Discover more from Charles Eisenstein
Warning: Dangerous Content
On today’s menu, we will be offering low-carb Shitaki scones smothered in cave-aged rutabaga foam, Oxnard Pumpkin Stroganoff with Sauteed Scallop Pudding, and Bermuda Triangle Goat Pilaf topped with a stewed tangerine and goji berry melange and dry-roasted Chèvre Sauce.
Actually I got totally sidetracked there. What I was going to say was something like, “a compote of indignation and incredulity with a double glaze of irony.” But then I figured, before I write something that pretentious, I should warm up with some menu items.
To the point—I want to share a couple videos on YouTube. Thing is, they violate the new YouTube terms of service. One of them violates it so flagrantly that my teeth are literally chattering with fear as I contemplate the horrible punishments that may soon be visited upon me. You see, my son Cary and I are listening to a podcast series on the history of Rome—which, as my brother says, is a “history of what happens when the bad guys win.” The Romans weren’t very nice to those who defied them. Now YouTube isn’t based in Rome, but still, you know, Western Civilization yada yada. Punishments like scourging, crucifixion, drawing-and-quartering, and so on live on in their metaphorical equivalents on line. Not that it takes actual courage to violate YouTube’s terms of service, but from the comfort of my home office, metaphorical courage is good enough for me.
Also, here is a picture of the pirate I have on my wall.
YouTube better not mess with me, because I assure you, I am every bit as fierce as this pirate.
Where was I? Oh yes, the video. It is an interview with a woman, Kate Keville, whose son was diagnosed with stage 4 testicular cancer. She was able to heal him using an alternative therapy. The story is astounding for the swiftness and thoroughness of the cure. There’s the first layer of irony: something that is the very opposite of dangerous is labeled as dangerous, and prohibited from the platform in order to protect the public.
What I found most illuminating about the video was the response of the oncologist, who may stand as a proxy for the whole medical system in its arrogance and brutality. What the oncologist wanted to subject her son to would have made Lucius Tarquinius Superbus blush. And herein lies the second layer of irony. In fact, videos like these ARE dangerous content. They are dangerous to established power—not just the medical-industrial complex, but the larger institutions that embed it.
In the last couple years I’ve noticed that alternative health information has gradually vanished from search engine results. Undoubtedly, some of this information is genuinely dangerous. It can feed delusions that prevent people from seeking effective care. It can advocate risky therapies that cause more harm than good. However, mainstream information poses the exact same dangers—arguably, to an even grater degree.
Only if peer review were sound and the scientific method untainted by power and profit could the orthodoxy legitimately claim to be reliable and true. Those who have experienced the power of alternative therapies and their blind denial of credentialed medical authorities know that the institutions that produce medical knowledge are unsound.
The “dangerous content” I am sharing with you today does not only endanger the profits and status of certain medical professionals and the institutions they inhabit. It also endangers the worldview that underlies those institutions. It says that our culture’s understanding of reality is woefully incomplete. I first awoke to this fact when I lived in Taiwan in my twenties, where I encountered phenomena that stood squarely outside everything my Yale education had taught me was real. These validated a secret suspicion I’d long harbored, unvoiced: “This can’t be all there is.” I intuited a mystery, something marvelous beyond the confines of reality as it had been narrated to me. Yet my education and upbringing contradicted that intuition, but my first-hand experiences in Taiwan (with Chinese medicine, qigong, etc.) confirmed it, awakened it, and nourished it.
That information, too, is dangerous. It can peel you away from the structures that maintain the world as we know it. It can ruin your ambition to rise to the top. It can make you unprofessional. It can destroy your enthusiasm to participate in normal society. It can consign you to the margins. It can turn you into a dissident. It can turn you into a rebel. It can cause you to reject all that is good about civilization along with all that is bad. It can make you want to quit the world in disgust. You see, the information contained in “miracle stories” bears real dangers along with fake.
Instinctively, the guardians of the reality-defining story of our culture recognize information that will challenge that story. It isn’t so simple as consciously destroying anything that gets in the way of their power and profits. If you try to understand the power elite in this way, they will always remain inscrutable. Your understanding of them will be as partial as their understanding of you. The guardians of orthodoxy feel a visceral affront at information that challenges it. Indeed, their identity is under assault. Their sense of reality is under assault. Have pity.
Do you expect the doctor in Kate’s story to have said, “Oh my God, my entire career was wasted, I’ve harmed countless patients imagining I was helping them, I’m going to quit my profession even though my friends and colleagues will turn on me…” Sometimes people do that, but such brave individuals are few.
The structures of censorship, the algorithmic suppression, the shadow-banning, the skewing of search results are all part of a program of false reality maintenance. But this false reality, this world-story, is growing old and infirm. The moment may be coming when many, many of us are ready to say some version of what Kate’s doctor didn’t say. Even he, I am sure, carries the same mute intuition that awakened in me in Taiwan and that is renewed every time I hear a story like Kate’s.
So far the video is still up (I made it “unlisted”). It it gets taken down I’ll post it somewhere else and let you know. Also I’ll post about the other video I mentioned at the beginning next time.
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