Reason vs. Instinct
Has the World gone Insane?
We humans like to think of ourselves as beings of reason and logic. We like to believe that we have "common sense" and that a reasonably intelligent and sane person wouldn't likely do something or believe something that he or she knows or should know is stupid. Nonetheless we see examples everywhere where people do things and believe things that are far below their capacity for logic and reason. We look around and say to ourselves, "People can't really be that dumb!" yet every day they continue to be that dumb? I believe that I have found the answer as to why people perform below their intellectual capacity. The answer is that people are herd animals, and that when behavior is viewed in relationship to the herd mind, a lot of things can be explained and understood.
For example, ever have a Jehovah's Witness, Hare Krishna, or other member of cult religion come to your door to try to convert you to their way of believing? Have you ever had a discussion with them and come to the conclusion that no matter what you said, no matter how good your reasoning and logic, that there was no way that you were every going to have a meeting of the minds with this person. You can be right and the subject of your discussion so obvious that a dog with a note in his mouth could win the argument, yet this person can't comprehend it. And it's not that the cult member is to stupid to understand obvious reality. They may have a college degree, a good high tech job, and be a member of Mensa. You might even be able to discuss the mathematics of why time slows down as you approach the speed of light, yet they remain unconvinced that world is round. How is that possible? It's obvious, yet they can't see it. Why? Why? Why?
We have already established that they are smart enough. They have the brain power to comprehend what you are saying. There's not a shred of doubt that you are right and they are wrong, so wrong that you can't believe that they actually believe what they believe. What's even more confusing is that this cult member is as adamant about his beliefs as you are about yours. The absolutely can't understand why you don't want to give up your worldly possessions and commit suicide to join the space aliens hiding behind the Hale-Bop comet. Who would not want to join the space aliens?
The problem is everywhere. It's not just the Jehovah's Witnesses, Hare Krishnas, Branch Davidians, Mormons, New Agers, and Republicans. The insanity is everywhere. Government agencies make bizarre decisions. Politicians pass bizarre laws. Judges make bizarre rulings. Corporations enact bizarre rules. You hear stories about girls who are straight A students being expelled because they brought Midol to class to control menstrual cramps. Jack Kevorkian, a saint in the Church of Reality, is in jail. The Kansas Board of Education wants to equate Evolution and Creationism. Teenagers, who know better, are still getting hooked on cigarettes. Men wear neck ties, and women wear high heels. What is going on here? Did someone poison the drinking water? How is it possible for reasonable people to behave this way?
The Inner Workings of the Mind
If we assume that people are behaving far below their capacity to reason, then we have to conclude that reason is not the dominate aspect of the mind. We have to conclude that there are other factors in the brain that are dominate over our reason and these other factors cause us to behave and believe what we do. We have to give up the assumption that because we are human and intelligent, that intelligence rules. Clearly it doesn't. But if it doesn't, what does?
What does control behavior and belief indeed? You may find the answer to that question shocking. The answer may be so shocking that you find it hard to accept. At this point I want to invite you to do a little mental experiment with me. As you read the rest of this article, I want you to try an old hippie LSD trick without having to actually take LSD. I want you to separate you mind into several independent threads of conscious. Most people are only away of or are used to paying attention to a single voice or thread of consciousness and haven't learned how to use multiple voices to comprehend new ideas. In this article I will attempt to instruct you in a new way of learning and apply that new way of learning in real time to understanding your own mental processes. This is actually fun. It's like solving a new kind of puzzle. And it's not very hard to learn.
In order to multitask your brain I will create a series of different voices in you mind and give them names. As I create these voices, you will hear them talking. Each voice will have a different tonal quality so as to distinguish them from the other voices. As you read these words, a voice is speaking them to you in your mind. We will call that thread, "The Reader". As you read these words the Reader creates a voice in your mind which you imagine is my voice talking to you. I have a low deep voice like Barry White. Do you hear it? No, I have a high squeaky voice like Pee Wee Herman. You hear that? If you really want to here my voice you can go to my Sprint Sucks page and hear what I really sound like. Pick a voice. That will be the voice of the Reader and represent my voice.
The second voice will be the voice of "The Critic" which will be your voice. As you read my words here and hear my voice in your head, you will hear your voice in your head talking back to me. "Who the hell is this guy? Is he trying to fuck with my brain? What is he really up to? And what's the LSD stuff about? What makes him so smart? Was he sent by God or the Devil? Republicans are not a cult! You Liberals are the ones that are brainwashed! Hey, this is fun!" The Critic character is you talking back to me as if we are having a conversation. In your mind you hear your voice and my voice arguing about what you're reading here. You can't believe everything you read. You have to have someone standing guard to evaluate and filter the information that comes into your mind and to relate it to what you know and believe. The critic is the gateway that guards the mind.
The third thread of consciousness will be "The Feeler". The Feeler won't have a voice because it doesn't actually say anything. It is the emotions you are experiencing as you read this. As I tell you things you will feel good about the things that you agree with or find interesting or amusing. You will feel angry or resentful towards things you don't agree with that offend your system of beliefs or the values you hold sacred. As you read these words you will experience emotions about the ideas presented here. It's the same as what happens when you read anything. The only difference here is that you are aware that what you are reading is creating an emotional thread of conscious, the Feeler, in real time that is coexisting with at least two other threads, the Reader, and the Critic. And these threads all exist at the same time, and you are aware of all three simultaneously. How do you feel about that?
At this point you should observe an order of causal events that is taking place. As the Reader reads these words, your mind creates a voice, my voice, which is speaking to you. As you hear me talking, the Feeler reacts to my words and created emotions about what I am saying to you. The emotions drive the Critic to respond to the Reader that the Feeler also reacts to. If the Feeler experiences strong emotions, it compels the Critic to respond in a manner so as to cause the Feeler to feel comfortable with itself. What the Critic says is for the benefit of the Feeler. I would now ask you a question. In your mind, is the Critic a slave of the Feeler? Can the Feeler be compared to a nagging spouse that makes the Critic do it's bidding? Ponder the notion.
You are now observing the Reader, the Feeler, and the Critic and how they interact. You are observing the chain of events where the Reader says something, the Feeler reacts to it, the Critic responds, and the Feeler feels something else. Now that you are aware of these three threads of conscious and how they are processing this stream of information in real time, what is it that is aware? What it is that's watching all this? If you are now, at this moment, observing three threads of consciousness simultaneously, then who is the observer?
The fourth thread of consciousness will be called "The Watcher". The Watcher may or may not have a voice depending on how your mind works. In my mind that Watcher sees pictures. The way I experience it is that the Watcher sees the Reader as a person with a generic face that is speaking to me. The Critic is me listening to the Reader speak. The Feeler is like someone else's kid who is some screaming 6 year old brat that won't shut up and want's it's way all the time. The Watcher is like a TV camera that's taking it all down. And it's all happening in a place that is usually some place where I do deep thinking and feel good about. Your experience may vary.
The Watcher is like the "higher self". This fourth thread of conscious is that part of you who is observing the other three threads process this information in real time. The Watcher is also self aware and can watch itself watching itself. It's kind of like defining the word "Recursion" in the dictionary by saying, "See Recursion". In addition to being the Watcher and watching the other threads, the Watcher is that part that makes decisions and controls the updating of the "Master Database" which is the accumulation of who you are. It might be compared to the Board of Directors in a corporation or the Congress of the United States. Oh my God! A Congress in my brain? The Feeler just vomited!
The Watcher is also the one who determines "The Prime Directive" which are the guiding principles that matter in your life. It determines your "morals" or "what you believe in" and important principles and lessons that guide your life. It integrates your experiences and evaluates them and gives them meaning so as to create the pattern for future decisions. The patterns for your future decisions is what makes up your Master Database. The Master Database stores information about decisions so as to create a pattern of behavior.
The advantage of storing patterns of behavior in your Master Database is to relieve your mind of having to figure out what to do every time you face a situation. Instead of going to the effort of thinking, you access the pattern. That frees up the Watcher so that it can move on to new problems. Remember the first time you ever drove a car? It was terribly complex. You had to deal with the gas and the brakes and the steering and other traffic and traffic lights and other cars and what if you hit someone or a cop sees you. It's amazing you made it down the road at all. Now you drive somewhere and it's so automatic that you may not even remember the experience of just having driven somewhere. That's because it's stored in the Master Database.
When things go along as usual, you are on cruise control. But if something unusual occurs, something that is inconsistent with the Master Database, the Feeler sounds the alarm. The Feeler is the thread of consciousness that compares the data input streams with the master database and creates the appropriate emotions to summon the mental resources to deal with the input that fails the pattern tests in the master database. You're driving down the road and suddenly some idiot runs a red light. The Feeler wakes up the Watcher indicating that an executive decision is needed immediately.
Usually the Feeler doesn't need to wake up the Watcher. It just gets annoyed and nags the Critic to spout the dogma stored in the Master Database by the Watcher. For example, if I say to you, "Ronald Reagan was the greatest president who ever lived." Or if I said, "Bill Clinton was the greatest president who ever lived." One of those two statements will alert the Feeler, who is driven by the Master Database, to cause the Critic to state, "He's got to be out of his fucking mind!" This happens because the information about Clinton and Reagan are already stored and the reaction causes a predictable response.
Thus, how you feel about Reagan and Clinton is based on the information stored in your Master Database rather than what you think about them. The only time you think about them is if a situation comes up that exceeds the limits of the information stored in the Master Database. That requires the Watcher to make a decision and update the information there. Remember when Reagan admitted he really did trade arms for hostages? Remember when Clinton admitted he really did have inappropriate sexual contact with Monica Lewinsky? Some of what you felt was the stress of the Feeler trying to store and integrate information that doesn't agree with the contents of the Master Database and requiring the Watcher to sort out conflicting information about who's good and who's evil.
You may wonder at this point how many threads of conscious are there. Probably thousands. But for the purposes of discussion and experience here we'll limit it to talking about 4 threads and a database. That's enough to give anyone a headache. You might want to take a break at this point and get a couple aspirin. This is deep and it's going to get deeper. I'll try to keep this as simple as possible, but it's a very complex subject. It's out of the box and beyond the rim. There's nothing in the "Master Database of Global Human consciousness" to attach it to. (That's a hint as to where this conversation is going.)
Why is the Inner Workings of the mind Relevant?
I'm glad you asked that question. This is relevant for a number of reasons and it is necessary to lay the groundwork for the ideas I'm presenting here. It is important for you to understand the relationship. It's not only important to understand how brains work in general, but how your brain works in particular. The reason this is necessary is because all of our brains are imperfect tools. These imperfections are significant defects that cause us to form the wrong conclusions about the nature of reality. There are aspects of our brain that we all share that make it very difficult to accurately assess certain specific information and that in order to understand it, we must first address our own mental flaws and program around the bugs.
Additionally, all knowledge is relative. We understand what a tree is in respect to it being a plant, that it is made of wood, and wood is hard, and trees are big, and they grow, and they have leaves, and they die, but they live a long time. All these aspects of understanding a tree comes from relating it to other things we know. When a new born baby sees a tree, it doesn't comprehend it as a tree. The image is focused on the back of the eye, and it is transmitted to the brain where it is compared to an empty database. Nothing in the baby's mind says "tree". In order to understand "tree" the baby has to accumulate a lot of information to understand what "tree" means. Without the information in the database, tree means nothing. Likewise, to understand the forces that override reason, one has to first understand and experience the inner workings of the brain in real time.
I'm going to say things here that are true, but are in direct conflict with your Master Database. These are ideas that your mind will actively defend itself against unless your Watcher updates this information. We humans collectively have a lot of bad data in our databases which was placed there both as a result of cultural and tribal forces and survival instincts. If I just presented this information directly to you, your automatic processes would prevent you from understanding it without you ever being aware that this mental process was taking place. I have a theory that if you can be aware of your mental processes and observe them trying to kill an uncomfortable idea, that you will learn a new trick that will allow your brain to function beyond it's design limits.
I am not asking you to accept anything I say here on faith. In fact, I discourage the belief in anything that can't be tested. That's why I am trying to set this up as an experiment that you can conduct yourself of your own brain and to learn for yourself from your own direct observation so that you know first hand the resources and limitations of your own mind and can develop techniques that allow you to use your brain as a more effective tool. There are situations I face every day where I have to use my brain in areas that are flawed. But I have been able to understand my mental deficiencies and to work around them.
What we are talking about here is why other people believe in and do things that look to us to be incredibly stupid. How many times do we see someone with a personal problem that is so obvious to everyone except for the person involved, who absolutely can not understand it. Sometimes they get past the problem and they themselves can't understand what took them so long to figure it out. It seems that everyone has the ability to see everyone else's problems but their own. What does it take to isolate oneself for oneself so that a person can observe themselves the way everyone else sees you? If you can do that, you can see yourself the way you really are without your brain playing tricks on itself to protect you from a reality that you find unpleasant and are not prepared to accept. The only difference between seeing yourself the way you really are and the way others see you is that they don't have your personal mental barriers. Likewise, you can see them the way they are because you don't have their personal mental barriers.
Mental barriers are not limited to individuals and personal behavior. There exist mental barriers that are tribal mental barriers that are shared by all members of a tribe. For example, it is perfectly natural for Moonies to believe that Sun Myung Moon is God. That is part of their tribal database. If you are a member of that tribe, you believe Moon is God. If you don't believe Moon is God, the tribe throws you out. If being a member of the tribe is more important than reality, you mind will trick you into believing that Moon is God and your mind will prohibit you from realizing that Moon is not God until you are ready to leave the tribe. No amount of reasoning will penetrate that barrier because logic and reason are not the dominate factors. Your Master Database is controlled by the Master Database of the Moonies. If your mind doesn't control that section of information then your Watcher can't update the information and you will be unable to assimilate information that is real.
Lets pretend that the Martians invaded the earth. They landed here in 1979 in Iran and took over the minds of Iranian students who brought the Ayatollah into power, eventually leading to Reagan being elected and everything that happened as a result of that. These Martians are invisible and invade the thoughts of everyone they contact. At this point every person on the planet has been touched by the Martians. If this were true, which it isn't (I hope), how would you know if what you were thinking was your own thoughts or the thoughts of the Martians? If you worked at it hard enough you could create a set of objective tests that would allow you to function normally in spite of the foreign consciousness. Dealing with the human brain isn't that different. Your brain has a hell of a lot more potential that your using, and you can learn how to tap into it. (No, in not with a Church of Scientology.)
Your Critic may be saying to your Watcher, "We'll that doesn't apply to me. I'm not a member of a cult." To that I say, yes you are. All of society is organized into tribes and we are all members of various tribes and have surrendered part of our Master Database to the control of those tribes. The human race itself is a global tribe and it controls much of what we believe, some of which is wrong. Because we are human and we are part of various tribes, we all have the invisible Martian inside us, messing with our minds. However, if we can reclaim our minds from tribal control, then we can use our reason to discover reality the way it really is and to feed real information back into the tribal mind so as to improve the entire tribe and all it's members. Which is what the Church of Reality is all about. To pursue reality the way it really is, in spite of the tribal mind.
Human Tribal Instincts are Usually Stronger than Logic and Reason
Millions of years ago humanoids were just beginning to stand upright. They organized into small groups allowing them to survive better as the males provided protection and hunted and the females raised their young. Over the centuries language skills developed which allowed individuals to talk to each other. Because ideas could be communicated, one individual could learn something new and pass that knowledge on to the next person without that person having to learn it on his own. Knowledge could be passed on by word of mouth allowing a person's knowledge to survive past his death. With this new knowledge others could build upon the work of others and create levels of technology far greater and any individual could create themselves. No longer did everyone have to reinvent the wheel. (I wonder how long that expression has been around?) Because of language, people could communicate and work together and there was shared knowledge or tribal knowledge. These communication skills allowed those who could talk to survive better than those who could not talk and our brains evolved for the purpose of language.
Because of language, people became dependent on each other. No longer were we truly individuals. We need each other to survive. In a sense we are part of a greater organism in the same way that bees are part of a hive. Although an individual bee is technically an organism, a single bee has no more chance of surviving than a single bee cell. I think it's more accurate to say that in the world of bees, that the hive represents the individual organism, and bees are merely cells of the hive.
Although humans are much more individualistic than bees are, we are more like bees than we're like spiders. We rely on each other for our survival. For example, I didn't make my computer, build my house, build my car, grow the food I eat, or make the clothes I wear. Very little of my reality was made by me. I wrote software that runs on millions of computers that allows my mental functions to work for other people. I am dependent on society and society is dependent on me. We share knowledge and we work together. In order to work together we have rules and we have governments that enforce the rules. We have trade and have developed currency so as to enhance our ability to trade. We have the ability to write and send email and data and our ability to share information has greatly enhanced our ability to survive.
But this shared knowledge has come at a price. In order for our species to survive, we have had to surrender part of our individuality for the tribal good. Many of our ancestors fought and dies in wars for the survival of our tribal culture. Our ability to survive as a tribal member has become a significant instinctive skill that is part of who we are and the knowledge we are born with. We all need the approval of the herd in order to have a sense of well being and to feel OK about ourselves. And for most people, it creates great mental anguish to be rejected or disconnected from the herd. The instinct to be tribal is so strong that many people will kill themselves as a result of separation from or rejection by the herd.
Because we live in an advanced society much of our knowledge comes from other people. Some of that knowledge is just plain wrong, but because the herd thinks it's true, we are expected to believe it. After all, it's not our nature to assume that we, as individuals, are smarter than the combination of thousands or millions of people who have believed things for centuries. But often an individual does discover a new truth or discovers that something the herd though was true is not true at all. When this happens knowledge is often lost because the individual submits to the will of the herd.
What is a herd?
A herd or tribe is any organization of two or more people who come together for any purpose. A herd can be as small as two people sharing an apartment to all of humanity. Most people belong to hundreds of herds and will move in and out of different herds throughout their lifetimes. A herd is any organization of people who share some common function. Herds include all religions, governments at all levels including neighborhood associations, sports fans, clubs, political parties, chat rooms, talk radio fans, Mackintosh owners, fellow employees, Mensans, hippies, bars, nerds, and schools. Each of the organizations have a set of rules and common beliefs. The members of the organizations all surrender part of their Master Database to the herd. The herd itself becomes a living organism much the same way a hive is a living organism of bees. And in many cases these tribal organizations are as real or more real than the individuals that make them up.
For example, if you are a Christian, you are expected to believe in Jesus. If you don't believe in Jesus, what's the point in being a Christian? As a Christian, you might join a specific denomination of Christianity and become a member of a specific church. As a church member, you are expected to attend church on Sunday morning. You are expected to dress up and give them 10% of your money. The preacher is in charge and you are expected to listen to the sermon. When he says to stand and pray, you stand and pray. If he leads the congregation in prayer, then you all pray together. When you sing, you all sing together. When he says stand, everyone stands. When he says sit, everyone sits. When he says to speak in tongues, someone will get up and speak in tongues. And when he says vote Republican, everyone votes Republican.
In order to be a member of the herd, the member has to surrender control of part of their thinking and decision making process to the group consciousness. In the case of clubs, the punishment for individuality is denial of membership. In the case of government they might take away your money or freedom. In the case of religion, you risk losing your eternal soul and roasting in Hell forever. Membership in the herd gives an individual a sense of community and family. An individual develops standing and social position within the tribe and that sense of group acceptance is necessary of the psychological well being of that person. An individual who would challenge the powers that be within the herd risks losing the benefits of and encoring the wrath of the herd. There is a price to pay, and if the individual isn't willing to pay that price then they have to accept the herd's domination of that part of their Master Database.
Under Construction - More to Come