Burning Man As A Social Science Laboratory

Burning Man’s founders seem quite fond of telling us that it’s a social experiment, that they’re “social engineers”. What does that actually mean, though? UC Davis Professor Darrell Hamamoto made this video last year with his theory on it all. He explores similarities between Burning Man and the internment of the Japanese in concentration camps during World War II, using the classic movie Bad Day At Black Rock as the link.

The first movie that I’m aware of that was filmed in the Black Rock Desert was The Winning of Barbara Worth, in 1926.

18 comments on “Burning Man As A Social Science Laboratory

  1. Well he nailed some points. But pretty sad overall to see that he is considered qualified to teach at a legit college. Your tax dollars at work! His take on fdr, for example, borders on fascist revisionism of ww2. But his point about bman as gov social laboratory is right on the money. Academia is full of folks like this, sadly, these days. “Critical race theory”, “eliminate due process for alleged rapists”, safe spaces, “only whites are racist”, “trans is a lifestyle choice, not a mental disorder… unless you need the gov to pay for your hormones, then its a disorder”. No wonder people are voting for idiot trump…

    • The “Government” involvement as he described seems like quite a long shot, given the local/legal problems they have had. And what’s with the involuntary vaccination thing? Either the conspiracy is very deep and convoluted, or Occam’s Razor applies, and it’s all simply fallout from Borg greed.

      If you want a far more practical Government social experiment, look to Flint, Michigan. Food and water are two primary things we all need; what happens when you deprive a city of water? That’s something that is on the horizon. …Of course Occam’s Razor may apply again, and another episode of American Greed could be in the making.

    • BM is hardly anyone’s intentional social experiment, it’s more like what happens when you sift sand through a screen and what’s remains is too big to go through. And what remains are clogs and rocks and other dirt = burners; the clinical narcissists, sociopaths and other personality disorders who feed off each other.

      BM is like a beacon of light for all the ostracized-with-good-reason folks out there. Its message of inclusivity, (We’ll take anyone, we don’t care how fucked up you are!) is like a warm blanket to these fuck-ups who get a pass by putting on a bit of fur and a fake smile and suddenly everyone likes them.

  2. Funny, but those concerns have not shown up on my radar. I don’t think they are that organized, experimentally. I just think the Borg are following the money while trying to keep the free lunch others are bringing for them.

    But since we are here, let me give you another term to refer to what the NV burn has turned into: “Burnt Man.” It is the overexposed and exploited event and all that the Borg now surrounds it with. It’s burnt – dead – over. It now only serves as the premise or punch line for a joke, or something else that is calcified and fixed. Renewal and re-creation has moved elsewhere.

    • “It is the overexposed and exploited event and all that the Borg now surrounds it with. It’s burnt – dead – over.”

      And yet you can’t get over it. There must still be something there for you.

        • I guess you’re a slow learner, then? What other lessons are you still seeking out of Burning Man? You’ve been at this for a few years now.

          • You mean like, they need to get pantsed and swirlied, dude?

            I have invested man-months into Burning Man, that they turned into Burnt Man. I am interested to see how they are exploiting what I and other burners have done. And what I missed as they were doing it, and continue to do it. The story continues with old and new patterns of cashing in on the volunteers. The ways they are working to get volunteers to keep volunteering, or else work for various types of compensation is interesting and evolving. Actually, one of my volunteer organizations has been doing this a lot longer, and is much better at getting people to climb the ladder to have the influence they are overtly denied – even though without the true volunteers the organization is literally nothing. But they are more pure manipulators to get more pure narcissistic supplies, since they are not overtly cashing in like the Borg – at least as far as I have been able to find out. The Borg’s lack of transparency gives good clues for what to look for.

          • Of course it is also schadenfreude, as I enjoy pre-sellout Burning Man culture with other veterans at other burns. Theme camp accepted and placed for this year, early arrival confirmed; just sent an email confirming our camp arrangements for a shower tent. It is SO UNBELIEVABLY FRAKING NICE to just get things done without the overhead of feeding the Borg’s greed for money and narcissistic supplies. No ticket drama; no vehicle passes; no herds of pretty people on Segways being filmed for slomo music videos. The focus is on the creativity and originality of the shared burn experience, and that’s all.

            As far Larry’s Burnt Man experiment goes, I am not part of the solution; I am part of the precipitate.

  3. “Bad Day at Black Rock” was, of course, not filmed on the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, but rather mostly in the Owens Vally of the Eastern Sierra, including the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA.

Leave a Reply to JVCancel reply