About Erich Vieth

Welcome to my site. I am a consumer attorney residing in St. Louis, Missouri, with my two daughters. I also work as a musician, photographer and writer. Like most other people, it seems, I also take photography seriously, and I have compiled a series of video interviews, lectures and documentaries on my YouTube channel.

For my day job, I am a consumer attorney with Campbell Law. I have prosecuted cases as class actions against predatory lenders and other unscrupulous businesses. Visit Campbell Law’s website and you’ll learn a whole lot more about how I spend much of my time. I formerly served (1986-1990) as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Missouri, focusing on consumer fraud.

With regard to music, I play the guitar and sing at various locations in St. Louis. I’ve been playing music ever since the 1970’s, when I co-founded the 8-piece jazz-rock band “Ego” with Charles Glenn. At present, I perform music mostly as a solo act –my favorite styles of music are folk, jazz and light rock. I do my own arrangements, which tend to be eclectic.

I set up this website mainly to accommodate requests of friends and acquaintances who asked me to create a place where they can determine when and where I am playing music. You’ll find my music calendar at this site, and I’ve posted more about my music on this page. I’ve included pages with some my photos.

It is difficult for me to parse my physical life from my intellectual interests. I’ve always questioned “obvious” things more than most people, and this propensity, to a large extent, defines who I am. My web presence is dominated by my thousands of articles at Dangerous Intersection, a multi-author blog I created in 2006.

In 2006, conservative republicans were completely in power in the United States, and they specialized in disparaging science and showing obeisance to fundamentalist religion. Middle-East policy was being driven by Manichean superstitions and wars of choice were being fought and considered with no discernible military objective, thus depleting the national treasury. Free market fundamentalism was the national “strategy” for running the country.

All of these were huge causes of concern to me. I kept wondering how it was that so many of us were so willing to allow ourselves get carried away by ghosts of all stripes, and that the mass media so willingly fed these fears. Based on many years of studying cognitive science (including many graduate seminars at Washington University at Saint Louis), I sought to draw connections between the dramatically dysfunctional events of the day and my study of what makes human animals tick. One of my conclusions is that there are two kinds of people. Relatively few of us embrace the fact that human beings are sophisticated animals with obvious biological connections with all other animals and plants. Most people, however, are repulsed by the idea that humans are animals. Based upon these concerns, I gave DI its subtitle: Human animals at the Crossroads of Science, Religion, Culture and Media.

But how did I come to be driven so much by these concerns? I don’t quite know, but a make a sustained try at understanding this in a series of five posts I wrote in 2010, titled Mending Fences. I’ve come to unblinkingly realize that the problem is not with Republicans, but with group dynamics. People fall into groups and delude themselves. This applies to every group of human beings that ever existed. The more closely bonded the people, the stranger the delusions, and I’ve also come to understand that these delusions are often evolutionarily adaptive. In May 2012, I had the pleasure of reading Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind, which eloquently set forth much of what I had been grappling with for years. And, of course there are thousands of other posts I’ve written on a wide variety of topics that provide many clues to who I seem to be.

But now a more typical biography. Looking at the photos on the right, I find myself asking, this is so bizarre to get old, but I can’t disguise the fact that I have already lived most of my life. I was born in 1956 in Saint Louis, Missouri, and I have lived in Saint Louis all my life. I attended Catholic grade schools and high school, at which I learned no meaningful answers to my most pressing questions. Instead, the students were fed blatant superstition, repeated often. Further, the students (and teachers), with very few exceptions, showed little curiosity or skepticism regarding the religious principles they were teaching us. That is such an odd situation for a “school,” but that is the way it was, and that is perhaps the most jarring aspect of modern American society today.

Until I was 12, the family home was in Florissant, Missouri. My father worked as an aerospace engineer, designing weapons systems for McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing). My mother was an extraordinary “housewife” who taught me how to question absolutely everything. She taught me that it was OK to ask simple sounding questions that did not have easy answers.

At the age of seven, I started taking guitar lessons, which evolved into my current interests in composing and performing music.

When I was 21, I changed my first name from “Richard” to the etymologically similar name, “Erich.” I was “Richard Vincent Vieth, Jr.” back then, and I wanted to have my own name. Changing my first name would also cut down on confusion, and it would forever cure my need to say, “No, I’m not him. I’m his son.” I changed my name officially, at court. Though my father was not keen regarding the idea, my mother sent out birth announcements. Changing my name as I was entering adulthood was existentially freeing. It reminded me that I was responsible for choosing the kind of life I was about to live, or at least that is how it seemed back then (and it still seems).

I majored in philosophy and psychology at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis. I then attended Saint Louis University School of Law. Much of my legal career has been litigating insurance cases, but I took a detour in 1986, becoming an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Missouri. I investigated and litigated consumer fraud, but my most compelling case was investigating my own boss, Missouri’s Attorney General. Today, I am proud to be a consumer attorney working at Campbell Law in St. Louis.

I’m extremely protective of the privacy of my family. Therefore, I rarely write about my daughters on the Internet.

I do want to make clear that my silence on the specifics of parenting and how proud I am of my daughters is intentional. I cringe when I see other parents freely commenting on when their children have said and done, often discussing involving family conflict. I’d love to share stories about my children–and I do share with my close friends–but not on the Internet.

Thank you for visiting this site. Here’s my email:

erichvieth@gmail.com

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