Leap Before You Look
The simple point I took from this was that regardless of how "irrational" our behavior might be, we will try to make it appear (mostly for our own benefit) rational. There's a word for this -- rationalize. We do it a million times a day, turning some of our sillier actions into something that, to us at least, sounds sensible, if not downright wise.
Since this is a pre-leaving-town-short-entry I'm not going to go into too much detail about how I think our ability to rationalize contributes heavily to most of the human-to-human problems on our planet. For the moment, let's just say that whatever the reason this mechanism exists in our psyches (it probably serves us somehow) it sure mucks things up in a serious way.
Many years ago I was listening to a debate on the abortion issue. It suddenly occurred to me that, despite all the cogent and non-cogent arguments being made, the speakers held their point of view before they made the arguments supporting it. In short, their arguments did not result from a path of observation, followed by thought which led them to a conclusion. Instead, the conclusion led them to their arguments. They were rationalizing, making every attempt to sound -- well -- rational. ("It was cold.")
It didn't take long for me to realize that the vast majority of expressed opinions around us are identically rooted. We begin with a bias which could have its roots in our religious upbringing, our regional upbringing or simply "how we're wired." We take that bias, defend and support it with enough logic to choke even the widest-throated among us. And, sadly, we actually believe that we believe what we do because of those backward-thinking, fill-in-the-holes rationalizations.
I've often commented that I've met very few people who actually use their valid observations of the world around them to form a conclusion (which some would like to dust away as "opinion.") The world surely can't be what we observe (since almost no one observes.) Instead, the world is (or should be) what we need it to be, want it to be, rationalize it to be.
If there's any validity to what I'm saying, it goes a long way to explaining why there is so much pitifully uninspired chatter around us. Thinking may not be in short supply but it would appear that most of it is the work of rationalizing a point of view that we "inherited" somewhere along our journey. I'm not sure if the inability to arrive at a conclusion based on observing the way things work (or don't) is indicative of a lack of intelligence. After all, it takes some amount of quick wit to explain why we responded to a post-hypnotic suggestion.
I'd say more but I'm pressed for time and, besides, there's a lot of noise outside and it's distracting me. Think I'll stop writing and close the window.