Before I start, I just want to say that I'm not talking about anyone in particular in this post (and the next). In all actuality, I have no way of knowing what sort of thought processes any of you have. I'm speaking in generalities based on studies of people and how people tend to be. If you feel personally offended by anything I say here, I just want to point out that it's not me pointing that finger at you; it's you. I can't do anything about that.
This post is not about gun control or about guns at all other than that it is a response to a comment from my Freedom Line post, so I don't want any comments about guns or civil rights or anything else even if I mention that conversation, which I will. If you want to comment about guns, go read that other post and the comment thread there and make your comment on that thread. This is not a conversation about guns.
However, during that conversation, I was told that I was having a knee-jerk reaction to the recent child massacre and that if I would only apply reason to what I was saying I would see that I am wrong. If only I could approach the subject intellectually rather than emotionally, I would find a different answer to that question. The problem, then, is that my post was not based off of any kind of emotional reaction at all. Beside the fact that the views expressed in that post were not new to me, I waited weeks to make that post so that I would have time to get my thoughts in order (rather than the next day (or the same day) as many other bloggers did), just as it has taken me two weeks since that comment was made for me to get my thoughts in order to make this post. I just don't make rash comments.
Let me add here that this is something about me that often creates... issues... between my wife and me. She will ask me something and want a response right then, but I just don't have one for her. I have to think about almost everything before I respond to it. This goes for movies and books and, well, everything. On top of that, I can almost always separate my emotional response from my actual views about an individual topic (you can see my recent review of An Unexpected Journey for an example of that). Most people respond like this:
"I don't like this thing; therefore, it is bad," or
"I do like this thing; therefore it is good."
I talked about that stuff here and also in some other post that I'm not going to keep looking for right now. At any rate, those things are not necessarily the truth. 2/3 of my kids don't like broccoli, but I'm, like, 99.7% sure that broccoli is not just good but very good. Whether they like it or not.
Having said all of that, there are two basic ways that people "think" about things, two ways that people arrive at conclusions and decisions: one is what we would call decisive, but that is more because of an incorrect perception that decisive also means "quick," which it does not; and deliberate, which involves more time and actual thought before coming to a conclusion. In all actuality, what we call "decisive decision making" involves almost no thought at all. It's all emotion and "gut" instinct.
Guess which one is the most prevalent. And guess which one we, as a culture, hail as superior. Yeah, "decisiveness". Culturally, we are ALL over that shhhtuff, like a fly on it. How prevalent? Oh, probably something like 80% of people arrive at what they believe about a subject based on this model of "thinking." Or maybe I should say non-thinking. 80% (It might be as low as 70%, but many studies indicate a number higher than 80%, possibly as high as 90%)! That means that most people just respond to things without ever bothering to actually think about the outcome.
So, yeah, most people that responded to the child massacre in Newtown by yelling "No more guns!" did so as an emotional response to the situation. However, most people that have responded to that by yelling "You can't have our guns!" have responded in the same way. Neither side has invested much thought into the issue. From that standpoint, both sides are wrong. [I am personally horrified (emotional response) that gun stores are now complaining that they can't keep supplied, right now, due to the rush of people to buy more guns and that the specific weapon used to murder those children is the item in the greatest demand. Not that I don't understand the compulsion, but you can't tell me those people are acting rationally.]
I should also add that virtually all of the decisions that lead to the housing bubble and the economic collapse of 2008 were made by these 80% of people [this is not my opinion; there have been many studies on the causes of the economic collapse and every single one of them points to bad, "positive" decisions]. In many cases, the people actually evaluating what was going on and saying things like "this is a bad idea" or "we need to slow down," the people waving the red flags back in '06 and '07, were fired outright. Well, let go. They were told they were no longer needed and to take their "negativity" elsewhere. Why? Because we love people that will quickly arrive at a decision and act on it right then at that very moment. Don't stop to think! Just do it! We call those people decisive and hold them up as the epitome of how to be. Don't show doubt. Don't evaluate. Just react.
The problem with that is that in almost every study done, these people are shown to be wrong something like 70-80% of the time. Because they don't bother to stop and engage their brains, they come to the wrong decision. Do the wrong thing. And they take everyone else with them. And, yet, we continue to hail these people as heroes and follow them blindly in almost all circumstances. It's like... it's like deciding that the person you're going to cheat off of in math class is the kid scoring 30% on his tests because he's failing in such a self-assured manner.
This phenomenon baffles me to no end, and I'm sure it's what leads to mobs. No one wants to listen to the guy saying, "Hey, this is a bad idea!" And no one, and I mean no one, wants to be that guy. It sucks to be that guy. I know, because I grew up being that guy. You end up being the guy standing alone while everyone else goes off to do something stupid. Sure, later, they come back and say, "Man, you were right. We shouldn't have done that." But it doesn't keep you from being alone.
Maybe it all has to do with patience; I don't know. Most people don't have any, and that leads to bad and wrong decisions. Maybe it's just that most people aren't that smart. That sounds bad, because, by definition, most people are of average intelligence. I'm not one of those people (which is not me being arrogant, it's me stating an objective truth based upon actual data (which I will not go into right now)). Unfortunately, it sometimes (sometimes more than sometimes) causes me to look down on people of average intelligence as being less intelligent than they actually are, if that makes any sense. I do try to control that, though, and I'm much better than I was when I was in high school.
At any rate, I'm not one for jumping to conclusions, because I just don't jump. I have to gather evidence and look at all sides of a situation, and, sometimes, I'm never ready to come down conclusively on an issue. This is usually because I don't feel that the evidence from any side is conclusive enough. In that respect, I'm not the best at giving a definitive answer about things, contrary to how it might be seen on here at times, because I want room to accept new information and modify what I think about a subject based on new information. This, also, is contrary to how most people are. Post-high school (and certainly post-college), most people (much greater than 80%) will completely dismiss new information about a subject they have previously arrived at a conclusion about. It makes me sad, because it's the thing that has caused the huge political and religious divide in our country. It's also why, generation after generation, you typically have the young pitted against the old, because the old just will not accept that there could be anything new to add to what they know.
All of that to say that if more people would just slow down and actually look at the evidence, both sides of the evidence, or, maybe, all sides of the evidence, we might not have such a huge gap in our world. I don't see that happening any time soon, though.
Next time, the three types of decision making processes.