Friday, December 21, 2018

Turn off, tune out, drop out

For about two years I've been writing articles here about forgiving the news. At this point though, I've lost interest. Forgiving the news, as with most forgiving, revolves around the first law of chaos.

My favorite part of ACIM is the first law of chaos: the truth is different for everyone. I've long wondered why it is that two people rarely see eye to eye on any more than a few narrow subjects. And for the last few years I have been intensely studying the subject of human subjectivity and irrationality. I initially thought it might make a good subject for a book. But instead, my studies have helped make me pretty much lose interest in writing books. People aren't rational. Therefore, writing a book that puts forth a rational argument is not too useful. It turns out that rational arguments aren't very persuasive. Rational arguments are fine for firing up a choir. But to those outside the choir the arguments are irrational.

Few things are as straight forward and universally rational as simple math like 3-2=1. Most everything else is too complex for the human mind. It takes serious training to maintain any semblance of consistent rationality. And even with that training, irrationality still prevails. Just look at science as an example. Science is an enterprise designed to side-step human irrationality. But even scientists can't consistently live up to the standards of science.

As Scott Adams notes, "Smart, well-informed people disagree on nearly all major issues. So being smart and well-informed doesn’t help you grasp reality as much as you would hope. If it did, all of the smart, well-informed people would agree. They don’t. Humans decide first, then rationalize their irrational choices with cherry-picked data. You see this all the time with the people who disagree with your brilliance. Just remember that they see the same irrationality in you that you see in them."

The name of the game in human society is persuasion, not reason and evidence. So, the path to success in human society is not really truth, it is persuasion. Facts matter in terms of outcomes, but not in terms of persuasion. People are always out looking to cherry-pick data to rationalize their irrational choices. So it is bad business to produce data unless there are large groups of people looking for it to rationalize their irrational choices. To do otherwise is just a form of stubborn martyrdom.

As an example, news is ideally supposed to be about facts. But news is almost always warped by those who present the news to attract eyeballs and ears and to steer opinion. Therefore, news is a tool for persuasion. News is used to brainwash people into accepting certain opinions and positions as their own with cherry-picked data. News is an effective mode of persuasion because it uses the guise of reporting facts to persuade.

Science also uses the guise of dealing with facts to persuade. Even when facts are indeed facts, their meaning is usually open to multiple interpretations. And those interpretations are avenues of persuasion.

Anyway, I'm tired of the go-nowhere ideological warzone. Results/outcomes are all that matter. Everything else is just noise. That's why I'm turning off, tuning out, and dropping out. Going forward, I will be exploring more productive avenues.