Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

A recipe for mass murder

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(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking) For Wikipedia’s excellent article.

To quote Wikipedia (the compendium of all human knowledge) “Like science, magic is concerned with causal relations, but unlike science, it does not distinguish correlation from causation.” Magical thinking is an import step in the process to having a vibrant and mature mind. Sadly, most people never move on to logical thinking, but continue to add and subtract from magical thinking attempting to make a suitable world view.

A wise man once said to me, “You will have a world view, whether you chose one or not.” It’s true. There is no such thing as person without world view, there are only people with logical and systematic paradigms and people with illogical and asystematic paradigms, but every person operates from some paradigm. Our world view is the product of our method of thinking about our thinking, our meta-thinking, if you will. If one never puts a thought into how one thinks, one will think poorly. Thinking poorly, one will produce an haphazard world view. Owning a inconstant world view produces an inability to perceive others consistently, which in turn, will cause an inability to relate to others consistently. This (finally) is the definition of hypocrisy, so the magical thinker will always fail by the standards of his or her own flawed value system.

Substituting correlation for cause isn’t just bad science, it’s dangerous to the human spirit, and here’s why: When a person consistently substitutes correlation for cause they will come to believe that their thoughts have the power to effect reality. Virtually everyone in the US will be in a car accident at some point in their lives, some will be in many. Use the example to a logical thinker and a magical thinker, both whom have had the statistically unlikely situation of being in 3 accidents in 3 months.

The logical thinker asks why is this phenomenon happening? He gets online and studies accident statistics. He has his tires and brakes checked, he talks to his insurance company. He is unhappy with all these accidents and and investigates the way his actions effect him.

The magical thinker asks himself why this phenomenon happening to me? Instead of searching for cause he searches for correlation. He asks what was he was thinking or doing all 3 times. Finally finding a correlating fact, he then believes that this fact is the cause. He also is unhappy with all these accidents but having reached a false cause, he solves it with a false solution.

Now, the logical thinker has removed himself from the probability of another accident, but the magical thinker, not knowing the true cause, has not. We can see here that magical thinking is endangering his life. When he gets in another accident, however, magical thinking will endanger his spirit. Since, in his own mind, he removed the cause of the accidents, this 4th accident must have a cause not bound by normal cause. In short, the magical thinker now believes that this 4th accident is not a natural act, but a supernatural act. He is now making up his own religion as he goes.

But the magic thinker only thinks about his thinking when he is looking for a correlation in his own mind. He doesn’t think about the nature of this thinking. We know this because the magic thinker is an man of average inteligence and not a imbecile. If you asked him outright “Do you believe that you have the ability to determine the whether an even is natural or supernatural by how you feel about it?” He would say no, but regardless, that is what he is doing.

It is far too simple a step from believing that the things that happen around you happen with a supernatural cause to believe that you ARE the supernatural cause. From there comes the idea that what you believe is more important than what you do, and finally, the last step down the slippery slope: that you can change reality by the belief rather than action.

Further, since he doesn’t realize that he is his own god, he has no problem belonging to an established religion. And thats when the horrors start. Take one man that has been convinced that he has unique insight into the supernatural which outweighs and overpowers logic. Add a large and powerful organization which gives legitimacy to this belief by its size and also uses its organization to provide positive and negative reinforcements to certain key behaviors . Mix vigorously with social instability and suffering. Viola! A recipe for mass murder.

But how do we stop these people? It would seem that building a large and powerful organization with a rigid belief system is not the answer. (How well has Protestantism, originally gathered around protesting the the very real abuses of the Catholic Church faired? It has become that which it hated. The Church had her pogroms, the Protestants their massacres.) If logical thinkers built a church style organization I guarantee church like results: a beautiful teaching hidden inside a holy book which the followers are encouraged to read only when it properly sanitized and commentaried, and decades of apathy interrupted by occasional movements of inspiring love and frequent movements of hate, murder, and suffering.

We can’t reason with them, because they can’t reason. Believing their thoughts to be logical, they perceive logical thinkers to be not magical thinkers, but magical practitioners. Their organization and all of their friends tell them that their thoughts reflect reality. Thus when a logical thinker presents them with reality, they have but two possible paths to take. (1.) Turn their back on their entire world view or (2.) believe that the logical thinker is somehow twisting reality, making it appear to disagree with their organization. Of course, they take the second. The logical thinker is seen as a practitioner of a foul truth magic. As human beings, we have logic hardwired in from the womb. If you show someone the logical path, they can’t help but see it. Since the typical magical thinker/cult member/religious zealot (if you are a zealot and offended by that, perhaps you should examine your zeal) has been told by everyone they know that their path is logical, this sudden attraction to the “wrong” (logical) way can only be seen supernatural influence, ie, evil.

The only way I know out of this mess is by personal example. I be seek to be the very best that I can be and wait for people to notice how much I enjoy life. I hold my beliefs up to public discussion on this blog (and in other places) not for people to notice, for if I had to tell people how happy I am for them to notice, I must not really be that happy, but for constant review and evaluation, so that I can hold on to this little toehold of joy and freedom I have bought with my skepticism and my faith. The natural state of man seems to be to surrender his freedoms to a mob so he can be one of them. I don’t want to surrender the freedom of my mind, and I won’t, so I stand in public and say “Doubt me, please! Question everything I believe! Find the holes and the gaps that I am content with till I’ve nothing less than pure truth.” That is the plan of my life. The only way I know to fight the madness mentioned above is to follow that plan.

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February 16, 2008 - Posted by | Paranormal, Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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