Myth Salon: How False Beliefs Spread with Dr. Jim Weatherall

On Thursday February 21, we will be visited by Dr. Jim Weatherall, a physicist/poet/social theorist whose most recent two books are titled The Mis-Information Age: How False Beliefs Spread and Void: The Strange Physics of Nothing – both published by the Yale University Press. These two popular publications followed The Physics of Wall Street. If it sometimes seems to be a mystery how and why our cultural phenomena seem as warped as they are wrapped in webs lacking coherence and principle, Jim Weatherall uses network models to demonstrate how social factors contribute to the persistence and spread of false beliefs, even when there is strong evidence available that those beliefs lead to poor outcomes. We also will discuss how these same social factors can be manipulated by industrial and political agents. His topic is timely and relevant! Can you believe how this resonates with our current times?

As spring is rapidly approaching, the Myth Salon is being honored by two of the stars of Pacifica’s faculty: Dr. Evans Lansing Smith, current chair of Pacifica’s Mythological Studies program will visit us on Wednesday, March 13. The author of thirteen books (including a novel and two volumes of poems) and numerous articles on comparative literature and mythology, Lans Smith is well-known to all of us in the Pacifica community. He received his Ph.D. from The Claremont Graduate School, an M.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch International (London and Dublin), and a B.A. from Williams College. In the 1970s, he traveled with the late Joseph Campbell on tours of Northern France, Egypt, and Kenya. He has taught at colleges, institutes, conferences, and universities in Switzerland, Italy, France, Maryland, Texas, and California, and is the recipient of awards for distinguished teaching and publication from Midwestern State University, and the Pacifica Graduate Institute. In addition, he has lectured on Mythologies of the Underworld and The Grail Romances of the Middle Ages, at the C.G. Jung Institute in Küsnacht, Switzerland, and on Goddesses of the Mediterranean in Circeo San Felice, Italy. His edited volume of Joseph Campbell’s writings and lectures on Romance of the Grail, was published in November, 2015, and his edition of the Correspondence of Joseph Campbell (1927-1987) in December, 2019.

Lans will offer a presentation that includes memories, dreams, and reflections about a study tour he took with Joseph Campbell during the late 1970s to Northern France. The focus of the trip was on the splendid images and stories of the European Middle Ages, with an emphasis on the Grail Romances. He will incorporate a powerpoint memoir of that trip, as well as amplifying a series of archetypal dreams associated with it, drawing parallels between Nordic and Greek mythology, and connecting them to the alchemical processes of transformation catalyzed by the journey and encounter with Campbell, one of the great educators of our day.

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