Al Gore points out, that economic inequality in the US has increased dramatically in the last 25 years. Personal fortunes and incomes are less equally distributed than in Tunisia or Egypt, where the gap between rich and poor certainly contributed to the "Arab Spring" uprisings. Al Gore points to this video as clearly illustrating the problem. A real eye-opener!
The other day I was speaking with a new acquaintance, who upon learning that I was a psychologist, asked me some of the usual questions.
"Do you as a psychologist usually diagnose everyone you meet?"
"Don't psychologists just deal with matters that we all already know about perfectly well?"
I could quickly answer no to the first question. I am not at work in my free time.
The second question I had to answer with a "Yes, but..".
It's true we all use a knowledge of people's experience and behavior most of the time in our daily lives. This applies both to our experience-based knowledge of ourselves and to knowledge of other people's reactions. But psychology as a science is something different and more than everyday human knowledge. It's an attempt to prove the scientific laws of experience and behavior.
Some sciences, for example Assyriology, deal with knowledge that is not commonly known. But other sciences, such as physics, study relationships that everyone constantly uses in their daily lives, just like psychology does. Take the "law of gravity": everyone expects an apple you drop or that breaks off a tree to fall to the ground.
That's not what Newton discovered when, according to the anecdote, he was hit on his head by a falling apple. On the other hand, it was the insight that there was a general law of movement that could perhaps be described mathematically. It's not entirely true that things are falling down. On the other side of the world, they fall upwards - from our point of view. And the apple doesn't just fall at a certain constant rate. If you measure it, it turns out that it accelerates with a certain constant acceleration. Objects are attracted to the earth by a force proportional to their weight, or more correctly their mass, which, according to Newton's insight, is no longer the same as weight. And his solution was radical: a law of general attraction between all masses, proportional to each of the masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Then you could mathematically calculate for the orbits of the planets.
Psychology also tries to find empirically confirmed laws, but they can rarely be formulated as accurately as in the case of Newtonian mechanics.
At times when I have been ill or extremely tired, I have discovered, I have discovered mistaken perceptions of my surroundings.
These episodes don't just occur in periods of weakened consciousness, but also in milder form at times with full awareness.
Some of my faculties seem generally weakened with age. Mis-hearings of words occur often, and are corrected by my wife. My earlier very precise sense of direction can fail at times, when the inner compass suddenly seems to be inverted with east pointing to west and vice versa. Likely more or less normal failings of age.
A few times an alternative interpretation of reality can result in an almost mystical experience.
I remember once on Mallorca when I in the almost darkness of twilight looked out from a second floor corridor in our hotel and saw what I thought was an abandoned garden of an old villa, now gone. Beauty in decay, nicely planted vegetation, an old gate adjourned by statues.
I pointed it out to my wife who at once saw a mini-golf course under repair or being rebuilt.
The next morning I could see it for myself. The lanes were placed in between trees and bushes and scattered building materials. The statues were cheap garden variety adornments and the whole area was connected with the Turkish grill in front.
However, somehow there was still a feeling of past splendor about the place. The trees were actually old and the gate had become enveloped inside a growing hedge. Maybe my original impression was some kind of vision of something behind the present and conventional reality? Maybe I saw the garden as it was at an earlier period in time or as it was destined to become later.
Maybe this is what visionary people experience more often?