Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Throughout most of my life there have been a number of things which I never fully understood.  For instance: how does an entire nation, such as the 1930's Germany that my grandparents experienced, go completely nuts?  How does a majority decide that killing their neighbors (jews, homosexuals, capitalist "parasites", etc) is suddenly a-okay?

Or for a more recent example, how does a country supposedly attacked by Saudi-Muslim radicals flying planes into prominent buildings decide that the logical and appropriate response is to destroy one of Saudi Arabia's primary foes (Iraq)?

At the same time, how is it that people presented with a bombproof logical argument (such as anthropogenic climate change triggering the extinction of humanity) manage to completely ignore logic to their own detriment?   We are the "wise ape", aren't we?

I know -- I'm a little late to the game -- but I finally figured it out.  The answer was staring back at me from our barnyard.

All the domesticated animals there are naturally "social" animals.  Before domestication, they all lived in groups.  Group living enhances chances of individual survival, but requires a strong adherence to socialized thought.  Their decisions are primarily based not on individual thought, but on the behavior of the group. This is the very quality which makes them domesticable.  As social creatures ourselves, we're subject to the same thing -- the "groupthink" coined by Orwell.

I'm an excellent example myself.   I fully understand the logical argument, and know full well the likely consequences of my continued car use, my continued reliance upon the electrical grid, as well as all the other amenities of industrial society.   Though I've nibbled at the edges, I haven't rejected any of them.  Why?   Probably because I've yet to see any peers take the steps I should be taking.   I know that somewhere back in the deep recess of my consciousness, I've been waiting for that queue.

If you want to change society (for better or worse) -- you don't need to provide a solid argument.  You only need to convince people that their peers are in agreement with you.  Here in the US, you just need to run (or advertise on) a TV network.  In a country where people move once every 5 years, both parents typically work outside the home, and locate according to the whims of industry, community in the true sense is gone.  TV is the replacement.

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