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" … defensiveness, too, eventually becomes an exclusively positive feedback loop,
an a priori universal necessity, StudiedCluelessness."

Maintaining some cluelessnesses requires focused study. Given the proliferation of contradictory information floating around, defending any perspective against discouraging intrusions seems an inevitably hopeless undertaking. We live and we learn. Learning unavoidably entails reconfiguring earlier convictions to construct ever fresher understandings, some of which might well later prove misguided. We live and learn just how full of shit we used to be. Some, though, seem relatively invulnerable to the vagaries of the learning cycle, sticking by earlier guns as if they represented inviolable truth in spite of the presence of heavy conflicting evidence.

If your livelihood depends upon swallowing bullshit, you'll likely swallow bullshit. You might not appreciate the mouthfeel, but you will be forgiven for at least pretending that you savor it.
You might well defend to the death your privilege to swallow as you please. Well-intended interveners will usually fail to enlighten you through your well-tended and heavily fortified defensive barrier. Everyone else might think you're under the influence of some insidious Kool-aid®, but you will very likely experience the deep satisfaction of righteousness only the true believer ever feels. I suspect that we're all that sort of true believer sometimes, in some areas. Few sensations even come close to matching the accompanying contentment that comes from knowing so many could be so wrong about you, this, itself, an insidious positive feedback loop. A certain smugness might ensue.

Some join cults or professional associations to defend against the intrusion of negative feedback, to maintain the pristine sanguinity of the satisfying positive feedback loop. Each such group maintains a story about themselves that pretty successfully sustains members' status as special, whether especially knowledgable, gifted, or privileged. Association with this story creates a thick candy shell around both members and group. To think otherwise becomes an act of heresy, treason, or at the very least, betrayal. Escape is no simple matter of changing one's mind, but entails a more or less wholesale reconfiguring of worldview and the loss of that free parking spot which so buoys your self esteem.

Political association can easily become identity, buttressed against any contradiction introduced by 'those others'. Once affiliated, maintaining the affiliation, come Hell or merely high water, becomes a matter of morality, a Thou Shalt imperative. It would say something terrible about your reliability, credibility, loyalty, and integrity if you were ever to defect. Privately, like at an Agile Programming conference, every member might confide that they maintain their membership even though they don't consider themselves to be True Believers. Publicly, they might display a disarming vehemence when defending the party line.

It's no small challenge to accept conflicting information into any belief system, particularly when your identity and livelihood depend upon being perceived as closely associating with that system. Many of us hide out about our authentic beliefs and become sneaky little shits around the subject of true feelings, more often choosing not to make any waves that might threaten to capsize anyone's boat, especially our own. Maintaining some myth concerning a reviled opposition might be necessary to filter out the most potentially undermining negative feedback. Simply considering the source, with a wry wrinkled frown, will prove adequate to deflect much of the most personally threatening. The defensiveness, too, eventually becomes an exclusively positive feedback loop, an a priori universal necessity, StudiedCluelessness. We all know Democrats are evil, Unbelievers are damned, and the freaking government's out to subjugate us all. Don't we?

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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