Sunday, August 18, 2019

Where Do They Come Up With These Wacky Beliefs?

"How do they believe such blatantly false stuff?"
From Hillary's child-brothels on Mars to Republicans sacrificing children in pagan rituals, Flat Earthers and Alien Invasions, people are willing to accept a lot of baloney, and even elevate those people who spout the baloney to figures of authority, there's a lot of wacky on the web. Recently I got to see it evolve right in front of me.

In a discussion group on line, someone posted a picture of some young people sitting in an apparent art gallery with paintings on the walls, but they're all looking at their smart phones. That's all, no caption or further explanation. It's not a unique image, and images like it get posted from time to time by Mean Old People, poking fun at the Smart Phone Generation. The majority of people who see the picture will either laugh or shrug, and move on. A few people will post curmudgeonly gripes like "Kids these days!," which are inevitably followed by "Old people don't understand technology!"

Of course, being the internet, a few people devote WAY too much time and thought to it, and that's where it got really revealing.

Some of the Smart Phone Generation got really upset by the ribbing, and posted long responses about how the Mean Old People really don't understand what was going on anymore, and not to judge and so forth. And some of the Mean Old People responded with overlong discussions about the destructive nature of smartphones on society and kids these days!

And of course there were ad hominem attacks against each other's intelligence.

And so it went, until Some Guy explained (ie: rationalized an answer out of his imagination) that what we were actually looking at was a Class Trip to the Museum, and the Teacher assigned them to look up the art on The Museum App. And the Mean Old People were deliberately ignoring that. Those members of the Smart Phone Generation who felt most hurt by the arguments immediately embraced the Class Trip to the Museum theory and repeatedly referenced the Museum App, even though there was nothing in the picture to indicate those, or even that the people holding phones in the picture were connected to each other in any way other than sharing a bench. Some posters even cited Some Guy as an authority with statements like, "why are you asking about the existence of the Museum app, when Some Guy already explained it?"

In a nutshell, we have THREE diverse perceptions:
1--An image of some people sitting in a gallery looking at their phones.
2--An image of a generation so addled by technology, that they ignore the reality around them.
3--A bunch of people all on a class trip to The Museum, where The Teacher assigned them to pull out their phones and pull up The Museum App in order to finish an assignment.

The first perception is the objective one; the second is a subjective one, based on a presupposition about youth and technology, possibly ignoring the fact that the art may be very boring; the third is subjective, reactive to the previous interpretation, and based on a feeling vulnerability and a need to defend oneself. So much so that, failing to find the necessary information within the image, they happily embrace unsubstantiated suppositions. But because they fill a need, those become facts for them. And further, some are willing to elevate the person who introduced those pleasing rationalizations to a position of authority.
If you've studied hypnosis or NLP you've probably learned that people "add, subtract or revise their memories to conform with their currently held beliefs about themselves or the world." But it goes even further than that. They will even add, subtract or revise the perception of what they experience to conform with their currently held beliefs about themselves or the world.

So what do we learn by this? Of course, paramount for yourself is the importance of being objective, particularly if you're in a field where clear, unbiased perception is important. But when you hear someone spouting something clearly detached from reality, realize that it's probably not LSD in the drinking water, but rather something they NEED to hold onto to support their emotional beliefs, perhaps about the world or perhaps about themselves. 

(Image courtesy WikiCommons, user Manuel7.25)