Quote of the day—Scott Adams

You are wasting your time if you try to make someone see reason when reason is not influencing the decision. If you’ve ever had a frustrating political debate with your friend who refuses to see the logic in your argument you know what I mean. But keep in mind that the friend sees you exactly the same way.

When politicians tell lies they know the press will call them out. They also know it doesn’t matter. Politicians understand that reason will never have much of a role in voting decisions. A lie that makes a voter feel good is more effective than a hundred rational arguments. That’s even true when the voter knows the lie is a lie.

If you’re perplexed at how society can tolerate politicians who lie so blatantly you are thinking of people as rational beings. That world view is frustrating and limiting. People who study hypnosis start to view humans as moist machines that are simply responding to inputs with programed outputs. No reasoning is involved beyond eliminating the most absurd options. Your reasoning can prevent you from voting for a total imbecile but it won’t stop you from supporting a half-wit with a great haircut. If your view of the world is that people use reason for their important decisions you are setting yourself up for a life of frustration and confusing. You will find yourself continually debating people and never wining except in your own mind.

Few things are as destructive and limiting as a world view that assumes people are mostly rational.

Scott Adams
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
[Adams articulates this better than I have been able to.

I keep wanting to believe, and to a great extent behaving as if, people are rational. This is despite my frequent claim that it is irrational to expect people to be rational. I know it’s not true, I get frustrated that it is not true, and I sometimes just want to retreat from contact with the general population.

I’m extremely lucky that Barb and I share nearly identical irrational views of reality and rationality.—Joe]


1 thought on “Quote of the day—Scott Adams

  1. And so we get to the crux of the matter.

    Just as a healthy body can be infected with a disease if exposed to enough pathogens via enough vectors, so too can the rational mind become infected if exposed to enough irrationality. The infection vector in this case, the means through which your immune system is compromised, is emotion. Getting frustrated or angry (or fill in any emotion here) is your rationality immune system beginning to break down, succumbing to the allegiance, the hierarchy of the authoritarian system.

    Possibly the biggest lie of all time is that emotion defines our humanity. It’s the other way around of course; emotion is what separates us from reason, turning us into zombies, or into hoards of storm troopers marching in lock step to someone else’s tune.

    Watch any effective bully, manipulator, huckster, used car salesman, politician, et al, and you’ll see them use shock of some kind (it could be pleasant or unpleasant shock) at some stage. Shock is the emotionally explosive charge, or lever, that separates you from objectivity. It could feel horrible or it could feel wonderful, it doesn’t matter. It works often enough that the manipulator has learned to try it on everyone in his sphere. Those who respond are under his control, and those who do not respond are ignored or put off until later.

    One way or another, whether it’s an elementary school playground or an alliance of nations, the more rational people, those who cannot be adequately controlled through emotion (i.e. intimidation, praise, exultation, bribes and threats) must be put down as a danger to the system. They are the traitors to the authoritarian system.

    So it is that I say; there is no way that America, for example, can fulfill her promise of human liberty unless enough people, as individuals, can understand these things, eventually drop the emotional life, and find the more rational, objective one. The first, and biggest, step is to notice the difference.

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