Consensus trance

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Probably coined by Charles Tart, this phrase indicates a collective agreement not to let objective reality (such as the finite nature of fossil fuels or mendacious behaviour of particular individuals) to impinge on a shared belief system, generally more or less in agreement with the official narrative.

Concept.png Consensus trance Glossary.png
Consensus trance.jpg
Founder(s)Charles Tart
Probably coined by Charles Tart, this phrase indicates a collective agreement not to let objective reality (such as the finite nature of fossil fuels or mendacious behaviour of particular individuals) impinge on a shared belief system, generally more or less in agreement with the official narrative.

“Nine tenths of the news, as printed in the newspapers, is pseudo-news. Some days ten tenths. The ritual morning trance in which one scans columns of newsprint creates a peculiar form of generalised pseudo-attention to pseudo-reality... My own experience has been that renunciation of this self-hypnosis, of this particiption in this trance is not a sacrifice of reality.”
Thomas Merton (1968)  [1]

Consensus trance is an extreme form of groupthink.


That humankind has fallen into the insanity of concensus trance, and lost touch with our true possibilities and functions is a tragedy."[2]

This term may have been coined[When?] by psychologist Charles Tart or possibly Robert Anton Wilson who used it in his writings lectures and presentations.


"Consensus trance" is used to explain the psychology that requires the (possibly tacit) acceptance of "Official Narratives" by the sub-conscious blocking out of unpleasant and unpalatable truths about the world, one's country, society, religion etc. - in other words, the avoidance of cognitive dissonance - in order to get through the day and concentrate on the deeply established routines of life. It is highly noteworthy just how willing people are to suspend belief in their own senses in order to conform to a group to which they feel allegiance.[3] Richard Heinberg has made extensive use of this in his writings about 9/11 and Peak Oil.

Regulating group mind

Canadian academic John McMurtry introduced the roughly equivalent concept of the "regulating group mind" in his 2004 paper, File:Understanding 911 and 911 wars.pdf.

The facts of 9-11 which are disconnected from are now copiously documented. But why and how these facts are ruled out by the masses and elites at the same time is not explained. The argument has been at the first-order level of the facts, not the lawlike operations on the facts by the collective thought-system that selects, ignores and reconnects them in new form - what I call the “regulating group-mind” (RGM). Only when we understand this meta-level of constructing the facts and their meaning in accordance with their conformity to and expression of a pre-existing structure of understanding can we know what is going on or, more specifically, can we find our way out of the anomalies and disconnects of our era.[4]

McMurtry postulates a “regulating group-mind” or socially regulating syntax of thought and judgement which blocks out

  1. all evidence against its assumptions; and
  2. the destructive effects which reveal its delusions.


McMurtry underlines the importance of understanding the nature of the regulating group mind, even suggesting:

The RGM may lie behind every systematic social pathology of our era. In each case, it blocks out facts and connections of life-and-death significance, and in each instance, its exclusion is a variation on one life-blind thought regime, the “shadow subject” of our era.[4]

Mass Compulsion Schooling

Full article: Rated 4/5 School

Mass compulsion schooling is the subject of a concensus trance. People like to believe it is intended to bring out the best in children, not to carry out long term society enginnering. John Taylor Gatto cites Alexander Inglis' 1911's "Principles of Secondary Education" as revealing the first purpose of modern schooling is adjustive - to give children fixed habits of obedience to authority, while the fourth purpose is conformity, to make them as alike as possible, for easy management as citizens and consumers.[5]

Relevant Research

Various psychologists have produced research which helps to explain the phenomenon of the "consensus trance".

Asch Conformity Experiments

In 1955 psychologist Salomon E. Asch conducted experiments about peer pressure in social groups. In "Opinions and social pressure"[6] he concluded that conformity is an inherent mechanism for social behaviour (of individuals in a group) that may lead to alter individuals' perception and lead them to judge falsely so as to satisfy the group's opinion - even if this opinion is obviously false.[7].

The effect of conformity is so strong that polls may create a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially when polls show a high percentage of accordance influence on public opinion is inevitable. In some countries polls are forbidden before elections for this reason. Another example are images that appear to show masses of people, i.e. the Charlie Hebdo propaganda. Statements such as "Our troops took over and are now in total control" might be have a similar effect, if contradictory evidence can be suppressed. Planners of psychological operations know well how the human need to belong to a social group makes people vulnerable for this sort of manipulation by forces such as the commercially-controlled media.

Milgram Experiment

The now infamous Milgram Experiment revealed how simple props could induce ordinary people to be a party to murder. Amongst Stanley Milgram's key findings were that reluctance to challenge the implicit high status of the researcher and that a lack of empathic connection to the victim were important parts of why people followed instructions, even to the point (they thought) of giving potentially deadly electric shocks to another human being. Interestingly, none of Milgram's peers correctly predicted how willing people would be to follow orders perhaps because, being older, they underestimated the importance of school on shaping people's obedience.

Stanford prison experiment

In 1971, Philip Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment previously healthy students were randomly assigned roles of "prisoner" or "guard" and quickly became abusive towards one another. This dramatically revealed the power of situational cues (such as uniforms or other suggestions of social power) in shaping people's behaviour. Zimbardo saw a parallel with the torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq that was publicized in March 2004, and assisted the legal defense team of the prison guards. He was dismayed that the official narrative became one of "a few bad apples" rather than acknowledging that the faults of those who set up the system.

Hemispherical dominance

Graham Gynn and Tony Wright have developed and published some very interesting ideas about the dominance of the (life blind) left-hemisphere of the brain.[8] Changes in diet, they suggest, together with a rapidly increasing reliance on verbal language has disturbed the balance between the two hemispheres of the brain. This they speculate is responsible for the generally dominant role played by the left brain - which has a demonstrated ability to confabulate logical explanations for poorly explained phenomena.[9]


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
File:Understanding 911 and 911 wars.pdfcommentary30 May 2004John McMurtryA guide to understanding the events of 9-11 and the resulting wars for which it became the casus belli
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