We Teach Ourselves to be Stupid

It’s comfortable if you always get the answers you expect

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By Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ December 10, 2020

Why do we need to find people to tell us how to live in this universe? If we can't find someone, we make someone up to tell us. The people who feel themselves most in need of being told how they live is ok spend a lot of money to get that answer. The problem now is that this is killing us.

We have programmed ourselves to override our inherent knowledge of the planet and the universe by setting up external feedback loops to reinforce our own stupidity. This is a major evolutionary error.

For a significant portion of the human population, these artificial feedback loops are completely irrational. The only way to break the stupidity cycle is for something so drastic to happen directly to these people that a near-total reset occurs. We know from long experience that many will die rather than experience a major reset.

This quest for external reassurance is absurd, although most people consider it normal. Still, we all do it. In its oldest form, it is called religion. For several thousand years, we've known that religion often is a fast route to stupid, and just beyond that, it can be deadly on a large scale. As a result, religions have been mostly removed from the direct management of human societies. Where they have been allowed to maintain an official position, irrational brutality is normal.

Obviously, normal is a hot topic now as we are struggling to define the new normal in our climate crisis post-pandemic world. But the quest for hints on living and approval to do what we do anyway seems to come from the very beginnings of our existence as sentient beings.

Religion began in fortune-telling at the beginning of human civilization. Before that, images of the Earth Mother, important animals, and symbols go back thirty to forty thousand years. These all existed as questions or ways to answer questions to reassure our species that we hadn’t screwed up.

We never lost the mental trick of inventing gods and spirits to answer our questions with the answers we already knew but weren’t confident to say. These are all part of our trick to justify what we know and will do anyway, right or wrong, stupid or smart.

The universality of this need makes it an obvious evolutionary feature, at least initially. But it certainly seems to have turned into a bug. Conditions change, and successful features can become terminal failings.

The triggers for my questioning of what the hell we are doing are multiple. We are in full paradigmatic change and not handling it well at all as a species. Our modern civilization's consequences in all its related forms have triggered climate changes that are not friendly for mammals and many other life genera. That is definitely a major screw-up and not ok. Still, we are actively fooling ourselves into ignoring this by directing our usual assurance sources to tell us to ignore reality. All that science is junk, the old man over there said so, and I believe him.

The US is completely paralyzed by a significant minority of the voting population on the local level, having been programmed to destroy our own semi-representative government to benefit a sociopathic, racist clique. It is so obvious that most of these people are completely beholden to whichever ‘voice’ they’ve been told to believe, that no one knows what to do.

The same group has been carefully programmed for feudalism based on fear and hatred of whomever they have always been told to fear or hate. They need protection for their hatreds so that they can feel rewarded and powerful while groveling at the feet of their masters. The mental distortions of this are painful to watch.

If it is not obvious, this is the same process of seeking external hints and confirmation of attitudes and actions on how to live in this universe even though the source of those confirmations is ourselves. We tell ourselves what we want to hear and then claim justification when that message echoes back to us.

Needless to say, this is what Facebook and related social media accidentally tapped into while attempting to create profitable interactive group communication systems. It was accidental, but it became a monstrous success in making the group feedback incredibly easy and constant. The monstrous part resulted from merchandising data to allow direct manipulation of a large segment of people by giving them new and very personal ‘voices’ to confirm and expand what they already knew. The quest for original knowledge is not strong in this part of the population. New is always bad.

These are the new open cathedrals with every participant a priest. With a few thousand people, these can become incredibly dangerous. With a few million, these become potential planet killers and human death cults. The COVID-19 death toll in the US, the denial of the climate disaster, white supremacy, nationalism, BREXIT are all driven by the minority pathologically addicted to confirmation of their own distorted realities. Behind this are the manipulators taking easy advantage of ready-made mobs.

We’ve watched this evolve at lightning speed (light speed literally) over the last fifteen years. The tragedy is that the original intent was positive, and for the majority of the connected human population, these have been transformative in putting people in contact with others planetwide. The power of moderated groups on Facebook dedicated to various arts, ethnicities, foods, disease support, gardening (a tremendous boost during this pandemic), and many other interests are almost worth the disasters.

These tools have brought value and benefit to billions of people and have the potential to bring together compatible diverse populations for our common benefit. But we didn’t think about this with a clear understanding of our own weaknesses. A touch of irony, our related development of AI, has focused us finally on the self-justified bigotry of our nature to accept an echo as an external source of approval.

But there is one more trigger that put me on this realization of this error in our sentience. While religion is the original form of the strawman's approval for how we live, the problem is not searching for information on our relationship to our universe but our accidental separation from that knowledge.

If pursued with rigor, our constant self-referral as individuals and groups as a means of justification for action takes us through religion to the base knowledge we share. Our sentience is a powerful tool that allows us to understand and influence the universe around us.

But in its immaturity, it gets in our way and confuses us into thinking that our thinking is the key to the universe and all power. That causes us to search for the lock that we keep trying to convince ourselves that we have found.

We are already inside the universe, and all of it is ours. Our constructed selves (we each have many) that need reassurance are artificial. If you already have it all, you don’t need constant self-assurance that your plans to steal and hoard are justified because those are obviously pointless and empty.

That is very hard to grasp and very difficult to use when you are forced to struggle to feed your family and pay your bills. That is the problem. If you have what you need, you can begin to open up to what we all really have, and sharing comes naturally. But the voices that threaten and warn are dominant now in our world, and the feedback loops are very tight and strong.

We need to get people what they need to live before they learn that they already have what is really needed. Sustainable well-being and a vital planet in a universe of possibilities are what we need to achieve.

That requires that the feedback loops must be broken.

Educator, CIO, retired entrepreneur, grandfather with occasional fits of humor in the midst of disaster. . .

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