IMPORTANT NOTE: As per the title, this is Part 2 of a 4 part series. Part 1 can be found here.
Why is the meta-culture of our species so different to the concept of Mixed Mental Arts as put forward by Hunter Maats and Bryan Callen? In my opinion, it boils down to two primary things that lead us to act like one of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Hobgoblins.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again though it contradict every thing you said today." - Emerson
What Emerson is getting at in the above quote, is that we should not only NOT fear being proven wrong, but we should be actively trying to learn new stuff all the time or we may as well concern ourselves with our "shadow on the wall". A "foolish consistency" simply means being too stuck in our ways with our minds closed to new ways of thinking. Being a "hobgoblin" means we are essentially being foolishly consistent in our thought processes at the exclusion of entertaining new ways of viewing a topic. When it comes to supposedly controversial topics like religion and politics for example: far too many of us fall into the "hobgoblin" category as we are irrationally unwilling to entertain that we may, in fact, be incorrect in some of our beliefs/viewpoints.
Being Warm and Cozy on Mount Stupid
The first of the two things that I think contribute to us to acting like hobgoblins, is that a shitload of us are subject to the Dunning-Kruger effect, and the second is that a shitload of us are also subject to Confirmation Bias.
The Dunning-Kruger effect comes in to play because many of us do not know what we don't know about with regards to a particular topic, and because of this, we think we know more than we actually do about that topic. We essentially have a blindspot that we do not know we have and so think we are better or more informed than we actually are.
"The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which low ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive inability of those of low ability to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their ability accurately." - Wikipedia
(Side Note: This is a mind boggling cognitive bias to ponder over, because, I myself am subject to the Dunning-Kruger effect at this very moment while I write due to the fact that there is obviously stuff that I don't know that I don't know about. All I know for sure is that I am sitting on one of the infinitely repeating Mount Stupids as illustrated in this picture LOL. But I digress....)
Confirmation Bias comes into play due to us favoring information that confirms our point of view and avoiding information that questions our point of view. We do this because we want to feel all warm and fuzzy and do not want to deal with the discomfort of having our beliefs questioned.
"Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs." - Wikipedia
(Side Note: An important line to note from the wikipedia definition above is that of the last one. I wonder if it is any coincidence then that Religion and Politics, being about as "emotionally charged" and "deeply entrenched beliefs" as you can get, have historically caused so much conflict and violence in our short history? Food for thought......)
We are operating with Confirmation Bias both knowingly AND unknowingly. We do this knowingly because the vast majority of us consciously surround ourselves with information that we already agree with by watching the same news channels, reading the same newspapers, visiting the same websites, chatting with the same agreeable friends etc. We also do this unknowingly due to social media throwing fuel on the fire due to the inbuilt algorithms. These increasingly powerful algorithms essentially operate by constantly showing us stuff we like in order to make us feel comfortable thereby maximizing the amount of time we spend on their platform. These algorithms are not necessarily a bad thing and it makes total sense for these companies to do it from a business perspective, it is just important that you realize this echo chamber exists so that you know you need to consciously look outside of it.
Due to being subject to both the Dunning-Kruger Effect in which we do not know what we do not know, and Confirmation Bias in which we like to surround ourselves with people and viewpoints that confirm our beliefs thereby making us feel comfortable rather than information that challenges us and makes us feel uncomfortable; too many of us are not only unwilling to admit we are wrong, but we do not actively seek out new information in attempts to prove ourselves wrong. This is especially if the new information contradicts our already established beliefs.
Q. But how do we break from our foolishly consistent hobgoblin behavior?
A. We need to fully embrace the magnitude of our own ignorance thereby helping avoid the traps of the Dunning-Kruger effect, and, we need to purposefully seek to take a sledgehammer to the walls of our warm & fuzzy ideological echo chambers thereby avoiding the traps of Confirmation Bias.
"The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing." - Socrates
"The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates
(Side Note: Socrates telling us hobgoblins on Mount Stupid what's up.....)
So now that you know what Mixed Mental Arts and its' holistic view of the world actually is (go to Part 1 HERE if you don't), as well as 2 potential core reasons as to why so many of us act like hobgoblins, let's look at the Shakespearean level dramatic state of US politics as an example of what can happen when atomistic thinking gets on the TRT (little in-joke there for those Mixed Martial Arts fans)....
On top of the fact that everyone and their dog seems to care what happens in the US, I lived there during the final 6 months of the last election. As such, the easiest example for me to use to illustrate what can happen in the absence of a Mixed Mental Arts outlook on the world and associated problem(s) with atomistic myopic thinking due to hobgoblin like behavior, is the unfortunately dramatic state of affairs the American political landscape now finds itself.
The reason for this drama is because the left and right are in their own little bubbles of atomism and as such are getting more and more polarized. Basically, because of their lack of seeing the bigger picture (the betterment of our ape species and our little spec of a planet as a fucking whole), they are pushing each other further and further away from the center due to being hobgoblins living in increasingly powerful ideological echo chambers that are increasing the intensity of their tribal affiliations. For example, look at the overlap in their political values from 2014 research by The Pew Research Centre.
The hard left in the US for example, have gotten so carried away with topics like identity politics and being hurt by mean words, they are neglecting to try going after big picture stuff that have huge implications for every aspect of their country (cough-cough-K Street-cough-cough-Clinton Foundation-cough-cough.....). But no, the left have made choosing to take offense to stuff and fleeing to safe spaces a key part of their world view. How the fuck did a whole generation miss out on the whole "sticks and stones" thing?
"The power men possess to annoy me I give them by a weak curiosity." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thanks to people on the other side of the ridiculously cavernous ideological divide (and maybe quite a lot of moderate lefties who were A.B.H. - Anyone-But-Hillary), that energetic dude with the money and shiny stuff from that television show is president. How the Trump presidency will work out is anyone's guess. I have no idea and personally, find it hard to see how either candidate would have been a great choice given not just their actual experience and history but simply because of how polarizing they are (Side Note: maybe there should be a "fuck this shit and let's start over" option on ballot papers?).
However, it must be an interesting musing for those on the right who voted for Trump to realize that they elected a reality TV star with zero political experience who seems to have used the references to Tyranny from Plato's "Republic" as an instruction manual for political strategy.
Other Examples Of Winged Extremism
So apart from the monstrous political divide evident from the recent election itself, let us take a look at some of the other mad shit taking place at the moment. There are super popular elements on the right who are passionately justifying Trumps outrageously clumsy Muslim ban. One example to illustrate its clumsiness was that it led to even Green Card holders being detained at airports. Some of these people held were even Iraqis who presumably risked the lives of themselves and their families to work with the US in Iraq. On top of this, even a US born Nasa Scientist called Sidd Bikkannavar was detained and even forced under duress to unlock his work phone that had sensitive information on it.
On the other side, there are elements on the left rioting and attacking people because of words a guy they called a "Nazi" said (who is actually a British-gay-Jewish man who openly likes to have sex with black men), and, this riot took place on one of the (supposedly) most open minded places on earth in Berkley California.
Here is a video of Jake Shields who is a legend in the martial arts world and whom I was lucky enough to have trained with while living in San Francisco last year. From my interactions with this absolute gentleman, it is no surprise to me that he jumped in to save a person who was being attacked by these ignorant and naive thugs who thought Milo (the aforementioned British-Gay-Jew who likes sex with black men) was a Greek guy who was leading a "nazi thing". When madness like this is going down due to words used by an obviously purposefully inflammatory troll who has a black belt in strategically stirring shit, in the former home of free speech, we know things are getting squirrelly. Like seriously, WTF 'Merica?
International examples of extremism
To illustrate that it is not just the US getting more extremist in its culture I want to list a couple international examples by looking at Britain. Apart from the whole right wing driven Brexit debacle, there are extremist lefty issues too such as:
- There are people on the left being so naive and ignorant to the pandoras box that violence represents as to entertain the idea that it might actually be OK to "punch nazis" such as this article in the left-leaning British paper "The Guardian".
- Another example of lefty extremism is this article from The Independent about students in London wanting to remove certain philosophers from their course of study because they were white!
This level of extremism is simply lazy.
Due to their aforementioned tribal affiliations and ideological echo chambers, both sides of the divide are employing atomism by justifying simple solutions to complex issues while totally ignoring the nuances involved, especially if these nuances involve looking at things from the other sides point of view.
Taking personality traits such as openness to experience and conscientiousness out of the equation for a moment, and just looking at their ability to interact with each other: both sides of the spectrum are the EXACT SAME type of person, but just indoctrinated with a different ideology.
This short extract from a great article alludes to what might happen in the US for example should things continue as they are, as well as how to actually solve the problem:
"In physics and engineering you learn that when something oscillates between two extremes while gaining momentum, it normally results in the object tearing itself apart. We need to meet somewhere in the middle and have a nuanced discussion about hard and uncomfortable topics." - Michael Knight
So, remember when in part 1/4 I mentioned how the possibility of an upcoming cage fight would probably lead you to abandon an atomistic mentality and not give a fuck where the techniques you learned came from so long as they worked? Well, to explore what may act as the metaphorical upcoming cage fight that may cause our entire culture to go towards a more holistic mentality, I want to introduce you to our first Dr. Manhattan, the Unifying Nemesis......
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