How to free yourself from mental slavery (pt 1)

Because:  None but ourselves can free our mind.

I think anyone reading this blog, like me,  has counterculture tendencies.

We are more accustomed  to bucking the trend than most.  BUT that does not mean it’s not hard.  Its challenging not getting sucked in sometimes.

There is a reason for this. Humans are wired to look to their peers to figure out how to behave. Throughout our evolution this has served us well, but at times it leads to pluralistic ignorance.

Pluralistic ignorance occurs when most members of a group privately reject a norm, but falsely assume that most others accept it.  Think about that for a second.

This can lead to serious catastrophe.

There was the famous 1964 Kitty Genovese murder in New York City, where 38 people observed her being attacked for more than 30 minutes and ultimately murdered, yet no one helped or even called the police?  Why?

Pluralistic Ignorance.

Hmm?  No one else is doing anything, so I guess I shouldn’t either.

After this case, social psychology tests to investigate the phenomena were performed.

Researchers staged an epileptic seizure in a public place.  When the seizure occurred with only one bystander the seizure victim received help 85% of the time.  BUT when there was a group of 5 or more people around, help was only offered 30% of the time!

So it seems the reason no one helped Kitty was exactly because there were so many people observing it.  Had there been fewer people there would have been a greater likelihood of her being helped.  That turns the whole safety in numbers concept on its head.

Another mind-blowing example can be found in the book  The Test of Courage by my friend Christopher Robbins.  It is the life story of Michel Thomas, and I highly recommend it.  Michel was a Jew in Europe during WWII and he talks about how the strange pressure to be like a cow and line up for the train going to Auschwitz was so compelling. Everyone else was doing it.  But he had to resist the pluralistic ignorance.  Read the book and you will definitely be inspired.

What about what is happening in the US right now?  Does everyone think, privately, that the system is screwed, but yet they go about their day as if everything were normal?  Why have no big bankers been attacked by a mob and beaten senseless in the street?  Don’t most people blame them for destroying our economy and making themselves rich in the process?

Why do we willingly submit to ever-increasing bureaucratic red tape and further erosion of our civil liberties?

Why do we stand by and watch our country turn into a police state without doing anything about it?

You guessed it…Pluralistic Ignorance.

So what do we do?  By shining a light on the fact that it is happening, I hope I can inspire you to make real changes and become more resilient.  Also by publicly sharing your beliefs and the preparations you are making you give others permission to do the same.

Secondly, just like your mama told you, look at who you spend time with.  It is easier to make changes if you hang with a crowd that is doing likewise.  Our tendency to be influenced by our peers can be beneficial if we choose to hang around with people going where we want to go.

In this regard, thanks for the internet.  Thanks for this blog.  It helps me to know there are other like-minded souls out there.

Please share your thoughts.  What changes are you making?




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