Conundrum Pt.2

This is not a post about President Trump

He is merely a symptom

… a fairly terrifying symptom, but one nonetheless

Humans have created things of immense beauty, of scale, of vast emotion and meaning. Constructions of material and thought to beggar even the gods of old.

We have also been idle, easily led, foolish and corrupt, short sighted, cruel and manipulative.

Evolution saddled our species with strength and passion, but reason does not come naturally to us. For many thousands of years, sages of all cultures have found ways (or tried to) to create reason within us, to quiet the tide of emotion that we have yet to learn how to control and direct. Greek philosophers, Hindu gurus, Buddhist sages, and modern thinkers, many hundreds of methods and creeds. That reason, or critical thinking, remains a task, rather than intuitive, is the conundrum at hand.

If we look at the gap between cognitive bias and critical reasoning, we notice a blind spot in human thinking. The list of cognitive flaws and bias are long, information bias, Outcome bias, Stereotyping, Bandwagon effect, and much more. The point is not to explain them, some are simple, some are complex, and we have barely scratched the surface with many. What is important is that this blind spot exists, and is known and understood for what it represents.

A reason why we are still children with too much power in a world that cannot defend itself from us any longer.

Editorialising aside; neuroscience tells us that our minds don’t often do what we think they do. Studies in the last handful of years have raised doubts about our much-vaunted sense of free will, that in reality our brain runs on autopilot most of the time, and merely allows our sense of self to rationalise the various decisions we make in a day. Remember the last time you drove home from work or did some other repetitive task you have to do but would rather not. How much attention were you paying? Even driving, where you engaged with the process or let your years of driving experience take the wheel? Did you really want that brand of butter or is it just the one you have always bought and haven’t re-thought the decision-making matrix in some time. Oh, sure we are capable of change, of inputting new information. Apparently, according to the man on the TV, cholesterol is bad, so I’d better buy margarine instead of butter, less fat and all that. (Not even launching into the charade of FAT BAD of the last half of the 20th century).

The point of this and the conundrum as it continues is where does the autopilot start and finish? Trump rails against Mexicans, calling them rapists, and American Mexicans then vote for Trump. A world of scientists say you must pay attention to health and eat fewer carbs, the world aggress, when a similar group of lab coats say you must vaccinate your children, everyone loses their minds.

Welcome to crazy town, population, all of us.

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