Friday, January 27, 2023

Rationalizing makes you stupid

I have still not answered to my satisfaction the question of what made some of us effortlessly immune to the birdemic psy-op, while almost everyone else fell for it. The most common proposed answers -- high intelligence and Christian faith -- don't really seem to cut it, as many highly intelligent Christians were among the most credulous.

Decades ago, when I was a very smart atheist wondering why everyone else wasn't a very smart atheist like me, I read a book by a "professional skeptic" (read: defender of mainstream goodthink) named Michael Shermer, called Why People Believe Weird Things. There was also a follow-up essay called "Why Smart People Believe Weird Things," and his answer was (quoting from memory), "because they're better at rationalizing beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons." That stuck with me, and it struck me even at the time that Shermer himself had unwittingly furnished an excellent example of that process in his chapter on "Holocaust denial." It was very, very obvious that Shermer had accepted the official story for what he would call "non-smart" (i.e. not evidence-related) reasons -- namely, the fact that questioning it in any way would mean career suicide, social ostracization, and possibly a prison sentence -- but he had used such smartness as was at his disposal to put together a lengthy rationalization that could pass as "intellectually respectable" but was in fact convincing only to the convinced. (Before I read Shermer, it had never occurred to me to question official history; his ridiculous apologia sowed the first seeds of doubt.)

I haven't read anything by or about Shermer since my fedora-tipping days, but I am 100% certain, without even having to check, that he fell for the birdemic hook, line, and booster. How could he not have?

(Confirmed: "The peck hesitant may be compared to spectators at a witch burning, more concerned about women being witches (believed to cause plagues, among other catastrophes) than about the inquisition burning people alive." That's, you read that right; he's using that simile for the peck hesitant.)

For a while there, questioning the birdemic/peck was nearly as socially dangerous as "denying the Holocaust," and I think a lot of smart people Shermered themselves. Among the Christians I know who went all in, a disproportionate number were Christian "intellectuals" or apologists -- people who felt a need to make rationalizations for their faith. Rationalization -- the habit of constructing ex post facto rational or "scientific" arguments for what one already believes for entirely different reasons -- opens one up to almost unlimited self-deception.

Thinking about the people I know who did not fall for the birdemic, one thing most of them have in common is that they don't feel the need to rationalize or play the Studies Have Shown game -- that they are willing to admit that many of the things they believe are metaphysical assumptions, intuitions, or gestalt judgment calls. This is from an email I wrote during the hysteria.

If I did some research and put together a list of Ten Reasons We Know Pro Wrestling Is Fake, that would only invite people to pick apart the ten reasons, and to present counterarguments of their own (like that one time Stone Cold Steve Austin broke his wrist for real and went to a real hospital or whatever), and there we would be stuck, ever "learning" and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. In fact, the only fully honest thing to say is, "It just is fake! I mean, just look at it!" So that's what I'm going to say [about the birdemic].

The discipline of not rationalizing is also good because it weans you off the need for your convictions to be "respectable" and helps you care a little bit less about what other people think.


Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - What you say is true; but rationalization only operates at the surface level of psychology - so, I don't think that focusing upon it can affect fundamental values.

In other words; we 'rationalize' or not only *within* the scope dictated by our fundamental metaphysical assumptions concerning the nature of reality - creation versus accident, how the world is divided up, what are the causes, what counts as evidence etc.

I think that the 'stupidity' of here and now is more a matter of false metaphysics. Ultimately, the closed loops of rationalization are the only 'truth' that is recognized by the mainstream ideology. For them, it is just a matter of choosing between rationalizations: power (money, propaganda, status) establishes the rationalizations of 'good' people, and if anyone strays outside these they are 'evil'.

In other words, for 'normal' people there is no escape from rationalization; they cannot stop doing it, because for them there is nothing else.

However, I completely agree with you that we who have different and Christian metaphysical assumptions need to stop rationalizing as much as possible - even, or perhaps especially, when speaking with 'outsiders'.

A few years ago I was in a difficult situation at work in which I 'just knew' what I ought to do, and that was the reason why I did it. I could manufacture more-or-less plausible rationalizations, but after a while I decided not to do so; and said something like 'I just don't want to. I could explain, if you would listen for about ten minutes; but you would still not agree with my reasons, so I won't'.

(It is interesting how very few people in power will consent to listen to a ten minute explanation of anything!)

Ra1119bee said...


You wrote: “The discipline of not rationalizing is also good because it weans you off the need for your convictions to be "respectable" and helps you care a little bit less about what other people think.”

My response : I absolutely agree with you.
Rationalizing means (at least to me) that when one rationalizes, we are trying to make
logical sense of everything. In other words we are dissecting each and every tree in the forest.
The Esoteric doesn't make logical sense.

In this dimension, when we rationalize, we are using our physical logical BRAIN
which the EGO is a part of.
The EGO and our physical brain can be and often is manipulated and controlled.

That's not to say that the Ego and our critical thinking skills using knowledge that we've gathered aren't an extremely important part of our physical lives, because I absolutely believe that it is, but when something can be controlled with or without our permission it's no longer ours.

Our Soul wants us to 'connect the dots/puzzle pieces' to arrive at a destination/conclusion/theory, as every journey (i.e., experience) has a destination.
The Philosophers' Stone is a destination.

Same with Remote Viewing or Telepathy there's always a bigger objective and purpose,
which is not to prove that we can do it, but to TRUST the information given, so that we can change direction if need be.
Free Will i.e. the ability to change direction and therefore change our landscape
and our lives comes through the Soul, not through the ego.

If you saw the movie The Truman Show, you'll recall that Truman using his physical logical ego mind gathered all the clues (puzzle pieces), he connected the dots, which eventually led to the door, which he trusted his Soul and Love to help lead the way, and eventually he walked through the door. ( see Truman clip below )

The Yoni (Vesica Piscis ) is the door, the gateway to intuition, creation and new possibilities.

Our Soul prods us with dreams and synchronicities, trying to get our attention, waiting for us to Open the Door and break through to the other side, as opposed to standing in the doorway, uncommitted, dissenting each and every tree.

As far as the 2020 crowplan, that entire fiasco from the very beginning never made sense to me.

I also had a dream ( on Jan 15, 2020 I titled; China and the Asian Contagion) and in Oct 2019, one day on one of my routine trips to Kroger(Supermarket) I grabbed my usual small shopping cart and for some odd reason I began to 'gather up' handfuls of nonperishable canned goods. Aisle after aisle I stuffed canned goods into the small
cart, so much so that when I went to check out, I had to hold onto the entire basket
so that the cans wouldn't fall out. The cashiers and I laughed and she said : How did you get all that stuff in that small cart? To which I responded: I don't know, I didn't come in here planning to buy all of this.

P. S. I DID NOT KNOW or read anything about C-19 BEFORE Oct 2019, OR Before **Jan 15**, 2020 when I had the China dream)

I know now.

copy and paste from Wiki:
On ***December 31, 2019*****, China announced the discovery of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan. The first American case was reported on January 20, and President Donald Trump declared the U.S. outbreak a public health emergency on ***January 31***

The Truman Show (9/9) Movie CLIP - Truman Talks to the Creator (1998) HD

cecil1 said...

Question though:

How do you distinguish the difference between sound thinking, and reasoning versus mere superstition?

Is (well, I won't say 'science'), but the scientific method not important to distinguishing a truth from mere projection? From mere wish thinking?

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...


Certainly rational and scientific thinking are very important. The key is not to rational-ize -- not to use superficially rational or scientific methods to construct fake reasons for accepting a conclusion you have in fact already accepted for other reasons.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...


I find that people with a wide variety of metaphysical assumptions -- including serious Mormons whose assumptions are very similar to my own -- fell for the birdemic. I'm not sure metaphysics is really the issue.

After all, I think just about everyone's metaphysics allows for the possibility of both real and fake plagues with both real and fake cures. The only metaphysical assumption that seems possibly important is the belief in supernatural evil -- in demonic entities doing things for demonic motivations that make no human sense. I'm not sure even that is necessary, though. It should be possible to see through the birdemic even if you explain it in terms of incompetence, government power-grabs, and pharmaceutical companies trying to make a buck.

In your opinion, what are the key metaphysical assumptions shared by those who saw through the psy-op?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - I was thinking in terms of right metaphysics being necessary but by no means sufficient.

And the motivations of spiritual evil are indeed a key. Those who lack this may see through some (almost never all) psyops and know them to be false, but only in a negative fashion. They reject (eg on grounds of harming health, reducing freedom etc) but have nothing fundamentally different to offer.

As for serious Christians who fall for the totalitarian lies... I think we can't argue from categories here. In many cases the problem is that one we have all been discussing of regarding ultimate spiritual discernment and authority as located in 'my church'.

Some of this is related to overcomplicated ideas of Christianity; such that people cannot navigate through to discernment.

Consider how these issues are discussed - extraordinary essays drawing upon multiple scriptures, clarifying definitions, traditions, comparing and interpreting authorities of different kinds from different eras in history, canon law. Long sequences of inferences...

Such 'nuanced', informed, intellectual discussions can Never lead to the genuine clarity that allows a Christian to stand alone against The World - now matter how vehemently their authors claim that they do.

If Christians don't Keep It Simple - and True - then we are doomed.

Sync: Odin at the door, DD lemniscates, sideways eyeballs

An email correspondent has been sending me his ideas about the equivalents of Yahweh and Jesus in other religions and mythologies. Early thi...