This sounds pretty deep. I immediately remembered other people who I suspect had such false-but-useful beliefs. How to identify areas of false beliefs in yourself?
Good therapy can be a great method for finding and exploring these limiting beliefs. In Hakomi therapy in particular you relax the mind to a sensitive level using mindfulness (open attention to present moment) and then run experiments seeing the subtle ways your body and mind react to situations habitually. For example after hearing you talk about your life and problems the therapist might think of a probe like “You’re safe here” and the person notices their reactions to this probe — maybe their jaw tightens. Those reactions are indications of beliefs and associated memories. Through the process of therapy these implicit beliefs become apparent which is often very emotional and when fully integrated results in greater freedom. More on Hakomi here: https://hakomi.com/history
Thanks for the link to hakomi therapy. The technique seems powerful and I see similar elements in different schools of therapy: If you’re in mindfulness and I say, “Dogs are friendly” and you react with fear and disbelief, there’s no question about what model you’re holding. As soon as you’re in touch with those beliefs and those emotions, clear memories are likely to follow. And when memories are present, explanations aren’t needed. Even more important, when beliefs are conscious, doubt becomes possible. Change becomes possible. The key thing is to get the connection between the beliefs and the experiences.
I don't particularly like the eastern philosophy backstory, though. Lots of therapies have silly backstories.
Next time you find yourself getting angry over some group's wrong thinking, make note of it for later review. Sit down and figure out why you got angry about it, and honestly consider whether it shows a spot in your psyche where such an idea may have taken hold.
A strong reaction is not an indicator that an idea is necessarily wrong, obviously - just a place where your strong emotions could be clouding your judgement, if you haven't learned how to process your emotions and understand where they're coming from (that sounds easy but at least for me it has been surprisingly difficult).
Joke aside: great insight. I am actually going to try this. btw: there is also a case to be made where your strong emotions over others' wrong thinking protect you from doing stupid things (again).
That said, the friendliest way to get started in reading about this field would be Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky.
There's also a significant body of work related to somatics and those suffering from PTSD. "Somatic psychotherapy" is a way of healing the mind through the body -- we live in embodied experiences, and working with the body is a great way of unlocking the way we live with our thoughts, feelings, responses, reactions, experiences, etc. If you wanted to "do the work" and dive into what you think (and why), the body shouldn't be ignored.
I don't know how to answer this question in general, but as a teaching assistant I thought about this in relation to the classroom. Obviously as I teacher I wanted students to be able to identify false mathematical beliefs.
I ended up performing an experiment based on this paper: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.934...
First I asked the students to rate how much they agree with a set of statements like: world hunger is a serious problem that needs attention.
Then I asked how frequently they perform such actions, such as: do you personally do anything to lessen world hunger?
I didn't prepare them for the experiment very well and it went pretty awkwardly... I wish I would have tried it more than once.
The idea is to get people familiar with the feeling of dissonance or discomfort. Because the human brain is supremely lazy and has all sorts of tricks for suppressing dissonance, how would you navigate your social interactions otherwise?
In the classroom you have the additional problem even if you think you don't understand something you don't want to admit that in front of your peers.
any experience which takes place while in a state of identification will leave behind psychological imprints.
and ultimately all psychological imprints veil us from our true nature.
Internal family systems is a more elaborate, but thorough approach: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6969927-self-therapy
By mechanism I mean a habit, which is something you practice deliberately until it becomes automatic. And then you keep practicing still.
Of course you already knew that, but It helps to remind ourselves, because that is in of itself the very practice I tried to describe.
This sounds like what I read in "The Righteous Mind" which has stuck with me since then.
First, a little background: You have an emotional response to something first, in the deep parts of your brain, and then you come up with a rational explanation for it from that after the fact. I've run across that concept in multiple books (but I don't have a systematic method of determining which books are true like the author of this blog; it's the first time I've heard of doing that so systematically!).
How that works out in practice: When you are evaluating something you believe to be true, you look for a fact to back you up. That is, "can I believe this is true?" When you are evaluating something you are emotionally against, you think "MUST I believe this is true?" Every fact must dispute what you believed before you change your mind. If there is a shred of doubt, you will stick to the side that is emotionally appealing to you.
Once you're aware of this dynamic, you can see in everywhere (including, disturbingly, yourself). Which I think is what the author is talking about, seeing she is doing that.
Life starts outside your comfort zone.
One has to step back and recognize that the author separates knowledge into 'trivial' (information needed to pass a test), 'engineering' (how to drive a car) and 'scientific' (math, physics, science).
This is a way of categorizing knowledge along the usefulness/utility axis and is problematic in many ways but let's leave that aside.
> False beliefs need more protection to be maintained than true beliefs, so the belief both calcifies, making it unresponsive to new information, and lays a bunch of emotional landmines around itself to punish you for getting too close to it.
This 'narrative-weaving' is a good first step but the next step has to be to run it through various test cases to see if it holds up.
I don't think it does on many levels but let's take one - what constitutes a false belief vs a true belief and who decides a belief is false and that it needs calcification and landmines to protect it?
A 'true' belief can just as easily be surrounded by emotional landmines - for example someone who had been abused as a child can have all kinds of defense mechanisms to prevent that situation from repeating itself. Or is that a 'false' belief because most people are not out to abuse him/her? Does a belief morph from being true to being false, depending on your surroundings? For example the child needed the defenses in an abusive household but is then adopted by a loving family, does that change the belief from being true to being false somehow?
This nilly-willy use of language to me, is indicative of absence of training in philosophy, where you can't just say things, because people have been saying things for 2500+ years and most weak arguments have already been debunked from multiple angles.
That sounds like the quote at the beginning of Chernobyl (HBO miniseries). "The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all."
It could explain why older people tend to be more stuck in their ways. They're more likely to have experienced traumatic events, just by virtue of having lived longer.
As a personal anecdote, I am solidly middle-aged, and feel strongly that past & current negative experiences increasingly hedge me in if I don't actively fight against it. In many ways I've never fully recovered from some semi-disastrous events in my late teen years. Just getting through the essential drudgery of the day leaves me drained of all ambition to advance my position. The gas runs out and I stop caring before I can push through the frustration & uncertainty of a side project to get anywhere. And there's always more drudgery howling at the door. I seriously doubt I'm alone in this.
As a belief proves its usefulness over time, why would it not become more deeply embedded and protected? Even if it does not require more defenses to be maintained (like the wrong-but-useful belief in the post), a long-held belief should have proven itself useful enough to form defenses around itself.
I think it's worth noting that old people tend to be both stuck in their ways, and frequent victims of scams. Maybe critical thinking declines when you have 80 years of experience to back up your belief system.
For instance in 2002 I witnessed a man in an Orangemen jacket punch a hippie outside a television studio and wrote about it on my blog. That got the attention of many of the organizations involved, all of which denied that they knew anything about the incident -- which may have been true. As an adult any time I have had anything to do with a fight (e.g. witness, participant) the people involved told very different stories about what happened.
I volunteered at a mediation center which frequently handled parenting plans for people who were separated or divorced. It was inevitable that the stories we heard were not coherent and that some of the people were wrong if not "lying" (which is a strong accusation.) We were not concerned about putting together the "true history" that a court might attempt to make, but rather give the parties a chance to work out what they want now and in the future.
- Tobacco is harmful to you. Immediate backlash from a huge industry.
- Intelligence is evenly distributed across various arbitrary groups of people. Rejected by bigots, racists, etc.
- Our "scientific" measures of intelligence are strongly biased towards our own culture.
If watching this isn't worth anyone's time, I'm not sure what would be.
So, coming from that perspective, I am inclined to respond, um, less politely than you did. But I suppose than dang would encourage me to be better than the person I'm replying to, rather than just like them...
And OP went out of his or her way to post that link I don’t think any of us are entitled to a summary or whatever