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Related Words, Beliefs, Background

Worldview Theme #15: 

       The Collective Cognitive Imperative

alphabetical listing: A to K 

  alphabetical listing, continued: L to Z
Contrast Worldview Themes #15 and #6 --    these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!            

Contrast Worldview Themes #15 and #35A --    these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!            

automatism -- an act or series of actions performed by a person without conscious thought or reflection that conceivably could be performed by someone or something functioning “on automatic” -- like a robot lacking human consciousness programmed and directed by someone else.

authoritarian personality--describes one who rigidly conforms, is intolerant,  prefers living in an authoritarian system, and seeks servile acceptance of that authority and obedience.  Note that those actually in the positions of authority may not possess this type of personality.      

bicameral mentality--supposedly the mentality that existed long ago before modern human consciousness fully emerged, an idea proposed by Princeton psychology professor Julian Jaynes. Those possessing this mentality, were unable to introspect and heard voices just as some schizophrenics do today. The voices told them what to do when new circumstances were encountered, or in times of stress. These inner voices, heard as actual real voices and believed to be voices of gods, had their origin in the once heard real voices of parents, long dead relatives, leaders, kings, or other authority figures. It has been suggested that originally all humans possessed a “right brain” mentality, but that in response to the development of language, beginning tens of thousands of years ago, the left brain gradually became specialized. Supposedly the bicameral mind was slowly replaced by modern consciousness--the transition being largely completed by the first millennium BC.   Nevertheless, it has been suggested that modern humans, to some degree, still possess remnants of this ancient mentality.    

brainwashing -- a forcible indoctrination to persuade someone to give up certain beliefs, attitudes and practices in favor of those espoused by whomever is behind the brainwashing.

charisma--an extraordinary power or personal magic. Max Weber described charisma as the power in an individual supposedly from a supernatural source--something to be thought of as spiritual gift, grace, genius, or power of personality

conscience--a sense of 1) what is morally / ethically right or wrong, and 2) which actions a) will produce more pleasure and happiness vs. more pain and suffering, b) will be praised vs. blamed, c)  potentially promise benefits vs. involve risks and potential liabilities.  When conscientious behavior and actual behavior diverge, guilt and feelings of remorse can result.  H.L. Mencken referred to it as "the inner voice that tells us that somebody might be watching."Some connect conscience with religion: it has been termed "God's voice."  Others make no such connection.    

consciousness  -- one of those difficult to define terms. Here are four definitions: 1) generally thought of as a process not a thing, held by religious tradition to reside in the soul or spirit, and identified with self awareness; 2) an inward sensibility of something -- knowledge of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, etc -- and comprising the sum total of mental processes occurring at any moment; 3) according to Roger Penrose, the non-algorithmic, judgment-forming ability to separate truth from falsity, beauty from ugliness, etc; 4) according to some in the artificial intelligence community, it merely passively accompanies a sufficiently elaborate control system (based on algorithms) -- but doesn’t do anything. To some consciousness is linked to intelligence; linguist Ray Jackendoff and philosopher Ned Block have distinguished three more specialized meanings: 1) self knowledge (including the ability to recognize one’s self in a mirror), 2) sentience (knowing “what is it like” to be someone because you are that someone), and 3) access to information. 

conscious vs. unconscious behavior--distinguishes between behavior you were aware of and that which happened in such "automatic response to environmental stimuli" fashion that your conscious mind was unaware of it. This can be related to Freud’s distinction between the conscious and unconscious mind. If someone asks about what you are thinking / feeling or exactly how you did something, you have access to some information or details and can give them a report. But much involving bodily processes or mundane routines happens automatically. Information or details regarding these are unavailable to you--you certainly couldn't provide them in a report! 

conversion--refers to a relatively sudden and drastic change in attitude or beliefs, especially religious beliefs.

cult -- those who believe in the dogma and practice the rituals set forth by a charismatic founder or promulgator of something that is supposedly worth believing in

ego death theory--According to Michael Hoffman, this asserts "that the essence and origin of religion is the use of visionary plants to routinely trigger the intense mystic altered state, producing loose cognitive association binding, which then produces an experience of being controlled by frozen block-universe determinism with a single, pre-existing, ever-existing future. Experiencing this model of control and time initially destabilizes self-control power, and amounts to the death of the self that was conceived of as an autonomous control-agent."   

hypnosis -- a state of mind, somewhat similar to being asleep, induced by a person (a doctor, researcher, or some figure accepted as an authority or trusted by the subject) in a subject who readily accepts this person’s suggestions. There is debate as to whether a true hypnotic state exists -- those who dispute it argue that the seemingly special state of mind seen in subjects under hypnosis merely represents an extreme in the continuum of human receptiveness to suggestion. Some believers in reincarnation claim that, under hypnosis, some people can remember their past lives.

introspection -- the process of looking inside one’s mind, recalling events, memories, sensory experiences, etc, and after this mental examination, perhaps reflecting on the experience, and formulating action. This only gives an illusion of free will, behaviorists and determinists would argue.

judgment -- the process and / or result of forming an opinion or drawing a conclusion based on consideration of the available evidence or knowledge


  peer pressure—the force applied by a group on an individual to adopt their habits, beliefs, and attitudes. This is resisted by the individual’s own desire to retain his or her individuality either within or apart from the group.

prisoners, of consumerism -- a derogatory term referring to those who have unthinkingly succumbed to the all pervasive advertising messages of multinational corporations and adopted a consumerist lifestyle based on wanting, valuing, and continually spending money on things that they don’t really need.

propaganda -- broadly speaking, information that is designed and disseminated as part of a concerted effort to influence what individuals believe or want, and manipulate public opinion and desires.

prophet--an inspired person who supposedly speaks the word of God or communicates divine revelation.

pseudoscience -- something that seemingly has a scientific basis, but, upon closer investigation, does not. Examples of pseudoscience include beliefs in 1) horoscopes, astrology and that human personalities are shaped by stars in the zodiac, etc. 2) magical powers of crystals, 3) an ancient technically advanced civilization of Atlantis, and 4) extra-terrestrial beings in flying saucers are visiting Earth. Each of these -- and many other similar beliefs -- have been investigated using scientific methods and thoroughly debunked as lacking in truth, in useful application or both. Many pseudoscientific beliefs persist because 1) people uncritically believe in them without doing their own analysis of their merits; 2) many promoting such beliefs profit from doing so.

pusher -- a derogatory term referring to someone who consciously makes an effort to hook someone on an addictive product or behavior -- including a consumerist lifestyle. With respect to this latter possibility, one can argue that the most massive pusher effort in history involves the nearly impossible to escape advertising messages of multinational corporations trying to hook individuals on wanting and continually spending money on things that they don’t really need.

religion, definitions of--one of those difficult to define terms. In his classic, The World's Religions, Huston Smith defines it broadly as "a way of life woven around people's ultimate concerns" or more narrowly as "a concern to align humanity with the transcendental ground of its existence."  Synthesizing, and building on these, religion can be defined as involving beliefs, behaviors, feelings and devotion or obligation to faith in the divine or what is held to be of ultimate importance. Two narrower definitions are: 1) the worship of, and service to, God or the supernatural, and 2) a belief system associated with traditionally defined or formally institutionalized ceremonies or rituals.  

right brain / left brain--the two hemispheres of the brain are specialized for performing different functions. Understanding verbal communication, speaking, reading and writing, along with analytical reasoning, abstract and critical thinking are left brain centered. In contrast, the right brain is predominately at work during strenuous physical activity, non-verbal communications, dreams, and is called on for assessing spatial relationships, three dimensional vision, face / pattern recognition, and in making intuitive / wholistic leaps. It has been hypothesized that whereas the left brain processes information sequentially, “bit by bit“, in linear, ordered fashion, the right brain stores and retrieves whole patterns, in “all at once” fashion. Some associate different types of consciousness with each hemisphere--the analytical left brain’s being one very much aware of the passage of time, the mystical right brain is “in the moment” and “lost in space”. Emotionally, the left brain seems connected with positive feelings like love; the right brain with negative feelings.  It is important to realize that the human brain is incredibly complex, and that the above picture of right brain / left brain is too simplistic.  Thus it has been argued that only heterosexual, right-handed males exhibit the type and degree of specialized brain hemisphere function described above. In females, where the corpus callosum connection between the two hemispheres is typically thicker, signals travel more readily between the two halves of the brain and supposedly bring more “right brain” emotional responses!  

suggestibility--the quality of allowing one's beliefs and behavior to be easily influenced by the suggestions of others. A person possessing this will more readily accept what others urge him or her to believe or do. Such people are much more likely to be manipulated, recruited as followers / disciples, or brainwashed than others.  They are much more likely to "go along with the crowd" and conform than less suggestible, more self-reliant individuals. Those preying on highly suggestible people are often forceful, charismatic individuals and / or those in positions of authority--a group that can include cult leaders, politicians, salespeople, etc.

superstition -- a position or belief, often with roots in cultural or religious tradition, held despite what could be characterized (by someone not holding the belief) as lack of supporting justification or evidence

trance -- a state in which consciousness and voluntary action seem to be suppressed or missing, and normal bodily functions reduced

tunnel vision -- the failure to see or consider other points of view or beliefs associated with someone one who has a very narrow worldview

wishful thinking--involves interpreting events / actions of others, decision-making and forming beliefs based on what one desires to be true (rather than what is true) or what is  pleasing to imagine (rather than facing the (perhaps grim?) reality behind a situation).   A related orientation-- involving deluding oneself and similarly lacking in rational analysis / real world grounding--is "wishing makes it so." This simplistic, fairy tale, magical, childhood fantasy way of dealing with problems is to be contrasted with the planning / hard work / repeated trials before success that adults solving real problems more typically are faced with. 



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