Dangerous Depths vs. the Distracted Shallows

Dangerous Children Must Learn to Work Deep

One of the things that sets Dangerous Children apart is their minds. They learn to think for themselves, and use their own inner compass to determine what to do.

Deep Work is the ability to focus intensely on a problem for hours at a time, bringing all of your cognitive skills to the task — and shutting out almost everything else for that time. This is how difficult concepts and skills are learned. This is how ideas are turned into research papers, books, and inventive products and working systems.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time…. deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep—spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way. __ Cal Newport

Deep Work is the opposite of groupthink, and the opposite of busy work. It is the opposite of distraction and the polar opposite of “social media.” It is where the prolific producers of important new work spend much of their time, and it is where the consistently best students get their secret powers.

Over 300 years ago, the mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal said, “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”

In an intriguing 2014 psychology experiment published in Science, college students often chose to administer electric shocks to themselves rather than to sit quietly with their own thoughts.

Adults will watch movies or TV, we will start an argument, we run to social media, we take stimulants or anxiolytics, we go out to eat and drink too much, we play games, pursue empty relationships, and drive ourselves to the end of distraction just to avoid “being bored” or too much alone.

Dangerous Children cannot afford to fritter away their time in those ways. They have things to do, skills to learn, and provisions to make. You cannot pack the work of a Dangerous Child into 18 early years while distracting yourself in “the shallows.”

The Seductive Appeal of The Shallows

The Shallows is the almost inescapable miasma of the internet, social media, and the constant distracting connection to the largely trivial outside world. After being immersed in the shallows long enough, it becomes more difficult for a person to concentrate deeply.

Over the last few years I’ve had the uncomfortable feeling that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going . . . but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think… I used to find it easy to immerse myself in a book or a lengthy article… Now my concentration starts to drift after a page or two. I get fidgety, lose the thread, start looking for something else to do… The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle. __ Nicholas Carr in The Shallows

Nicholas Carr is simply describing in himself what is also happening to a large number of other mind workers who have adapted to making their way in the new hyper-connected world of distraction he calls “the shallows.”

It Did Not Start With the Internet or Social Media

This need for constant distraction from deep and difficult focused work is not something new. Throughout history few people ever mastered the solitary task of thinking deeply and bringing complex and beautiful new objects and ideas into the world. Not like da Vinci, Michelangelo, Einstein, or Newton.

But in times past — before radio, TV, movies, and other popular entertainments — there were far fewer distractions from “thoughtful solitude.” And with the coming of the internet and ubiquitous all-the-time communication, time alone to focus and think deeply can be almost impossible to come by.

Why do we throw away our time on superficial distractions?

… it’s not necessarily that we are addicted to a TV set because there is something uniquely satisfying about it, just like we are not addicted to most stimulants because the benefits outweigh the downsides. Rather, what we are really addicted to is a state of not-being-bored.

Almost anything else that controls our life in an unhealthy way finds its root in our realization that we dread the nothingness of nothing. We can’t imagine just being rather than doing. And therefore, we look for entertainment, we seek company, and if those fail, we chase even higher highs.

We ignore the fact that never facing this nothingness is the same as never facing ourselves. And never facing ourselves is why we feel lonely and anxious… __ https://medium.com/personal-growth/the-most-important-skill-nobody-taught-you-9b162377ab77

Most people were never taught any better — either verbally or by example.

We dread the silence of our very existence so we choose aimless distraction… Coming to such a realization can be life-changing. __ Ali Mese

Perhaps reading books such as Deep Work and The Shallows can be life-changing. Learning to devote more of our time to deep focus and deep work — while avoiding as many shallow distractions as possible — can certainly be life-changing for many.

But at what stage in a person’s life should he learn deep focus and deep work? We see how easily the internet and social media have taken over the mainstream media, much of academia, much of government, corporate culture, and many other social institutions — including large numbers of families. Once a person is “truly hooked,” it is not necessarily easy to pull himself back in order to learn to intensely focus on deep work.

If you watch most very small children, they seem to have been born knowing how to focus deeply. How else could children learn to walk, talk, ride bicycles, negotiate to get their way, and do all the other tasks of young humans, so effortlessly?

It is best to keep young children away from “The Shallows” for several years so that they can develop their powers of intense focus for learning ideas and skills, and for creating new concepts and things. Each family will need to work out its own rules and policies, but it is best to work them out before the child is old enough to develop a strong preference.

If a human cannot focus for long periods of time, is he still a human? Perhaps. But he is certainly no Dangerous Child.

Most modern denizens of the shallows do not read anymore. They skim, scroll down, skip in staccato fashion from hyperlink to hyperlink — and miss any nuance in the material they were “reading.” When bored they jump on social media to text or message an acquaintance to discuss “feelings” about yet more of the shallow distractions that make up much of their lives.

Dangerous Children must pack a lot of learning and skill-building into a short eighteen years. Their lives are not filled up by TV, video games, social media, movies, and pulp fiction. They learn to teach and guide themselves through the unique curriculum that fits their talents and proclivities.

By the age of 18, a Dangerous Child has mastered three ways to support himself financially, can speak three non-native languages, has enough academic credits to finish a college degree in a couple of years, is comfortable starting new businesses or organising expeditions, and has the skills to move over most any terrain or through most any neighborhood. And they know how to think for themselves — something sadly lacking among modern college student cohorts.

Intense solitude can be used for many purposes, depending upon a person’s age and current state of existence. Albert Einstein preferred to spend his time alone solving hard problems. That approach worked for him over his lifetime. When he ran out of problems to solve from outside sources, he invented new difficult problems to solve. These problems took a lot of time and deep work.

If humanity is to move forward to an expansive and abundant future, it will need a large number of people devoted to high levels of intensely productive work, based largely on solitude. Networking will be important at certain stages of refining and extending disruptive new ideas and systems. But distraction at too early a stage will kill them before they can be born.

The Importance of Inoculating Against Groupthink

Gustave Le Bon
quoted in Source

Groupthink is a Mass Contagion Disease

One of the first scholars of “groupthink” was Irving Janis, a research psychologist at Yale and professor emeritus at UC Berkeley. Janis wrote more than a dozen books, including “Groupthink,” and “Victims of Groupthink.” It is instructive to examine a summary of his conclusions from studying the phenomenon.

… what Janis more generally showed through each of his carefully researched case studies was how this form of collective human psychology operates according to certain clearly identifiable rules. Janis several times set out lists of the ‘symptoms of groupthink’, and his lengthy study included much analysis of its other attributes. But for our present purpose, we can draw out from his work three characteristics of
groupthink that are absolutely basic and relevant to our theme. I carefully use here the phrase ‘draw out from’ because Janis himself nowhere explicitly states that these are the three basic rules of groupthink. But they are implicit in his analysis throughout the book, and form the core of his theory as to how groupthink operates.

The three rules of groupthink

Rule one is that a group of people come to share a common view or belief that in some way is not properly based on reality. They may believe they have all sorts of evidence that confirms that their opinion is right, but their belief cannot ultimately be tested in a way that confirms this beyond doubt. In essence, therefore, it is no more than a shared belief.

Rule two is that, precisely because their shared view cannot be subjected to external proof, they then feel the need to reinforce its authority by elevating it into a ‘consensus’, a word Janis himself emphasised. To those who subscribe to the ‘consensus’, the common belief seems intellectually and morally so self-evident that all right-thinking people must agree with it. The one thing they cannot afford to allow is that anyone, either within their group or outside it, should question or challenge it. Once established, the essence of the belief system must be defended at all costs.

Rule three, in some ways the most revealing of all, is a consequence of that insistence that everyone must support the ‘consensus’. The views of anyone who fails to share it become wholly unacceptable. There cannot be any possibility of dialogue with them. They must be excluded from any further discussion. At best they may just be marginalised and ignored, at worst they must be openly attacked and discredited.

Dissent cannot be tolerated.

Janis showed how consistently and fatally these rules operated in each of his examples. Those caught up in the groupthink rigorously excluded anyone putting forward evidence that raised doubts about their ‘consensus’ view. So convinced were they of the rightness of their cause that anyone failing to agree with it was aggressively shut out from the discussion. And in each case, because they refused to consider any evidence that suggested that their two-dimensional ‘consensus’ was not based on a proper appraisal of reality, it eventually led to disaster. __ Groupthink PDF

The document linked above summarizes Janis’ research in the context of the enterprise of global catastrophic climate alarmism, which exhibits a large number of the attributes of groupthink which Janis elaborated back in the 1970s.

It is No Coincidence that “Groupthink” Takes on Orwellian Overtones When Examined Closely

Every Dangerous Child should read George Orwell’s classic novel “1984.” No modern person can claim to be educated without having read that work.

Irving Janus borrowed from the tone of “1984” when he coined the term “groupthink.” Orwell coined similar descriptive terms such as “crimethink,” “doublethink,” and “newspeak.” But it was the imagined society portrayed within the novel which illustrates the concept of groupthink so clearly and graphically.

Dangerous Children Must Be Inoculated Against Conformist Groupthink As Thoroughly As Possible

In order for the child to approach his potential in various aspects of personal growth and achievement, he must be able to stand on his own with sufficient grit and personal competence so that he will not be tossed about by the winds of public opinion or peer influence.

Again, take the example of groupthink in global climate catastrophism:


We are discovering in today’s university atmosphere of antagonism against free and open expression and dialogue, that it is only the youth who already possess substantive values who are able to stand up against the ubiquitous postmodern indoctrination.

What is true for ordinary children and youth is particularly true for Dangerous Children, who are trained in a wide range of potentially lethal skills. Such children must be highly conscientious, with stable and mature systems of values which they call their own.

Without high levels of conscientiousness or solid, stable, self-made systems of values, it would be irresponsible to train the child to be Dangerous.

The Contrarian Way

Contrarianism is the characteristic of “going one’s own way,” without regard to the direction of the larger herd. And that is a signal characteristic of the Dangerous Child — although he would never broadcast such an inclination to the public. It is his broad competence which gives him the confidence to take that stance.

As we say, there are no secret handshakes, no special tattoos, no identifying rings or pendants or styles of clothing, to identify a Dangerous Child. You may be living next door to one.

Learning Contrarian Thought

The most dangerous thing about a Dangerous Child, is his mind. Dangerous Children are not easily led into popular consensual delusions, nor do they find themselves running with a mob.

Dangerous Children are exposed to contrarian modes of thinking at an early age, and are expected to develop their contrarian thinking skills to a cutting edge by the time they achieve financial, emotional, and intellectual independence.

In many ways, contrarian thinkers are like comedians: they test boundaries and challenge the status quo. Most comedy relies upon the exposition of absurdity. Something only becomes absurd when it stands out dramatically from its surroundings, or differs greatly from what is expected or anticipated; in other words, when it contrasts. Contrast is therefore inherent to the nature of comedy, and contrarian thinking.

“The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them.” — Albert Einstein



Sometimes contrarian people are accused of simply taking the opposite approach to the majority. Such a reflexive view of contrarians is dangerously simplistic and misleading. Genuine contrarians “see through” the mainstream as well as its opposite. They think independently, and . . . differently.

This “different” style of thinking confuses those who drift in the mainstream of thoughtlessness. It also makes them angry.

Contrarians often ask “simple questions,” which make more “sophisticated” people smirk, become impatient, or just feel superior somehow. And yet, it is the simple questions which often keep human thinking grounded, when everyone else is caught up in turbulent flows.

Finding the right answer to a simple question few others ask will keep you thinking differently—and wisely. __ http://www.aaii.com/journal/article/being-a-contrarian-means-thinking-differently

The global average IQ for the human population of Earth is somewhere below 90. Because birth rates are higher in low-IQ populations, the average human population IQ is dropping year by year. Governments and social institutions are increasingly catering to increasingly stupid populations.

When confronted with the coming tidal waves of dysgenic Idiocracy, it is natural for more thoughtful people — who also happen to be more intelligent than average — to form their own ideas and viewpoints, separate from the ideas and viewpoints popularly promulgated by social institutions such as governments, media, schools, and churches.

Dangerous Children learn contrary thinking by way of stories, songs, games and role playing, mock debates, and various creative productions written and produced by the Dangerous Children themselves. Independent, contrary modes of thought become second nature with very little — if any — prodding from mentors, parents, and coaches.

As the child grows older and ventures further into the larger skankstream, he will already have developed a natural immunity to the groupthink consensual delusions that abound out there.

This independence of mind allows a Dangerous Child to think his way out of situations that would trap, damage, and eventually destroy more conformist minds.

Dangerous Children grow up asking the simple, fundamental questions that keep them grounded when the unexpected happens. Once quickly oriented, they can utilise rapid “rules of thumb” and automatic checklists to help them survive the challenges of the immediate environment, and navigate to safety for regrouping and reorienting.

Predators, con artists, and cultural bullies of all types usually rely upon surprise, deception, and confusion to render their prey vulnerable for the critical time needed to trap and overpower them.

Long habits of contrarian thinking at all levels, will help the Dangerous Child to see through most such attempts, allowing him to choose the best of several response options.