Blockhead Theory

Blockhead Theory

One of those moments of synchronicity happened today. I was looking at some of the former JW sites, and found a great page on JW psychological issues at Beyond Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In the back of my mind, I was thinking of JollyRoger‘s comments on Bush followers as worshippers and comparing it to my experiences with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Everyone has blind spots, but Bush seems to have tapped into something that allows him to pre-empt the critical thinking abilities of some Americans in just the same way that JWs do. Of course, the dumbing-down processes of our culture may have created some that have little or nothing in the way of critical thinking skills to undermine. Still, even with Rove, and the PR machine, and the talking points, and all of it, it’s hard for me to understand how anyone could rally behind an administration that clearly works against their own interests and future thriving, not to mention our own country’s historical values. We know how to "read" commercials, so we are in some ways quite sophisticated. So, what gives?

Well, Timothy Campbell, the webmaster of the abovementioned site on JWs, has also written some interesting information on "Anti-Process" – one explanation for both blind follower syndrome (no matter what the "religion") and the kind of fruitless discussion that seems to occur even more often on the web than in person.

The Formal Explanation: Antiprocess is the preemptive recognition and marginalization of undesired information by the synergistic interplay of high-priority acquired mental defense mechanisms.

An Informal Explanation: People can very cleverly defend their beliefs without having to fully understand the arguments against them.

A Very Informal Explanation: They’re not being annoying on purpose.

Breaking it down:

… the preemptive recognition … means that antiprocess filters information before it reaches conscious awareness.

marginalization of undesired information … means that antiprocess doesn’t have to destroy information for it to be effective. All it has to do is dispense with it somehow. The information is "undesired" because it threatens one’s state of comfort.

synergistic interplay … means that antiprocess can call on one’s entire set of skills. The smarter you are, the smarter your antiprocess is. Listen to a debate involving one of the primary proponents of Young-Earth Creationism if you want to see this in action.

high-priority acquired mental defense mechanisms means that the mental "shields" are given primacy over other concerns (such as the search for truth). I included the word "acquired" because I believe that most (and possibly all) of our wrong-headed mental defense mechanisms are either reinforced, taught to us, or picked up by osmosis throughout our lives.

Of course, all of this assumes a self-protective, defensive stance.

He has also written articles on trolls and flame wars, for when things are a little less benign. All recommended reading.

We all need to brush up on our critical thinking skills. I have a feeling we’ll need them in the days ahead.


3 thoughts on “Blockhead Theory

  1. I have a question; Why is it you think only people that disagree with Bush and others in his administration are the only people capable of logical thought? We that support George Bush think for ourselves and still support him. Why is it so hard for you to accept that?

    Not everyone thinks George Bush is bad for this country and yet many of the liberals act like everyone thinks like they do or those people are just lost.

    Afterall, shortly after the information about the legal wiretaps was illegally leaked to the media a poll was taken and nearly 2/3 of the respondents thought it was a good idea for the president to have the authority to give the authorization and less than a 1/3 of the respondents thought it was a bad idea. So I guess that put you in with that minority as far as the respondents goes.

  2. Well, actually, there is a fair bit of what I’m talking about in any blockheaded position that won’t listen to evidence and facts. I can think of a few on the left that fit that description too. Shiny black boots can be found in all sorts of places.

    Opinion polls, as you should know, have little to do with truth and evidence. Americans believe all sorts of things.

    Americans’ belief in the existence of the Devil has nearly doubled since 1964. 42% of Americans said they believed that “humans and other living things” have “existed in present form only” and have not changed or evolved at all. 40% of Americans believe in ghosts, 78% in angels. 70% of American Catholics don’t believe in the basic doctrine of transubstantiation.

    Wonder how many were for slavery and lynching? How many were against women being able get a loan without the signature of her husband, a scene that changed within my own lifetime?

    The point is that the majority just isn’t always…right. Moreover, opinion changes, which I’m sure you’ve noticed.

    I have no problem being in the minority on this, except that I wish more people would really research it for themselves. They still have the freedom to do so. I think.

    In point of fact, however, there’s a little problem with the poll you cite; it failed to say that Bush was conducting the wiretapping without a warrant. Here’s the new AP poll showing what Americans truly think of Bush’s policy:

    “56 percent of respondents in an AP-Ipsos poll said the government should be required to first get a court warrant to eavesdrop on the overseas calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens when those communications are believed to be tied to terrorism.”

  3. I has seen that poll posted on a number of blogs that are anti Bush and it may or not be true. It just gives more fodder for discussions like this, so I guess we can say that at the very least the discussion is still alive and well. 🙂

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