Psychology is most plainly described as using language to persuade others to think, feel, say and do what you’d like them to. Not necessarily what is best for the masses, but what is best for the manipulator. Merchandisers, ad-men, politicians and religious types do it all the time, causing you to buy anything from cars to cults. We even use psychology on ourselves, to convince ourselves of something, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.
The son and I went out the other day, to visit two adjacent stores. The outside temperature was right at the freezing mark, but it was easy for us to convince ourselves that we were only going from house to car, from car to store, we wouldn’t bother with jackets. We received some very questioning looks from other shoppers, especially the little old lady bundled up in the Eskimo outfit, but we felt fine. When we exited the first store, it had started to snow. With no change of temperature or wind, I convinced myself that, now I felt cold.
I find *Believers* to be problematic. If they *believe*, in anything, they’ve probably stopped thinking. It’s almost impossible to see the scope of a problem or situation, when you’re inside the box. Believers don’t just think that believers in other things are wrong, they often believe that no-one but them and their viewpoint exists.
Stories exist of Christopher Columbus’s first landing. A tribe of natives at the shore, instead of being excited about the three ships, totally ignored them until confronted by Columbus and his shore party. Three great sailing ships were outside their envelope of experience, and couldn’t exist until the acceptable men proved it. A hundred years ago, a circus played a small Kansas (?) town for the first time. The locals watched in amazement as things were unloaded. Upon seeing a cage with a rhinoceros, a local rube sniffed and walked away, declaring, “Ain’t no such animal!”
Ignoring their own senses, those who have been psychologised continue to deny the existence of opposing opinions, and that’s all belief is, an opinion. Even if millions, or billions, share it, it’s not necessarily the truth. Worse than being ignored, is having the ego-damaged believers attack. Using good psychological groundwork, they demonize those who are not like them, to justify their (pick one) imprisonment, punishment, forced conversion, ostracism, or even death.
There were already a dozen brands of de-alcoholised beer which had been quietly available in supermarkets when Molson decided to spend money to advertise their entry into the market. Excel was flogged for about three months. A woman in Toronto beseeched the Toronto Sun for help in saving her 12-year-old daughter and others from sin and depredation. They had both *become aware* of Molson Excel. Her daughter had gone to the corner store and bought and consumed one.
How dare this store sell such dangerous stuff to a child? How dare the government not protect society by banning its open sale in stores? It says right on the can that it’s “beer”, what else could it be? Ignoring the other dozen brands of non-alcoholic beer, ignoring the dozen brands of non-alcoholic wine and spritzers, ignoring the fact that root beer says “beer” on the label, and ginger beer says “beer” on the label, and ginger ale says that it is “ale”, she had managed to convince herself that this innocuous fluid was somehow a valid threat. A brother-in-law had trouble with his 18-year-old son sampling beer and whiskey at family gatherings. With considerable misgivings, they allowed him some of these drinks. He managed to grow up a reasonably well-adjusted non-drunk.
The gun-control group, most of whom are gun–banning people, claim that guns only have one purpose, to kill people. Really? Only kill, and only people? There are a dozen reasons for the possession of firearms, from hunting to pest-control to target shooting to just the satisfied thrill of owning one. They rail that there are three-hundred million guns in America. And on one recent fateful day, the only one causing a problem was illegally accessed by a mentally unstable young man.
Nobody needs to own an assault rifle! No, and nobody needs to own a car that can do 180 MPH, but a rich few of us do, and most of them drive at the speed the rest of us do. High-capacity magazines allow higher numbers of dead! And then a Chinese man, where firearms are tightly controlled, breaks into a school, with two knives, and kills 23 eight-year-old students, and teachers, and wounds eighteen others.
Guns kill people! The number of people killed by cars is twenty times the death rate from guns. But they only die in small numbers. Yeah, sure! A nearby van crash killed nine people. A bus fell off a mountain in Colorado and killed 28. But, they own a car, and maybe ride the bus, so they’ve convinced themselves that vehicle deaths are acceptable. They don’t own a gun, and don’t think anyone should. They see guns in the hands of careful, trained, legally licensed owners as evil, and dangerous.
When the first Harry Potter books and movies came out, I didn’t see the basis for the fuss that the Good Christians raised. They are a work of fiction. Even if magic were real – and it would take a gullible fool to believe it is – God created everything. That would include magic, so why the heat and wind raised about it? I found out that the theological hair-splitters considered themselves God’s representatives on earth. God may have created magic but, if they couldn’t perform it, those who do, must be allied with Satan.
We convince ourselves and others of so many things, and allow others to make us believe many things. Sadly those doing the convincing often have ulterior motives. Even those with pure motives can be in honest error. As usual, I advise thinking, objective thinking. Don’t blindly believe. Doubt everything! It may feel comfortable to you, to just accept, but try to foresee the ills you can cause undeserving others.