I make the claim that everyone is a victim of some sort of cult imprisonment. When common sense is allowed free reign, and there is a clash with what you see happening around you, it is time to get the antenna up and start looking for signals! Sherlock needs to be on the lookout for clues and he needs to follow up on clues that puzzle him!
I believe that individuals can break out of ‘herd think’ or can escape a cult that they, perhaps unknowingly, are trapped in. And I believe this ‘captivity’ problem is much more widespread than is generally appreciated. You have got to believe that, potentially, there is something better than the present. You have got to be bothered by currently existing flaws. You have got to be sensitive to 'flaws' and critically question. You have got to be self confident in the face of opposition. You have got to honestly compare Reality to theory and think about how currently held theory impacts interactions with Reality. Again, you have got to be sensitive to reality clues that don’t fit currently held theories, be they your personal theories or theories held by the herd that you live in.
My opinion is that there are not only a staggering number of facets to these issues but also multiple layers to each facet. Thus it is a challenge to win overall but there exists a gold mine for daily incremental projects and progress! And you have to look for 'clues'!
The current covid related situation, I feel, provides a wonderful environment to motivate thought concerning this living issue. With all the major disruptions to every individual life on the planet and considerable evidence that a herd mindset has influenced an approach that many would suspect is a knee-jerk, panic reaction, is it possible that there is a clash between many commonly held theories and bedrock reality? It is woke to talk about a ‘great reset’ but is the popular opinion as to what the reset involves, simply a rearranging of the chairs on the Titanic? Is the covid chaos a strong hint that widespread underlying theory is faulted to a far greater and deeper degree than is being acknowledged?
Are we looking at a situation where a majority of establishment experts are locked in a mindset that motivates them to spearhead a unified mass rush into the sea?
Everyone knows some fact or set of facts that has stood the test of time and has yielded great benefits for them. And everyone knows of other people who are not aware of this same knowledge or who hold a conflicting understanding on the same topic and are at a disadvantage because of their ignorance or error.
Two angles are evident; how do you help others to home in on accurate information and use it? Or, of greater practicality, how do you home in on accurate information and use it yourself? Changing others is a challenge and often, perhaps almost always, impossible. Changing yourself is not simple either, but at least you can control the hope!
Simple ignorance is one thing. ‘EMBRACING’ error is another matter. Why does a person get ‘LOCKED’ onto false concepts? How did you get there? How do you rectify the problem? What is the route out of the error? How do you recognize that you are, in effect, trapped in a ‘cult’ concept and how do you escape the ‘cult’ mindset? Based on realistic experience, escaping cult thinking can be a challenge!
I knew that variable speed drills were great for running screws. I didn't know how much better Impact Screw Drivers were. I listened. I benefitted greatly!
It didn't take long for me to realize that this baby was a marvel for running screws!
General education is usually really helpful at overcoming the simple ignorance problem - in specialized areas at least. That can happen via an educational course or simply by reading or watching or doing or via simple human contact and influence. I was shopping for a new cordless drill to use primarily for driving screws and the salesman, who I knew somewhat, plugged a Milwaukee impact screwdriver. I got it and it was clear that I had been ignorant of the value of this tool vs a regular variable speed drill. Thankfully I didn’t fight his suggestion. He knew something that I didn’t know, I knew him enough to trust his expressed view, he had used the tool himself, and I quickly realized that I was likely missing out on a marvellous technical benefit. He was likely pleased to see I trusted him and that I was consequently delighted with the benefits of his educating me.
What if I was more of a stubborn ‘know it all’ and had resisted his advice? Or what if I had been influenced by some other person, who due to stupidity or ignorance or some ulterior motive, had injected thinking into my mind that made me strongly resist getting the screw gun? If I eventually came to appreciate the reality of the situation, despite my negative programming, and then opted for acting on this apparent ‘truth’, how would that process have come about? (Years of subsequent experience have proven that the impact screw gun is a winner! No turning back!)
Simple ignorance where there is a desire to learn and no resistance of any type is fairly easy to solve. Where things get more difficult is where there is resistance to accurate learning, and such resistance can come in many ways. Laziness and avoiding the disruption of familiar habits is a common problem. Due to your own style or due to being controlled by others, you may be too busy to have time to ‘think’. Perhaps the most worrisome situations are where you aren’t allowed to learn and that can happen due to the conscious effort of others or it can be due to lack of confidence in your own capacities. Maybe you are being bullied by someone who is intent on destroying your self confidence. Another inhibiter is sensing that you may have made errors but then trying to maintain to others and even to yourself, that you have been right all along. The inability to face up to acknowledging the real cost of your mistakes can lock you into denial of reality. Peer pressure is a paralysing force where adopting a correct understanding along with resulting actions would put you at odds with everyone around you. Social status and acceptance, finances, vocational goals, current dreams; all can be at risk in such situations. The human mind has the remarkable capacity to sense that intellectual forces are guiding it into territory that is dangerous to its current viewpoint. ‘I do not like where this process is going’ is a common reaction, rather than ‘This appears to be an interesting and stimulating thought zone that I am entering! What reform gems will it reveal?’
Power and wealth can be major detriments to acknowledging bedrock reality, both for the central characters involved as well as for those who happen to fall under the sway of those central characters. The central characters themselves may be sincerely deluded or they may be dishonestly acting to preserve a position that they know is not supported by bedrock reality. Current examples would be the efforts of the cigarette industry to disassociate health damage from smoking. The tetra-ethyl lead fuel additive industry resisted regulation long past the point where the destructive impact of the lead poisoning it was causing, was appreciated. The Freon 12 refrigerant industry did not quickly react to the evidence that Freon 12 was destroying the earth’s protective atmosphere, although in that case, fear of business revenue decline didn't freeze up mental capacity! Religions with their power and financial structures, throughout time, have been unresponsive or aggressively antagonistic to evidence that they had or have gross failings.
James Lincoln was an unusual American business leader who impacted manufacturing in a dramatic manner through his association with advances in electrical welding. He built the management and manufacturing style of the Lincoln Electric Company which retains major echoes of its long time manager despite James having died in 1965. Lincoln was as much a philosopher as he was a business man and technical leader. In one of his books he stated “It is perhaps a truism that man does not learn much by precept. He learns everything that he does not like to learn by bitter experience only. This fact is now being illustrated. We will learn by bitter experience, perhaps when it is too late, that the present civil war between union management and industrial management is industrial suicide.” His historic concerns over USA industrial failings are reflected by China, not the USA, currently being the manufacturing powerhouse of the world. Even yet, few people seem to have much appreciation of the magnitude, root causes, and ultimate outcomes of this shift change.
The Lincoln / USA example involves herd dynamics and one insightful leader having clear vision and tossing out accurate advice to a herd of lemmings. As well as ignoring Lincoln, the herd, amazingly, has largely erased his memory from current information sources. James could see past "herd think". Was James too 'preachy"? His older brother John C, a more establishment compatible technical engineer gets Wikipedia coverage, but not James!
What about individuals in the herd, being able to see reality and act on it? Lincoln’s family situation, theology leanings, and football experience could be used as an example illustrating how he was so alone in seeing a winning formula and being able to apply it to a winning business enterprise, but I will opt for another thought carrier. When someone breaks from the herd and makes use of a more accurate 'reality connection', what does that situation look like? James Lincoln was an example, but let's look at someone who learned to 'fly'!