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Published on September 23, 2012 By Frogboy In Politics

Human beings tend to want to make sense of things. When we hear that someone has died, many people will try to rationalize why such a thing wouldn't or couldn't happen to them. It comforts them.  We instinctively want to find a reason for the unreasonable.

When we see violent mobs in the middle east, some people want to blame an "offensive video". But that's not rational. Healthy people, in our society, don't go into a murderous rage over the abstract.  Other people will try to blame such behavior on race ("oh, those people!") as if there's a genetic component to it.  But it's not just racist, it's absurd. No organism chooses that engages in violence instinctively for no material reason would ever survive generation after generation.

I believe there are three things that make us what we are:

1. Instinct

2. Conditioning

3. And the sliver of you that is really you.

How big that sliver is differs from person to person. I suspect it would be depressing to measure for most people. But for our discussion, I want to talk about item 2. Conditioning.

Conditioning is basically what we're taught. By our friends. By our schools. By our society. By our religion. By our culture. It's the operating system to instinct's hardware.

And you don't have to travel to the middle east to see people with conditioning that leads them to hate easily. One can merely read the comments sections on popular sites or find  certain web forums that are full of people who are ready to hate other people.

I've been online a long time. Sometimes, after someone writes something particularly vicious towards me someone will respond that they're just envious of me. But that's not it at all. That's just the natural human desire to try to rationalize the irrational. To make us feel better we ascribe some rational flaw to someone who hates us. But that's not why they hate us. They hate us because their conditioning has led them to believe that it is perfectly natural, even acceptable to hate other people for their ideas.

The people who murdered our ambassador in Libya didn't murder him because they resented him. They didn't know him. They don't hate us because we're "free" or because we support Israel or because of the Iraq war. They hate us for reasons far more complex that are not readily understood by us because their world view is alien to us.

This is what happens on the Internet all the time. Two people will see the same thing and have radically different responses to it. What enrages one person might cause another person to shrug or even agree with it (see the reactions to Obama's "You didn't build that" or Romney's "47%" comments).  

If two world views are incompatible, then either they find a way to live together or they don't. If they don't, violence ensues.  So next time you see a bunch of haters on TV or on the Internet, don't spend too much energy trying to rationalize "why they hate us". Their reasons are probably alien to your own world view.  And, more importantly, you don't have to accept that their world view is as valid as yours any more than one has to agree that one operating system is as good as another. 

The thing to remember is this: People who have vastly different world views will never see eye to eye. You often cannot rationalize their point of view to fit into your own world view, they're simply not compatible.


Comments
on Sep 24, 2012

You missed life experience.

What makes an aggressive authoritarian type? (the type of personality that goes with the mob and hates)

It is a combination of genetics and conditioning that makes the initial impact, but a measurable lack of life experience is what turns a person permanently into an aggressive authoritarian type of personality.

The cure for this is exposure to "experiences" that these potential authoritarian types already have an opinion made up about, but no actual experience with.

The cut off point to have these experiences is around 24, because after that point it is nearly impossible to change a person's mind on any reinforced issue.

eg: Johnny, raised into an Authoritarian and Conservative household, does have a chance to be "reasonable" if he is sent off to university and encounters and coexists with people he has been "warned" about. Why? He discovers that what he has been taught is the extreme example, and the people he interacts with do not match his initial expectations and are mostly reasonable. (or at least we hope, negative experiences will reinforce what he is taught and naturally feels)

This is one of the major failings of Western World foreign policy (the US is not the only country to blame here)

These populations are isolated, taught to resent and really have no hope for peaceful coexistence because they don't have any experience with the "average person in the Western World". In this situation it is VERY easy to hate, and remain a hater because there is no catalyst to form a reasonable opinion.

on Sep 25, 2012

I'd say that life experience is an INPUT. Not an OUTPUT into your personality.

on Sep 26, 2012

I try not to convert perceptions without science to back me up...

http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/TheAuthoritarians.pdf

It is a free book, so it is readable, but it also points to real science.

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