Passion and Illusion

March 25, 2012

Some people are so passionate that they hurt others.

Some people are so certain of the truth - so passionate - that they hurt others.

When I read news stories where passionate people hurt others I almost want to hurt those passionate people. I certainly want to tap them on the side of the head and encourage them to wake up.

Here's an example of such a news story.

******  From BBC News, March 19, 2012

Police are investigating the shootings of four people at a Jewish School in Toulouse, France. A teacher and three children were shot dead at the Ozar Hatorah school, and a teenage boy was seriously injured. The fourth person killed was a seven-year-old girl, daughter of the head teacher. She died in her father's arms.

Investigations are pursuing two principal lines of inquiry: an Islamist motive or the far right.

***********

Subjects we are passionate about, subjects we are certain about, are a product of our genes, our culture, and our thinking. The biggest influence, we humans tend to think, is our thinking. It feels obvious to us that we analyze evidence and come to the correct conclusion. 

This feeling, though, can be wrong, wrong-headed, and dangerous.

Scientific evidence is growing that our genes and our culture are major influences on our conclusions. Most of the thinking we do is unconscious. That our conclusions are based mainly on conscious thinking is an illusion.

My hope is that by becoming aware of this illusion there will be more peace. If we learn that the feeling of certainty is a "flaw" in the way our minds work, then we can learn better ways of dealing with our thoughts. We can learn non-violent ways of dealing with our violent thoughts.

 

PS:  politicians, I'm certain, perpetuate the illusion that conclusions are based on thinking.

PS2:  Psychologist and Nobel Prize winner in economics Daniel Kahneman wrote an article about the "illusion of validity."   http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/magazine/dont-blink-the-hazards-of-confidence.html?pagewanted=all

 

The following picture has nothing to do with this blog's subject. I just happen to like the lines and color. It's a muskrat swimming in a lake at sunset, with a swirl-effect applied to the image.

 


Eyes on the world

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