Self Righteous Hypocrisy as Entertainment

The particular spiritual (or political, or sports, or artistic, or ...) flavor a person 'chooses' reflects an underlying personal need. The 'flavor' we are drawn to is a symptom of what we feel we need to find balance. So, what really pulls a person to the Taoist '[chref=1]these two are the same[/chref]'; '[chref=2]Something and Nothing produce each other[/chref]'; '[chref=56]mysterious sameness[/chref]'; point of view? This book, "A Mind of its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives", offers insight.

If we realize that 'the brain distorts and deceives', we are left with less of what turns out to be a protective 'self-delusion' (see below). What are we to do when this 'protection' wanes? The Taoist point of view puts 'cold hard reality' into a larger, more [chref=15]minutely subtle, mysteriously comprehending[/chref] context which helps us cope.

Thus, simply said, we are Taoists because we need to be. Science comforts by corroborating our 'cold hard view'. We are not crazy after all. Ironically in fact, we are less delusional than most. Thus, I always enjoy hearing about scientific research that backs up the Taoist point of view, as most all of it does, whether it be quantum physics, biology, ecology, etc.

THE BOOK =========================

A Mind of its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives
by Cordelia Fine, a research associate in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the Australian National University.

Book Description
A delightfully unsparing look into what your brain is doing behind your back.

In recent years, we've heard a lot about the extraordinary workings of our hundred-billion-celled brain: its amazing capacities to regulate all sensation, perception, thinking, and feeling; the power to shape all experience and define our identity. Indeed, the brain's power is being confirmed every day in new studies and research. But there is a brain we don't generally hear about, a brain we might not want to hear about?the "prima donna within."

Exposing the mind's deceptions and exploring how the mind defends and glorifies the ego, Dr. Cordelia Fine illustrates the brain's tendency to self-delusion. Whether it be hindsight bias, wishful thinking, unrealistic optimism, or moral excuse-making, each of us has a slew of inborn mind-bugs and ordinary prejudices that prevent us from seeing the truth about the world and ourselves. With fascinating studies to support her arguments, Dr. Fine takes us on an insightful, rip-roaring funny tour through the brain you never knew you had.

Review From Publishers Weekly
Vain, immoral, bigoted: this is your brain in action, according to Fine, a research associate at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at Australian National University. Fine documents a wealth of surprising information about the brain in this readable account that adopts a good-humored tone about the brain's failings without underestimating the damage they do. The brain, she shows, distorts reality in order to save us from the ego-destroying effects of failure and pessimism. For example, an optimist who fails at something edits the truth by blaming others for the failure and then takes complete credit for any successes. The brain also routinely disapproves of other people's behavior (how could he do that?), while at the same time interpreting one's own actions in the best possible light (I would never do that!). The brain also projects stereotypes onto others that reflect prejudicial beliefs rather than objective reality. Despite the firm hold these distortions have on our brains, Fine is not a pessimist. The path to overcoming stereotypes and other distortions of the brain, she says, may be gained through self-awareness and knowledge provided by experimental psychology, a field that explores and exposes unconscious mental influences. (July)
Copyright ? Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review From Booklist
Positive self-esteem, whether about one's morality, rationality, altruism, emotional maturity, or tolerance, takes a drubbing in this book. It's an unsettlingly entertaining tour of experimental psychology, which diabolically puts normality to the test. One result ripped empathy to shreds: in a 1963 obedience experiment learned by psychology students, Stanley Milgram showed how to turn anyone into a torturer. Built around discussions of particular experiments, Fine's account illustrates the clinical with personal anecdotes featuring her two-year-old boy. The kid's adamant sense of right and wrong, emotional volatility, and meanness represent every person's "terrible toddler within." Fine describes negative human traits and perceptively reflects on the brain's subconscious thoughts, which can produce pernicious habits such as blaming victims. In various ways, Fine writes, the brain is protecting the self from threats to its self--exaltation, defending against the capriciousness of the world (hence the sense of justice) or disbelief (hence traits of stubbornness and irrationality). An edifying exploration, wryly and ruefully expressed. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright ? American Library Association. All rights reserved


  • edited December 1969
    We can see hypocrisy everywhere so there is no letting up in the fun we can have. We'll even find a smidgen in ourselves if we look in the self honesty mirror. So how's that entertainment? It isn't all that entertaining if we are only aware of other people's hypocrisy. So besides entertainment, this also offers a useful tool for self understanding. If 'they' are the 'problem', then all we will feel is anger, frustration, and perhaps even disgust. Entertainment value increases as we come to see 'we' are the 'problem'. I imagine the humor we feel is related to simple physical humor, e.g., like slipping on a banana peel. We realize 'we' are slipping on the peel and humor is the emotional release we feel.

    Self righteous hypocrisy (is there any other kind?) is all pervasive. It is rooted in desire - need. But all animals feel [chref=1]desire[/chref] for what they need to survive, e.g., all animals desire food. Without desire animals would die. If desire drives all animals, why are only the human ones hypocritical? Our big ol' brain! It creates the [chref=19]thought of self[/chref] - the 'greatest illusion'. Our brain then enables us to rationalize our own self desires as justified, while at the same time judging (rationalizing) other people's selfish desires as unjustified - especially if 'their' selfish ones interfere with 'my' justifiable ones. So what? Why is living a double standard a problem? After all, everybody does it!

    Well, like they say, ignorance is bliss. We never really face our own hypocrisy, so we remain ignorant of it. But, does that ignorance really enhance our sense of bliss? Ignorance and a lack of awareness are two peas in a pod. Isn't the cornerstone of life awareness? Without awareness we're dead. So, death is bliss? Well, I suppose it is, at least from a correlations' point of view . (For more on ignorance and bliss see Caring Not To Care .)

    For those of us who would rather be more aware - less [chref=16]ignorant[/chref], all we need to do is avoid hypocrisy. Avoiding hypocrisy is easy, and makes life more peaceful. Best of all, we don't need to give up our desires either. All we need do is just stop rationalizing them - thinking, judging, blaming and just live and let live. It is as easy as pie; just be self honest. We only need to see that it is 'we', not 'me', or 'I', or 'them'. MMmmm... maybe it isn't as easy as it sounds, eh? Why? Emotions drive our thoughts and how we see life. So, we must not only see it is 'we', we must actually feel it is 'we'. Nuts! There is always a snag. :wink:
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