Nature abhors a vacuum. How does this play out in our collective meta-life? Lots of ways, but let’s take critical analytical thought as an example.
Everyone knows about survival of the fittest, which for predator species often means the most aggressive and physically fit. Or, in the case of humans, the loudest and most pushy. That’s nature’s way. And we are a predator species. Obversely, history shows that, in general, the more comfy a society gets, the more open to predation it becomes. And, in general, as a society becomes wealthy, people get comfy. This holds more or less true both for groups and individuals. They get fat, lazy and complacent, becoming a target rich environment, so to speak, for predators. This doesn’t just refer to physical predation, for humans it can include scams, fraud, theft, extortion, blackmail, and all forms of exploitation, as well.
Letting others do our thinking for us amounts to becoming mentally fat, lazy and complacent. The massive shift from fact-based to faith-based thinking is only one instance of this general trend toward surrendering our collective prerogatives to whomever most aggressively pushes to make our decisions for us. How did we become so willing to let others tell us what to think? In the arena of religion, maybe, rather than faith-based thinking being a result of strong religious belief(s) arrived at on one’s own, it’s more a result of sheer mental laziness.
To digress momentarily, this explains the acceptance of some nutcake religious doctrine that says the Japanese economy tanked because the emperor has sex with the demon Sun Goddess, noted in an earlier post. That someone who wants to be president–Rick Perry I’m talkin’ about you
here–counts an espouser of such delusional nonsense among his advisers is symptomatic as well. Yeah, who better to guide the ship of state than someone who is so fatuous, okay, just plain dumb enough, to take that idea seriously? Good choice.
It’s so much easier to let someone else do the work and tell us what to think than it is to make the effort to inform ourselves (about any number of things) and just passively surrender to whomever most aggressively tells us what to think (or do). This doesn’t hold true solely for religion, it’s a trend in civics, politics, economics, business, morality–everything. Oooh, it’s so hard to think for oneself. All the time that’s required! The effort!. Just gathering enough data to formulate informed opinions, let alone solve problems, is just way too hard. We need a nap after just thinking about thinking for ourselves.
The easy availability of pre-packaged thought via various media–print, radio, television, movies and internet, only increases the mental laziness. Media’s become a sort of thought cafeteria. The fare is bland, indifferently prepared, and lukewarm, but it’ll nominally sustain thought, albeit not thought as we once knew it. And feeding at this trough has only encouraged our delinquency. Rather than seek out information and knowledge, think through and formulate our own positions, and devise our own solutions to problems, it has become habit to confine ourselves mentally to whatever personally congenial thought is offered in a format that entails nothing but passive
acceptance. Critical analysis, which is difficult, goes out the window. Mental junk food is what we want. Frozen, pre-packaged thought that one can just take out of the mental cold storage systems that used to be our brains’ critical faculties, is so much more efficient than making our thoughts from scratch. We’ll accept almost any crazy notion that’s force fed by the loudest and
most aggressive source. Quick easy, and almost totally lacking in mentally nutritious thought fodder, we don’t care what ideas we consume, as long as little or no effort is entailed and it has plenty of sugar. Lifting that mental fork to our brains has become, well, just too much effort.
And that prepackaged thought had better fit into 140 characters or less. If a concept requires more than a tweet to explain well, it’s obviously invalid, and far too wordy. We have important stuff to do. Video games take a lot of time, and keeping up with celebrity gossip eats into our discretionary time as well. Plus, shopping for junk we neither need nor even want so we can excite the envy of others sucks up a lot of resources as well. After all those necessities there’s barely enough time to fill out our fantasy football picks and watch every game. So thinking’s just gotta go. Too time consuming.
All that mental pablum being consumed isn’t exactly a high energy diet. Just like the cereal of the same name, though, it’s for babies. Grown ups, feed your brain some real mental high protein and get to thinking. Fortify that gray matter. Yeah, yeah, your flabby brain is going to resist at first but, after a bit, you may just find you like the taste of independent thought. Contrary to popular practice, we can all use that big fat cerebrum between our ears for something other than to keep our skulls from collapsing.
Think for yourself. Nature abhors that thought vacuum. And those thoughts the most aggressive and loudest are thinking for you just may not be in your own best interest. Perhaps they are just setting you up for predation.
Think about it.