The name of this blog is “Confusion of Ideas” because it’s devoted to the theory that, given enough conflicting information, the human mind will completely lock up. Rather than sort through the evidence backing up a particular claim, the multitude of claims will make that process appear to be an overwhelming task before it is even attempted. At this juncture, the individual will choose the theory that is best liked, or most insistently asserted, regardless of basis or lack thereof. This is the basic abdication of reason, and is helped greatly along when one is surrounded by others equally willing to abdicate and be told what to think. Not only does it then seem like the thing to do at the time, you are surrounded by people beaming approval at your decision.
Knee-jerk mob psychology was a survival mechanism at first. Mobilizing the tribe against a common threat without a long debate has obvious advantages. When it works the way it’s supposed to, abdicating your judgment and following the orders of a social leader can insure the common good, and enrich the community. When it doesn’t work, often the consequences are dire. One of the roles of the capricious gods in early society was to explain away the blunders of social leaders. “The gods were against us. We were screwed from the get-go. It’s not my fault. Sacrifice a virgin and let’s move on.”
Mob psychology is a valued commodity in modern society. The fear and mistrust required to throw a given group into “us versus them” mob mode is carefully nurtured in various ways. Here is a South Park clip describing one of the more subtle ways we are continually being divided against one another. All the while we are being separated out, we are repeatedly being required to re-identify with our designated or chosen sub-groups. What is the purpose of injecting the National Anthem into the beginning of sporting events? And why, as George Carlin asked, must we remove our hats? What does a hat, or lack thereof have to do with patriotism? What is this tribal ritual bullshit? Can someone get me a picture of one of those grease-painted, half-naked idiots standing solemnly with hat on chest? Meanwhile, if I removed my hat to reveal a little revolving propeller on my head, there would be outrage. I would be “making a mockery” of this sacred ritual. Why don’t we cheer an excellent play made by “their” team? In one-on-one sports like tennis, golf, or billiards, excellent play is acknowledged no matter who pulls it off. It’s all about belonging to the mob and letting your emotions go along for the ride.
We are constantly being played, and being played off against each other by people who know how this works and who want something from us. People who, for one reason or another, do not trust us as individuals to make a decision in their favor. Instead they resort to tricks of impulse and fear. The individual goes along with the group because he/she fears ostracism. The group holds itself apart from others for fear of loss of identity. It’s like a Mexican standoff, and no one will drop their guns first.