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Where did that come from?

August 3, 2006

What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index to his desires – desires of which he himself is often unconcious.

This quote is a very wise quote if you truly realize it’s meaning.  I read it in ‘Proposed Roads to Freedom.’  I’ll quote the actual text fully:

What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index to his desires – desires of which he himself is often unconcious.
…”If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it.  If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance with his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.”

A person’s feelings are strong, and it’s good to realize how much most people’s thought life is dictated by more of a feeling than reason.  One of the most notable existences of unrational phenomena is what many men and women constitute for ‘love.’

It’s quite common for a man or a woman to fall more in love with their own feelings than with the actual object they love.  We’ve all seen this as we’ve tried to tell a friend that – ‘I don’t think she’s right for you.’ Then we all watch our friend try to defend himself and accuse us of trying to stop him from his own happiness.

But, that is just one example of the same mental phenomena that happens in many other areas as well.  Religion would probably be the second thing that comes to many people’s minds.  Many people belive in God and Christ, and Heaven mainly because they want it to be true, not that they have any real evidence to prove it one way or the other.

How about politics?  It’s always been strange to me why people will pick up guns and start shooting each other when the only real reason they have is some politician telling them ‘these people are evil.’  It’s even more crazy when most people will tell you that they don’t trust the government and that politicians likely have other agendas not in the people’s best interest.  Why do they do it then?  Why do they trust news networks that they know are biased and owned by big corporations with capitlistic interests?

Answer:  It panders to an already existent impulse.  You see hatred and fighting on a small scale for no apparent reason.  We’ve all been made an object of ridicule because of how we dress or how we look.  We’ve seen kids fight over stupid things.  There were always the jocks in school who made fun of everyone for no reason at all.  I can remember being in the locker room after gym class to hear a bunch of the football players start making fun of me for being so skinny.  Why?  What did I do?  What’s wrong with being skinny?  Who knows.

I’m older now, and I see a simple rule in play with young people: “You’re not like me or what I accept as good.  Now prepare to be the object of my ridicule”  It has nothing to do with being young.  It has to do with giving in to an impulse – a feeling that drives you to certain actions.  That’s a base human instinct actually, and it exists in many adults, though it manifests itself in different forms.  People have a strong impulse toward hatred of people different than them.  Whether you hold a different view, look different, smell different — it really doesn’t matter.  You’re different.  There’s ‘them’ and there’s ‘you.’  How I most often see it happen, you’ll see a group of similarly dressed and similar looking individuals clumped together in some area – you walk by, one of them points, you hear laughing and then one will say, “hahaha, look at this guy.”  One time as I was running through town I ran by a house with a bunch of college age individuals out on their front porch and one of them yelled, “Run shaggy run.”  I suppose they didn’t care for my long hair and unshaven appearance.

Before I leave young people though, I’ve noticed a phenemona which I call the “the idiot’s wit.”  Basically, when a stupid person makes fun of someone else, they act like a retarded parrot.  They’ll mimic, make a stupid face, and say what you said in a ridiculous tone of voice.  Retarded parrots seem to entertain the young and the immature alike – but I don’t find it very amusing.

So if people will fight for no apparent reason with people who live around them, how much more some foreign nation?  Take Iraq for instance.  I’ve heard several guys (and these are church goers) say, “Those guys over there, they’re just a bunch of crazies.  We just need to go over there and kill them all.”  Then another said, “They’re not worth the money.  We just need to drop a nuke on them and turn that desert into a sheet of glass.”

Who told them that people in Iraq are crazos?  Fox News?  Maybe they are psychos, but the main phenomena to notice is how quickly they are to accept something from a source they will all admit they don’t trust.  They don’t even care to try to look into it or determine the truth of the claims, even when it involves killing people who could very likely be innocent of such claims.

I’m not surprised when I see this.  They look different, dress different, and have a different culture.  A politician, for whatever reason suits their friends interests, gets on a controlled news network and tells you these guys overseas are a bunch of psychos and tell them they’re trying to take ‘democracy’ away from you.  It’s easy to see what’s going on.  People invent pseudo-rationalizations all the time to justify some instinctive feeling they have within them.

Bertrand Russell advocated that this natural impulse of hatred is what most policians capitalize on to get people to fight.  It’s not the only reason, but it plays a core role in all wars.

It’s sad people naturally want to kill one another and will use a every shallow excuse to do so.

Russell had more to say on this though, advocating that a lot of the hatred impulse could be solved if society was restructured for the better.  Most people are to a large degree oppressed by the economic machine, leaving them bitter about life and frustrated about not being able to realize their dreams.  Some of what war could well likely be a venting of frustrations they’ve acquired from life over here.  Tightly linked with the opression is getting stuck in a monotonous existence of work, home, sleep, work, home, sleep.

Russell believed that this monotonous existence sparks an interest in politics within the masses.  They talk about how ‘World is so bad’ and talk about events.  It gives a spark to their lives and makes things seem more exciting.

I think he’s probably right on that point too.  He didn’t mention celebrities.  They’re likely treated as they are for the same reasons.

Hopefully this serves as a decent introduction into the concept of how impulse plays a heavy role in the history of mankind.

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