27: More Scientific

(Full Notes)

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The thing with the learned behaviors mentioned in the last podcast is that it can be explained in terms of self-deception.

Again about animals being used for experimentation for psychology.  I don’t know.  I know I don’t like it, and I’d far prefer to see how far we can get by studying self-deception, as opposed to the brain, personally. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

So with every case there is probably an element of the trap and an element of personal responsibility, or an element of being a victim and an element of personal responsibility.  Hard to know how much of which it is, and what a person needs to hear.  In the church sometimes there are things, I think, that most people need to hear and so in public addresses that may be what we hear.  But surely there are those who that doesn’t apply to, for which it might make a person do the opposite of what they should.  I’m thinking of the term “damaging”, that gets used, and sometimes erroneously I believe, especially in teachings of the apostles.  But I suppose there is that possibility.  We are told they teach the rule, not the exception.  But then you admit there is an exception sometimes.  I just wish we could teach both sides and say maybe that many of you need the following advice, and some of you probably don’t need it and need the opposite, and you must judge honestly for yourself.  That’s what I wish we could do.

If there’s always an element of victim-hood and an element of personal responsibility (hard to know how much of which) then a person can’t just snap out of something, and sometimes they can.  Yes, sometimes they can.  This is when it’s, I guess, mostly personal responsibility that is the problem and they’re not in the trap so deep that they can’t snap out of it.  Other times the reverse is true, then, where somebody is caught in a snare and, not that somehow miraculously you can’t get out of a deep pit fast, but sometimes you can’t, right, and it will take longer and no matter your willpower you just can’t snap out of something.  No way.  Miracles happen, and maybe it’s not a matter of it being a miracle or not that you are able to get out of a deep pit suddenly or whatever, but sometimes it ain’t going to happen.  Not right away, anyway.  Have to make small choices along the way, and, maybe, still have a miracle to get you out of the trap. 

In any case I can see how basically sometimes you can snap out of something, and sometimes you can’t. 

I want to understand about anxiety.  And depression.  The big thing I have is that self-deception is a part of it.  Right?  That’s the whole hulabaloo.  Why didn’t Terry Warner take it there?  He knew about mental illness.  But why wouldn’t he apply his principles to it?  Because he looked at people who struggled with that and maybe himself and just couldn’t bring himself to condemn them?  Well why condemn anybody else?  Of course you don’t condemn them.  Don’t condemn anybody.  Leave the condemnation out of it.  That’s for God, right?  In every case, surely.  Is the theory of self-deception one of condemnation?  I say it doesn’t have to be.  It can be, if you do that, but it doesn’t have to be.  We can love people who are self-deceivers, as you might call it–it’s all of us!  That’s the thing with my wonderful mentor, Terry Warner.  I think you can take what he thought even further–it applies to everybody and everything.  It’s just the mechanics of a world of light and darkness.  That’s how I’ve always felt, I mean at least I’ve always felt that it extends beyond interpersonal relationships and beyond the cases where he illustrates it.  How can I find the basic insight?  The basic insight.  I see it most readily in the religious self-deception, but it’s also apparent in interpersonal relations.  But it’s really also apparent in everything.  I need to clarify that more.  Have plenty of examples ready at hand.

Religious self-justification and self-deception – a person downplays God and His word and His messengers as a justification for disobedience.

Interpersonal self-deception – a person downplays the reality of other people in order to justify their treating them bad (again, the justification and the thing it justifies are kind of the same thing, no?)

Non-religious and non-interpersonal self-deception – like for example littering.  The bible doesn’t say not to litter.  And it’s possible a person might never have been taught not to litter.  But surely the light of Christ teaches a man not to litter (at least I imagine).  So if you do it you have to justify it somehow.  There’s something in you that rules against it.

Let’s do a better example – stealing.  It’s a commandment of God and it is in the Bible.  But say you don’t know the Bible and maybe even say nobody has taught you not to steal.  You still know it’s wrong.  How?  The light of Christ.  Everybody knows it’s wrong.  Nobody has to teach you.  It’s easier if they do, because otherwise you are “ignorant”.  But ignorantly sinning is still sinning, because it’s wrong, and if it’s wrong you will know that, through the Light of Christ if no other way, yes?  It may only be faint, your knowing it, but you know right from wrong, whether anybody has taught you or not, because everybody who has the mental capacity of an eight-year-old or whatever knows right from wrong.  That’s how I see it.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Reading about these guys who made discoveries and steps forward or whatever in science.  Wouldn’t it be nice if I could be more scientific about things with self-deception?  Divorce myself a little from the dependence on religious belief?  I don’t know if it’s possible or not, but what if I offered the thing with self-deception as an observation, and made the case more strongly?  Surely if I did that nobody could deny that self-deception exists.  It’s all around us.  It’s in each of us.  I need to put the evidence for that on the tip of my tongue.   Then once that’s established we can go to the next step of why it happens, and be clear that that part is a postulation (scientifically speaking).  The next part I guess is that for some reason any time we go against our higher knowledge of right and wrong we have to justify it.  Or maybe the next part is that there’s a universal knowledge of right and wrong we have, not a static one, but one that rules every situation we’re in – not reason, as some philosophers have wondered, mere logic based on what must be best for the common good – but a living, continuous thing, not based on man’s knowledge at all, but God’s.  Man may have a part of the knowledge of God, but he will never have all of it, and therefore will never be able to judge aright, of himself, in every situation.  But God has all knowledge and knows what is right in any given situation.  And if man has any access to the knowledge of God, even if not through the physical senses but just the spiritual, then he can know it, if not for sure all the time, for partially sure.  And he can learn to recognize that spiritual sense, if you will, that instinct, that inherent knowledge of right and wrong.  I’m trying to say that we have a certain access to the knowledge of right and wrong through the light of Christ, as the Book of Mormon identifies it.  Mormon, specifically.  Spirit of Christ/light of Christ (light is not capitalized there). 

Seems like after the initial insight I went straight into postulation stuff.  Maybe that’s how it has to go?  But surely I can make a stronger case for what I’m saying.  Lay it out nice and transparent-like.  I believe in being transparent.  And I would say that what I’m saying about self-deception is not like it’s a major tenet of my religion or anything.  It may be right, but it’s not a major tenet of my religion.  The major tenets of my religion are that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and came and atoned for the sins of man and died and was resurrected and his church was re-established in our day by Joseph Smith.  But that’s a story for another day.  It may be related, it may be right, but it’s not necessary for the scientific community to know that.  They just need to see, like I do, that self-deception happens, and at least see that an explanation is needed, and see that I’m offering one, and I need to offer it in the clearest and most effective way possible.  Or that Terry Warner offered one.  To him what we go against is more like our duty to our fellow man, and I think it’s an even more universal thing.  But to him it was living, too, and breathing, and dynamic, meaning it could adapt to any given situation.  At least I think he believes that. 

So first we notice self-deception.  You always start with the insight.  Every scientific theory does that first.  Next you try to explain it.  And if you’re a bad theorist you mix up your insight with your postulation and you put it all in one like it’s all the truth, and make it hard for people to decode.  Let’s try not to do that.  Let’s be as transparent as we can.  So like I said, next we try to explain it.  Why would someone deceive themselves?  (And try to deceive other people?)  To me with my religious background it seems obvious that the reason is to justify oneself for doing wrong.  That’s the only thing I can see.  Are there any other explanations, I mean possible explanations?  You’d have to come up with some other reason people can’t handle believing stuff.  Too hard, for some reason, maybe, but then why too hard?  I don’t know, this is unclear to me how you’d come up with another explanation.  The only one that makes sense to me is that a person is going against a higher knowledge and is justifying themselves.  Somebody come up with a better one.  Einstein offered his theory of gravity, and it’s the best one, and people still want to come up with something more complicated.  But science tells us to choose the least complicated one, and that’s his.  I’d say the same with this theory of self-deception.  Somebody come up with a better one, one that’s simpler and more elegant.  I don’t think you can.  But I don’t believe in continuing revelation, you say – I don’t believe in God.  Well nobody’s going to make you, but somehow I’d say we have to account for the fact that it seems that there is a right and wrong and we are bound by it.  That’s what it seems like, I say.  A “perceived” right and wrong, you say.  Well then why does everybody self-deceive, even people who supposedly don’t believe in such thing as a right and wrong? 

See, this gets so hard.  How do you talk to somebody about this?  Can I do better?

You establish that self-deception happens.  Start with the obvious cases, I guess.  Then go to the more subtle and make the case that it’s just all of us.

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