I’m looking through my notes app and wondering if any thought is worth writing down.

Here is one bullet point from the mess of ideas.

Cognitive constraints and emotional constraints. Want information in order to seem rational and want to feel good about that information. WESTON studies on political affiliation. Brain shuts down distress through faulty reasoning. Made the person feel good to use reasoning, even though it was faulty, to eliminate cognitive conflict.

Maybe you could tell that I was thinking in a specific direction. I’m very concerned with how emotions color reason. And how no one likes to consider him/herself irrational. We like passion, without a doubt, but not many people want to say, “I have no reason to think what I think. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to think the opposite of what I think. I’m completely irrational. Now celebrate me!”

But the problem that seems to come up all too frequently is deciding what we think well before we have any good reason to think whatever it is we think. This comes up in the form of confirmation bias a lot but it’s more subtle than that, as well. It isn’t as simple as ignoring conflicting information, it’s the tendency to reason in a way that doesn’t make sense. According to these studies (the details of which I’ve long forgotten and need to reread), people don’t care if their reasoning is solid or absurd. It looks like reasoning, it sounds like reasoning. It must be a duck.

So I have a stupid belief. I want to feel good about this belief. I want to feel like I have good reason to keep this belief. I want support. I go looking for information like a good little philosopher, and come back with all kinds of data and facts and opinions and ideas. I skim through however much I feel I need in order to support my belief. Panic! There is information that conflicts with my belief. My brain is in distress! Warning! Warning! Conflict! In order to shut off the alarm system, I need logic on my side. “I’m not crazy! Look, I have reasoning!” No matter what the information is, I can skew it to fit my belief. I’ve resolved the conflict without ever actually facing it. I used what resembles critical thinking to convince myself that the belief I already had is, and always was, correct.

The way I think is mostly concerned with conflict. I think those alarm systems should be listened to. What tends to happen is that the alarm is running in the background. Most of this happens unconsciously. We aren’t aware of the warnings and the issue is resolved on its own. (Meaning the brain does what it’s good at, resolves cognitive conflicts.) The only way to become part of the equation is to actively seek out conflicts and allow yourself to sit in them awhile. Marinate in the uncomfortable conflict. Sometimes we have to be alright with being uncomfortable in order to come to a correct conclusion. But it’s more than being alright. (Let me correct myself a moment after making a statement, like an idiot, and not edit this.) We have to find the uncomfortable thoughts in our heads. The ideas and beliefs we hold most dear have to be challenged the hardest. That’s such an uncomfortable thing to do that many people would rather avoid it. (We call it a crisis of faith, not a fun belief challenge time!)

Alright, there’s the first entry in my Expanding on Notes series.


Old People

Is the way I perceive age changing as I get older, or is the way the world sees age changing? (Or maybe other ideas that I haven’t thought of but you have because you’re smarter than I am and I spend more time worrying about what people will think of me than I should.)
When I was a little child human person, I remember my uncle turning 40 (then my dad, two years later). On both of these occasions, primarily my uncles bday celebration, his advancing years was a frequent topic of conversations. There were numerous bad jokes about being over the hill (and they were obviously bad to a baby human version of me, imagine how I would cringe now with my developed elitist assholiness). If I recall correctly, and I never assume I do, he even got a hat that had the over the hill phrase written on it. Good one, gift giver.
Now, it was all in good fun and no one was implying that his death was imminent, however there was a certain heaviness to it all. As if, unequivocally, he was an adult now. The uncertainty and manic adventuring nature of youth was behind him. Perhaps it was simply my inability to consider such an advanced age that caused me to read all these misguided meanings, convincing me his life was set and would continue on a boring path to death, when all that was happening was a happy get together. A likely conclusion based on my lack of life experience and understanding of what old actually meant. Who can really say, but 15-20 years ago, in my estimation, 40 seemed older than it does today.
My terribly uninformed guess is that more and more people are spending their twenties on either being idiots or courageous explorers of life. Some search for fun in parties, drugs and early alcoholic tendencies, while others search for meaning in an expanding world of possibilities but shrinking world of hope and personal identity.
After wasting a good portion of our twenties on more or less meaningless activities, our thirties become the time for settling down, but much more slowly, as we still need to find our niche. A lot of times that means grad school now. So many career students around, which is rad, to me. Learn it up. But in my dad’s time a degree of any sort usually guaranteed work. Even in ways that made little sense.
Examples: My dad got two degrees. One in mathematics and one in geology. What job did he get out of college? Computer programmer! My mother, also with a math degree, worked some management job at a bank. At least there are numbers there! (Although, any mathematician worth their dag nab salt knows that REAL math is done when there aren’t any numbers!)
Got a little sidetracked, but worry not, I return to my thesis.
We have a lot of grad students in their thirties and people still fucking around, since this is the age of fuck aroundness, with pop music centered on demonstrating how little of a fuck one can give. (Hint: The least is the best.)
Now us lost little idiots are jogging into our late thirties and early forties finally looking to figure out the long con (aka a career). Where my dad had two kids, one in the double digits already, and a career job type dealy (I’ll learn what a career is someday, I promise), today’s thirty-something’s are focused on doing things to make themselves happy (good plan in my book, although it’s easy to construe that to mean not doing anything and not caring about anything). My uncle did a relatively trendy thing by today’s standards; he decided not to have children. But even without the little kiddies, he was married for a long time (met his wife in college) and had a career straight out of Compton… I mean Berkeley.
Alright, so my sample size is around four and most of my other points are taken from loose and judgmental observations. But hey, this is wordpress. I’ll save the research for my thesis (which definitely won’t be about this).
I’ll also note that much of this slow to grow up phenomenon is probably due to entitled kids thinking that eventually the world will give them what they think they deserve without requiring any effort on their end. But I think all that is boring and would rather talk about interesting people concerned with finding meaning and less concerned over things that were once the norm, like a career and a family.




PS – do spiders like sugar? I’m worried there is pluot juice on my arm and I will be savagely murdered in my sleep by ravenous hoards of sugar craving spiders.

PPS – went a little hardcore on parenthesis. Apologies all around.

PPPS – I hope not to rely on post scripts in every post.

Damn it… one more thing. I usually write tags in a specific order to form stupid phrases and only just learned that wordpress reorganizes them in alphabetical order, destroying my stupid little hidden jokes that make only me laugh. Shucks.

Old People


I’ve often wondered what it’d be like to occupy the mind of someone who parks in two spaces, gets out of the car and thinks, “that’ll do.”

The first thing you say to someone in the morning should not be, “I had a weird memory of you existing last night.”

Upon waking, DO sing, “Do you want to build a snowman?” to the person sleeping next to you. It’s adorable.

DON’T tell other people you sing “Do you want to build a snowman? It doesn’t have to be a snowman… ok bye.” to your cat in the middle of the day while laying face down on the floor in your boxers. It’s less adorable.

It appears to me that many people are under the impression that when I say “I don’t understand what you meant by that.” I’m displaying a lack of understanding, but really I’m trying to politely tell them that they have not sufficiently explained what they mean. Or, more plainly put, the idea they are relating to me is bordering on being so wrong it doesn’t make logical sense (which is the truth in most cases). Saying something like that to a scientist is a pretty big burn.

The first time I say “right on” to a person I worry for a brief second that the person I’m talking to is a fan of early Anti-Flag and will guess the dismissive connotation. However, “right on” has become a part of my commonly called upon phrases and the sarcasm is no longer carried in those words when I use them. Oh, the unnecessary panic in my mind, no one listens to Anti-Flag. RIIIIIIGHT ON!

(In case you don’t know the song I’m referring to, which is likely, the chorus goes a little something like this, “‘RIGHT ON’ that’s the phrase, to the fucked up stupid things you say, we say ‘RIGHT ON!'” The song quotes actual things people said to them (ex. “Punk rock? Isn’t that the type of music where kids cut each other with razor blades and knives?”). It’s funny, especially to a 13 year old weirdo.)

I always miss the second ‘n’ in synonym. I know it’s there but I almost unfailingly miss hitting the key the second time. Manual dexterity isn’t what it should be.