies and non-falsifiable postulates can be rational, within their own system of assumptions, just as are conspiracy theories. However, if underlying assumptions are not falsifiable, they amount to prepersonal truth claims.

[31] Like the evidence for anthropogenic global warming, the evidence that vaccinations and herd immunity have saved millions of lives is overwhelming. This does not imply, however, that vaccines cannot kill or maim or do no harm; they can and do. It also does not imply that there is not corruption in the pharmaceutical industry or that scientific research regarding vaccinations has not been misrepresented or falsified. However, none of these factors in any way negate the above statement

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