Psychological Fallacies

It is not easy being human. Despite the enraging nature of trying to survive as a member of a species that seems to specialize in self-destruction, we must on some level realize that it is baffling and frustrating to exist in this modern world.

Most people act out. They either do explicitly, by attacking what they perceive as the enemy, or covertly with the million acts of sabotage that are semi-normal now. Littering, vandalism, theft, graft, or just making a mess for others to clean up.

The human mind shuttles between order and disorder. When we have mental calm — no panic, lust, terror, rage, or depression — we can see the world as a sensible place, which makes us see most human decisions as insane, and sends us back to the other side frequently.

Much of our mental states resemble a spasm, a moment when the emotions overcome the need for stability, and we lash out to destroy. This animal rage shows all of the unpleasantness that we perceive in ourselves.

When we are in a state of mental order, we think logically; when we are not, we have reactions and then justify, excuse, validate, and rationalize them as being logical because they are happening to us from within our minds.

If you look out on the internet, you can find plenty of lists of “logical fallacies” which apply to argument, philosophy, and politics. However, relatively few have looked into ways that our minds deceive themselves.

Perhaps this short list will help:

  • Obstruction. The mind flings some difficulty in the path of the idea of action. While this is a disadvantage, truly, it has zero bearing on whether or not that action being contemplated achieves its goal. The mind simply distracts with the idea that doing anything is hard and therefore should be avoided.
  • Deflection. This category includes many mental gestures, most of which consist of saying “Well, what about this?” as a means of derailing thought. In reality, there are always many things to address, but bringing up others is a way the mind distracts. Worst of all is the “mission creep” that adds unrelated layers to any act, making it more difficult.
  • Lapse. Flaking out is part of the human condition. It can be justified many ways, the most powerful of which consists of injecting doubt, discussion, and confusion into the debate in order to sabotage it and fall back on the default, which is doing nothing.
  • Dissipation. This method consists of not an argument, but a method of blunting one, which is to start listing details before the end goal is articulated. This results in too many things to think about, and so energy evaporates, leaving the brain too tired to accomplish its goals.
  • Solipsism. People tend to argue from themselves, and this takes it to an extreme. If something needs doing, the neurotic brain asks, what is in it for the individual? How does this need affect your individual needs over the next pay period? The brain latches on to what is tangible, immediate, and personal, and ignores broader questions.

All of these consist of clever ways to avoid acting. The human brain confuses doing nothing with being stable, and so it opposes any action to interrupt inertia. This makes it hostile not to change but to action, which allows others to shoehorn in “change” of a negative nature.

Humanity has just begun to scratch the surface of self-discovery. As we go further, we see more how our minds act against us in order to defend the current state of our minds against any disruptions.

However, to some degree we need disruptions, so that we can shuttle between chaos and order, because only in achieving order do we know ourselves, and what we should do, even if it is inconvenient and filled with doubt.

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