ehowton (ehowton) wrote,


You know, not everybody like onions. What about cake? Everybody loves cake! - Donkey

In the year 1526 English playwrite John Heywood (of Rome wasn't built in a day fame) stated, "wolde you bothe eate your cake, and have your cake?" spawning the Opportunity Cost concept; the sacrifice related to the second best choice available to someone who has picked among several mutually exclusive choices.

While I don't outright object to commonly perceived mutual exclusion, I do understand that oftentimes it is simply a matter of looking at something in a different light - shifting our paradigms - questioning societal norms. In doing so, many things are possible, even things in which we thought were not. After all, having one's cake and eating it too is a universal pursuit of happiness. I have a feeling that those who utter it in an unflattering light disregard the mechanics behind its intended functionality - or worse, inability to dynamically adjust their perspective.

In critical thinking, there is no virtue in rigid adherence to a position that is not supported by evidence.*

Interesting use of the word virtue; moral excellence, which we know is based upon values - that very fluid derivative of our ever-changing worldview when we reevaluate our beliefs based upon new information. And for those of us who have reached post-conventional values, who autonomously comprehend universal rules which are rational and logical - we do automatically reject "rigid adherence" as a lifestyle choice.

Why? Its simple, really: More options. Options like both having your cake, and eating it too. Micro-Hare Krishna aka "Spoonboy" from The Matrix knew the truth, which can be practically applied in our everyday lives with simple change in perspective that wholly applies in everything:

Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead...only try to realize the truth. There is no spoon. Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

In the above example, "bending oneself" not only allows for more options, it saves us from ourselves when we run across information which my run contrary to our beliefs. In that scenario there are really only two conclusions - either the new information is incorrect, or our beliefs are. While its far easier to discount the new information than it is our beliefs, we run the risk of living in ignorance - entirely acceptable to some people (I'm just gonna believe what I believe), but not to others. How then to reconcile the two?

I used to be rather close-minded. drax0r spent a long time gently goading me into questioning my own closely-held ideals. Not to get me to agree with him, but in order for me to understand why he believed what he did, and get me to understand why I believed what I did through analyzing, conceptualizing, defining, examining, inferring, listening, questioning, reasoning & synthesizing. The largest hurdle for me to tackle at the time was the idea that just because a majority of people believed it, didn't make it any more realistic. Think about that for a moment - could all those people be...wrong?

And yet if the "majority" of people are just going to believe what they believe without applying critical thinking skills to it (and questioning their own beliefs), then yes. In fact, I know so few people who question their own beliefs, that the assertion that my ideas are ridiculous because no one else thinks that way proves my very point. What the "majority" of people think is not evidence against my argument - its damn near proof. When I was a lad in shortpants my mother used to ask me, "If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do it to?" Can anyone here explain what she was trying to illustrate? If the only reason you believe something is because everyone else does...You may as well jump off a bridge.

Because of our inborn tendency to conform to what others think, we cannot assume that agreement leads to truth without knowledge about the manner and condition under which the agreement was arrived. As with other errors in our thinking, we need to develop strategies to recognize and compensate for our human inclination to conform to groupthink.*

Recently, a tendency-toward-depression friend (who unsurprisingly also suffers from black and white thinking) posted something rife with cognitive distortion overgeneralizations. The counterproductive thing about explaining self-fulfilling prophecies to people who perpetuate them is that they don't believe you. Had they the critical thinking skills to connect the dots in the first place, well...suffice it to say they wouldn't suffer from self-fulling prophecies. Again, from the THINK texbook:

People who are depressed may cling to the irrational belief that the only alternative to not having perfect control is having no control. Because they feel they lack any control over their lives, they tend to attribute their misfortune or sadness to other people's actions. A side effect of this negative behavior is that their behavior often alienates other people, thereby confirming a second irrational belief common to depressed people that they are worthless and unlikable. Thus, their distorted expectations lead to a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Be more like spoon-boy.

As for me? I'm going to eat cake.

Tags: cake, psychology, societal norms

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