People see the world in terms of their internal landscapes -- it is worth trying to establish objective reality, but that has no impact on how people perceive and experience the world.


The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, April 30, 2011. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Birth Certificates: For Many, Obama CAN'T Be American

In the Time's "Opinionater" column, Peter Catapano wrote :

Can Hawaii really be considered a state? Does anybody really believe that a volcanic island chain - described in Wikipedia as "physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania," a place that does not observe daylight savings time - is the sort of thing the founding fathers had in mind? And what is it doing all the way out there anyway?

Catapano then indicated that he was joking: "O.K., I made that up."

But it's actually true - for many Americans, Hawaii is not really part of the United States, and proving that Obama was born there does nothing to convince them that he is a legitimate American. The island is so far away - and its native Polynesian people were never eradicated and continue to form a large part of the population.

Do only kooks think this way? Far from it. And the topic of Hawaii's being a real American state is not the most basic question where people's internal landscapes differ from the so-called "real" one.

Here's what a prominent person says about Obama's heritage and religion: Obama was "born a Muslim" because his father was a Muslim "and the seed is passed through the father." Not just anyone said that - it was uttered by the Rev. Franklin Graham, who presented the sermon at the national ceremony following 9/11, and whose father was Billy Graham, the spiritual leader of millions of Americans and adviser and confidant to presidents.

It is Graham's and others' reality that a man whose father was an African Muslim can never be a real American - no matter who his mother is and where he was born. So don't even bother to show them some stinkin' piece of paper from that non-state, Hawaii.

While people argue about whether Obama is really American, whether lowering taxes stimulates the economy, and whether (a la Glenn Beck) the country is being eaten out from within by socialists, they are discussing their psychological reality - which is the only one that counts. Psychological reality determines stock market prices, who wins elections, and whether gay people can really be married -- in other words, everything that matters.

So I read with bemusement this comment on my previous post on Donald Trump's bullying: "I come here to increase my knowledge of mind science in order to increase my skills as a life coach. I feel every time I read an article of this nature, meaning political, I have waisted (sic) valuable time out of my day." This person wants REAL psychology, not stuff about politics and street life - what does psychology have to tell us about that?!

Yet, the most basic insight to be had about psychology is that it IS reality - and that it determines everything.