We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for the following SPECIAL REPORT:
Don’t Volunteer for a Lobotomy!
Seriously, we’ve been going through the six categories of core foundational beliefs you develop before you reach adulthood. More specifically, how and why those beliefs can be influenced by mind viruses and distort those beliefs in ways that can hinder your health, happiness, and prosperity.
It’s my belief that the first three categories are not as strongly influenced by cult thinking and control as the fourth one.
The debate is certainly not a problem; that’s what I was hoping for. Most of you know, this series is taken from the next book I’m writing and I’m putting it out there to recognize any mistakes, errors in logic, etc. But the discussion on this topic hasn’t been very helpful, because it’s mostly coming from people infected by the very memes discussed in the article. (The people in the Matrix never realize they’re in the Matrix.) So what I’ve been getting has been a lot of projection, irrational arguments, and distractions that have nothing to do with the topic.
For that reason, let’s take a break from the series to explore some important elements of critical thinking. Most specifically:
How you can objectively and rationally process information that challenges your core beliefs? And how you can avoid reacting in a kneejerk manner, deflecting, personalizing the issue, or jumping the shark logically?
Here’s the thing we must all be aware of, and fight against, all the time…
Each of us (myself included) processes everything through filters. Everything we see and hear goes through these filters. For example, let’s suppose there is a workout video on YouTube. If I watch it, I’m going to filter it through a prism of how the routine portrayed might help me extend my legendary (in my own mind) career as a softball player. Someone with a bad back might view it in terms of how it could reduce their back pain, someone overweight might look at the workout for the fat burning potential, and a marathon runner would be interested in how it could help their endurance. It’s the same video, but we would all view it through our unique filters. Whether each of us “like” or share the video would depend on how it relates to our particular predisposition toward the subject. Which is another way of saying that we all will view the video with our unique confirmation bias.
Now let’s look at a very common practice that takes our confirmation bias to a higher level of dysfunction: assigning labels to yourself.
I will make the following premise to begin the discussion:
Any time you are acting instinctively, impulsively and unconsciously, you have reduced your ability for rational and critical thought. While technically, you haven’t actually lowered your IQ, you have for all practical purposes locked a portion of it into a vault you are unable to access. And if you can’t access that intelligence, it’s no more helpful than not having it to begin with. Essentially, every time you decide to add another label to yourself, it’s a volunteer lobotomy.
Let’s say you spent three weeks on research before you bought your new car. You were even able to get a VIP tour of the Lexus factory and were so swayed that you bought one. You now identify as a proud Lexus owner.
Six months later, your neighbor comes home raving about the new BMW she just bought. You will instinctively feel compelled to defend the benefits of your Lexus. In fact, that BMW could have 25 features that make it superior to your car, but you won’t even be able to process that information – until you stop identifying yourself as a proud Lexus owner. It is the nature of human nature.
It doesn’t matter how simple, harmless, or even noble you believe the label is…
Even if you think the label is a good one, like Orthodox Jew, Muslim, or Christian – the simple process of identifying yourself by that label will cloud your rational judgement. Your need to protect your identity conflicts with your ability for logical, rational thought.
Much of the feedback I received on the posts on religious beliefs fell into this category. People who had identified themselves as a good [insert name of religion] read the posts as an assault on their particular religion. In fact, not one of them defended any other religion or acknowledged the article was about organized religion in general. Every one of them accused me of attacking their specific faith. (Similar to the way that fans of every sports team believe national network announcers have a secret grudge against their particular team.)
You will find that when people are infected with too many mind viruses, or been indoctrinated with them since early childhood, they sometimes cannot be reasoned with. Note: I do not write the following paragraph to be mean, snarky, or controversial. It simply is what it is.
There is no reasoning with such people. They are essentially brainwashed and are not capable of rational, logical thought in areas where they have been programmed with memes. They can be highly successful functioning adults, even have a high level of intelligence. But in these areas, they are completely oblivious of how irrational, illogical, even crazy they may be thinking.
To debate a topic they are subconsciously programmed with would be akin to attempting a thoughtful conversation with Donald Trump. In his case, it isn’t memes that block his rational thinking abilities, but his narcissistic personality disorder. He’s unable to follow the logical progression of any discussion because the “filters” he’s hearing it through require him to relate everything to himself and his insecurities. Any attempt at a coherent conversation will end up something like this:
You: Mr. President, do you think it’s going to be sunny this July?
Trump: I like sun. I’ve always liked sunny days ever since I was growing up. I like sun. I like sunny days. I was at my golf resort last week and it was a beautiful sunny day. It might have been the sunniest day anyone has ever seen. In fact, many people are saying my resort is the sunniest resort they have ever seen.
You: I was asking if you thought it was going to be sunny in July.
Trump: I like July too. July has always been a good month for me. I cut the ribbon for one of my Trump Towers in July one year. I...
You: Never mind. Do you think Ford is going to offer the new electric Mustang in purple?
Trump: I love purple. Purple is one of my favorite colors. I love purple. I love purple a lot. I was just saying to Melania how much I like purple. She gave me a purple bathrobe for my birthday...
Watch mindfully when you see Trump interviewed. You will see that it doesn’t matter what question is asked, what the topic is, or how many times it is repeated – he is incapable of delivering any answer other than one about himself. Unfortunately, many people who have wrapped their primary identity around a religious label, also have the same inability to follow a logical progression of thought in a discussion.
I don’t pander to, or attempt to debate, people infected with too many memes, because it’s literally impossible for them to think in a lucid, coherent manner. It’s for that reason, I decided the better course was to post this analysis, in the hopes of reaching those who still possess a degree of critical thinking ability, and are interested in learning how to better counteract memes they’re infected with.
In the case of this series of posts, I’m writing them through the filter of an author (label/identity assigning myself) – creating a book that can help people identify limiting beliefs and replace them with empowering ones. I pride myself on my critical thinking ability (label/identity assigning myself), so the goal is to write a book for open-minded “big kids” (label/identity assigning to others), not something pandering to people wallowing in victimhood (label/identity assigning to others). Whole lotta filters going on here…
It takes a staggering level of critical thinking, intellectual capability, and self-awareness to be able to view your own opinions, beliefs – and most importantly, how you reached them – objectively. If you’re up for the challenge let’s get after it.
Let’s begin with the basic thesis I made in the overall series:
We all develop/create foundational beliefs in childhood. These beliefs are instrumental in the type of self-esteem you develop and how happy and successful you ultimately become. I quantified these beliefs in the following six categories:
Your default setting on most or all of these beliefs was set before you were ten years old. Those beliefs are dramatically impacting your relationships, prosperity and happiness decades later. That’s the wide-angle picture.
Now let’s look at the premise of my posts on God/Religion that provoked the emotional reactions:
The most harmful beliefs people frequently develop in this category are:
The thesis of that post was pretty simple: If you succumbed to mind viruses and accepted the beliefs above, you’re probably practicing self-sabotage behavior that isn’t in your highest good. I detailed how organized religions operate as cults and as such, are harmful to people’s free-thinking abilities.
Let’s unpack some of the arguments people made against my thesis:
Not one of the people responding spoke about or debated the validity of the harmful beliefs I presented. The responses came down to:
Obviously, some of this behavior is just social signaling. The people responding aren’t really interested in speaking to me. They want their friends and family who read their replies to think that they’re virtuous, godly people.
In other cases, it is fear caused by the religion they follow. They perceive their god as a cosmic Santa, making a list to know who’s naughty and nice. They want to make sure the big guy has them on the “nice list,” so they can get into heaven, salvation, etc.
But most of the time, the underlying memes they are infected with are creating a involuntary, visceral reaction such as:
Trying to know who you are and being comfortable in your own skin is a very frightening prospect. (This took me more than 40 years.) It’s almost impossible to do this successfully by assigning labels to define yourself. I really do understand that and hope to help people navigate the process.
How do you do that? How do you know and like who you are, and have the self-awareness required to become a critical thinker – especially when faced with situations that challenge your core beliefs? I believe the following actions are required:
Next post, we’ll get back to the series, and explore core beliefs about health and wellness. Until then, would love to see your thoughts below.