Jim A.

People who contradict themselves

18 posts in this topic

One thing that fascinates me--in a clinical way--about some people is how they contradict themselves in their beliefs and/or preferences in things.

For instance:

I once asked a former (very former!) girl friend who was very religious why she didn't want to see a certain fantasy film I thought she would enjoy (and which included lessons that were applicable to reality and life on earth). She responded: "I don't indulge in 'make believe'".

I once tried to recommend a certain science fiction novel that had aliens in it to a person who believed in the existence of alien intelligence (as well as astrology, numerology, God, and other mystical and deterministic ideas). She responded: "Oh, I'm a realist; I'm down-to-earth. I don't read that kind of stuff."

I once called Rush Limbaugh's show (!) years ago to comment that as long as he keeps promoting the idea of faith--of drawing conclusions without clear evidence--then he will be defenseless against the environmentalists who claim, without clear evidence, that Man--Man in the highest moral sense--is destroying the planet. Rush's call screener screened-out my call, telling me that Rush "does not discuss his religious beliefs." Oh, really?

I know a person who is constantly complaining that she has no friends. Yet she is very often snide and sarcastic to people who initially like her, and I've heard her say a couple of times regarding people who have been married to each other their whole lives: "Can you imagine living with the same person for sixty or seventy years? Who'd want to do that?"

I know someone who always used to point out my own past contradictions about things say, when I commented that people who run from reality itself are the worst kind of cowards: "But whose reality?" And when I said one must follow reason: "But whose reason?" And when I said that the universe is absolute: "Ooh, that's very rigid, Jim." (Yes, I'm sure it is. Is there a problem with "rigidity", that is, priniciples?)

I've heard people who say they are great movie fans say, when I recommended a certain "old" film that happens to be in black-and-white: "Oh, I don't watch those old black-and-white movies." (Then they are not really movie fans.)

Anyway, I think it's interesting that some people are like this. They maintain their contradictory ideas to the end, even though those contradictions stand in the way of their getting ahead in life and achieving what they really value. How can such people learn? And have any of you run into such contradictions in people's beliefs and desires?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think there may be a connection to Leonard Peikoff's DIM hypothesis here. The cases described mostly sound like people who want to remain "disintegrated" (D) on principle, with a few who want to remain "misintegrated" (M) no matter what, reality or not. As for changing their minds, only they can do that, and it may take a vastly increased, perceptually observable and widespread rise of "integrated" (I) minds to persuade some of them to reconsider their outlook. The rest may very well go all the way to their graves without ever changing in the least.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just think that people, in general, are fairly stupid. That's what I thought of while reading your description of dealing with people over the years. I've been guilty of being stupid once in a while, so I can talk. People aren't stupid by nature. They are products of their environments. Darwinism no longer applies due to all the protections we've put in place for stupid people. And, of course, survival of the fittest doesn't literally mean "fittest". "Fittist" means your genes spread more effectively, relatively. See the movie Idiocracy for an demonstration of this. Dumb people breed more.

People, in general, believe what makes them happy. But, different things make different people happy. I know some people who find great joy in talking about smart extraterrestrials that must exist somewhere. I've known many people who violate the 10 Commandments every day of their life, then go sing in the church choir every Sunday. If there is a God, he's certainly going to fry them on the highest setting.

It seems that, less and less over the years, it's harder for smart Americans to excel over the dummies. I sat in a meeting last week and listened to a guy who makes 20% more than I do demonstrate that his definition of payback (in equipment use) is completely wrong. This is basic material for our job. I left the meeting as he spoke. I was angry, so I know I'm not just believing what makes me happy. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dumb people breed more.

Only because we make it possible for them to do so. The money producers would be spending raising extra children is now looted from them and given as an incentive to the permanently unemployed to produce more offsprings (in exchange for which they get more welfare). The proportion of welfare lifers in European countries is steadily increasing just as we are having a demographic crisis as the baby boomers are retiring. It should help speed up the demise of the welfare state.

Explaining that to a leftie who is still able to reason somewhat usually leaves them dumbstruck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dumb people breed more.

Only because we make it possible for them to do so. ...

Absolutely. Thanks for filling in the gaps. If my life consisted of waking up at the break of noon, waddling down to the bodega for my beer and twinkies, and smoking a fattie for dinner I'd probably have more kids. We just had our second child, born a month ago, and I have to laugh when I think "this really takes some pelotas (Spanish) to be having kids with hopes of them having some sort of future." As a self-reliant married father who wants to work to keep his kids on the straight and narrow...perhaps it's the town we live in that makes me feel like a real oddball.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One thing that fascinates me--in a clinical way--about some people is how they contradict themselves in their beliefs and/or preferences in things.

For instance:

[...]

Anyway, I think it's interesting that some people are like this. They maintain their contradictory ideas to the end, even though those contradictions stand in the way of their getting ahead in life and achieving what they really value. How can such people learn? And have any of you run into such contradictions in people's beliefs and desires?

Just because I see the contradiction doesn't mean that they do. Often, after I gently and tactfully show them the problem, they think about it and check their premises.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I just think that people, in general, are fairly stupid. That's what I thought of while reading your description of dealing with people over the years. I've been guilty of being stupid once in a while, so I can talk. People aren't stupid by nature.

Yes they are. In fact, people are born that way. It is what philosophers call tabula rasa.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think there may be a connection to Leonard Peikoff's DIM hypothesis here. The cases described mostly sound like people who want to remain "disintegrated" (D) on principle, with a few who want to remain "misintegrated" (M) no matter what, reality or not. As for changing their minds, only they can do that, and it may take a vastly increased, perceptually observable and widespread rise of "integrated" (I) minds to persuade some of them to reconsider their outlook. The rest may very well go all the way to their graves without ever changing in the least.

I think that most men are very disinclined to changing their minds in regard to any important question. Why? Well, partly because changing your mind about an important question requires you to do some serious thinking, and most men do not want to put forth mental effort. And also, because most men do not want to admit that they are wrong. Most men are second handers, and they perceive it as "losing prestige" to change their mind. But, of course, second handers *will* change their minds when under social pressure.

Our hope is that there will be enough first handers who adopt Objectivism while there is still time, and then create the "social pressure" which gets the great mass of second handers to fall into line also.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I just think that people, in general, are fairly stupid. That's what I thought of while reading your description of dealing with people over the years. I've been guilty of being stupid once in a while, so I can talk. People aren't stupid by nature.

Yes they are. In fact, people are born that way. It is what philosophers call tabula rasa.

I've learned a great deal in the past several years regarding the biology of what we willingly do to our own bodies in America. I'm convinced that we are doing things that damage our brains. We are making ourselves dumber post-birth. It's really an amazing thing to learn about. The latest additon to my discovery is recently getting to see the brain scans of Iraq war veterans upon their return. I'd rather not get into the details here, but you can rest assured that we are rapidly heading down a path of neurological destruction. The American brain is under attack - tinfoil hat need not apply here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've learned a great deal in the past several years regarding the biology of what we willingly do to our own bodies in America. I'm convinced that we are doing things that damage our brains. We are making ourselves dumber post-birth. It's really an amazing thing to learn about. The latest additon to my discovery is recently getting to see the brain scans of Iraq war veterans upon their return. I'd rather not get into the details here, but you can rest assured that we are rapidly heading down a path of neurological destruction. The American brain is under attack - tinfoil hat need not apply here.

Could you elaborate?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've learned a great deal in the past several years regarding the biology of what we willingly do to our own bodies in America. I'm convinced that we are doing things that damage our brains. We are making ourselves dumber post-birth. It's really an amazing thing to learn about. The latest additon to my discovery is recently getting to see the brain scans of Iraq war veterans upon their return. I'd rather not get into the details here, but you can rest assured that we are rapidly heading down a path of neurological destruction. The American brain is under attack - tinfoil hat need not apply here.

Could you elaborate?

I second the request as I have no idea what you are talking about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll give one example. The other day I was visiting with a local man who runs an organization that links hyperbaric therapy with those who need it. Hyperbaric therapy is very effective at healing burns, brain injuries, and other issues. I had stopped by his office to conduct business with somebody else there and we started talking. He showed me a recent brain scan of a soldier that had just returned from Iraq. These scans show regions of the brain that have activity. A healthy brain completely shows up in the scan. An unhealthy brain looks like it's missing chunks. This brain had large chunks missing from the scan, mostly from the frontal lobe. He looked at me and said, "We're seeing this in a very high percentage of returning soldiers that we test." I forget the actual percentage but was shocked by it. The theory is that standing near large artilary guns (large percussive input), or very high stress, is causing this. I have an additional theory. Whatever the cause, hyperbaric treatment can help. I'm confident the cause will not be searched out.

There's one example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your example tells us nothing except that someone was thinking and or acting in a certain manner that caused a certain part of his brain to function and hence show up through a scan while other parts did not. This does not mean that his brain or any other person's brain is heading for "neurological destruction."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are right Ray. I may have failed to mention that many soldiers are returning from Iraq with real, verified cases of brain damage. That was my point, along with my own editorial that nothing will be done about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anyone seen the Ron Howard film A Beautiful Mind? Intriguing and haunting movie, but it never addressed what I saw as a very possible cause for John Nash's schizophrenia: his irrational, false ideas in the fields of economics (e.g.: one profits most when he serves himself and the group) and mathematics (e.g.: one can come up with a "formula" for random movements of things, say, of pigeons in a park), held in his mind over many, many years. If one holds false ideas in any area of his/her consciousness, no matter how narrowed-down, specific, and compartmentalized, because they contradict reality and that person's own true ideas they can only infect the rest of one's consciousness. They can ultimately lead one to go insane.

Did anyone else notice that glaring omission in the film?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You are right Ray. I may have failed to mention that many soldiers are returning from Iraq with real, verified cases of brain damage. That was my point, along with my own editorial that nothing will be done about it.

War causes damage. It's a fact of life. I do not know about Iraq, but I do know about the French Navy pilots. They all retire aged 40, some in wheelchairs, all with their vertebrae piled up because of frequent short distance landing of supersonic jets on aircraft carriers.

They all knew this when they signed up, and it was a sacrifice they willingly made (together with the risk of instantaneously becoming a flying torch - over 50% of the Thunderchief pilots in the Vietnam war did not come back).

When a soldier signs on the dotted line, he agrees that physical damage may be caused to his body. It is through this, in part, that physical damage can be avoided on civilians or their property - the purpose of the armed forces.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You are right Ray. I may have failed to mention that many soldiers are returning from Iraq with real, verified cases of brain damage. That was my point, along with my own editorial that nothing will be done about it.

War causes damage. It's a fact of life. I do not know about Iraq, but I do know about the French Navy pilots. They all retire aged 40, some in wheelchairs, all with their vertebrae piled up because of frequent short distance landing of supersonic jets on aircraft carriers.

They all knew this when they signed up, and it was a sacrifice they willingly made (together with the risk of instantaneously becoming a flying torch - over 50% of the Thunderchief pilots in the Vietnam war did not come back).

When a soldier signs on the dotted line, he agrees that physical damage may be caused to his body. It is through this, in part, that physical damage can be avoided on civilians or their property - the purpose of the armed forces.

I agree with your point. However, physical damage takes on another facet when it occurs to the brain. I'd much rather have a damaged spine than a damaged brain. I know several brain-damaged children. I can't think of a worse hell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites