Do you think you are rational?

Laura

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#1

Are There Rational Opinions?


Like most of us, you probably think you have rational reasons for your opinions and beliefs. And perhaps evidence and logic determines your thoughts -- to some extent. Maybe you're even more immune than most to the persuasion techniques of politicians and others. Or maybe not...

The truth is that most of our opinions are created from a variety of unidentified forces. We then defend them after the fact, with "reasoning," which is really just rationalization. Of course we might expect less rationality when forming opinions about other people. And in fact, one study has shown that something as simple holding a cup of coffee makes people judge a person in front of them as being "warmer," more friendly.

But even in less emotional areas or decisions that do not involve relationships, we are greatly influenced by the smallest of subliminal factors. The following example shows how unaware we are of the influences that shape our "thinking."

A Scientific Look at "Rational Opinions"

Gary Wells and Richard E. Petty coauthored a little known paper in the journal "Basic And Applied Social Psychology" back in 1980. It was titled "The Effects of Overt Head Movement on Persuasion," and it reported on a study done with a large group of university students.

The students were told they were participating in a study to test the quality of headphones for an electronics manufacturer. Specifically, the company wanted (they were told) to test how well the headphones worked when the body was in motion. All of the students who participated listened to the same set of songs, followed by a radio editorial which argued that the basic tuition at the college should be raised from $587 to $750.

The students were in three groups. The first was told to keep nodding their heads up and down during the entire time of the test. The second was instructed to shake their heads back and forth. The third group was the control group, and these students were told to just keep their heads still.

After the test, the students were questioned. They were asked about the quality of the songs, and how well the headphones functioned. At the end of the other questions, the experimenters slipped in the question that they really wanted the answer to: "What do you feel would be an appropriate dollar amount for undergraduate tuition per year."

Those whose heads were kept still were not affected by the editorial. The average tuition that they thought was appropriate was $582. Notice that this was within $5 of where the tuition already was.

Now it gets interesting. Those who shook their heads from side to side were found to strongly disagree with the tuition hike. In fact, their average "appropriate" tuition was $467 per year. That's almost 20% lower than the first group. Even though they thought they were simply testing the headphones, the process of shaking their heads from side to side - as though saying "no" - affected their opinion dramatically.

What about those who were nodding their heads up and down, as though saying "yes?" They were very persuaded by the editorial. Even though it would cost them personally, they thought, on average, that the tuition should be raised to $646.

If the simple act of moving our heads up and down or from side to side can be so influential in the opinions we have, what else is affecting our thinking process? More on that in future articles. In any case, I think you can start to see that completely rational opinions may be more of a myth than a reality.

- See more at: _http://www.increasebrainpower.com/rational-opinions.html
 

Nienna

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#2
It is always so eye-opening to me, when reading these studies, to find how easily our thinking is manipulated and, then, to think it was all our idea to begin with.
 

Thor

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#4
Nienna said:
It is always so eye-opening to me, when reading these studies, to find how easily our thinking is manipulated and, then, to think it was all our idea to begin with.
I totally agree!!

And it's equally amazing how often people will disagree when told about such studies :)
 

Kamino

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#5
Thanks for sharing, Laura!
(Their nine dots thinking puzzle will haunt me now.. I really like riddles and puzzles unless I can't solve them :headbash:)
 

dantem

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#6
Pretty impressive!

Another thing I was arguing on is language, expecially the local slang/mentality.

After years of observation I was staggered by a local way of speech here where I live, that pretty much renders fruitless any confrontation of opinions between to interlocutors. Among the local populace the current way of speech almost dictated that you begin answering any question with a, "No, but...", even if you agree with your conversation mate.
This tendency is stronger in smaller towns around the country, and milder in bigger centers.

I wonder how one could possibly carry on a conversation with anyone, and really listen to what the other wants to say, if you start anytime with a "No"!

As crazy as it is, that's it. Incomprehension piles up at any confrontation, and after hours on even days mumbling around any argument, finally the two interlocutors find themselves trying to express the same identical concept, without having noticed it from the beginning. And of course, there are many variations of the 'theme' :(
 

Altair

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#7
Thank you, Laura. It's very interesting and disturbing. :O I wonder to what extent such cognitive errors can be prevented if we use System 2 as often as possible. I guess that alone the awareness of our impossibilty to think always rationally can help to some extent.
 

Laura

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#8
Altair said:
Thank you, Laura. It's very interesting and disturbing. :O I wonder to what extent such cognitive errors can be prevented if we use System 2 as often as possible. I guess that alone the awareness of our impossibilty to think always rationally can help to some extent.
System 2 will only rationalize it to the self as to why it was the logical choice, the right thing, etc. That's because System 2 works at System 1's directive. As Gurdjieff would say, the emotions are running the intellect. Only until people can begin to take feedback from non-emotional/involved observers and actually take it on board and act AGAINST the emotions and the rationalizations that the mind creates, do you begin to dig yourself out of that hole. That is "destroying buffers" or "using discipline against the predator" etc.

But almost nobody really wants to do that because it is darn hard and can be intensely painful.
 

Buddy

The Living Force
#9
Laura said:
And in fact, one study has shown that something as simple holding a cup of coffee makes people judge a person in front of them as being "warmer," more friendly.
I've read those and similar studies and agree. In many cases, the bottom line seems to be that the totality of people's sensory inputs at a given moment forms an 'aesthetic' base which gives them their opinions while influencing or determining their other responses.

Laura said:
In any case, I think you can start to see that completely rational opinions may be more of a myth than a reality.
Agree on all levels...hylic, psychic, and...recollecting lessons from general mythological consciousness, especially on hospitality from the Odyssey thread, the pneuma, pneuma! :)

Amazing. The more I study Gnosis, the more of it I begin to see on here.

-------

Laura said:
...almost nobody really wants to do that because it is darn hard and can be intensely painful.
...part of which comes from agony of doubt. You start to doubt yourself, what you're doing, what you've read, the sanity of other people, etc., which means the predator's mind is really working on ya.
 

Laura

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#10
Buddy said:
Laura said:
...almost nobody really wants to do that because it is darn hard and can be intensely painful.
...part of which comes from agony of doubt. You start to doubt yourself, what you're doing, what you've read, the sanity of other people, etc., which means the predator's mind is really working on ya.
Exactly. And that predator's mind is GOOD! It looks for EVERYTHING that it can nitpick and then, because of nitpicky things it finds that are not quite the thing, it goes into black and white thinking, builds an elaborate conspiracy theory, and dumps the whole thing out.
 

Voyageur

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#11
Laura said:
Buddy said:
Laura said:
...almost nobody really wants to do that because it is darn hard and can be intensely painful.
...part of which comes from agony of doubt. You start to doubt yourself, what you're doing, what you've read, the sanity of other people, etc., which means the predator's mind is really working on ya.
Exactly. And that predator's mind is GOOD! It looks for EVERYTHING that it can nitpick and then, because of nitpicky things it finds that are not quite the thing, it goes into black and white thinking, builds an elaborate conspiracy theory, and dumps the whole thing out.
Well said. And the P-mind never ever stops working on you, it sits ready to pounce on the first conflicted thought with a ready rationalization, with the preferable outcome, sleep, to help you ease the pain and rest knowing you've figured that one out.
 

Menna

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#12
Once in the work for a little bit you reach this point where you can remember "see" the error of your previous self, previous actions, thoughts, and words. At this point you know that the way you use to think could not possibly be correct/rational and at your current level you are not even close to finished however improved. If previous me was in an illusion of rational thinking then the current one has a better chance of seeing the false rational thinking and catch myself because I know I am not rational in every situation. Almost like double checking my thoughts like someone would re read a paper they just wrote. Where are the errors. I feel like superiority has something to do with thinking we think we are rational all the time. Almost like "I am always right". At times when I do catch myself thinking I am being rational but know I am not I find it is best to focus on life around me and do some pipe breathing not trying to change my thinking just letting the false rationality thinking drop and relax. Let it go at least for now.

Studies like these prove that the work is correct and the work proves that these studies are correct. This is the main reason why I am in the work to be more rational/true in every situation. In order to be objectively rational I believe its important to know what the truth is. IMO in order to get more familiar with truth you have to engage in different real life situations once these limiting emotions take over your intillectual center in order to see truth one has to find their own way to accept these emotions as false and let them pass. These emotions have a different feel to them then positive ones. For example If I am having a "bad hair day" and I see people looking at me I might feel nervous/self conscious. These emotions feel like they are holding on to me/holding me back the emotion actually feels heavy in my stomach/solarplex. If I am looking at a full moon surrounded by stars I have a feeling of wonder and this is not limiting it is enjoyable feels more natural in my body flows through easier is lighter. I believe your emotional center can become wiser/smarter and one can learn to feel the difference between the limiting and non limiting/natural emotions. If one can not spot the truth of a situation then the only way you can be objectively rational in that situation is if your mind accidentally thinks rationaly.
 

nicklebleu

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#13
I think the essence of all of this is, that no matter how hard you try, you won't be able to be rational on your own.

In the end, I think that only mirroring your thoughts and behaviours is going to make a difference, and that is what this network is all about. Our society is not built on real networking much. Most of the information exchange is sort of one-way - we listen to radio, read, watch TV, leaf through newspapers - we absorb information. And even in a one-to-one or group conversation it's difficult to let the networking do the required mirroring if that is not a stated goal of the group doing the talking, as in a general conversation, there is often one or more persons "managing" the flow of information and dominating the conversation. Very quickly, there are "talkers" and "listeners". This way, no mirroring can occur.

This I think is one of the reasons why a forum-type conversation is beneficial. It is not a disconnected flow of information, but gives both the "talker" and the "listener" some distance, where the usual feeding in group conversations is less likely to occur. "Listeners" are able to gauge subtleties in choice of words, the way a line of thinking is developed and how someone reacts to counter-arguments. Also it removes all parties from these subtle influences described in the study - and I am sure there are many, many more, that we are totally unaware of.

I have seen this happen time and time again, and I find it quite amazing, that over time some fundamental thinking processes and personality features start to crop up in posts of the members. It is possible to veil one's "real" thoughts and character for a while, but over time, the mask tends to "slip", although sometimes this can take some time.

Anyway, that is at least how I see things at this stage.
 

A Jay

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#14
Reminds me of this TED talk, where researchers found that adopting a 'powerful' or 'powerless' stance for 2 minutes increased or decreased the amount of testosterone and cortisol in saliva.

_http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are
 

Laura

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#15
A Jay said:
Reminds me of this TED talk, where researchers found that adopting a 'powerful' or 'powerless' stance for 2 minutes increased or decreased the amount of testosterone and cortisol in saliva.

_http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are
There is just SO MUCH all around us that influences how we think and what we think, how we feel, etc. And most of it just continues or triggers the conditioning we received as children. Really, REALLY, grokking this can be terrifying.
 
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