Following the last note, there was a comment added by the blog writer known as K-Dog, that was worth a good chunk of consideration. You can go read the last note if you don’t know what either of us are rattling on about, and go check the K-Dog’s place later.
Quoting me for context, he said:
“The frustration can be pretty severe, finding so many people who, somehow, manage to just fail to understand many things, not because they are all that hard to understand, sometimes ridiculously obvious. The question is, how does that happen? Answering this might be one of the more important questions.”
But does answering the question and knowing that people only believe what they want to believe gain us anything?
That’s a really good question.
I don’t think I’ve actually ever added my own follow up comment to any comments here, although there haven’t been many comments, for that matter. I did so, this time, and from memory, what I said was, essentially, yes, I do think this is important. Looking at this, to use his words, knowing that many people only believe what they want to believe, only want to recognize things that seem to reinforce and validate whatever they have in their heads already, is important, it points some light on this. Recognizing this and knowing that it is helps, to see what things are, as they are, including this troublesome twist, of people not seeing things as they are. The more we can all shine a focused light on this, and sweep it away, the more we might get a larger focus on things as they are, and then, something is possible. It’s even more basic than that. It’s the only way anything is possible.
To repeat myself and quote myself, I do definitely think that answering the question as I said, about how it happens, that people manage, or at least appear, to not understand things that are really right in front of them, really is one of the most important things in front of us.
More and more often, when I sit down to hammer out a note here (and I’ve mentioned this before), I’ve realized that, even though I had never set out with any such intention, it has really turned out to be a running theme here, talking about this really broad general problem. It’s a big one. To look at what I said from another angle, it’s a problem that makes many things just impossible. It really does come down to being that basic; if people can’t look at something, a thing, a situation, a concept, a law of the universe, whatever it is, and just not see it and acknowledge it as what it is, then what can happen from there that’s any good? The twist is, that given this stupid obstacle, many things become impossible, that, if not for that, would not be impossible at all. They might be damned difficult, but possible, then.
Having said that, that triggers a burst of thoughts about a related item, which is a strange thing. That, basically, is this odd thing I see often, where somebody has some weird objection or problem with the idea that somebody might talk (or write) about examining and defining a problem, unless they then immediately follow it up with their neat simple solutions. No matter how complex the thing at hand might be, well, by god, you had better wrap it up before the end with your solutions to the problem, and wrap it up neatly in one paragraph or something.
That, actually, can just lead to all kinds of silliness, that is even more of a diversion, some confusion of things by being simplistic, and so on. It reminds me of a short sketch from an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a parody of an “informational” show, which included, as one item “how to play the flute”. The segment on how to play the flute consisted of somebody holding up a flute, saying “you blow across here, and wiggle your fingers about down here!”, and it was on to the next subject, which might have been “how to achieve world peace”, that was somebody saying something about “we should jolly well learn to get along with each other!”, and problem solved.
All this can go into all kinds of different stories, about specific situations, or general conceptual or philosophical discussions. One is the whole odd phenomenon of people massively overcomplicating fairly simple things, and being unbelievably simplistic about complex things. I remember one conversation with somebody that was incredibly frustrating, getting me back to the general subject that got this going, of the frustration of dealing with people and not being able to get the focus on a thing as it is. Talking to them about a complex and knotty problem, at one point they said something like “it’s simple!… just say this, just do that”, and problem solved! And that was just nonsense. It was all I could do to not just scream at the guy, are you serious? Are you fucking insane?
That was about a large ongoing problem situation that I’ve mentioned in passing, that I won’t really talk about in any specifics because it involves other people, other people’s lives, the personal and private of other lives. But that situation carries the exact overall obstacle of a problem as I’ve been talking about, in that other people involved just absolutely resist in any possible way actually facing the situation and acknowledging as it actually is. And, so, nothing there is possible.
By coincidence, the same person I just mentioned was the other side of a conversation a few years ago, where I tried to provide some basic pointers about our petroleum predicament. That was a story of its own, and by that I mean the conversation, not the subject of the conversation. The short version is that nothing got through. The extra layer to this was that the talk dragged out much longer because the other person involved simply could not just shut up and listen, feeling the compulsion to interrupt constantly, offering some stream of chatter that did nothing but interrupt, and demonstrate that they didn’t have the slightest clue about what we were talking about, with all that being even more of an obstacle to maybe getting him to understand something.
Among other things, I tried to give him the thumbnail sketch explanation of the arc of Hubbert’s curve about rates of oil discovery and oil extraction, which became literally a sketch. I found midway through that he had no idea what a bell curve is, so I drew one and explained the idea from there.
It was hopeless. I would bet the farm that, if asked about any of it, he would not have any clue about anything I explained, or even that this conversation ever happened. I recall that, among other pointless nonsense he coughed out to interrupt things, was something to the effect that if there was some sort of oil supply constraints, one of the supposed reasons was “they” (the ever popular “they”) “won’t build more oil refineries because they don’t want to spend the money”, as if he seriously thought that not having enough refineries would be the problem here.
I don’t want to go off on a long essay about the ignorance and misunderstanding, and just outright lying, and delusions, about the petroleum situation, but it is a problem that relates to the topic here. How do people get their minds so stuffed full of shit on this? Trying to clue people in, it’s inevitable that you’re going to run into some kind of attitude like “oh, sure, you’re an expert, you think you’re so smart, mister condescending know it all”, even though, in my case, I know enough to know that there is a lot I don’t know, and I’m nothing like an expert. More to the point is that I think I’m pretty decent about finding and recognizing the people who are, pay attention to them (what a concept), and direct other people to them. What happens, too often, is that people will completely disregard, or just dismiss outright, anything from people who really know what they’re talking about, and are honest, like, say, a geologist retired from decades of work in the oil business, because people think they know better, because they’re heard and read some collection of nonsense and distortions and outright fiction from economists and politicians or some other walking bullshit nozzles.
That’s an old subject, for me, here.
On a much different subject, there are a wide variety of topics being about malfunctions of things and systems, to put it broadly. Just as a side item, I should mention that sitting here on a Sunday, actually with other things to do, I have been bopping back and forth between this and doing, or, more accurately, not doing, some fairly simple thing that has turned into a long time wasting epic of not-doing, all because of a malfunctioning website and/or connection. There are a few different topics I could rant about that involve sometimes chronic and seemingly unresolvable technical failure and glitch problems, that are not so much about the actual problems involved, but the apparent impossibility of getting the appropriate relevant people to get their attention properly focused, comprehend the problem, understand the general problem, at least at a starting point, acknowledge the problem, and either address and fix the problem, or at least pass it along (themselves, not telling you that you need to go contact this, do that…) to an appropriate competent person to do so.
Acknowledging and correcting that kind of problem is a necessary first step before anything else is possible, getting on to the actual problem on hand.