Loserthink

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“Being absolutely right and being spectacularly wrong feel exactly the same.” –Scott Adams, Loserthink

 

The other day Cristi and I lost our keys.

Not all our keys. Just the house key. The one that’s on the little mermaid-shaped floaty key ring.

We were headed out the door for our morning walk. It was about 6. We’ve been trying to walk every day, and the earlier we get out the door, the fewer people we see. Helps with the social distancing.

The key lives on a hook just inside the door. It wasn’t there. I knew I put it there the day before when we got back from our grocery run. I hadn’t touched it again.

It was obviously Cristi’s fault.

We searched the house. I checked the pockets of my shorts and fleece, but I knew that Cristi had left it someplace.

So I searched her stuff too. No luck.

Eventually we called off the search. We had a spare key, and we didn’t want to waste too much time getting out the door. We headed out for our walk.

I was pretty irritated. Losing things bothers me. Probably too much. I spent the walk stewing about the lost key and looking forward to finding it when we got back to the house. I don’t think I was very pleasant company.

Forty-five minutes later we unlocked the door with the spare key and I immediately started to revisit the spots I had already searched. I checked the pockets of my shorts, I looked on the back porch, I put my hands into the pocket of my fleece jacket.

The key was there.

In my pocket.

I had been spectacularly wrong.

Losing the key hadn’t been Cristi’s fault, it had been mine. I remembered now. The day before I went out to the dock while Cristi was taking a nap. I locked the door and took the key with me. When I got back, she was up and had unlocked the door. So the key stayed in my pocket until the next morning.

Lost.

The point of this story isn’t so much that I was a colossal jerk (which I was). The point is, I KNEW I was right.

Knew, knew, knew it. Absolutely no doubt. Complete and total certainty about the events of the previous day and where the blame should be placed for the lost key!

I was certain I was right.

Until I found out I was wrong.

Mental Prisons
How much of life it like this? Every day, every one of us goes about our business being confident that the way we see the world is right. At the same time, we all experience situations like the one I just described. Most of the time we don’t notice.

Most of the time we remember the hits and forget the misses. It’s called Confirmation Bias. We notice information that confirms our beliefs better than we notice information that undermines them. We unconsciously seek out facts that prove we’re right. Confirmation bias is a normal part of the human condition.

It’s normal to remember the times your spouse lost the keys while forgetting the times you did. In the same way, it’s normal to see evidence of corruption in one political party while explaining away corruption in another. This isn’t hypocrisy, it’s biology. It’s hard-wired into our brains.

There are all kinds of things human beings do that are completely irrational. In fact, it appears that rational thought doesn’t even work the way we think it does. Brain research shows that we make decisions before we’re even aware that they’ve been made. Our reptile brains decide, and then our big smart human brains make up a story about why we did what we did. We rational-ize.

Being rational  isn’t natural, but it’s useful. Being rational can help us to make the right decisions in life. Help us to avoid conflict with our friends and families. Its something we all should shoot for. It isn’t easy.

If we want to be rational we have to work at it. If we don’t work at it we should expect to end up in a mental prison.

Mental Prison: The illusions and unproductive thinking that limit our ability to see the world clearly and act upon it rationally. –Scott Adams, Loserthink

 

Unsocial Media
I deleted my Facebook account a long time ago. I decided it was making me crazy. I spent too much time looking at the thing. I waited to see if people would like my comments or pictures. I was just a little too caught up in Facebook. It was addictive.

The other day I took Twitter off my phone. I had all the same problems with Twitter, and I got tired of how toxic it is.

People I know were posting things on Twitter that seemed really angry. They were in their political corners, hunkered down and throwing grenades at the enemy. People I didn’t know were even worse. I decided I’d had enough. I was tired of people picking sides.

I end up in the middle a lot. My political views don’t slot easily into the Left vs Right narrative. I’m used to being the most liberal person at my dad’s house, and  the most conservative person my Outdoor Industry friends hang out with.

I’m used to playing the Devil’s Advocate.

These days, that’s not much fun.

Something has changed. I think we all can feel it. People get angry easily. Attack the character of other people rather than their ideas. Many of us are reluctant to speak freely about our opinions. Afraid to speak our minds.

We haven’t been this divided as a country since the Vietnam War.

Back then the country was being torn apart by the war and the civil rights movement and the counterculture revolution. Big political and social upheavals that turned the country inside out.

Why are we so divided now? Is it the uniquely polarizing Trump presidency? The intransigence of the Democrats? Wedge issues like gun control or abortion? Rising social inequality and consumer debt? Spiraling healthcare costs?

Maybe.

Those things are all problems. Big problems. But we’ve had problems before and things didn’t get out of hand like they are now. Something has changed.

I think that something is Facebook.

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Not just Facebook, of course. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube–all manner of social media that have come to dominate our interactions and information gathering. The rise of social media has changed everything. It’s a revolution of a different kind, and like all revolutions, it has sinister aspects.

One is that social media is addictive. It’s designed to be that way. Facebook was deliberately crafted to suck up as much screen time as possible. It does this by giving you a little hit of dopamine every time someone likes your posts or comments. All social media work this way. They’re engineered to take advantage of hard-wired reward systems in the brain. They’re addictive, as surely as alcohol and cocaine.

On top of being addictive, social media are manipulative. They manipulate what we see and what we don’t. Have you every noticed that you don’t see posts from everyone you follow all the time? The reason is that social media algorithms determine what you’ll see and when. Often this is based on your previous viewing habits. Sometimes it’s based on political agendas. Companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube censor, throttle and demonetize content that doesn’t match a particular narrative. We see less of it. 

The sifting and winnowing of social media algorithms tends to present us with information that matches our interests. We see more of what we like and less of what we don’t. On the surface, this seems good. But it works to drive us into information bubbles. Keeps us from seeing the complete picture of what’s going on in the world. Reinforces our confirmation bias.

We’ve come to rely on social media as a sort of public square. We use them to discuss vital, important topics. But they aren’t a public square. They’re private companies. Private companies that increasingly control much of the information that we see everyday. We’ve given a near monopoly of public speech over to social media. It’s too much power for a handful of companies to hold.

Social media are addictive and they manipulate the information that we all see. As if that isn’t bad enough, they’re also deeply anti-social.

There’s something about these platforms that brings out the worst in people. Not everybody. But LOTS of people. It’s like online road rage.

It seems like half of us go online and turn into that crazy conservative uncle you try to avoid at family gatherings. Or maybe a rage-filled PETA activist throwing blood on a lady in a fur coat. Folks post comments in a person’s feed they would never say to their face. Hurtful, unkind comments. Deliberately provocative arguments. Personal insults.

How do we cope with all the unpleasantness online?

We could quit. Some of us do. Most of us don’t want to. The connections, information and engagement have become too important to our lives. Too hard to let go.

Instead of quitting, a lot of us choose to avoid the stress by weeding out the worst offenders and selecting a group of online “friends” who’s views align with our own. We follow people we agree with, unfollow those we don’t, or at least unfollow the ones who are the most offensive.

Sometimes we join the mob. Get angry and give back as good as we got.

Both these approaches drive us apart. One strategy increases divisiveness. The other divides us into separate bubbles. We get more isolated, and angrier.

That anger is another thing that keeps us glued to our screens.

Bringing the Heat
This isn’t a new idea. I was listening to a podcast by Dan Carlin yesterday and he went into this in detail.

Dan produces the amazing Hardcore History podcast along with a political commentary podcast called Common Sense.

In the most recent episode of Common Sense, A Recipe for Caesar, Carlin talked about his work in the early days of AM talk radio. Even back then the radio guys talked about “Heat.”

Heat was what got somebody to listen through the commercial break, to stick around for the next segment. Heat was about winding people up over things they cared about. “They’re going to take your guns!” “They’re going to ban abortion!” The producers encouraged the on-air guys to punch it up. Heat is what sold the ads. Bring the heat. The bad news. Bad news was better than good.

Why does bad news make us pay attention?

It’s in our genes. Humans pay close attention to information about danger. Bad news is more important to us than good news–for good reason. If you don’t pay close enough attention to bad news, you don’t survive to reproduce. Since everyone alive today is the product of millions of years of evolution, its safe to say that we’re all really good at paying attention to bad news. That natural human tendency makes us easy to manipulate.

Big Data
Manipulation has always been part of the media game. Today’s technology makes it frighteningly effective. The rise of social media and the development of sophisticated algorithms for measuring attention has given modern media access to metrics that would have made the old school radio producers salivate. Big Data. Every click. Every search. Every comment. Massive amounts of data that tells them exactly how to massage the message to put the most eyeballs in front of ads.

It’s not just social media, either. It’s all media. Social media just led the way.

Social media destroyed the business model of traditional media outlets. They had to adapt to the new business environment and they used Big Data do it. Legacy media companies learned how to use online data to tailor their content for maximum ad revenue. Perfectly targeted heat. Aimed right at the demographic bullseye.

News companies have figured out exactly how to target their slice of the media pie. They tailor their content to appeal to that demographic and keep it engaged. Wind folks up so they won’t change the channel. Craft headlines into perfect click bait. All of them do this, even the ones we would like to believe don’t have a political slant.

They have to, it’s what pays the bills.

After more than a decade of this process it’s safe to say that the content from virtually all news outlets has been so massaged by data that there is no such thing as unbiased news.

What Bias Looks Like
How does bias work? One way is through omission and selection. Both deliberate and unconscious. Media companies limit coverage of topics that their viewers won’t react to and select those that they will. Reporters focus on details that they believe to be most salient. Editors shape the narrative to fit the demographic and tailor headlines to get clicks.

This is why we saw more coverage of the Trump impeachment hearings on CNN than on Fox. And why we’re currently seeing more coverage of sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden on Fox than we are on CNN. They’re playing to the crowd.

We get part of the story. The part that we want to hear.

Another part of bias has to do with framing.

Framing
Framing means presenting a story in a particular way that gives it a certain kind of spin. One type of framing involves omitting information from a story. Sometimes its done deliberately. Sometimes its the natural outcome of reporters’ and editors’ confirmation bias.

Here’s a recent example:

I listened to an NPR story last week about the COVID-19 outbreak at the Smithfield pork packing plant in South Dakota. In that short piece I heard that there was a major outbreak of close to 400 people at the plant, that it was being shut down and that Republican South Dakota governor Kristi Noem had not issued a shelter-in-place order for the state. My initial reaction to this story was that Noem was a dope who allowed this outbreak to happen by not shutting down the state. It also made me worry that we might see a shortage of pork, since the plant is one of biggest in the US.

The next morning I read a takedown of a similar piece from the Washington Post in a conservative blog called Powerline. The blog post filled in some critical details that had been omitted from NPR’s coverage. The Smithfield plant is considered essential national infrastructure and would never have been included in a state shutdown, so it didn’t matter whether Noem shut down the state. On top of this, at the time of writing, SD had about 1000 cases of COVID-19 and four deaths. Certainly not a hotbed of infection compared to other states. Maybe a candidate for a moderate response from government. Finally, the plant wasn’t shutting down. It was pausing temporarily to sanitize and upgrade safety procedures. It would be back online later that week. I didn’t need to run out for pork chops.

It’s pretty obvious how the facts that were left out of the NPR story shape the listener’s perceptions of events. If I hadn’t been reading news from across the political spectrum I wouldn’t have gotten a complete version of the story, and I would have been left with my original conclusions: that the South Dakota governor was a reckless idiot. The omission of critical facts, whether deliberately or unconsciously, framed the story in a way that shaped my opinion.

Framing also takes the form of setting up a quote from someone with a pejorative label. This happens a lot and has the effect of discounting sources that are included in coverage to make it appear more balanced. The source is in there, seemingly adding balance to a piece, but you’re primed to ignore what he or she says. Consider these two ways of framing a quote:

Jordan Peterson, a darling of the alt-right, said…   vs:

Jordan Peterson, best selling author and Professor of Clinical Psychology, said…

The first line primes anyone on the political left to disregard whatever it is that is included in the quote. After all, why would you listen to someone who is beloved of the alt-right? Aren’t the alt-right white supremacists? Anybody they like has to be bad!

The second line is more neutral. It might have a positive priming effect, since it portrays Peterson as an expert in the field of psychology. You’re more likely to consider a quote that follows this framing in a positive way.

This kind of framing happens all the time, and if you watch for it you’ll start seeing it everywhere. When you do, a red flag should go up. You’re being manipulated.

We’re all being manipulated by media corporations. If you look for the signs you’ll see it every day. Sometimes it’s deliberate. Sometimes its unconscious. One thing is for certain, it’s happening and it’s driving the country apart.

Cognitive Dissonance
It’s easy to see how media manipulate us. They play on our innate psychology. We notice information that confirms our beliefs and overlook information that contradicts them. We get a little dopamine hit from information that makes us feel right, smart and good. We pay closer attention to bad news than good news.

On top of this, we hate to change our minds.

Changing our minds is hard to do. In fact, it’s not just hard, it’s painful. That pain is called Cognitive Dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is the extremely uncomfortable feeling that we get when something we believe is true turns out to be false.

Apparently, humans aren’t very comfortable holding two ideas in their head that are contradictory. Especially if one of those ideas is something fundamental to how we see the world. Something crucial to our values and identity.

If you believe one thing is true and suddenly find yourself confronted with evidence that it isn’t, your mind will desperately struggle to resolve the contradiction. There are two ways this can go. Either you accept the new evidence and change the belief, or you disregard the evidence and hold fast to the belief. One way or the other, you’ll need to relieve the emotional pressure.

Sometimes pressure is so uncomfortable that people resolve their cognitive dissonance in spectacular ways. They go from ultra-liberal to wildly conservative. Or from a fundamentalist Christian to an atheist. This sort of thing can look crazy from the outside but it’s easy to explain. It is much more psychologically painful to exist in a state of cognitive dissonance than it is to completely upend your outlook on life. It’s that painful.

Massive personal reality shifts happen from time to time, but they’re uncommon. When the stakes are high, almost all of us, almost all the time, stick with what we believe and ignore the contrary evidence. We double down on confirmation bias and build a fortress of our beliefs.

This natural human tendency plays directly into the hands of the modern media model.

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“When we combine our irrational certainty on all sorts of topics with our normal human capacity to be spectacularly wrong, we end up with a civilization in which people have designed elaborate mental prisons for themselves. We all inhabit a reality of our own making. In each of our artificial realities, we know our version of things is both proper and right, while all the people who disagree with us are obviously wretched, ignorant and weak. Sometimes we feel sorry for them.” –Scott Adams, Loserthink

Deprogramming Ourselves
Despite everything I’ve said above, I don’t think media corporations are evil. They’re just responding to incentives in the market, and the people who write and curate the news are just as irrational as the rest of us. Problem is, regardless of the reasons, the current media model is tearing a hole in the fabric of our society. It’s reinforcing the the walls of our mental prisons.

That’s bad.

On the other hand, I’m not convinced that we’re really that mad at each other. We just think we are. The slow drip of media manipulation has crept up on us. Like the proverbial frog in the pot of slowly warming water, we don’t realize how we’ve come so close to boiling. The water’s getting hot.

It’s time to jump out of the pot.

We can’t expect the government, or media companies to fix this problem for us. The incentives are all wrong. There’s too much money on the line. As long as the incentives stay the same, media will continue to massage their news coverage in a way that divides rather than informs.

After all, people generally do what they get paid to do.

The foxes aren’t going to guard the hen house. If we want to fix this thing, we’re going to have to fix it ourselves. To do that, we’ll need to break out of our mental prisons on our own.

This is where Scott Adams comes in.

Scott Adams produces a live daily chat on Periscope that’s distributed as a podcast and YouTube channel. Coffee with Scott Adams discusses news of the day with analysis based on Adams’ unique perspective on persuasion and economics. It’s a daily dose of deprogramming that can help you see the world in a more productive way.

I started reading Adams’ blog back in 2016. I don’t remember how I came across him, but I’m glad I did. Following Adams has been one of the most interesting and illuminating things I’ve done. His ideas have changed my perspective on a wide range of topics and helped to coalesce some thoughts that I’ve had kicking around in my head for a long time.

Adams sees things differently than most people. He has a background in economics, training as a hypnotist, a deep knowledge of persuasion, extensive experience in the corporate world, and he’s a cartoonist.

It’s an unusual skills set to say the least.

Adams draws the Dilbert comic strip, but don’t let that stop you from taking his ideas seriously. Dilbert is popular because of Adams’ ability to identify problems in the business world and poke fun at them. A lot of these problems fall into the category of Loserthink.

What is Loserthink? Adams says,

“Loserthink isn’t about being dumb, and it isn’t about being underinformed. Loserthink is about unproductive ways of thinking. You can be smart and well informed while at the same time being a flagrant loserthinker. That is not only possible; it’s the normal situation. My observation, after several decades on this planet, is that clear thinking is somewhat rare. And there’s are reason for that. No matter how smart you are, if you don’t have experience across multiple domains, you’re probably not equipped with the most productive ways of thinking.”

Adams contends that people fall into unproductive ways of thinking not because they’re stupid, or ignorant, but because they haven’t learned all the techniques of thinking that are useful for unpacking complex situations. He decided we need a name for that kind of problem, so we can more easily call it out when we see it. Loserthink is what he came up with.

Loserthink: How Untrained Brains are Ruining America, is a condensed version of Adams’ ideas about how to identify unproductive ways of thinking. It’s a hacker’s manual for the human mind, a down-to-earth discussion of the kind of cognitive traps that we all fall into, and a framework we can use to break out of those traps.

Take confirmation bias, that tendency we all have to gather information that supports our established beliefs. In Loserthink, Adams suggests a few techniques that we can all use to short-circuit it. The first is to write down predictions that you are confident about and then look back at them to see if they were wrong. By making note of the times that we were spectacularly wrong we’ll slowly erode our misplaced confidence in our own opinions. We’ll be more able to say, “This is what I think, but I may be completely wrong.”

Similarly, Adams suggests looking at our theories about cause and effect and wondering what it would be like if the opposite were true. In my case, this would be, “What if Cristi didn’t lose the key?” If Cristi hadn’t lost the key, then I must have. If I had gone down that route of thinking I probably would have found the key faster. I certainly would have been less of a jerk.

Fake News Filter
What about media bias? Of all the ideas outlined in Loserthink, I think Adams’ suggestions on this topic are the most important. He urges us to look at media content through what he calls the Fake News Filter.

The Fake News Filter is a skeptical way of approaching news that limits media manipulation. It starts by assuming that any news you hear is bogus until you see it confirmed by media companies from both sides of the political playing field.

Watch Both Sides
Adams watches TV news by switching back-and-forth between Fox and CNN at each commercial break. He uses these as proxies for conservative and liberal viewpoints. Switching back-and-forth insures that he gets a full picture of news and opinion in the country. It also cuts out the commercials, which is a bonus.

Facts, says Adams, will always be reported in a similar way in both conservative and liberal media outlets. Opinion will vary wildly. If you see something presented as news on both Fox and CNN it’s likely true. If it’s only one channel or the other, you should suspect that it’s opinion or speculation.

The vast majority of mainstream news outlets have a somewhat left/liberal slant, including NPR, PBS and network news. Some are farther left: MSNBC and CNN. Fox is a decent mainstream proxy for views on the right. Breitbart is farther right. The New York Times and Washington Post are left, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times are right.

Pick something on the left and something on the right. Follow both closely. If you do you’ll know more than everyone who only gets their news from a single political perspective.

Consuming news from both political sides is enough to help you start forming a clearer view of reality, but Adams’ Fake News Filter has a few more tips. The following suggestions will help you develop a suitably skeptical view of the modern media landscape.

Look for Team Bias
Politics is about teams. When one team holds the presidency, expect the other team to generate more misleading stories. The side in power has less to gain by generating fear in their viewers and readers. When Obama was in office, Fox pushed all sorts of wild theories about how he was destroying the country. With Trump in office, Fox is more positive and MSNBC is relentlessly negative. This is normal. Unproductive, but normal.

Identify Mind Reading
If there’s a panel of experts on TV telling you what someone is thinking, there’s a good chance you’re looking at misleading coverage. People can’t read minds. We all try, and we’re all bad at it.

Doom and Gloom
Predictions of doom are often politically motivated and used to engage viewers through fear. Be skeptical of apocalyptic predictions.

Fake Rage
Taking something out of context or deliberately misinterpreting someone’s comments for political impact is commonplace. Watch for it.

Absurdity
If something seems obviously crazy, it probably is.

Fog of War
In this final point, Adams suggests that we wait just a little while before deciding whether something is real or not. A clear picture of facts sometimes develops slowly, especially during breaking news. If we wait a day or two before deciding what’s going on we’re less likely to be misled by incomplete facts and reporting.

The Fake News Filter is valuable, but it’s only a fraction of the mental hacks compiled in Loserthink. The book is filled with useful perspectives and suggestions for identifying our mental blind spots. If you follow them, even a few of them, you’ll begin to see incomplete thinking everywhere you look. You’ll be well on your way to reducing the impact of political and media manipulation on your world.

I’m not going to summarize the whole book, because I think it’s worth reading for yourself. A couple times. Likewise, I think everybody would benefit from tuning in to Coffee with Scott Adams once or twice a week as a sort of mental training. A way to reinforce some of the suggestions contained in the book and start to make them more automatic in day-to-day life.

I think everyone can benefit by listening in, regardless of political leanings, but I do feel like I need to offer a warning to my friends who can’t stand the current occupant of the Oval Office–be prepared for some cognitive dissonance. Adams doesn’t hate Trump. And while he does criticize the President, he often praises his persuasion skills.

In fact, Adams wrote a book about the 2016 election that presents what I think is the most plausible explanation for Trump’s win. It cuts across narratives from both Democratic and Republican parties and strongly praises what Adams refers to as the President’s skills stack. Win Bigly is a fascinating dive into the world of persuasion and a practical guide to developing valuable personal persuasion skills. It’s one of the most useful books I’ve read. But it will be a tough read for people who believe that Trump is evil incarnate. If you do, best leave that one for later.

Loserthink is a better place to start. It provides examples of unproductive thinking from both sides of the political divide. Sacred cows are gored. Neither side is spared. There’s enough unconventional thinking to make nearly everyone uncomfortable, but not enough to make you throw the book at the wall. The focus is on technique, not politics.

Loserthink is about tools. Tools to deprogram yourself, to stop being manipulated, to see the world in a more balanced way. Tools to improve your relationships, to see blind spots in your own thinking, to become more rational.

The way we think defines the way we see the world and interact with other people. Loserthink is, above all, a manual for self-improvement. A framework for seeing the world in a clearer way. A system for becoming a better version of ourselves.

It’s worth a read.

My System
A few weeks back I put up another post inspired by Scott Adams called Goals are for Losers. In that post I advocated for a systems approach to life and outlined a system that I put in place this winter to improve my health and well being. That system is working. Really well. I’m leaner and stronger than I have been in years, and I think I have a better outlook on life most days.

My health system is working well enough that I’ve decided to put another system into play. A system that I hope will play a small part in piecing the fabric of the country back together.

This might sound grandiose. It’s not meant to. We can’t expect a top-down solution to the toxic media environment that we’re all caught up in. The incentives are all aligned against that. If we want to fix this thing we have to do it from the bottom up. The grass roots. Each one of us has to do their own part to try to make our world a better, more civil place.

The benefit of this approach is that we can actually do it. We don’t have to wait for someone else to take the lead. We can make a difference in the world through our own actions. Albeit a small one.

Here are three things that I’m doing to try to make things better for myself and others:

Minimize Social Media Exposure
I’ve deleted my Facebook account. I removed Twitter from my phone. I’ve moved Instagram to a back page so I don’t see it every time I look at the home screen. These steps don’t eliminate the harm that social media can cause, but they do help mitigate it.

Delete the accounts that you can. Hide the ones you can’t stand to delete. Get rid of this stuff or get it our of view. Move in small steps in a helpful direction. Less exposure is better.

Watch News from both Left and Right
I get most of my news from NPR, which I consider to be a slightly left-of-center source. I balance that out with news and analysis from blogs and podcasts across the political spectrum. This includes sources that I disagree with most of the time. By doing this I hope to understand the real news picture in the country and avoid the worst pitfalls of media manipulation.

Focus on Ideas, Not People
I’m going to do my best to confine my criticisms to the ideas that people have, rather than the people themselves. You can’t have a civil conversation with someone if you start out thinking they’re a jerk. I’m going to try to give the benefit of the doubt to people.

This is going to take some self-awareness, because it’s natural to make assumptions about people’s character based on their actions. Like so many things that are natural, it’s also unhelpful. Wish me luck.

Break Out
We all need to cut each other a little slack. We’re all human. We’re all irrational, flawed creatures who cant tell the difference between being right about something and being wrong. We all get trapped by unproductive ways of thinking. We all make mistakes and cause harm.

Being rational  isn’t natural. If we want to be rational we have to work at it. It’s work to break out of our mental prisons. It won’t happen on it’s own.

If we want to live in a more civil, less divisive world we have to build it ourselves. Each of us. One at a time.

To do this, we need to learn to identify unproductive thinking in ourselves and others. We need to break the cycle of media manipulation that drives us into political corners. We need to scale the walls of our mental prisons. We can do it. If we choose to.

Let’s make a break for it.

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