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Old 10-25-2011, 03:09 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW Washington
Posts: 441
Default Re: WTF is up with republicans on TWIB !!!

Originally Posted by badhatharry View Post
I just find it hard to imagine the person who is able to go through life with the very same notions that they acquired on the grade school playground. But this possibly brings up the question of what the self really is. I would say that we are a point of view. We certainly can never escape ourselves but what we think and feel is constantly being influenced by the experiences we have. And if we are wise we will always be aware of what our biases are and take them into account when making decisions about what's what.
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
I wouldn't be able to state how many people fall into the rigid pattern that you describe and how many follow the exceptions, but I don't think that the number of people that to some degree or the other follow the exceptions is negligible. Those who match your rigid processing are the people that we tend to consider narrow minded. Of course, we all have areas in which we function in a more narrow minded fashion, and other areas that have been revisited many times.
I agree with much of this, esp. the bolded text above. I hope this will help explain how I see those statements, a little differently I suspect:

a) Concepts, including the conceptual content of one's beliefs (or even how we describe them to others) do not enter directly into behavior choice. The emotional content and potency of the belief does and it does so non-consciously (as one would expect of emotions). These emotional beliefs that we acquire in life drive much complex animal behavior (in mammals certainly) and most non-infant human behavior. Another common source for these behavior-driving emotions is instincts and predispositions which also act non-consciously (but are less significant in humans). Example 1: It feels good to be liked so I will do what I know this person likes me to do. (A predisposition in young children toward parents). Example 2: It feels good to be independent and in control of my own life so I will do the opposite of what I know this person likes me to do. (A predisposition in teenagers toward parents).

Note that I'm trying to describe an emotional response. We don't think those things. We just find ourselves urged by our emotions to do them. Hence, they are emotional beliefs.

b) We acquire these emotional beliefs through pattern recognition, association, repetition, and other learning mechanisms built-in to complex animal brains - just as dogs, horses and chimps acquire them. Our intellect can suggest them to us but until we test them and our brain gains confidence in them in real life (through pattern recognition, association, repetition, etc.) they don't produce much emotional force to drive behavior just because we think they are logical. Thinking is not learning but can be the first step.

c) Some emotional beliefs that we acquire are more important to survival than others. Living long enough to reproduce - and reproduce prolifically - requires that complex animals acquire as many of these important emotional beliefs as possible and reinforce and preserve them. They become our survival road map and are part of our identity. At that level I call them identity beliefs. We carry these through life, adding more when possible, eliminating those that let us down - usually a painful experience that we resist. Their value is that they generate immediate behavior that requires no cognition and has been proven reliable over time in similar situations. Example 1: When I rotate the top of the steering wheel to the right the car will turn in that direction. Example 2: Genes can produce behavior differences between human populations. Example 3: Only bad people believe that genes can produce behavior differences between human populations. Example 4: I have seen no evidence for believing that inbred populations are less compatible with liberal democracy than non-inbred populations - but it is possible pending such evidence. (I leave it to the reader to identify which comments in the Peter Singer thread match belief examples 2, 3 or 4 above. Also, which of those are identity beliefs and which are less potent.)

Again, it's not what one thinks about these beliefs or says about them that affects behavior. It's the emotions spontaneously produced, the feeling in the gut that affects behavior.

d) In most cases the positions taken in forums like this are largely the result of such emotional beliefs. The words written (a behavior) are mostly to protect, defend and justify the identity beliefs that person carries - i.e. their identity. (That explains the adrenalin rush sometimes when you hit submit. We like adrenalin. It is addictive.)

That's because most of the diavlog topics here are ideological and ideology sits at the top of many people's emotional belief hierarchy, their identity beliefs. And that's part of the attraction for many who comment here - to express and defend their own ideological identity and attack those emotional beliefs that threaten theirs. Also somewhat to feel good about belonging to a team that does that - which is a social benefit and an example of behavior induced by an emotional belief that comes from genes (a predisposition). It feels good to be on the team defending our collective identity.


Note, I am not suggesting this comment applies more or less to any member of this forum ;-) Besides, none of this is necessarily bad. It's generally why I'm here and I don't like to think I'm doing bad things. I love the adrenalin too. And I'm not on any campaign to make people see things my way or act in any particular way that I approve of. I just like thinking about these things - the psychology of conflict - and discussing them. I'm just saying that we are often acting on behalf of our identities and not necessarily for the sake of intellectual rigor (although that might sit at the top of some belief hierarchies - which I see as admirable though hard to achieve). And so we probably shouldn't take our own views on some of these things so seriously.

The people who understand this - perhaps even non-consciously - and who can still put out good comments - are those who will not be so likely to get angry and personally attack others whose beliefs threaten their own. Note that telling someone they are wrong is not necessarily a personal attack but if it's one of their identity beliefs they may take it that way - depending how it's done. They (who understand this) are also more likely to see some value in opposing arguments. And that makes the discussion of these very interesting ideas a lot more fun IMO because the opposing sides of even the most bizarre ideological arguments often have some value. Understanding the emotional basis of behavior allows me to see that - except when I get too pissed off ;-)
Self determination for DNA

Last edited by Ray in Seattle; 10-25-2011 at 09:15 PM..
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