The Mind’s Compartments Create Conflicting Beliefs

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Scientific American shows its biases in an article about the psychological basis for biased thinking, cognitive dissonance, and mental compartmentalization. The article also includes some handy tips on how to bring people around to your way of seeing things.

If you have pondered how intelligent and educated people can, in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence, believe that evolution is a myth, that global warming is a hoax, that vaccines cause autism and asthma, that 9/11 was orchestrated by the Bush administration, conjecture no more. The explanation is in what I call logic-tight compartments—modules in the brain analogous to watertight compartments in a ship.

The concept of compartmentalized brain functions acting either in concert or in conflict has been a core idea of evolutionary psychology since the early 1990s. According to University of Pennsylvania evolutionary psychologist Robert Kurzban in Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite (Princeton University Press, 2010), the brain evolved as a modular, multitasking problem-solving organ—a Swiss Army knife of practical tools in the old metaphor or an app-loaded iPhone in Kurzban’s upgrade. There is no unified “self” that generates internally consistent and seamlessly coherent beliefs devoid of conflict. Instead we are a collection of distinct but interacting modules often at odds with one another. The module that leads us to crave sweet and fatty foods in the short term is in conflict with the module that monitors our body image and health in the long term. The module for cooperation is in conflict with the one for competition, as are the modules for altruism and avarice or the modules for truth telling and lying.

Read the rest of the article.

Knowing the ways which highly educated people/organizations attempt to replace your existing ideas with new ones not only alerts you to potential propaganda sources, but helps in assessing the sophistication of your information sources and determining their real motivation for presenting the information the way they do.

6 Comments on "The Mind’s Compartments Create Conflicting Beliefs"

  1. Anyone who dreams while asleep should know there is no unified “self.”

  2. “If you have pondered how intelligent and educated people can, in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence, believe… that 9/11 was orchestrated by the Bush administration” It’s useful that such assumptions are laid out from the beginning so I know to stop reading.

  3. BuzzCoastin | Jan 16, 2013 at 6:55 pm |

    about 2500 years ago
    Sid Gautama postulated that there is no Self
    assuming the converse
    that there is actually innumerable compartmentalized “selves”
    is pretty much the same thing: no Self
    Joe Sixpac’s reaction to the news
    “Hey Baby, grab me another beer wouldya!?”

  4. Matt Staggs | Jan 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm |

    “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

  5. “that 9/11 was orchestrated by the Bush administration”

    You don’t know shit about 9/11. If you did, the very fact of a massive cover-up of the event, pretty much acknowledged by anyone who can read a newspaper, should be sufficient to stifle this ignorant gibberish. Enough damning evidence implicates high officials that I would question your intelligence for taking such a bullshit ignorant position.

    The CIA literally hid the San Diego cells from the FBI and from Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism advisor to the White House (not a neocon), for 16 months.

    Records show Saudi funding going to this cell, which was redacted from the House/Senate investigation of 9/11. Those hiding this though redaction are prima facie guilty of giving “aid and comfort to the enemy”, better known as high treason.

    That’s just for starters, the stuff you can glean from the Washington Post or NY Times.

    Why does this site post articles by such ignorant clowns?

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