Please Avoid Thinking


Here’s a brilliant comic I just saw online:

Energy-efficient cars still rely upon fossil fuels! lolololol rofl rofl rofl rofl!!

Duhhh… oh, I get it! It funny ‘cause liberal think they smart for getting clean car, but clean car still use fossil fuel! Me smart! Liberal dumb!

Okay, so allow me to point out the obvious:

  • Liberals are well-aware of the state of our archaic energy infrastructure. They are actively pushing to replace it with cleaner-energy alternatives.
  • Conservatives are largely the ones blocking these clean-energy initiatives.

So… evidently, conservative short-sightedness implies liberal stupidity? Someday, somebody will need to explain that one to me…

Anyway, that’s not really the point of this post. This is just one of many examples where something “makes sense” until you actually stop and think about it. Anybody who chuckles at this comic is certainly aware of the liberal stance on clean energy. So… was there just a momentary lapse that made them forget this information?

Kinda, but not exactly. The people that chuckle at this comic also believe the following rule: liberals are always stupid. The comic claims that the stick person is a liberal, and it depicts them as very stupid. It all conforms to the rule! Therefore, the comic as a whole “makes sense” and must be true!..

… until you actually stop and think about it.

So, why didn’t this “stopping and thinking about it” happen automatically?

Let’s consider this from an evolutionary standpoint. From the corner of your eye, you notice a dark shadow beginning to move towards you. Is it a predator? I bet it’s a f---ing predator!!! Run!!!

Then again… it could just be a leaf blowing in the wind. Perhaps we should stop for a moment and consider a few other possibilities as well, such as —

PAC-MAN eating ghosts

Oh dear. It appears that I’ve been eaten while I was stopping to think.

As we can see, thinking about things for too long can be detrimental to our health. Consequently, our evaluation process evolved in a manner that favors snap-judgments. As soon as we identify a rule that can explain our observations, we stop thinking. The End.

In the case of the comic, it was literally instructing readers to evaluate it in terms of the “liberals are always stupid” rule. So, anybody who has bought into this rule simply needs to verify that the comic depicts something stupid. Sure enough, it does. At this point, no more thought happens. The reader mindlessly classifies the comic as “another example of stupid liberal logic”. The End.

So, did this comic somehow induce a mass amnesia that caused all of its readers to forget the liberal stance on clean energy? Nope. Instead, it’s just exploiting a flaw in the human mind. Once somebody verifies that information conforms to one mental model, they’ll usually stop evaluating it against other models. Consequently, if you tell them which mental model to use, then they’ll completely overlook the obvious flaws that the other models would have identified. Neat!

But, this trick only works if the recipient stops thinking. So, please avoid thinking!