[Paleopsych] J. Evolutionary Psych.: The Art of Thinking

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The Art of Thinking
by Paul Neumarkt
Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, Vol 26, No. 1-2, 2005

We all wear a mask that serves to hide our secrets, to protect us from 
exposure, to put ourselves in a better light.

"A man convinced against his will Is of the same opinion still."

This couplet expresses the state of the mass mind. Most people adhere to 
political convictions that are inaccesssible to reason or change. They 
would rather preserve their childhood political and religious beliefs, in 
spite of new and contradictory information. This phenomenon is 
psychologic, not political. It is characteristic of the party politician 
to follow the party bias; to find rationalizations by dipping into the 
party ideology for the correct propaganda, to obfuscate not only the 
enemy, but also the public. Any new idea or measure to be considered must 
meet the constant and preconceived airtight and water-tight criteria of 
the party's ideology.

Adam Smith started with a concept that the primary motives of behavior are 
economic. The only factors considered were gain or profit. In excluding 
such motives as will to power, ego satisfaction, or mastery over others, 
psychologic man (generic) was completely ignored. It was customary to 
measure all things, even human desires, as tangible and quantifiable 
items, as food, clothing, and shelter. The view was based on the laws of 
Newtonian physics. It was assumed that in economics nothing is relevant if 
not quantifiable.

The fact that these theories of "economic man" were not adequate enough to 
probe the depths of "psychologic man" did not occur to the economists. 
They seemed to be unaware of man as being primarily human--a product of 
his own impulses, desires, and unconscious motivation. After the 
Industrial Revolution the idea of pleasure and pain began to dominate the 
criteria of human action: vanity, pride, status and wealth became as 
important as food, shelter, and clothing.

"I may further say that I have not observed men's honesty to increase with 
their riches."

Thomas Jefferson, 1800

It is easy to indoctrinate people to believe that our economic and social 
ills are caused by ideology. A society is psychologically immature if 
greed supersedes empathy. It suggests that there is so much emotionalized 
propaganda and calculated misinformation in the world that what passes for 
an informed opinion is merely the expression of a conditioned mass 

It should be generally known that politicians are notorious for finding 
arguments that will support the traditional beliefs of their childhood in 
spite of contradictory facts to the contrary. Our leaders are untaught in 
the wisdom of the past; untrained to lead and educate the people to become 
more self-reliant; uneducated in the art of living; immature in setting an 
example of intellectual honesty. Thomas Paine had it right when he said, 
"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial 
appearance of being right."

If the condition of our society is the result of a mass neuroses, then we 
shall see an increase in self-alienation, prejudice, religious and 
political intolerance, racial hatred and paranoia. This is why we need a 
new kind of education, one that does not separate feeling from intellect.

Political freedom is one thing. There is a second, perhaps greater freedom 
which is a precurser to the first: the freedom of the mind from turmoil, 
or fear, or sorrow. The first is freedom from an external tyrant; the 
second from an inner tyrant.

The essence of liberty is the sovereignty of the individual, each person 
acknowledged to be free and responsible for his or her thought and action, 
in a society where there is an equality of liberty. Individual freedom 
means to exercise one's mental powers and enlarge one's scope of 
intellectual interest.

To be in a crowd is to lose one's self-autonomy.

Paul Neumarkt, Ph.D.
Editor-in-Chief JEP
4625 Fifth Ave. #605
Pittsburg, PA 15213

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