Thinking stinks

14 December 2003 at 16:36 Leave a comment

I always know now what I’ve done when I get that sickly sweet, frozen smile. I’ve, innocently as usual, revealed some truth that someone was hiding (usually from themselves). And pretty soon they aren’t calling or writing, or getting their husband to answer the phone and tell me they’re never home, or whatever.  The funny thing is, the observation I’m pointing out is never a criticism.  I’m extremely solicitous of other people feelings and am never rude, but my comment that appears on it’s face to be neutral or even friendly becomes threatening.  I believe what is going on is I fail to perceive the “group think” or current state of the “story”of which other people are all.

Is it human nature to conform?” – by Marya Burgess on BBC

Ms. Burgess discusses a series of experiments, some of them controversial, that showed that a surprising number people would lie rather than go against a group consensus and that, when told by an authority figure to do it, most people are capable of terrible cruelty.

She sites the Asch, Milgram, and Zimbardo experiments. In Asch’s experiment, 1/3 of all participants were willing to go along with the crowd, even though they were clearly wrong. In Milgram’s experiment, 65% of the subjects were willing to give a “severe shock” to someone who’d made mistakes “on a word task”.

‘We can implant entirely false memories’” – Laura Spinney in the Guardian

A nice little piece on the malleability of memory.

And a transcript of Alan Alda’s memory modification from his perspective shows that even though he knew what they must be doing, he fell for it anyway.

While Laura Spinney’s article focuses on Elizabeth Loftis and her work on memory modification, including a story of Alan Alda and a picnic, the Alan Alda transcript appears to from a different experiment in the same show. Still of interest.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the reliability of eyewitnesses, James Newscome or the New York State Defenders Association can set you up on stories and legal issues related to eyewitness evidence.

It is something that has come more and more to my attention as an adult: not only do most people not think, but they don’t want to think, and they don’t want you to think either.  I suppose maintaining emotional realities takes all their energy.

bb finally had a chance to witness it here in France with a group of Americans.  I don’t want to be too specific.  He thought I’d been too self-conscious all these years, but while walking home after the little encounter I said, “See?!”  And he agreed – and their distancing began soon afterward.


Entry filed under: misanthropy, Nothing New.

Soliloquy on bb’s Biscuits French blue

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What I’ve been reading:

  • James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, L.L.D. (London, 14 King William Street, Strand: William P. Nimmo, 1876). 4 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 3, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985). 4 years ago
  • Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). 4 years ago
  • Stephanie Kallos, Broken for You (New York: Grove Press, 2004). 5 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 2, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985) 5 years ago

T. Anderson Painter

I am a misanthrope. No one ever believes me, but this seems to prove my point.



2003-2013 T. Anderson Painter
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