As I was just banned from one email-list (exi-chat actually), because of my apparently too confrontational postings that questioned some commonly accepted ideas, after recently joining it (yes, I have a hard time holding back the insults when I’m around mere mortals. And yes, I suspect the Jews who are plentiful on that list played a part in banning me after one of them probably read my previous blog posts! They are sooo devious! Luckily I haven’t been banned from any of the voluntary eugenics oriented lists I’m on and there’s no shortage of other email lists and internet forums.), I can relate to this one blog post which laments the often irrational human psyche that derails discussions that could lead to actual progress of human thought by Anne C. One quote:
Why the urge to reduce someone’s argument to one-half of what is probably a false dichotomy? Is it really that difficult to read what people are actually writing, as opposed to scanning for “key words” and responding with the first knee-jerk arguments that come to mind?
I’ve noticed in particular that the people I personally tend to respect a lot, and whose writing seems much more nuanced than average on the subjects that desperately demand (but are all too frequently denied) nuanced treatment, often end up in exchanges wherein nobody is actually arguing with them but with a pretend version of them. A version that is, perhaps, easier and more convenient to argue with, but not real!
That’s definitely how it goes when you are trying to argue with most people about things that are outside their comfort zones (which of course vary with each person). Some reptilian mental-machinery kicks in and prevents them from comprehending what the other person is actually saying (though of course some people must be faking it in public discussions because they for some reason benefit from irrationality on the part of others). Still, it never fails to amaze me when I discover that some people who have been quite rational (more rational than me even) when discussing some socially acceptable things totally forget all logic and rationality as soon as the discussion turns to some things that are more or less taboo subjects.
I think this must be related to more or less innate individualist-collectivist tendencies of people; only hard-core individualists seem to be able to think for themselves while collectivist oriented people cave in before social pressure and either simply can’t think straight or won’t allow themselves to admit what they are thinking about outside the comfort zones. Collectivists basically seem to have some trigger neurons that go off as soon as they detect that
the discussion could cause major group-disharmony and prevent them from applying their ordinary thinking mechanisms in those cases. Hence, little wonder that their apparent irrationality always seem to lead to conclusions that are societally more acceptable (although often quite crazy!) rather than to random conclusions.
Anyway, it can be tough to be an individualist oriented person like me in mostly collectivist oriented society, but without people like me humankind might well have never progressed past stone age (remember Western exceptionalism). Knowing this, I bear my responsibility for humanity’s future and think for myself even when most others won’t.