2012-11-23

Opinions, Beliefs & Doggies


Nobody can attack an idea, which is merely a memetic pattern. They can, however, attack somebody's potential to retain the idea.

If the idea surrenders, it was merely an opinion. If it fights back, though, it is what some people call “a belief.” In such case, the idea has evolved into a conditioned behavior bolstered by basic conditioning mechanisms (e.g. pleasure or pain).

If you seriously threaten a person's ability to retain a cherished idea they will feel pain. If they manage to hold on to the idea anyway they will feel pleasure. This is how the patterns survive from one generation to the next. It's evolution, pure and simple.

Since the creation of language, and especially since the dawn of civilization, people have confused their authentic selves with memetic patterns. This is why there are religions. This is why there are wars. This is why ... well, you get the idea.

Pavlov's dog was conditioned to drool  from its mouth. We humans, it seems, can be conditioned to drool from the brain.

The observations above strike me as trite and obvious. How's that for an opinion?

3 comments:

  1. G'day, I really got a lot out of your very short post!

    I'm currently researching and writing a series about lying, how it's used and permitted by so many people, and especially focusing on religious falsehoods. The intention is to provide some tools (links to critical thinking sites, debunking myths, and so on) so people who are interested can find a way to investigate on their own. It's very good of me, isn't it? :)

    I wanted to express my appreciation for your thoughts, which have given me a new direction to consider - how to break the cycle as painlessly as possible.

    I also just noted your comments on quinine; I've a physical issue (spinal damage and associated machinery & drugs to help manage the pain), though it's nowhere near the severity of your problem! But I couldn't help but agree absolutely with your take on the bizarre double standards. I have the selfsame issues with painkillers - half a dozen stupid people abusing a relatively harmless opioid resulted in it being taken off the market, while more than 3,000 Australian patients who found it was their only relief eventually had the withdrawal reversed (though only temporarily), by the combined action of their pain management specialists. I don't know if that might be an avenue to consider?

    I'm surprised these review committees haven't tried to ban water - after all, thousands of people drown every year in the stuff! Shocking substance, dehydrogenase monoxide! ;)

    It's a pity the drug reviewers take the kneejerk reactions they do when some unfortunate folks do stupid things, but don't consider the far more widespread benefits when they perform the reviews. When I complained to our drug agency (the TGA), I was told they carefully weigh the benefits with the risks. But I strongly suspect none of the reviewers have any familiarity with chronic pain and serious diseases, based on their decisions in nearly all cases. And yet homeopathic remedies have their full blessings!

    Anyway, thanks so much for your articles. I've bookmarked you now. And - I wish you the best of luck with your fight!

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    1. Damn you, autocorrect! That should've been "dihydrogen monoxide"... I can't even get my drivel right...

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  2. Cephas, the “lies” of religion are something I'm quite familiar with, since I was raised as a fundamentalist Christian. I coined a word for the kind of "lying" they do — “Antiprocess” is what I call it. You can look that word up on Wikipedia.

    Let's not forget, though, that there are multiple levels of operation for these falsehoods (or, as I like to call them, “stories”). The two most obvious: the level within the mind of the individual, and the level within the organization.

    Much about religion (and other large memetic entities) seems incomprehensible unless you realize that the organization is itself a sentient entity. For more about this, please see my articles about “tsotls.”

    Briefly, though, it is futile to say that a person is “deliberately” lying or that they “know” that they're wrong. What we are witnessing is a clash of memes. It's not as simple as “survival of the fittest,” though. Memes operating within somebody with a good support system (such as a Christian who goes to church every week) are much stronger than somebody trying to maintain beliefs without backup.

    Good luck with your series about lying! I'll pass along a suggestion for a survey you can do that you might have fun with. Ask at least 100 people “Do you think it is possible to lie to yourself?" I did this survey (with a slightly smaller sample) and was surprised at some of the answers I got — particularly from people who lived within a religious or highly politicized thought community.

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