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We are hard wired to BELIEVE whatever is stamped into our minds.

By sleepin'dawg ·
A few months back I argued the case for value investment and asset protection.
I referenced scientific studies that didn't support technical analysis
or market timing. Some people strongly objected to my conclusions, but
nobody addressed the question of my evidence.

Similarly, over the years I've written and spoken extensively about
individual liberty, and found myself puzzled when I couldn't
convert followers of socialism, communism, or any other forms
of big government to the principles of individual freedom and personal responsibility.
Once again, all this, in spite of historical evidence.

I've puzzled over this phenomenon throughout my life.
Arguments for a free-market fail to sway those who believe in
government intervention. Evidence for Darwinian evolution
fails to convince believers in religion. And studies showing
the random nature of price movements fail to sway believers in
technical analysis.

It seems that evolution has endowed us all with wiring that
demands we support whatever beliefs that have been "stamped"
into our brains. This has been demonstrated by a recent
research study at Emory University in Atlanta, a study that
has potentially wide implications, from politics to religion
to investments.

The investigators used functional magnetic-resonance imaging
(fMRI) to study a group of committed Democrats and Republicans
during the three months prior to the last U.S. Presidential
election. The Democrats and Republicans were asked to evaluate
threatening information about their own candidate while
undergoing fMRI to see which parts of their brains were

As reported by Emory, "...the partisans were given 18 sets of
stimuli, six each regarding President George W. Bush, his
challenger, Senator John Kerry, and politically neutral male
control figures such as actor Tom Hanks. For each set of
stimuli, partisans first read a statement from the target
(Bush or Kerry), followed by a second statement that
documented a clear contradiction between the target's words
and deeds, generally suggesting that the candidate was
dishonest or pandering. Next, partisans were asked to consider
the discrepancy, and then to rate the extent to which the
person's words and deeds were contradictory."

Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory who led
the study, said: "We did not see any increased activation of
the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning, What
we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up,
including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating
emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving

In other words, in most cases, no amount of logic interferes
with our strongly-held beliefs. The brain automatically
rationalizes discrepancies in facts to support our beliefs.
Evidence that contradicts our beliefs fails to reach the
dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most
associated with reasoning (as well as conscious efforts to
suppress emotion). The finding suggests that the
emotion-driven processes that lead to biased judgments occur
outside of conscious awareness.

Do you and I succumb to emotionally-biased judgments when we
have a vested interest in supporting our beliefs? Only when we
find ourselves resisting the evidence. Success in life tends
to be proportional to our willingness to examine the evidence.

H. L. Mencken observed: "The most common of all follies is to
believe passionately in the palpably not true." Beliefs, at
least false beliefs, are an impediment to us all.

Or, as Mark Twain put it, "It ain't what you don't know that
gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

As well, Sportin' Life in Porgy and Bess put it, "It ain't necessarily so........"

Dawg ]:)

Edited for spelling and punctuation errors

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It is not the strongest that survive

by mjwx In reply to [i]We are hard wired to [ ...

But those most responsive to change and in so doing are those most able to change.

First of all Dawg, the tests performed on the politicians are flawed. you're asking them to think reasonably and honestly, two traits which don't belong to any polly. :)

In my experience one can only accept new ideas when ones beliefs allows them to. Belief seems to be the greatest motivation once our primary needs are taken care of (food, water, shelter, sex and yes reproduction is one of our most basic needs) after this we need something to concentrate on, and so we developed concepts such as civilization, government and religion.

I believe as Winston Churchill did "democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others we have tried." and I feel pretty much the same way about free market. Now this is not to say I am against democracy and free market, I see them as the highest step on the civilization staircase. I am trying as hard as I can to put my foot on the next step up. History has proven time and time again that no system stays in place for ever, all things must change and I do not fear that change.

Now some people fear change and some people want to go in the other direction. I do not understand why people would not want to advance, but then I remember that not all people believe as I do. I hope that the majority can see reason. the problem lies in the definition of that reason. take a thorn we have over here (I don't classify him as a problem only an anoyance) an Indonesian cleric named Abu Baku Bashir. He was jailed for praising the Bali Bombers 3 years ago and recently released. Upon his release he said to the press that John Howard should convert to Islam to be saved an eternity in **** blah blah blah . I was somewhat in sensed at this until I realized that he was merely a troll and once ignored he would simply disappear from the face of the earth (literally, the place he lives is not easy to get to).

It is people like this who I view as wrong but then again to Bashir I (and most of you here) would make quiet the infidel ]:) (I like that idea). This is the crux of the problem everyone sees right and wrong differently and who is to say which way is right and which is wrong, wars have been fought over this since time immoral, we were fighting each other because of our differences since before we could write. Throughout history we have refined the concept, religion, race, territory, resources, slavery, democracy/communism. In each of the conflicts no matter how long or short the it was not always the strongest or most dedicated side that won out. It was the side who was best able to handle a catastrophic change.

The Ancient Greeks had superior tactics that won against superior numbers (Persians). The Nazi's has superior tactics and technology that lost to superior production and numbers.

I have subscribed to the red queen theory of evolution. In Alice of wonderland the red queen tells Alice she has to run as fast as she can just to stay where she is. the is the same with species on an evolutionary scale, species must run as fast as they can just to stay where they are. If they cant then they go over the precipice of extinction. then how does one run faster? well as we've figured out stronger is not the answer. then how else does one get faster, we learn to run smarter, change to become more streamlined and loose what weighs us down and restricts out movements. I believe (theres that word again) this is the only way for the human species. Forgive me for being melodramatic but the days of the ****-sapiens race are numbered, the only way to survive is to evolve. the next evolution of the species ****-deus(the godly men). the next evolution IMO will be one where we are our own masters, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Do you and I succumb to emotional based judgements. Well of course we do, emotions are part of the core of our being. emotions play a part in everything we do. what would happen if we had no emotional persuasions. Emotions can generate both good and bad actions. It is generally the mark of a civilized person to lean towards the right emotional decisions. you (Dawg) and I believe in free speech, free market (although differing views on some aspects), A say in our governance and free religion (or at least I do, I don't know where you sit on this topic). this is because these are the thing we feel most comfortable in and generate the most empathy for us. we are emotionally biased towards these things (probably because thats how we lived our lives up until this point). others who did not grow up in surroundings like ours do not share all or any of our view's and dare I say it passions for freedom. We humans are quiet simply emotional creatures, I believe in understanding my emotions (as in why do i feel sad/happy/guilty, finding the cause to each).

The worst mistake we can make is to believe that we are right beyond doubt.

<edit: spelling mistakes, there are probably a few still in there>

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I agree with a lot you said except for one discrepancy.

by sleepin'dawg In reply to It is not the strongest t ...

The testing wasn't done on politicians. It was done on ordinary people, who just happen to express support for a party. Unlike Canada, Britain or Australia, when US citizens register to vote, they have to declare, one way or the other, their support for a particular party, the main choices being Republican, Democrat or say that they are independent. I just recently found out the ramifications of this, because the Americans conduct a little process, before every presidential election wherein they participate in something called the PrimarIes. These are like mini versions of the main election, but only the various candidates for the office, in each party get to run in them. these are not conducted against the candidates of the other partiies but strictly between the candidates of the party a person is registered for. Thus, you have Democratic Primaries and you have Republican Primaries. You are supposedly only capable of voting in the primary of the party you are registered for and independent get no official Primary to vote in. Am I being clear enough here?
After reading this I'm not too sure but maybe an American can correct any errors I may have made. I'm not too sure but I think you can change your party of registration but again but again, I'm not sure. I only know you can vote in the Primary of the party you are registered for.

Anyway, from what I can see, this was the process that determined the selection of the candidates for testing. These people were not politicians, just people of the parties they were registered to vote for. Maybe they should have included a section for independents but they didn't. I imagine because of each fMRI test being conducted is quite expensive and they were doing several of them over the course of the study, several times on each subject.

to study a group of committed Democrats and Republicans
during the three months prior to the last U.S. Presidential
election. The Democrats and Republicans were asked to evaluate
threatening information about their own candidate while
undergoing fMRI to see which parts of their brains were

Your points are still valid but the tests were not done with real live politicians, if such a thing exists.

Dawg ]:)

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One thing you said

by maxwell edison In reply to It is not the strongest t ...

You said, "The worst mistake we can make is to believe that we are right beyond doubt."

Do you believe that comment to be true beyond all doubt?

If your answer is yes, then you just contradicted yourself. If your answer is no, then the comment is not true.

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Damn it Max, you had me reading and rereading my own stuff before..........

by sleepin'dawg In reply to One thing you said

Talk about being conceited. I finally woke up to the idea that you might not be addressing me. I was positive I hadn't said anything like that but if you said I had, I just had to find it. Doh! :^0

Dawg ]:)

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the comment is only absoulte

by mjwx In reply to One thing you said

if you beleive only in absolutes. Untill then it is an opinion. A quote if you will.

The comment "the worst mistake we can make is to believe that we are right beyond all doubt' is not a statement of absolute truth but a guide, something to live by but not to dominate your every move.

What it means is that there are no absolute truths. You can be 99% certain but there is always 1% of uncertainty. The comment should be taken in that light. So not believing 100% to the letter is actually what I meant by the comment, allowing your doubts and the doubts of others to construct upon ideas.

Unless of course max you are stirring me up in which case, good show.

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I think the quote implies...

by DMambo In reply to the comment is only absou ...

that we have a tendency to continue to hold our beliefs even in light of contradictory facts, which supports Dawg's initial post. It's a case of "I'll see it when I believe it." It's difficult to wrap our heads around the facts until we understand that we have to question what we've "learned" in the past.

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Belief in the face of the evidence

by keithc In reply to I think the quote implies ...

The US Navy did some experiments on this many years ago. In a simulation, shi captains continued to believe earlier information long after new stuff should have supplanted it. In aviation, this often leads to what is called a "controlled flight into the ground".

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I'll see it when I believe it

by maxwell edison In reply to I think the quote implies ...

I use that line quite often. In the context of a person achieving great things and overcoming personal obstacles, many people take an "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude. That's backwards, however, because they'll actually see it when they believe it.

I get the feeling that people are taking this discussion in different directions. There's a difference in "believing" the house is brick, when it really has wood siding (which is a analogy that might apply to some of the comments made here), and "believing" that you can own that big brick house if a person applies himself and "believes" in himself (which is the analogy that can be used in my context).

"I'll see it when I believe it" is a great sentiment to bear in mind to help a person achieve lofty goals. An "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude, on the other hand, becomes an obstacle in and of itself.

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Excellent point

by DMambo In reply to I'll see it when I believ ...

I usually think of "I'll believe it when I see it" externally. For instance, that I need to show other people results for implementing a managerial change before they'll line up to support it. You've painted it with a much broader brush; that I need to think of "see" as a vision rather than simple understanding. Thanks!

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Both apply to different types of things

by maxwell edison In reply to Excellent point

Man-Caused Global Warming: I'll believe it when I really see it.

Pigs Can Fly: I'll believe it when I really see it.

My Next Lofty Goal: I'll see it when I really believe it.

Taking Self-Responsibility: I'll see it when I really believe it.

Maybe it's the tangible-intangible thing. One person might be arguing from one perspective, while another person is arguing from the other. It's no wonder they can't agree and/or see each other's point.

And another thing, now that I'm going off on tangents, I've been accused (by others) of being both rigid and inflexible AND waffling and being inconsistent. Both used the other as the preferred way (although worded a bit differently, I suppose). Why is it that when a person is simply grounded in principle, and is unwavering in that principle, he's closed-minded? But when a person isn't, he lacks conviction? People argue, and will use either retort, to justify their desired conclusion. And I think a lot of people are really afraid to take a definite stand on some issues, so they have to offer some silly and profound-sounding wiggle words. My guess is that they just can't take the criticism that will undoubtedly follow when one stands up for one's principles.

One of my core principles: People, if physically and mentally able, are responsible for their own lives, and are responsible to not be a burden on the lives of others. And if I give myself enough credit for having the ability to take self-responsibility, how could I possibly suggest that another person doesn't? I just can't look a person in the eye and tell him, to his face, that he doesn't have what it takes to accept self-responsibility. And if I can't tell him to his face, how could I justify telling him by proxy? I could "reexamine" that until I'm blue in the face, and it'll never change. So there comes a point in time when you just quit reexamining some things, live life accordingly, and just let the chips fall where they may.

P.S. This has been some good dialogue, by the way. Better than the one who (might have) suggested my life was not worth living because I don't reexamine every aspect of my life. (And who's to say that just because I don't reexamine ALL aspects of my life ALL the time, I don't reexamine some of it some of the time?) Oh well, in the words of President Lincoln, you can't please all the people all of the time.

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