Strange Things People Do
“While wisdom is the application of knowledge, experience is its only teacher.”
While watching the parade of idiocy that perniciously masquerades on the world scene through the efforts of the tepid human souls that find themselves caught up with them, I am compelled to observe that the quality of human nature is not quite as high as I imagined. People do some really strange things.
People keep saying that I’m a genius, but I assure you I’m not. Anyone with an iota of intelligence who takes a moment to think about aspects of our behavior will recognize these illogical things we do daily as inane lapses in intellect that plague individuals who presumably should know better. It makes one wonder what goes on in our heads. The following are the ten most curious of the lot:
10. Believing in one’s infallibility
Tiger Woods was a personal hero of mine. I respected the guy for what I thought he represented: an upwardly thinking black man who has freed himself from stereotypes typically associated with black folk – or so I thought. The sex scandal now haunting this fallen bad boy seems to prove otherwise.
Here is the perfect example of a man who had everything any man could ever want, and yet almost pissed it all away – all because he was corrupted by his own false sense of infallibility. He thought that being a billionaire sporting god meant that he could get away with moonlighting as an icon of promiscuity.
Not so, says Gatorade™.
But Tiger is not the first. There have been many similar examples of super stars in their various fields who have either exploited a vice or broken the law outright as if they expected that there wouldn’t be repercussions. I wonder what went through Tiger’s head when the John Edwards sex scandal broke?
One would think that after John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Swaggart, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Jackie Joyner, O.J. Simpson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Elliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford, [insert famous personality here] have all been humbled by scandal, that the likes of Tiger Woods would actually know better.
Monkey see, monkey… oh nevermind.
Speaking of scandal;
09. Dodging a direct question.
Senator Eric Massa was on Larry King Live recently defending his groping of male staff members. As if the nonsense he spouted on Glen Beck’s personal TV soap box wasn’t bad enough, when senator crap for brains was cornered by King with a simple question: “Are you gay?”, he put the last nail in his coffin.
How? By dodging the question.
Maybe it’s because of my innate gift for sniffing out liars when their face twitches in little emotional spasms called microexpressions, I was able to immediately detect (for a very brief fraction of a second) a look of shame that enveloped his face before he responded by not responding to the question.
Eric, when someone asks you if you are gay, if you’re NOT gay, then the answer is simple: “No.” By dodging the question, you are implicitly admitting to guilt. If I ask someone if they did something bad, and they say “I’m not going to answer that question”, they are implicitly admitting that they have.
Do you know why?
Dodging a direct question demonstrates a fear of answering the question because of what the obvious truth entails. I see this all the time when I go to product unveiling seminars for some new technology and someone in the audience asks how much it costs. Sales teams never give a direct answer.
When someone tells the truth, there is usually no emotional stress because they won’t fear whether or not they might be found out. When someone feels cornered and resorts to telling a lie, there is a massive emotional stress buildup that causes them to exhibit a number of well documented body ticks.
When under stress to tell the truth, blood builds up in the face and neck, causing the arteries to well up and stretch, giving a slight itching sensation. That’s when people do things like scratch their neck, bite their lips, rub their noses, clinch their cheeks, and dodge direct questions which is the worst of all.
You can see the same rubbish when Tiger originally gave a roundabout answer to accusatory questions of sexual infidelity. Bill Clinton did the very same thing when he talked about not having sex with Lewinsky. That was never the question. It is better to lie outright than to try and dodge a direct question.
At least when you boldly lie, senator, you don’t seem like a coward.
Speaking of Massa;
08. Not knowing when to shut up.
Glenn Beck is one of the most melodramatic drama queens with a penis (and that last part is an assumption) that I have ever seen. How his daily diatribe on Fox News does not come as an embarrassment to the Fox network and the Republican base is beyond me. This moron just doesn’t know when to shut up!
Several days prior to his interview with Eric Massa, Beck went on about how the beleaguered senator seems to provide hope that there were some Democrats who had the intelligence to reject Obama’s Health Care reform. Beck only seized upon Massa because he felt they both had a common enemy.
What followed after Massa showed support for the Health Care bill was one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen on television: Beck admitted to wasting his viewers’ time. REALLY?! What was your first clue? Was it the fact that everyone in the liberal media constantly made fun of your tantrums?
Oh for Christ’s sake…
As if this idiot of (literally) Biblical proportions could not say anything dumber, he comes out on television with an embarrassed look on his face and proved that he is in fact capable of even lower levels of asininity. Hey Glen, I know a really good surgeon who could help you extract that foot. Call me. Seriously.
Massa is another that perplexes me. I fail to see how tickling and groping men makes you unquestionably gay. Why not tickle and grope women? Oh wait, I know what you’re going to say: You’re not going to answer that question, right? After all that you said on Beck? Really? Gee, Eric. You’re pretty dumb.
Then there’s Rush Limbaugh. I was pretty miffed in early 2009 when Michael Steele dropped his pants and became Limbaugh’s bitch. It pissed me off because Steele is supposed to be the head of the GOP. Now that Limbaugh has promised to leave the US if the health care bill passes, I don’t feel so bad.
With one small triumph for Obama, there’s one plane ticket for Limbaugh.
Speaking of Obama;
07. Attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable.
Barack Obama is probably one of the nicest guys around – and that’s probably why he’s not been a very effective President. When George Bush became president, he declared war with Iraq. When the world disagreed, he gave the UN the finger, lied to America and told the Democrats to go jump off a cliff.
That’s how you pass Health Care Reform.
Obama fails to realise that one can’t reconcile with people who don’t want reconciliation. You can’t negotiate with people who don’t want to negotiate. You can’t govern from the middle when the right doesn’t want you to govern at all. Sometimes people are better off as enemies than as treacherous friends.
They are pseudo-anarchist fundamentalists who would much rather see the world burn to the ground than submit to a utilitarian agenda that is not of their conception. To them, the problem with social reform is not because it’s good or bad, but rather because they are are not the ones trying to push it into law.
Republican justification against Health Care Reform amounts to little more than an elaborate straw man argument. It’s not because of an infringement on freedoms, because they’re the ones that surreptitiously passed the Patriot Act. It’s not the cost, because they supported a 10 billion dollar / month Iraqi war.
This fundamental difference in ideology means they cannot be reasoned with. I would give the same advice to a Republican against opposing Democrats. There’s no point trying to reason with people who disagree just for the sake of disagreement. George Bush knew that very well and exploited it efficiently.
Similarly, extending an open hand to terrorist Muslim states is nice, but they may decide to shake it with an improvised explosive device. In the face of defeat, rationality becomes a scarce commodity. Being inclined to reason doesn’t automatically mean that the underdogs will feel compelled to oblige.
Speaking of rationality;
06. Blatant Hypocrisy.
There is nothing quite so poetic as when an offender is treated with the same caustic vitriol as his offense. What’s even more surprising though is how they choose to react to that offense: With hypocrisy – blatant, unrepentant, unscrupulous, uncaring, unconscionable, destructively selfish hypocrisy.
The most amazing example of this is perhaps the Republican protest of Democratic spending. It is mind blowing hypocrisy because the complaint never surfaced while Republicans were in power for eight years, wantonly and indiscriminately blowing the budget surplus on an indefensible, illegal war.
It highlights the point more than ever, that the current complaints of Republicans have no basis on Republican doctrine (i.e. small government, low taxation & limited expenditure) as much as it has to do with mere griping about not being in power. Their doctrinal references are merely red herring.
Another curious example is Liz Cheney (Dick’s daughter) calling for the exposition of seven lawyers who are representing Al Qaeda operatives to be brought to trial. The uproar seems eerily reminiscent of McCarthyism, involving smear tactics and character assassination vis-a-vis guilt by association.
I suppose Liz is channeling her father, Dick, when he called for America to be a “nation of men and not laws” – which is what I suppose was the precursor to America spending the next eight years stooping as low as the very terrorists they claim to hate using curiously unAmerican tactics in their “war on terror”.
What you should understand, Liz, is that your father is not only quite an evil man (he believed that the Government was above the law!), but his cohort, George, was the one who appointed those lawyers in the first place. Keeping America safe shouldn’t involve uprooting the foundation of American ideology.
With that said, America’s reliance on Chinese production to fuel its affordable lifestyle choices is probably the greatest hypocrisy of all. America is very staunchly anti-communist, evident by its history with the former Soviet Republic, its treatment of states like Cuba and its opinion of Obama policy.
Even more interesting is that most of America’s fuel is manufactured in states that their government believes to be a national security threat. Then there’s the pressure that the United States puts on copyright offenders and human rights violators – when their largest trading partner, China, is the chief of both.
I also find it highly suspicious that homosexual activists in the US feel the need to pressure homophobic Jamaican musical artistes, when there is blatant and outright violence against homosexuals right there in the American South. Pressure from European gay rights activists seem far more justified in context.
To that end, there’s a very popular Jamaican expression that loosely translates to “Ghosts know exactly who to frighten“. I think that succinctly applies here. It logically follows that those who have the capacity to be oppressive are only likely to do so to those whom have the capacity to be likewise oppressed.
Speaking of hypocrisy;
05. Seeing what we want to.
I remember during the 2008 Presidential election campaign, Fox News poll results showed that Republicans were doing really well. That’s why I laughed, loud and hard when Obama won by a landslide victory. It speaks to the reliability of such polls. They tend to only show what people want to see.
…not what is actually the case.
Similarly, after spending an entire year lambasting the Democrats for every bad action they committed that was equal to their own, Fox News poll results once again showed ill support for Obama’s Health Care Reform bill. I laughed, twice this time, equally as hard, when the bill passed in the house and senate.
Why was Fox News wrong? It isn’t because they’re Republican. Similar polls have been wrong on other liberal leaning media outlets such as MSNBC. The problem with those types of polls is twofold: Firstly, only people who are politically aligned with the network they’re watching are likely to take the poll.
Secondly, unless the polls are conducted by a third party using a stratified scientific method where there is a controlled poll population representative of the effective population, the numbers will always be misleading. Randomly selected poll participants will give a different result each and every single time.
Furthermore, you can’t poll liberals about their support for the health care bill when the current administration is that of Democrats. Similarly, a network that is watched primarily by conservatives will obviously skew the results of a poll (71% against the Bill, in the case of Fox News) towards a favourable result.
See the teddy bear in the clouds? The effect is known as Pareidolia – an illusion of the mind
This reminds me of a curious psychological phenomenon called Pareidolia – which describes our mind’s capacity to take otherwise insignificant shapes and contortions (like cloud formations, a blotch of ink on a piece of cloth, or even a burn mark on a piece of toast) and consider them to be somehow significant.
We see things we want to see to validate an opinion – especially things which we think defy a scientific explanation. People who are superstitious are more likely to be religious for all the same reasons they are superstitious. This is why they are more likely to encounter the effects of Pareidolia than skeptics.
It is thus not surprising that even where the liberal media is willing to admit that their polling technique was unscientific and is thus prone to degrees of error (as is commonly reported on outlets like CNN), it is Fox News’ incessant trumpeting of their fallacious 71% that I find most alarmingly unprofessional.
Perhaps someone needs to remind the pundits at Fox News that their 71% reflects a percentage of their viewership, not the percentage of the American populous. More scientific polls showed a 60% support for the bill, which is why I’m not surprised that it passed. Even Obama had to do a similar defense.
In an interview with the obnoxious Fox correspondent Bret Baier, Obama illustrated the inherent fallacy of Fox’s position. Bret started by saying that Fox receives 14,000 emails daily from people who didn’t support the bill. Obama responded by saying he receives over 40,000 emails daily, supporting the bill.
Curious, isn’t it?
I imagine that up to that point, Fox News thought their 14,000 e-mails were significant. Such is the function of tunnel vision – a condition common to people who live in a bubble of self delusion (in some cases, by choice), where they fail to regard the fact that their opinion is neither solitary nor particularly inclusive.
I wonder how many people recognize the subjectivity of “objective” reporting?
Speaking of which;
04. Valuing News as entertainment.
It’s April, and already, we have forgotten about Haiti. When the January 12 earthquake flattened the country creating the greatest humanitarian crisis since the 2006 Hurricane Katrina flooding of New Orleans, the news outlets were all over it like white on rice. CNN did a particularly brilliant job covering it.
While Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper essentially reaffirmed their superstar status as an intrepid journalist duo, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Cooper was being a tad dramatic about the whole deal. I don’t doubt that the whole thing was dramatic, but it felt like Cooper was actually enjoying himself.
I noticed the same deal during Cooper’s coverage of the disaster in New Orleans. It’s not just Anderson Cooper. This behaviour seems to be consistent with most news outlets on cable. Every time there’s a major disaster, the news outlets flock it like flies, gorging themselves covering the event to death.
For about a month, CNN and it’s network competitors bled all over the event until there was nothing left to tell. Once they’d gorged themselves on the disaster to their satisfaction, one by one, each media outlet gradually stopped reporting on it. It’s as if they got bored of masturbating to human suffering.
And that’s exactly what it was.
The pattern was too obvious to not have been noticed by someone else. So a cursory search in Google for this phenomenon lead me to the discovery of a new urban phrase: “Disaster Porn“. What a succinctly accurate description! That explains why none of the outlets have covered the war in the Congo.
I’ve always wondered what drives this illogical behaviour. One would think that news organisations would be covering news worthy items irrespective of what and where they were happening in the world. It turns out that’s not the case at all. I heard Bill O’Reilly say once that he’s got really high ratings on TV.
Really? On a news outlet? Is that what this was all about?
I have since come to realise that cable news outlets also rely on ratings – the same mechanism that will determine how much a network can charge for advertising dollars during a particular show based on viewership. Depending on the dramatic nature of these stories, ratings may either go up or down.
This would explain why the news networks often indulge viewers’ morbid taste for the visceral white underbelly of human indignity. This is why you never hear about the good things happening in Iraq or Afghanistan. You never hear about the positive works of the US Army or the final recovery from a major disaster.
This is why news worthy items that don’t pack as much of a dramatic punch rarely get any coverage. It’s all about the money. This is also why Fox News spends so much of its running time indulging in opinionated monologues like Glen Beck and Bill O’Reilly while spending less time on reporting actual news.
I’ve already written a lengthy exegesis on why Fox News isn’t news. Due to their wanton and indiscriminate compromise of true journalistic standards, it’s no small wonder that Fox News is now the highest rated news outlet on TV. It is actually all about the entertainment value – journalistic integrity be damned.
03. Controverting our sensibility.
It’s hard to take gay rights activists seriously with outbursts like this.
While I understand that people treat social outcasts with a certain “affirmative action”, it is a perfect example of political correctness gone absurd. It’s bad enough that white folks find it difficult to resist the urge to suspect their black friend of stealing from a liquor store when the alarm goes off as they walk out.
Now homosexuality seems to engender a similar tepid response.
Everyone who I know that has a gay friend (all women, by the way) are so enthusiastic about how open minded they are, until their gay friend starts to talk about the sex. That’s when they cringe and become psychologically disconnected. I mean, really? What did you expect was going to happen?
To be frank, I have nothing personal against homosexuals. I recognize it for what it is – a genetic malfunction during the early stages of gestation. It is usually passed on from the fetus’ mother and causes the fetus to develop a particular gender without all the proper corresponding wiring in the brain.
Even so, it doesn’t make the act of homosexuality any less disturbing – particularly as it relates to men, which I find grossly repulsive. Comparatively, I’m only annoyed by lesbians – especially if they’re particularly hot. I just can’t shake the feeling that they constitute a waste of perfectly good vagina.
But alas, that is irrelevant.
While I would never discriminate against a homosexual as it pertains to everyday activity, there are certain behaviors that come with the package that I still find disturbing. This is why I don’t keep any homosexual friends. I feel that I would be a hypocrite for pretending that I’m not bothered by it.
It surprises me therefore that homosexuals seem to expect people to treat them as equals when we still haven’t quite learned to get over the repulsive nature of their sexuality. Even more surprising is the way they flaunt their life style in such a flamboyant manner such that it’s hard to take them seriously.
That’s why I’ve come to realise that people are only trumpeting their support for homosexuals because they don’t want to appear to be a bigot. But there are ways to do that without appearing to be a disingenuous. Every pro gay marriage advocate who isn’t actually gay has some reservation they’re hiding.
Everybody wants to puke, but no one wants to be seen puking.
Homosexual advocacy among heterosexuals is largely the function of herd logic. Nobody dares to call a homosexual a “fag” or “queer” for fear of social excommunication, for all the same reasons white people don’t refer to black folks as “n*gger” – even though black folks still refer to each other like that.
Isn’t that just bizarre?
I also see this curiosity with parents who have gay children. If I had a gay child, I would never reject them – but you can bet the farm that I would try again. Every parent wants to have grand kids – second generation offspring that shares their genetic code. Anything else is pure cognitive dissonance.
No heterosexual looks at the homosexual condition and aspires to it. To be fair, neither do homosexuals aspire to be heterosexual – but that’s largely because they wouldn’t know differently. While we could safely argue that neither do heterosexuals, homosexuals cannot reproduce without heterosexual help.
That’s why even though I empathize with homosexuals, homosexuality is essentially the equivalent of genetic annihilation. That’s why supporting it in any way (despite its genetic heritage) requires a peculiar type of hypocrisy, where we are expected by society to consciously controvert our sensibility.
It’s the first phase of cognitive evolution, apparently.
Images like this don’t exactly inspire trust in the black community
White folks face a similar dilemma when they face the reality that crime in black communities is exponentially higher than it is elsewhere – and this is statistically consistent in black communities all over the world. Whether the cause is genetic or not is irrelevant. The fact is that people are aware of this.
This is why some whites are naturally terrified of seeing a car pull up with four black men inside, or a black man walking down the street with his pants falling off, wearing a hooded jacket strutting his gangster lean late at night in some dark alley. That would even frighten black people living in those communities.
If white folks cringe in their reaction to these things, the black person may become offended, feeling that they are being stereotyped as a gangster. But can they help it? How are they going to know the difference between who’s a gangster and who’s going out for a walk? Should they risk getting robbed?
Stereotypes exist because they exist. They are based on observable, measurable phenomena. There are certain social groups in any society will naturally face some kind of resistance due to qualities that appear to be inherent in their nature. Do we revile them? No. We pretend to accept them.
Despite the revolting sensation we feel in our sensibility to act in a particular way towards a set of people, we pretend that women can drive really well and are excellent CEOs, that homosexuality is intrinsically harmless, and that black men dressed as thugs won’t try to rob us as we walk home alone at night.
We do these things because of the observation that stereotypes are not consistent. The danger with these presumptions however, is that they assume that anti-stereotypical behaviour precludes there being exceptions. Our revolting sensibilities are a survival instinct that is not altogether irrelevant.
Just ask the board of directors who fired a female CEO from Hewlett-Packard, the many men who’ve had to deal with fender benders caused by a strangely large number of women drivers with poor judgment, the countless number of people living in black communities who’ve had to deal with black criminals, and the many altar boys worldwide who’ve been victimized by homosexual priests.
Speaking of ignoring human nature;
02. Failing to identify wolves in wolf clothing.
When Barack Obama sat an interview with a journalistic thug from Fox News, I wonder if he was surprised when the grossly unprofessional douche refused to let him finish answering the questions he was asked? In fact, I wonder if any liberal is surprised when a right wing news outlet dices them on live TV?
Why do liberals believe they can negotiate with anarchists? Why are people who come on to Bill O’Reilly’s show surprised when he uses them as a cathartic punching bag for his opinions when he bullies them into pitiful submission? Does Hannity, Beck or O’Reilly strike anyone as controlled figures of rationality?
When tech companies like Google, Research in Motion and Apple try to expand into a country like China, the manufacturing center of the world, which is also a communist nation with no anti-piracy enforcement laws and a terrible human rights record, what did they honestly think was eventually going to happen?
Did Steve Jobs really believe that they wouldn’t have pirated his iPhone design when he moved its manufacture to Shanghai? Did Google really believe that China’s censorship laws wouldn’t cause a schism between them and the government? Were Blackberry designers surprised about the Blueberry?
Why are women who get involved with married men surprised when they cheat on them? Why are women surprised when they are beaten by a previously abusive lover? Why do women chase bad boys who have a record of creating illegitimate children, even after having a similar experience before?
Why are some men surprised after chasing trophy women who’ve been around the block a few times, when they realise that they have contracted a notably incurable STD? Why are black women surprised when they discover that their black male counterparts who call them bitches and ho’s have other lovers?
I can understand when people are deceived by wolves in sheep clothing, but why do people think they can negotiate with wolves in wolf clothing? Consider Aesop’s fable of the Scorpion and the Frog. It’s a well known and timeless parable that tersely underscores the fact that people don’t really change. They just become moderately indistinguishable facsimiles of their former selves.
01. Confusing professional opinion and fact.
The “facts” outlined in Al Gore’s presentation are not very factual at all.
One of the most stunning propensities of the human condition is where we overvalue our “professional” opinions. It doesn’t matter in what capacity that opinion is manufactured. The point is, that once it isn’t validated by fact, once it’s based on subjective interpretation, it is still nothing more than opinion.
However, we can’t seem to resist the urge to sometimes treat those opinions as fact. I’ve been in debates many times where people quote opinion pieces as valid proof of argument, when the proof is based on someone’s opinion. I wonder how many realise that most what we “know” in science is opinion?
I just got done watching a BBC documentary from the Horizon series entitled “What if most of what we know about the universe is wrong?” I’ve been asking that question for a long time. I’ve always asserted that until we build a ship and traverse the depths of space, most of our science is an elaborate guess.
To explain our existence, we invented Big Bang theory. When scientists couldn’t explain the uniformity of temperature in the universe, we added Universal Expansion theory to the standard model. When expansion seemed inexplicable, we invented Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Dark Flow theories.
Scientists can’t define half of these things, but the rest of the scientific community, unable to disprove them or otherwise come up with a better theory, trumpet these ideas from the rooftops as gospel. The beauty about Science is that its incumbents know these things are just professional opinion.
Everyone else however, treats them as hard fact – particularly the people who write text books. This is one of the things that chiefly annoyed me most about atheists. They cling to their scientific guesses as fact, while theists cling to their superstitious dogma in the same way. That’s why the debate is moot.
…but I digress.
Consider the problem of global warming. Our history shows that global warming is a recurring phenomenon. Yet, some political pundits seize upon it as being a function of human activity – despite the historical evidence that would seem to suggest otherwise. That’s why so many folks distrust the idea.
Don’t get me wrong; I proudly number among the champions of responsible environmental stewardship and sustainable development. I fully subscribe to the notion of utilizing alternative fuel sources for environmental reasons (my lungs can attest to that) – but not necessarily because of global warming.
What appears to have happened is that someone (possibly in the scientific community) fallaciously correlated our environmental mismanagement with the changes in our climate – changes that were observed during every past ice age based on ice core examination. Everyone else took it and ran with it.
I don’t doubt that human activity contributed to global warming. However, it is certainly not the cause. This is not the first time this sort of thing had occurred. Archaeologists have made similar mistakes before. So have physicists, biologists and every other field. Science ultimately relies on elaborate guesses.
Similarly, I’ve come to realise that while I subscribe to the idea, the claim that the Jesus story was born out of ancient Egypt as an archetypal anecdote may very well be wrong. It cannot be proven substantially. It’s based on the subjective opinion of trained archaeologists who may have an atheist agenda.
That’s why irrespective of what we chose to believe, we have to constantly maintain a healthy dose of skepticism. It goes a long way in keeping us honest, being a victim of this fallacious propensity myself. That’s why I am constantly on my guard, constantly questioning whatever I choose to believe.
The inevitable meeting between fan and excrement that people often find themselves agreeing to, is not caused by an inability to see it coming from afar off. We’re usually well aware of when we’re about to fail. It is more a function of a lack of experience than our innate capacity for emotional intelligence. For while wisdom is the application of knowledge, experience is its only teacher.