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Pushing the lever

Yesterday, I posted a link that I received from a blue faction friend of mine to a forum frequented by a high percentage of red faction boosters. Based on past experience, I expected red faction boosters to invoke the "conspiracy theory" rule and, satisfied that they had shelved the item at hand in the same catagory with tinfoil headgear and Elvis working at 7-11, move on, savoring the feeling of a job well done. This automatic "catagorize and dismiss" strategy contributes nothing of value to the body of articulated thought on any given topic, and hoping to minimize the incidence of it, or at least stigmatize those who employed it, I ended my post with the following:
I'd like to read to responses to this that do not make us of the words "liberal" or "conspiracy." Use of these words or synonyms therefore in this context indicate negligible cognitive function.

Snarky? Sure.

Intended to provoke? I make no denial.

To their credit, many people who found considerable flaw with the item on offer did make the effort to communicate their reasons for dismissing the item without making use of the forbidden words.

Other people, perhaps to demonstrate my lack of power over them, posted exactly the kind of knee-jerk derision from which I challenged them to abstain. Fine. I expected a certain amount of that.

One person, though, not only posted his knee-jerk response, but later attempted to justify his having done so by asserting that the item at hand deserved nothing more than knee-jerk derision. To this, I wrote:
I'm not selling this particular conspiracy theory.

I'm trying to bring to awareness the brain short-circuit that occurs whenever the word "conspiracy" occurs in social discourse.

The nerve impulse that triggers a knee-jerk reaction does not require the involvement of the thinking part of the brain. To say that any argument doesn't require any thought to evaluate is a very different thing than saying that after minimal consideration one has dismissed the argument as hopelessly inconsistent with known facts. If the argument is really bad, then minimal thought will suffice, but to say that a reaction that bypasses the centers of critical judgment altogether will suffice means that one has decided to just let the socially-conditioned response mechanism play out in one's brain unchecked.

Hey, it's your brain. Knock yourself out. If you get a buzz from letting that process play out in your nervous system, push the lever. Push it all day long if that's your thing.

One can certainly survive operating in that mode, but I'm not all that interested in the output of such a process. Thus my statement that I was looking for responses that did involve the use of the thinking parts of the brain. I can hardly stop people from posting from the hip, and I'm certainly not going to spend my time and energy deleting all the knee-jerk responses I get Thus, I put the reader on advance notice, I take no interest in such responses.

Will this reduce the incidence of "conspiracy theory" classify-and-dismiss behavior in the future? Maybe, but I have little reason to think that it will. Does my "go ahead and push the lever" response amount to nothing more than me pushing my own feel good lever? I wouldn't argue that my writing it did not involve some measure of self-administered reward, but I do not admit that it amounts to nothing more than that.

I think it needed saying.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 6th, 2004 03:38 pm (UTC)
Mani has just started using his LJ, and I suggested you, along with a couple of other people, as good folks to add. He's owlsdragon.

I like the way you think, chante.
Dec. 6th, 2004 11:23 pm (UTC)
Deep tinfoil hat stuff
It has often been said in "Conspiracy Theory" circles that there is undeniably ONE great operation that all the others use:

"The Conspiracy"

What, may you ask, is "The Conspiracy"?

Why, it is nothing more than to attack and degrade people who dare use that word, or use language that can be interpeted as using that word. To use the stereotype of "Conspiracy Theorist" as if it implies the subject mentioned "Tinfoil Hat" channeling aliens.

"As if-!" some skeptics in the more fringe stuff might say, thinking such believers need no opressors to make them look looney.
Perhaps, but consider;

How in the world is this:

"I think these phone companies are fixing rates. Look at the 'share plan' on Verbosity's calling rate and compare it to the 'fun minutes' plan on Planet Link. Overall, the average person gets charged exactly the same and the hidden charges almost double the advertized rates-"


Congressman Kay Rupt voted to block EPA regulation of Pollutrex Industries, is it any suprise considering he got 90% of his campaign money from them!?

In the same ballpark as this:

"Now, don't think I'm like crazy but I think there are Martians spying on us. They live in underground caves on mars and send robots to spy on us. The robots are disguised as animals but when you cut them open they send radio waves that make you think you see blood-
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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