Thursday, June 15, 2017


Bulls in repose
I had a few interesting conversations over the course of the journey Mom and I recently took.

Now just a word of warning here.

Because of a peculiar trait of mine -- perhaps its merely a habit and neither a quirk nor peculiar -- I had conversations with many people and many of those conversations were thematically similar.

What? Oh, the quirk/not quirk. Of course.

It's simply this. I go down these intellectual rabbit holes from time to time, and while I'm down there it's devilishly hard to get me to talk about anything other than the subterranean warren I'm exploring at the time.

It may look like intellectual rigor and a mad devotion to growing awareness and understanding, but it's really just simple-minded inability to do cognitive multitasking.

Now why does that matter, and why the warning?

It's just this; If you remember talking about this stuff with me, please don't think this post is about you, or that you are the specific person referenced at any point. I discussed this stuff with a dozen or more people, and because I'm lazy and didn't take notes I'm not going to cite my sources.
Cottontail thinking about rabbit pie

Now where was I going with this?
Future jam

Okay. Most of the folks I know are suffering from some level of cognitive dissonance. For many it's just a bit of irritation, but for many more it's a crisis.

Cognitive dissonance is what happens when conflicting ideas collide in the mind. It's perfectly normal for a thinking animal.

We humans are all thinking animals. That's just the way it is.
Winter wheat and wild rye

To relieve cognitive dissonance, you have to think, to work through the things that don't add up. To do this you have to know about reality. You need a measure of "real" against which to compare ideas and the details of ideas.
Nope, ain't supposed to be like that

Now here's the deal. Reality is different than virtual reality or the digital world or television and newspapers and radio programs and koobecaf.
The rye is flowering

You can find valid ideas and truth in all of those places, though it's increasingly rare. But the fact that truth can be found in virtual reality doesn't make virtual reality real. Virtual reality is virtual, real is real.

If you look at a picture of climbers at thew summit of Mt. Everest, you have not climbed Mt. Everest. The climbers have, you've looked at a picture. See the difference?

If the interwebz or the tee-vee tells you something, you haven't discovered a truth. You've had an experience with color and sight and sound and language, but you haven't learned anything about reality.

The only way you can learn something is to compare it to real stuff and real experience in the real world. Up until you've done that, you've just been playing with noise.

There's nothing wrong with playing with noise. It's part of the process of learning and growing. You have to do it to learn and grow. But there's a step beyond the noise, and until you take the step, you're just playing.
What that is?

"How do you know what to believe?" I get that all the time, and it always throws me for a loop. It seems to me that it should be self evident that to find believable truth, you have to compare the ideas you come up with or read about or see on tee-vee or koobecaf against the knowledge you've accumulated about reality.

But it's not self evident at all. You can build a magic kingdom in your mind and believe with all your heart and soul that it's real. If you never stack it up against reality, you can be 100 percent certain that your little happy place is real, and at the same time be 100 percent wrong. I think a lot of people are in that boat.
Ah. Charlotte's kids.

How do you know what to believe? It's simple, really. You have to do the work to learn the reality of reality. That's a lifelong, never-ending process. Compare your ideas and the stuff you hear and read and see against your ever-expanding knowledge base. Lather, rinse, repeat. Every single day for the rest of your life.

The stuff that matches perfectly against reality is the stuff you can believe.

Every day you encounter stuff that doesn't match up. That doesn't meat it's wrong. It might be wrong. It might be right. When it doesn't match up, it's a sign that you have work to do.

If you want to know what to believe, do the work.

It's simple.

Like von Clausewitz said of war, though, all the simple things are hard.

There are no shortcuts. No softer, easier way.

Don't worry about what other people are saying or thinking. Don't worry about whether your stuff agrees with their stuff. Get your own stuff sorted, and leave other people's stuff until you're suitcased.

You want truth and stuff you can believe?

Do the work.


  1. Huh?

    I seem to be cognitively disassociated.

    Or something.

    1. Not well written. A cheap imitation of a blog post this was.

  2. Yep, I have an inability to do cognitive multitasking, too.
    Look, jam!

    1. My mouth is watering at the prospect of chokecherry jam...

  3. Thanks for the post. As usual, you speak/write rightly.

    Paul L. Quandt

  4. In the Book of Five Rings, Musashi Miyamoto said that "perception is reality." Meaning that for any one individual, what he/she perceives as being real is, for them, real. Whether or not two people perceive the same thing the same way is immaterial. What they perceive is what they will believe. Provided, of course, that they don't bother with the whole critical thinking about what they perceive.

    It's combining perception with critical thinking that we gain knowledge and insight. Something that seems increasingly rare in these modern times.

    1. Er, "critical thinking part" - I think far faster than I can type.

    2. Of course if we perceive that we can fly from the top of a building we find that in reality, the ground is very hard, and our perception flawed.

    3. Ah, but we can indeed "fly" from the top of a building.

      It's the landing bit which needs work.


  5. That bull seems to not be thinking Happy Thoughts.

  6. You know the joke/story about the old bull and the young bull, don't you?


    1. The old bull said, "this is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you, sonny."