Why do people continue to wallow in outdated ideas? A theory


Wasp2If there’s one thing the internet does better than anything else, it exposes the sheer antiquity of so many common issues. Hopelessly out of date ideas fester. Ridiculous mindsets seethe. There’s a reason for that, and nobody’s going to like it.

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to “debates” on subjects my parents and their friends were talking about decades ago. It’s incredible to watch these dino-ideas lumbering around, so long after their time. To say that I’m less than impressed is a massive understatement. Genetics, space, science, arts, race, religion, you name it – The reinvention of the wheel of debate about ideas is now a global industry. It’s also arguably the most destructive force on Earth, in terms of improving the human condition.

Why do these hopelessly impractical old ideas still exist at all?

This book is all about creative ideas. Nobody has yet died of reading it, but it's a pretty tough call for those not familiar with working with ideas.

This book is all about creative ideas. Nobody has yet died of reading it, but it’s a pretty tough call for those not familiar with working with ideas.

Why are all these old ideas brought out of their endless closets and paraded around like newborn babies? The technologies have changed, sure, and added some traction to meaningful debate, but these debates aren’t meaningful. They’re obsolete.

They’re also hysterical. It’s axiomatic in human history that ideas are discovered by geniuses, developed by hardheads and cynics, misrepresented to fever pitch by ideologues, and perverted by morons. It’s a particularly dull process.

What’s not usually considered in the process, however, is the very different knowledge bases from which ideas are developed/exploited/lost in hysteria:

  1. The geniuses, rabble that they are, have what could be called “inspired” sources of knowledge.
  2. The hardheads and cynics have pragmatic knowledge bases.
  3. The ideologues are either mindless acceptors of whatever ideas happen to be around, or thinkers with different views based on their usually very eclectic knowledge bases.
  4. The morons simply adapt ideas to their own mindsets and knowledge of whatever degree of obsolescence. “Everything’s OK because a chicken told me so” more or less covers this vacuum.

Symptoms of dysfunction – The knowledge bases of ideas

Mass Media page 1

Media “ideas” – A disease which doesn’t even know it’s a disease.

The knowledge bases, not surprisingly, reflect a lot about the individuals and groups using them. What’s not generally understood is that you can practically track a person’s whole life story by their ideas.

These knowledge bases are sourced from an early age, in specific environments. How you learn says a lot about who you are.

That, in turn, usually relates to socio-economic environments. An extremely unfashionable, but usually pretty accurate, view is that the poor and undereducated are literally decades behind the times. (Many people do react very effectively to these situations, and bravely get themselves out of these environmental graves, but these knowledge bases tend to stick in socio-economic classes.)

This unsightly situation even affects whole nations. Growing up in Australia, I was told by my parents at about age 4 that Australia was usually 20 years behind the US in many areas of thinking and cultural/technical development. How true that was, I learned very soon, to my utter, and in some cases ongoing, disgust.

However, in my observation, the basic rule holds true – Those in disadvantaged circumstances tend to be either unaware of more advanced thinking and ideas, which aren’t directly relevant to them. People raised in those environments, however, are also likely to bring with them the outdated ideas and mindsets of their origins.

Outdated ideas – The plague affecting the world

Mass Media page 5This may seem like a rather expedient, not to say downright snobbish, viewpoint at first glance. The problem is that outmoded ideas do persist, and they are truly toxic. America, the home of the Big Idea in modern history, is awash with absurd anachronisms. Western culture, in its superficial obsession with technologies and fads, lugs around old sitcom ideas and clichés as role models, career paths, and a lifestyle.

(Racism and hate, two of the nastiest and most destructive idea spectrums on Earth, are good examples. Logically – It’s none of your damn business who someone else’s ancestors were. The rest of the world wasn’t born for your, or anyone else’s, approval. Yet that insular, impractical, useless range of ideas is the sole basis of so many so-called ideologies, poisoning the human environment for centuries.)

It’s hard to imagine a more useless scenario. These ideas aren’t just out of date – They’re major liabilities in practice. New ideas are too unfamiliar for easy processing in this museum of thinking. That slows down their adoption.

Mass Media page 3Hiding behind “norms” of thinking is also the working basis of anti-intellectualism. This is idea-phobia, as much as a totally dysfunctional approach to reality. New ideas take over; if you’re behind the eight ball when they kick in, you’re likely to stay there, be left behind, or have to undergo an arduous, thankless, process of catching up.

It’s not a pretty picture, and it’s not that simple. It’s quite natural, and reasonable, to hold on to ideas you like; these tend to be trusted ideas, perspectives, and useful ways of thinking. Ironically, in this putrid mess of anachronisms, some older ideas stand up quite well.

The problem is that some people can’t make the distinction between the utterly useless ideas and the ones that still hold true. They’re certainly not trained to think like that. Basic thinking, like metaphysics and core rational logic, have been left out. How do you criticize an idea with no working logic to help you? You can’t use a calculator on these things.

Education is a mixed blessing in this regard. You can teach, sure, but any teacher will tell you that some ideas simply aren’t learned, let alone taken up as working models. Many ideas simply aren’t understood, simply because they’re too far removed from individual realities.

You have to wonder why this book is STILL so far ahead of "debate" so many years later. A classic case of the current thinking being so far behind previous thinking.

You have to wonder why this book is STILL so far ahead of “debate” so many years later. A classic case of the norm being so far behind previous thinking.

You could argue that religions persist simply because they’re inaccessible ideals. The human mind doesn’t seem to mind grabbing hopeful ideas, however vague and badly expressed. Political “ideals”, (contradiction in terms) however much proven to be no more than hot air, are accepted as options for various reasons, with whatever level of belief. People in hideous circumstances don’t refuse hope, however insincere those offering it may be.

(One of the reasons I don’t make a habit of attacking the religions despite plenty of provocation and seemingly endless just causes is because sometimes they’re all some people have. Much as I despise the hypocrisy and general practical uselessness of religions, who’s to begrudge people a little peace and hope?)

So – Ideas of all ages, in one unholy, impractical potpourri of mutual abrasions. Progressive people often don’t get old style thinking. Old style ideas seem ridiculous. Old style ideas, in turn, often ignore anything which conflicts with them.

Bottom line – Outdated thinking will persist and continue to obstruct, until new ideas are made more accessible, and above all, more meaningful. Media can do that, and usually doesn’t. Nor do the “intellectual elites” seem to be particularly useful in that regard. Our heroic “thought leaders” seem to feel that their ideas have precedence, regardless of their own total lack of achievements in the wider world. Marketing can promote new ideas, and usually does so incredibly badly. You can promote a Playstation game in a future world, but not a real human future? Grim.

If you want people to understand new ideas, explain them. Show them to be practical in real terms. Make the ideas usable, not some distant manifestation of yet another inaccessible fountain of wisdom outside personal experience. Get on with it. Humanity can’t live in a state of built-in mental constipation forever.

LOGO with Sydney Media Jam edit 300PPIStill cursing lack of progress on updating SMJ. Will try, but not optimistic.


Make more money with your inner intellectual hypochondriac


Wasp2Intellectual hypochondria is chronic. It’s basically a sort of self-serving self-pity as a result of being proven to be an idiot.  All shock jocks suffer from it. Everything is too much for their pointless little brains, so they consider thinking as a sort of disease and worry they might get it. Nitpickers and micromanagers fear mental lapses. They worry that their agile, if extinct, minds may have missed some point that other nitpickers will use against them and any instance can set off a severe attack of intellectual hypochondria.

With these examples to work with, you’d think real intellectuals (Those who can claim to have a working brain without being shot on sight by others with working brains) would be relatively hardy souls, immune to intellectual hypochondria on principle. You’d think that they wouldn’t want to equate themselves to jocks and nitpickers. The irony is that they do in this case, and for much the same reasons.

An intellectual, (hideous, useless term for a person; you’re supposed to have a brain, remember?) self-proclaimed or otherwise, confronted with a mystery and the risk of discovery of a weakness, will react to this terrifying situation in various ways, all of them wrong.

A_Career_in_Characte_Cover_for_Kindle 300PPIYou can see this process illustrated in the typical reaction of an academic pedant to a new idea. The pedant, secure in an unassailable position of superiority, is threatened by something it knows nothing about. The threat is that it may appear ignorant, or even fallible.

As all good, dead, conformists know, this is a terrible blow to their social status. What if one’s peers were to discover that one were but a simple creature after all? What if being a fat, insane, idea-less moron suddenly became some sort of personal liability?

For people who hide behind virtual geological strata of carefully learned quotes and the accepted theories and teachings of others, the claim to being an intellectual, ironically, is their social status. People who’ve never had a thought in their lives are those most determined to impose their intellectual superiority. The mind may never have done anything for itself, yet the claim to fame is as an intellectual. To be challenged could mean the death of this sacred, if entirely fictitious, persona.

This is where the fiendish intellectual hypochondriac emerges. It responds savagely, like a chipmunk with a chainsaw, to the threatening new idea. The idea is wrong, the person mentioning it is wrong, and only fat, insane idea-less morons know the real truth. Citing yet another epic of other people’s thinking, it proceeds to prove its credentials as an intellectual.

Freelance_writing-_C_Cover_for_KindleThe intellectual hypochondriac sees others as the diseases from which it suffers so bravely. Its self-admiration actually considers even basic conversation as a symptom of the diseases. The intellectual hypochondriac wants to be worshiped as a messiah, in fact. Only then can it be sure that it’s disease-free and that everyone else is sick.

Relatively intelligent people who aren’t fat, insane, idea-less morons have a less dramatic form of intellectual hypochondria. It’s based, pathetically enough, on a form of honesty they apparently don’t know how to avoid. Where jocks are delusional by nature, these pure if far too simple souls simply trip over their own mistakes- And actually notice them.

That’s the problem. The intelligent person, who really should know better, expects their intellect to work. If it doesn’t, or makes a stupid error, they worry about their intelligence. This unintentional form of intellectual hypochondria, fortunately, is easily curable by giving oneself a swift kick wherever it will do the most good.

Most people have had the experience of getting up in the morning and by the time that they’re going back to bed thinking, “Well, I wasn’t an idiot yesterday….” Many will put it down to misplaced optimism, even thinking that they weren’t idiots being so obviously a weak point in the argument. Others will dwell on the issues, remembering being an idiot at other times, and forming a picture of a lifetime of wholesome stupidity that they’ve somehow overlooked.

The creative process coverThese people are what could be called a dwarf species of intellectual hypochondriacs. Their intellectual hypochondriacs are surprisingly unambitious. They simply want reassurance that they’re not idiots, and will scurry pitifully after any confirmation of this rather unassuming wish.

The most intelligent people are those who can make the most intelligent mistakes. They can make mistakes most other people can’t even understand and which those of the same level of intelligence would rather not understand. These people have for want of any literary or linguistic restraint a condition of intellectual hypochondria known as Intellectual hypochondria elegans, or the elegant form.

They can become basket case intellectual hypochondriacs on the basis of problems which only a true masochist would consider problems. They’re the sort of people a grain of sand in the wrong place on a beach can drive to despair. They should know why that grain of sand is there. The predictors of global economics are a case in point. They dive into the machinery, spend 20 years researching and analysing, speaking and recommending, and emerge to find a different world working on different principles. They think it’s their fault the world isn’t matching their models, so they must be sick.

Are we poor enough yet page 8Then there’s the kind of thinker to whom syntax and context are obsessive things. They will sail, Magellan-like, into brave frontiers of unknown information, and get hopelessly lost on a subject about which they knew nothing in the first place. They think they should be intelligent enough to manage the situation, can’t, and wind up considering themselves idiots, both correctly and incorrectly.

If the above forms of intellectual hypochondria seem at least understandable and deserving of some qualified if not effervescent sympathy, now consider a truly unforgivable form of intellectual hypochondria- The Thought Leaders.

These utterly useless individuals, who in their swarming, sweaty millions have yet to achieve anything of note, infest human thought and debate. They’re quoted like scripture, on every subject. Like the less functional academics, they take a position of unchallenged supremacy- And do nothing useful. They produce volumes of selective information and sophistry which some would say were unethical at best and criminal at worst, respectively. No situation on Earth, apparently, can escape their inputs. No situation on Earth has yet been solved as a result, but that’s not their fault, is it?

Job page 18Thought Leaders, by definition, are intellectual hypochondriacs par excellence. If right, they’re heroes. If wrong, they’re “misunderstood”. They’re never wrong, simply ahead of their time, or their expertise goes beyond that of simple-minded PhDs and other critics.It’s called “scripted self-martyrdom” and is much less strenuous than other forms of martyrdom. All you have to do is simply prove yourself right, sigh deeply, and get a publishing contract for the various ravings you can fit in to a book or a movie.

This type of hypochondria goes further than the limited form. It also decides that others are sick, and decides to cure them with more verbiage, preferably patronizing, inaccurate, and off target. The world, in fact, has got it wrong if it thinks they’re wrong. That’s the real problem, according to this syndrome. The fact that the world isn’t a better place as a result of their thought leadership is nothing to do with them. The fact that it seems to have become a far worse place with the benefit of their brilliance is also irrelevant.

Mass Media page 3The solution for a cure, therefore, is to attack those suffering from the problems, rather than bother to address the problems. People needing medical care, therefore, are more of a problem than the various pandemics raging around the world and dysfunctional health systems. The unemployed are the problem, not inefficient economics and cheapskate employers. “Why can’t these people understand?” cries the intellectual hypochondriac, nobly accepting a few more awards from those who making the most money by not solving the problems.

It’s a truly moving sight, as the intellectual hypochondriac staggers under the huge load of issues which have expanded exponentially in ratio with their involvement. Parkinson’s Law of issue management, in effect – The more thought leaders, the bigger and more expensive the problems get.

Yet, they’re criticized for this selfless non-achievement. Bravely, they cite their records of passionate involvement in poverty alleviation, crime management, pharmaceutical ethics, and other major issues, but to no avail.

The fact that their epic tirades of spun, usually paid for, information obstruct timely or competent handling of any subject is also not their fault. They can’t express things simply, because if they did, they’d be underselling their personal status. People might think that they could understand these things for themselves without the help of hordes of self-promoting idea recyclers. They also can’t express things in mere practical terms, because that would imply some level of involvement in worldly things, quite inappropriate for Thought Leaders.

Their hypochondria is based on survival values- They’re right, everybody else is stupid, which is why they should be paid so much to achieve so much less than those actually managing the issues in the front lines. This form of hypochondria, and its endearing refusal to discuss or listen to other logic, prevents the deadly onset of self-doubt so dangerous to those who have the basic sense to question their own thinking. To Thought Leaders, doubt is death. They must be the authorities. They must have that invulnerable position of power.

Yes, they’re intellectual chickenshit, but with this poultry-faeces-based perspective, they can dictate to the world. Without their intellectual hypochondria, they’d be dead.

Get in touch with your intellectual hypochondriac today. Engage it in conversation, and shoot it. Replace it with a brattish, selfish, moron and start looking for work as a Thought Leader. You’ll feel much better. You’ll probably make a lot more money, too.

LOGO with Sydney Media Jam edit 300PPI