Log in

No account? Create an account

Resting Comfortably at the Bottom of the Comprehension Pyramid

Posted on 2013.09.04 at 00:00
Current Location: 67114
Tags: , ,

I had been thinking about the long-suffering fiancé in Orange is the new Black when I ran across a quote by Stephen Hawking the other day which read, “I have noticed that even those who assert that everything is predestined and that we can change nothing about it still look both ways before they cross the street.” As I thought about the brilliance behind his observation, and only because I had been thinking about the long-suffering fiancé in Orange is the new Black, it also reminded me of Tim Minchin when he sang, “I'm not undervaluing what we've got when I say that given the role chaos inevitably plays in the inherently flawed notion of "fate," it's obtuse to deduce that I've found my soulmate at the age of seventeen. It's just mathematically unlikely that at a university in Perth, I happened to stumble on the one girl on Earth specifically designed for me.” Fate, as a line of thought however, was not foremost in my mind at the time. In fact it wasn't even running parallel though I admit to being amused when it forked that direction. No, specifically I was thinking about the long-suffering fiancé in Orange is the new Black when he made his astonishingly ignorant statement,

“...suppose, theoretically, that someone she loved was [incarcerated] with her, someone she had history with; someone who could understand her life in there in a way that I'll never be able to. It would be devastating to think that that person could give her something that I can't. It would be a betrayal.”

As I toyed with different ways of introducing the entire concept as ignorance without actually using the word "ignorant" (I've known people to get easily offended at that term being directed at them) and double-checking that I wasn't simply disagreeing with his statement as a matter of opinion, I was further mired by own experiences in which I would state something factual about myself which was argued with; "If I could, I would eat Mexican food for every meal."
"No you wouldn't."
"I prefer vanilla ice cream."
"No you don't."
"I think our values ought to change in support of new evidence which invalidates our old beliefs."
"No one thinks that way."

Apparently, I've discovered some people find the line between fact and opinion rather blurry...

I suppose believing something along the lines of `immunizations cause autism` despite the overwhelming body of evidence to the contrary could be considered a difference of opinion rather than ignorance - then again when one is disputing a mountain of proof with the counter-argument, "Nuh-uh" its hard to vote in favor of opinion. (There are those who are unaware an "argument" is NOT a request for battle, so tread carefully). But when I outline my own beliefs, goals, likes and dislikes - where they originated and how they've mutated over a period of time - and someone disagrees with that? Just to be clear, that's not opinion. Its opinion's monotheistic homophobic cousin. To be kind, we'll call him, Ig. That way, people won't react emotionally to a word which means something completely different than they think it means, which is, incidentally, also detailed in Ig's broad coverage policy. While I'm tickled when something someone doesn't understand means, "something someone doesn't understand," I haven't yet found a good way to explain how counter-productive it is to negatively react to something not yet understood. I've tried using the word, "ignorant" to explain the phenomenon, which was, given the nature of the issue, itself counter-productive. See what I have to deal with? But this is getting ridiculous, even by my standards.

To get back on topic, I was running through some possible titles after the first couple of paragraphs, frustrated that it was so difficult to conceptualize stupidity for other's digestion, and thought it humorous to incorporate one of my favorite illustrations, the hierarchical pyramid! So let it be written, so let it be done. Behold! In glad adoration, THE COMPREHENSION PYRAMID (which was a first-draft blending of the pyramids of argument, denial, and bloom's taxonomy). What I particularly enjoy about authoring my own is its clear, unequivocal demarcations. While many of us may believe we've transcended lower levels of similar pyramids based upon ambiguous definitions or a subjective rating system (and a healthy dose of self-deception), its pretty hard to run from this one. I myself continue to reach for the brass ring of pure evaluation without actually ever reaching it. I know people who can rebut flawlessly, but do not count myself among them. Sadly, I also know the trolls which haunt the bottom three echelons, most of whom believe they sit atop it.

Which brings up another wonderful point - what I think I am. People tell me all the time I think I am always right. I readily admit that nothing could be further from the truth - I beg and seek holes in my own theories and logic to discover ways to strengthen them. It would be stupid to come up with a theory based on a feeling or a possibly misinterpreted action then relentlessly bind oneself to it without further input. So yeah, I always assume I'm wrong. Yet someone is always right there to argue the point with me - to tell me what I think. Has anyone picked up on the irony of that yet?

Currently, the only way I know to deduce what someone thinks is through their behavior - and I've uncovered some fascinating (and by fascinating I mean completely antithetical to reason) beliefs. Once intent is gleaned (usually greed or fear though outside myself and a handful of emotionally mature people, I haven't met anyone who readily cops to those) a fairly high-resolution picture emerges. Some would argue irrefutable.

At any rate, in this graphic, I can at least say to those who embrace Ig as a hard-nosed and inflexible belief system, that I think I comprehend more than they do, as I point to the very clear and unambiguous levels, for even astonishingly non-thinking people cannot misunderstand that stating, "Nuh-uh" differs greatly from, "Presents supportive contradictions with reason and evidence."

Anyway, all this inherent frustration on both sides (people who believe logic is akin to witchcraft admittedly frustrates me) got me to reevaluate the way I looked at the long-suffering boyfriend's statement. Thinking back to Kathryn Schulz's TED TALK, "On Being Wrong" reminded me of the attachment to our own rightness. First we think someone is ignorant, then we think they're stupid, then we think they're evil. If the long-suffering boyfriend feels devastating betrayal because of some superlatively unrealistic shit, then I would have to defer to ignorance being his sin. Perhaps his experiences have differed so wildly from my own that even while bantering with his buddies, getting advice from his parents, hitting on the bartender, or having philosophical conversations with the NPR radio host, he's never considered the astronomical improbability that a person should get all their needs met all the time from just one other person. (See how I just did that?)

And that's just ignorance. Stupidity and malevolence are far worse, and though it scares me to admit it, probably just as prevalent. While I love and embrace Kathryn Schulz's idea behind the deathgrip many of us seem to have on our own myopic opinions, she only had it half right; some people are stupid. Some people are out for their own self-interests no matter the cost. They are all resting comfortably at the bottom of the comprehension pyramid.


michelle1963 at 2013-09-08 21:02 (UTC) (Link)
"When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers."

ehowton at 2014-08-03 04:11 (UTC) (Link)
Or, as Bill and Ted called him, "Sew Crates."
Jenni Reid
Jenni Reid at 2018-06-28 13:06 (UTC) (Link)
I concur. Every single word of it, and I love your writing style. It is very frustrating being trapped in a world of the bottom of the pyramid dwellers when you find there is no way to assist them in reaching higher levels, where the debate would begin to mean something. I seek out people who will take a go at the top levels because I would love to have the information that leads people to their side of the arguement, so I can weigh the facts and apply my own discernment completely ig-free, and that is assuming that the people calling me an ass-hat have derived their stance from their more knowledgable influences, who sit at the top somewhere, but I have yet to find where, ammidst an endless sea of bottom-dwellers. I would really find it refreshing if someone's main arguement was for once NOT telling me how I feel after I have clearly stated the opposite. I have started to wonder if it is not a conspiracy of some sort to drive intellegent people mad, and thus giving the 3rd or second tier the highest seat, and eliminate the threat they feel from us, because of the amount of arguements I find myself involved in recently where I won't stop trying to clearly and with supporting evidence explain what I see as logic very certainly, and in return I get "you have just made a fool of yourself here," or "you need to educate yourself." REALLY? But clearly you are not the one to give me the knowledge you claim I lack. Uh-huh. No why, no rebutal, as I desperately reach for the tiniest sliver of a sign that I am amoungst intellegent life forms, who just have had differing exposure to media and other informative sources, and yet again, come up empty handed, forced to look elsewhere for such comfort. But I read this blog, and my brain let out a sigh of relief. My experience with men, in regards to your Orange is the New Black quote from old boy there, is that his statement is less ig, and more of a birth defect that is part of the male geniology, when even if they can't comprehend it, or notice the incredible double-standard, they want to own their woman, out of insecurties they have about losing her to an upgrade, which is a projection in reality, because they know that if presented with the possibilty, that they themselves would take the upgrade, and not that her loyalty was ever in question or her love for him, he will MAKE it that way by projecting his own loyalty and love ideals onto her. I realize I may have just added way to much detail to something you already implied, but I guess I just felt comfortable enough knowing I won't be called any names in response😅. I am sure there are men out there that having that birth defect means they will trust their woman because they believe in their own love for their mate, but from my experience, any efforts to explain to a man with words or actions your undying love and loyalty are all counterintuitive, because it is not about their knowledge of YOUR trustworthiness, it will always be about their knowledge of their own trustworthiness. Like they are unable to separate the two. (I also have found that I rush into relationships with men who are on the lower 2 levels, with no intention to elevate, so my experience may be somewhat limited in scope.)

Edited at 2018-06-28 01:06 pm (UTC)
ehowton at 2018-06-29 00:45 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! And you're too kind, really. Looking back my analysis smacks of hubris, though admittedly armchair politicians on both side seem especially prone to a distinct inarticulacy during these curious times - moreso on Facebook than say, Twitter (where blessedly the overzealous are limited in their character count). Alas, these five years later and I still struggle with advocating my "synthesis" especially since increasingly FACTS are so readily disbelieved these days, falling victim to "deeply held beliefs" which seemingly belie any semblance of logic whatsoever, yet touted as the new intellectualism.

You sound like a woman out of her time; perhaps already self-actualized - seeking the thrill of that pure interaction. I found it intoxicating myself. Until I got out of my own head and once again tasted the world. Surely there are pros and cons to doing so. But I loved your inclusion of projection! And what a brilliant conclusion with the dreaded self-fulfilling prophesy - OF COURSE that's exactly where that will come to a grinding halt - and she'll be all to blame because everything he said would happen, would happen.

Incidentally, do you know why you rush into relationships with men who are on the lower two echelons? Availability? Convenience? Maintaining authority? If not, perhaps you could assemble a simple litmus test? For example, when I was dating online my profile was something akin to what you wrote above, and then basically dared anyone to engage me. Elegant only in its outcome I suppose, as it worked beautifully in my favor :)

I'm Eric BTW, nice to meet you and THANKS FOR COMMENTING!

Edited at 2018-06-29 01:14 am (UTC)
(Anonymous) at 2018-06-29 01:11 (UTC) (Link)

Once known as michelle1963

You remind me of me. Until I met Eric, the writer of this blog, I felt perpetually alone. But it takes only meeting that one, having that one example, until you can better hone in on what to look for.

I understand your frustration with men. I would offer these caveats:

1. When you find one who is self-secureand logical, it is like finding buried treasure. Completely worth the time and effort. Granted, it takes A LOT of effort, but they do exist.
2. Some parts of the USA make a really shitty hunting ground. (Like the Midwest for example.)
3. I think it is rarer in young men than older men.

That said, have fun while you search. I was seeing 3 men at one time (openly and honestly), until I found the brilliant mind who would later become my husband - on Facebook, 1500 miles away.
Previous Entry  Next Entry