Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day 434: Rewards for the "Right" Views

This is a continuation from my previous blogs starting here - please read for context.

When we asked you to think about your attitudes toward cheating, many of you are likely to have immediately thought, "Oh, that's wrong!" This is because most children have been repeatedly praised or rewarded by their parents for stating such views concerning both the rightness of honesty and the wrongness of dishonesty. As a result, individuals learn which views are seen as the "right" attitudes to hold by virtue of being rewarded for voicing those attitudes by the people they identify with and want to be accepted by. Attitudes that are followed by positive outcomes tend to be strengthened and are likely to be repeated, while attitudes that are followed by negative outcomes are weakened so their likelihood of being expressed again is reduced. Thus another way in which attitudes are acquired is through this process of instrumental conditioning, which is a process of rewards and punishments tied to our attitudes and actions. Sometimes the conditioning process is rather subtle, with the reward being psychological acceptance. Parents reward children with smiles, approval, or hugs for stating the right views. As a result of this form of conditioning, most children express political, religious, and social views that are highly similar to those of their parents and other family members, until the teen years when peer influences become especially strong (Oskamp & Schultz, 2005). - Social Psychology (Twelfth Edition), by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe, & Donn Byrne

We are, each of us, brainwashed - from the very moment of conception until the moment of our death. We are immediately taught what to believe, what to think, how to talk, how to dress, what to say, what to like, what to dislike, who to hate, who to love, who to worship, who to fear, what to fear, when to feel angry, when to feel sad, how to show sadness, how to show anger, how to show happiness, how to show kindness, when to show kindness, if to show kindness at all.

We are shaped and molded like dough. At first we are soft, pliable - but as we get older we get harder to shape, tough. We set in our ways, which are not really even our own ways, but ways that were taught to us by others who were taught the ways by others who were taught...

An interesting thing then starts to happen: we start to accumulate all of these thoughts, feelings, emotions, reactions and more that we have experienced - not quite knowing how to get rid of the residual effects that we are now feeling within us - a sort of tightness here, an ache there, a heat somewhere else. As we are accumulating more and more of these residual effects of thoughts and emotions etc within us, our body must re-shape itself in order to accommodate all of these inhabitants of our bodies. We start to notice another interesting thing: We start to look and act more and more like our parents. We don't know why. We want to stop, but we don't know how. We know that the way we are living within ourselves is not the best possible way to live. We know that the anger creeping beneath the surface is not something we want to continue living with. We don't want to have these nasty thoughts in our heads. We don't want to feel like we have to control everything in our lives. We don't want to be saying nasty things about our friends and family behind their backs. But we do - we do all of these things and we don't know why.

We start to hate ourselves. All we have left are those things that we believe in strongly: our faith, our knowledge, our selves, whatever - as long as we can hold on to these things, then we are in control of something in our lives. We seem to have no control over anything else. Our bodies are doing things we don't want it to do, not functioning as effectively as before. We know that it's because we have mistreated our bodies - with our ignorance of the effects of different foods, with our burning anger, with our nasty judgements, with our self hatred, with our irritation at everything and everyone around us, with our wound-up need to control everything - but how do we stop?

How do we stop ourselves from having all these "right" views that have proven themselves to be oh-so-wrong? How do we stop ourselves from becoming our parents? How do we stop ourselves from descending into a vile pit of hatred and spite? No one teaches us how to do this. But we're also terrified - terrified of being wrong, of making a mistake, of making the "wrong" choices - we have petrified ourselves with fear. We are unable to move ourselves to change, so we attack instead for a temporary reprieve from the feelings of dread.

And then we die. We die with the lost hopes of all of our "someday I'll do this..." and "I won't feel like this forever..."'s. This is our reward. This is where we all end. This is what our lives will be like. Carbon copies of all the crap around us. We'll go down like all the rest before us. We will accomplish nothing of worth. We will diminish, dwindle and fade into nothingness - too petrified to take a chance to honour this gift of life. Too petrified to demand dignity for all those who live and stand here with us.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 433: Subliminal Messages

This is a continuation from my previous posts, starting here - please read for context.

Not only can classical conditioning contribute to shaping our attitudes as we saw in the child's example, but often we may not be aware of the stimuli that affects the conditioning. For instance, in one experiment (Krosnick, Betz, Jussim, & Lynnm 1992), students were shown photos of a stranger engaged in routine daily activities, such as shopping in a grocery store or walking into her apartment. While viewing these photos, other pictures associated with either positive or negative feelings were exposed for brief periods of time - so brief that participants were not aware of their presence. Participants who were nonconsciously exposed to photos that induced positive feelings (eg, a newlywed couple, people playing cards and laughing) liked the stranger better that participants who had been exposed to photos that nonconsciously induced negative feelings (eg, open-heart surgery, a werewolf). Even though participants were not consciously aware that they had been exposed to the second group of photos while viewing the stranger, the photos did significantly influence the attitudes that were formed toward the stranger. Those exposed to the positive photos reported more favourable attitudes toward the person than those exposed to the negative photos. These findings suggest that attitudes can be influenced by subliminal conditioning - classical conditioning that occurs in the absence of conscious awareness of the stimuli involved. 
Indeed, mere exposure - having seen an object before, but not remembering having seen it - can result in attitude formation. In fact, the effects of mere exposure on attitudes are stronger when the stimuli are presented subliminally compared to when they are consciously perceived (Bornstein & D'Agostino, 1992). Conscious memory for the stimuli is definitely not required; patients with advanced Alzheimer's disease, who therefore cannot remember the stimuli, show evidence of having formed new attitudes as a result of mere exposure (Winograd, Goldsteing, Monarch, Peluso, & Goldman, 1999). - Social Psychology (Twelfth Edition) - Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe & Donn Byrne

Would you know if you were receiving subliminal messages? I mean, let's forget about the whole classical conditioning thing in terms of how adverts and, pretty much everything else, is designed to turn us into the perfect consumers who laugh and cry at all the appropriate moments, and look at only the subliminal messaging thing. If our attitudes can be influenced by pictures that flash so fast that we don't realise they're there, then how do we know that who we are, the choices we make, the things we like and dislike - are actually our own and not just some code that's been programmed into us?

This is nothing new - wars were waged with propaganda and subliminal (and not so subliminal) messages as well as with guns and bombs. It's been going on for decades - and we still haven't caught on. Maybe we have been developed into a state of perfection - prefect consumers. We do not question, we simply accept. We do not question the strange fashions and fads that sweep through our society, we brush it off as a "fact of life". We do not question the genocide of animals on a daily basis to continue supplying us with our meat-rich diets, we just eat. We do not question our obscene obsession with love and romance, to the point of ignoring everything else, we simply let go and fall - in love - again, and again, and again. We do not question our obsession with appearances, beauty and cosmetics; we simply try to fit in.

It's no wonder that we spend our lives trying to "find ourselves" - our nature is now completely dependent on what the current brain control directs us to be. We live our lives searching for ourselves within these obsessions in petty and superficial crap - "who am I?", "where do I belong?", "who will love me?", "maybe if I change my hair colour I will be happier".

We wouldn't know how to make our own choices, completely independently, if our lives depended on it. Who would we be without all of the garbage that gets pumped into us? Most of us would just be empty shells, having no substance without all of our romantic notions, fashion magazines, dramas and gossiping. Take a good, hard look at yourself - who are you? Are you defined by the choices you make in terms of what you see as being what is best, or are you defined by all the ideas and beliefs of what life should be like? Can we claim to have free choice if we only choose that which we blindly accept as "life"?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day 432: This is Why you Like that Stuff

So, this is a continuation from this, I suggest you take a quick squiz for context.

Classical Conditioning: Learning Based on Association
The first process uses a basic principle of psychology - the evoking of an attitude by the association of an unconditioned stimulus with a neural or conditioned stimulus. When a stimulus that is capable of producing a positive response (the unconditional stimulus) regularly precedes a second stimulus (the conditioned stimulus), the first becomes a signal for the second. Advertisers and other persuasion agents have considerable expertise in using this principle to create positive attitudes toward their products. Although tricky in the details, it is actually a fairly straightforward method for creating new attitudes. To start with, you need to know what your potential audience already responds positively toward (what to use as the unconditioned stimulus). If you are marketing a new beer, and your target audience is young adult males, you might safely assume that attractive young women will produce a positive response. Next, your product (in the form of your beer logo, the neutral or conditioned stimulus) is repeatedly paired with images of beautiful women. Before long, positive attitudes will develop toward your new beer. 
This process, known as classical conditioning, has important implications for attitude formation.
Consider how this process might affect not only consumer preferences but also social attitudes. A young child sees her mother frown and show other signs of displeasure each time a member of a particular ethnic group is encountered. At first, the child is neutral toward members of this group and their visible characteristics (eg skin colour, style of dress, accent). The child has not yet learned to categorize these variations in terms of group membership. However once these cues are paired repeatedly with the mother's negative emotional reactions, then classical conditioning occurs, and the child comes to react negatively to members of a particular ethnic group. This can occur without the child having conscious access to the role that her mother's subtle facial changes have had on the attitudes formed (De Houwer, Thomas, & Baeyens, 2001). The result is that the child acquires a negative attitude that is generalised to members of that group as a whole (Walther, 2002), an attitude that may ultimately form the core of prejudice... - Social Psychology, by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe, & Donn Byrne

Why do you make a choice? Why do you choose one product over another? Did you consider that quality of the product? Did you test the quality of the product? Or do you feel a "connection" to that particular product?

We tend to trust those products that we see being advertised, watching the ads make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. The real kicker is that all of this goes one while our brains are deactivated - we don't realise what it is we're actually experiencing within ourselves and why. Think back to your childhood: did you like the peanut butter you saw on TV, or the brand you'd never heard of? Did you fight with your mom for your favourite brand that had the most entertaining advert? Hmmmmm.

As we "evolve" in our society, adverts are changing too. What worked 50 years ago does not work anymore. What does this cause? Well, adverts are becoming more "extreme". Women are getting more naked, kids are getting more spoiled, women are getting more admiration, men are getting more women... What do all of these ideas do to our poor fuzzled brains? They edge us ever closer to living those extremities. We all think we should live like those airbrushed, "perfect" pictures on TV. Obviously we can never attain that - so that is where our imagination comes in to give us a hand.

We use our imaginations to fill in the gaps of imperfection. "Oh, was that a zit over there? Of course not! I don't get zits. Silly me for even thinking that."
"I don't really have anything to talk about with my new boy/girlfriend - but at least he/she looks good. As long as he/she keeps looking good I will be happy. I promise I will."

It's funny what the mind can accomplish - a whole other world inside our heads, where we try to make ourselves believe that our lives are perfect, like the lives we see on TV. So we buy the things that we see on TV, because they are supposed to make us happy - they make the perfect people on TV happy, don't they?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 431: And This is How Brainwashing Begins

I am going to pick up from this blog, where I started discussing various aspects of the nature we call human. I am basing these discussions on the same book: Social Psychology (Twelfth Edition) by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe & Donn Byrne (Pearson international edition). This blog is an introduction, specifics will follow in blogs to come.

So I am starting a new branch of discussion from the tree of psychology about Attitudes - ie Evaluating and responding to the social world (thanks to the book for lending the words):

Social psychologists use the term attitude to refer to people's evaluation of virtually any aspect of their social world (e.g., Olson & Maio, 2003; Petty, Wheeler, & Tormala, 2003). People can have favorable or unfavorable reactions to issues, ideas, objects, a specific behavior (such as cheating on an exam), or entire social groups. Some attitudes are quite stable and resistant to change, while others may be unstable and show considerable variability depending on the situation (Schwarz & Bohner, 2001). We may hold some attitudes with great certainty, while other attitudes may be relatively unclear or uncertain...
... Because attitudes influence behavior, knowing something about them can help us to predict people's overt actions in a wide range of contexts. Recent research found that advertisements resulting in formation of a positive attitude and inducing willingness to purchase a product had persuasive slogans that matched participants' goals orientation (Werth & Foerster, 2007). Knowing how a person generally approaches situations - whether in terms of the gains to be had or the possible losses to be prevented - can determine the most effective route to attitude change. 
For people whose goals are prevention focused - concerned about avoiding losses - a persuasive message that focuses on safety is most effective. On the other hand, for people who are promotion focused - concerned with not missing an opportunity to benefit - a persuasive message that focuses on comfort is most effective.

It amuses me how easily the term "brainwash" is thrown around when people are confronted with some idea that opposes their own beliefs. It amuses me, because we are all so superbly brainwashed - it is somewhat of a paradox. How are we to ever lift ourselves from this brainwashing, if we resist any information that may enlighten us of our state with a passion?

(Question) "Did you ever consider the possibility that you have been brainwashed from the very first instant you cam into existence?"

(Response) "What! You're crazy! YOU are the one who has been brainwashed! F**king psycho. Loon." *Then we go buy useless stuff we don't need because we neeeeeed it*

We go about our days and lives thinking that we are in control, that we think only those thoughts that we want to think, because we are the ones who came up with those thoughts and that we are who we are because we decided to be this way. (But then, when asked why we do certain things, we blame it on our nature and claim to have no control over our thoughts, words or actions. Hmmm)

A child growing up in a Christian home will not spontaneously become a Buddhist because that is "who they are" - the child will, in all likelihood, be a Christian - at least for a while. The child cannot claim that he/she was a Christian because of God, Jesus or the bible - the child was a Christian because his/her parents taught him/her to be. (I will go into something called "classical conditioning" in future blogs, which will explain how parents teach children to be a certain way and have particular beliefs and views.)

Do you like the things you like because that is a part of who you are, or do you like these things because our society has persuaded you to like these things, with pretty pictures and words to convince you?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Day 430: My Wealth Makes the World a Better Place

Deanna Mulligan

"The way I've thought about my entire career is: 'Am I working on something interesting today? Is what I'm working on impactful to the broader society in some way?' If so, yes, I'll keep doing it," Guardian Life Insurance CEO Mulligan told CNN.

It's interesting how we justify the inequality in our society. The rich work hard for their money, and because of this, they need slightly less intelligent people to do things for them, like make their food, fix their TV's, wash their cars. If there weren't any poor people, then the rich people would have to do all those unpleasant chores themselves.

Here's a neat quote from episode 10, season 2 of South Park:

Kyle: Well how come Kenny's family eats frozen waffles for dinner and has rats on the floor, and we have a big house and lots of food?
Gerald: Well, because Kenny's family doesn't have as much money as we do.
Kyle: But why? If they're hungry and poor, why don't we just always give them half of our food?
Gerald: Ha ha ha ha ha! Ooh-ho boy, have you got a lot to learn! Sit down, son. [Gerald sits and motions for Kyle to sit on his lap] You see, Kyle, we humans work as a society, and in order for a society to thrive, we need gods, and clods.
Kyle: Gods and clods?
Gerald: Yes. You see, I spent a lot of time going to law school, and I was able to go because I have a slightly higher intellect than others. But I still need people to pump my gas, and make my French fries, and fix my laundry machine when it breaks down.
Kyle: Oooohh, I see. Gods and clods!
Gerald: That's right. So Kenny's family is happy just the way they are, and we're all a functioning part of America.

Everyone wants to be a "god", but the way that the system was set up allows for only a part of the population to hold that title - the rest are "clods". The rich people like to think that the poor people "are happy where they are", not actually putting themselves in the shoes of those poor people. They will, however, give lots of money to charities who claim to be doing "lots of stuff" to improve the lives of this or that disenfranchised group... But if we just take a look around, we will not see any actual changes. Charities have been around for generations, but none of them have taken the initiative to even look at the cause of the current state of society being as it is. Charities are focused on providing aid to "relieve the symptoms" of our f***ked-up society - but no more than that.

So now, those people who have money live like they are, through their wealth, allowing other people to exist and "make a living" - even though it is not enough to allow for what any of us would call "living" - rather call it "surviving". The poor should be grateful to the rich for giving them these jobs. If the rich weren't rich, then there would be no jobs for anyone. Because that makes sense.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day 429: We Care about Your Health

There are some companies that claim to care about our health. It's funny then when some little fact comes out that shows just how much they "care".

One of the food and clothing chain stores in South Africa, Woolworths, is big about "healthy living" and "sustainable farming" etc. They have the widest selection of free range and organic foods out of all of the chain stores.

Now I was looking at a bottle of drinking yoghurt. The label noted that it was sweetened, so I was curious as to how much this yoghurt is sweetened. There is 54 grams of sugar in a 300ml bottle. that is more sugar than there is in a can of Coca Cola. That is the equivalent of almost 13 teaspoons of sugar in just over full cup (one measured cup = 250ml) of yoghurt. That's how much sugar there is in 100 grams of a Cadbury Dairy Milk slab of chocolate. That is A LOT of sugar.

These days, everyone knows that too much sugar is a very bad thing for us - so why are companies still promoting foods as being "healthy", meanwhile these products are packed with sugar to make them taste better? This drinking yoghurt has all these pretty things on the label about probiotics and what not - but what good are probiotics when your body is trying to deal with 12.8 teaspoons of sugar at the same time?

Here is an article from the August issue of the National Geographic magazine, Sugar Love.

Did you know that even some meat has sugar in it? Did you know that yoghurt, in general, has more sugar in it (if one were to compare similar quantities) than Coke? Did you know that Ketchup (Tomato Sauce) has sugar in it? Did you know that bread has sugar in it?

People feed their kids cereals because cereal is advertised and promoted as being "healthy". Well, you know why kids like it so much? Cos it's packed with sugar to make it taste good.

Now, moving back to the point of stores and companies promoting their products as "healthy" - do you think the shops would include on their "fresh caught fish" that countless other fish were killed catching the fish you are buying, just because they get caught up in the nets? How often do you come across a company that will actually show you the apparently "free range" farms that their eggs and meat comes from? How can we possibly know if the labels are true at all?

There may be watchdog organisations, but what do we really know about them? Are they, for example, funded by the companies they are supposed to be watching? Do these food stores have buddies in the watchdog organisation that fast tracks their application for "free range" or "organic" status? Can we go on a blind trust that they really do care about our health and that they have our very best interests at heart?

What I have noticed, is that money is often more important to a person or to a company, that other people. Who can we really trust when money is involved?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 428: Violence is Never the Answer

Ours is a history of violence, and we have carried our history forward with us, into the present. War, rape, murder, torture, slavery, beatings, verbal attacks, oppression, suppression, genocides, patricide, infanticide, assassination, protests, uprisings, revolutions... Violence has become a part of our self image, we readily accept the presence of violence in what we believe to be life and humanity without much questioning. We accept violence as a part of who we are, but do not consider or realize that violence has only ever led to more violence.

A huge part of humanity believes that violence holds the answer to our ills. Religious followers believe that violence will convert the world. Countries believe that war will convert communists into being capitalists - oh sorry, I mean "democracy". Parents believe that violence will make their children obey. Soldiers believe that violence will protect the lives of their countrymen. Protesters believe that violence will change whatever it is they are protesting. Interrogators believe that violence will cause a person to confess. Men believe that violence will subdue their women. Cast-outs believe that violence will make them accepted.

Violence, like so much else in this world, is no cure. It is no solution. It is a temporary suppression of certain symptoms, but it in no way addresses the cause of the problem. Violence does not cause one to respect life. Violence does not cause one to understand the concept of authority. Violence does not cause one to alter one's beliefs. Violence does not advance our understanding of the nature of life. Violence does not protect life. Violence does not honour life.

Violence ultimately represents our lack of understanding of ourselves and of our fellow man. Violence is the manifestation of our lack of communication. It is the manifestation of our self-involvedness, an indication of how little interest we have in developing a real solution that would honour life.

The only thing that violence achieves is to deepen our mental wounds. Where we once hated a group for wronging our grandparents in some way, we now hate them for wronging our siblings. We are taught to have animosity for certain peoples, depending on what knowledge our parents choose to bestow upon our young minds - so one could say that we come into the world already hating certain people for some thing(s) they did in the past. Chances are, something new will happen in our lifetime that will cause us to hate these peoples even more. They do something to hurt you, so you retaliate and do something to hurt them. That is the nature of war, a cyclical revitalization of feelings of hatred and mistrust.

We participate in this circle of violence in our own lives as well, we exert some form of violence on the people (and animals) around us, which is returned in kind. We even allow violence to exist within our thoughts. What does this violence bring us? How does it enrich our lives? How does it improve our children's futures?

Stop the violence. Investigate the cause. Commit to a new way of living that does not include violence. Honour life.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day 427: I Stand by my Political Affiliations

Every country has it's own political dramas - each one having splintered segments of its population, divided according to political views (or non views).

Conservative vs Liberal, Republican vs Democratic, Socialist vs Capitalist - and then there are all the different variations and subgroups of these orders. Let's also not forget the monarchies, oligarchies, dictatorships, resistance fighters, rebels and religious leaders.

What do all of these titles and groups mean in a collective society that cannot feed everyone, clothe everyone, teach everyone to read & write, house everyone, or keep everyone safe? What do politics matter, compared to these things? Politics have just become a distraction - keeping us from giving our full attention to the things that really matter.

Consider the American political arena: Presidential candidates make big promises, with no actual plan behind these promises to implement them. They use their charms to collect voters, and say all the things that people want them to say. How many of these candidates are actually interested in the well being of the country and its citizens? Not many, it seems, for they live like royalty, spending huge amounts of money on things like "public image", "voter approval" and whatever other rating systems we have thought up to apparently "measure" the worthiness of the candidate. There are no practical solutions, it's all bright lights, pretty pictures and nice words - nothing that is actually substantial.

In South Africa, all the politicians need to do is claim that they fight for freedom, and they will meet with the approval of the voting public. Scandals of money mismanagement, multi-million rand parties, multi-million rand mansions, huge "black holes" in the budgets of municipalities, healthcare & education services - none of these things make a dent in the public images of the politicians so long as they say all the right words and stir up all the right emotions to win the hearts of the voters.

While we argue, debate, poll and cheer, the lives of the billions of beings that suffer do not change. Our interests in and dedication to politics does not change the world. We are essentially living in a fariytale where "republican", "democratic", "liberal", "conservative", "socialist", "capitalist", "royalty" and all the others have become empty shells - they do not mean anything if they are incapable of effecting real change. Most of our lives, the things we do, think & talk about do not mean anything - they do not change the world, they do not make the streets safer, they do not educate our children, they do not, feed us, they do not house us, they do not clothe us - they do these things for only a few people: the politicians themselves who are making a living by dazzling us all with their sparkling smiles and charming personalities.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 426: Do you Love your Neighbour?

I have two questions for each and every person reading this:

  1. Would you want to be guaranteed your survival - a decent and comfortable life? Would you want this to be guaranteed to your children?
  2. Would you still want this if it meant that every other person in the world was given the same guarantee?
If your answer to the 2nd question was no, then you have some serious soul searching to do. What changes in these 2 scenarios, that one might answer "yes" to the first but "no" to the second? Why would we not want to give to our fellow man that which we wish for ourselves? An interesting twist, to say the least.

Or perceptions of "worth" and "worthiness" is so warped that we cannot even wish for another person whom we do not know, or do not love, a decent life - the kind of life we would want for ourselves and for our children. Why do we scorn others with this vile hatred, this unforgiving spitefulness? This is what we are doing - do not fool yourself. Every day we justify the minimum wage, every day we justify low-cost housing, every day we justify the poverty line, every day we justify inadequate nutrition. Every day that we wake up and think to ourselves "What a wonderful life." we are making a statement that it is acceptable to be homeless, hungry and hopeless.

Every day that we justify this world system - our economic system, government corruption, educational inefficiency, government inability - we are imposing upon millions of humans the kinds of lives we would not want to experience. Every time we listen to the news and hear about some wage negotiations and think that the employees should just take what little raise the company is offering, we are imposing a particular lifestyle on those employees - whatever lifestyle they can afford. Every time that we debate the morality of the minimum wage without a practical understanding of what it is to actually live on the minimum wage, we are imposing a lifestyle on people which we would not want for ourselves or for our children.

So I ask you again: If you had the choice to live with the guarantee of the fulfillment of all of your basic needs to live a comfortable life, but the cost of choosing this would be that everyone else received the same guarantee - would you take it? Or would you choose to impose slavery on other living beings. Slavery is what our current system is imposing on billions of humans and animals - In the old days the master (the one with money) would provide you with a place to sleep and food to eat, all that has changed is that the master now provides you with money for you to, if it's even enough, but a place to sleep and food to eat. A huge portion of humanity lives on the minimum wage - this is slavery. All these people do is work themselves to the bone just to scrape by. This is abuse. This is exploitation. The rich exploit the poor so that the rich may continue their lifestyles. This is unacceptable.

Investigate Living Income Guaranteed - to guarantee the comfort of all humans - and thus also all of the world.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 425: The Nature of the Man

My dad, Bernard Poolman, was somewhat unique. As far back as I can remember, he never had one nasty thought or word towards another person. Being in his presence was always a reprieve from the feelings of judgement coming from other people, and oneself. I have never met anyone who was so completely accepting of every person he met - but at the same time he demanded that you be the very best you could be.

Let me give you some context for when I say he judged no one: We all seem to have this tendency to judge people and things all the time. It is very rare to simply be, without any thoughts - conscious ones or otherwise - running around in our minds about who, what, with whom, or where we are. Even if we are just thinking about what someone else might be thinking of us, we are always on the defensive, ready to switch to the offensive at any sign of aggression. We are constantly churning out these nasty little thoughts about people, just in case they are doing the same to us. Now, I am sure that we all know the feeling: when we know that someone is thinking not-so-pleasant things about us - you would never feel that way around Bernard. He saw through you, but with no judgement. He saw all of you and accepted you. He saw all of you and then challenged you to challenge yourself.

He never bullshitted you - he was always clear, direct and honest. There was never that feeling that he was "tiptoeing" around you, or avoiding some issue. His timing was always perfect for discussing potentially conflict-producing topics, especially personal ones. He would wait until you were ready to actually hear him before speaking about whatever the point is that you were dealing with - be it jealousy in a relationship, conflict with a room mate, self judgements - whatever.

Many people may ask me: What was it like to have Bernard as your father? He was always with me, even when he was away on business when I was young - he would phone every day and ask how my day had been and how I was. He answered my questions plainly and clearly, never thinking up some fairytale answer to make the world seem nicer. He encouraged me to develop my mind in terms of mathematics, giving me sums to do that were far beyond what I was doing in school. He encouraged me to read as much as I could. He allowed me the freedom to discover what I enjoyed. He allowed me to be honest with him - because of this I could not keep anything from him, I felt I had to be honest. He allowed me to make mistakes, but he would always warn me of the consequences beforehand and be there for me if I needed him. He challenged me to see things as they are and not how they appear to be. He challenged me to be honest with myself. He made the time to spend with me. He taught me to put myself in the shoes of another and consider fully their position before making a choice.

I cannot imagine my life without him - but now I must. I must remember his example and strive to do for others what he did for me. I must be patient. I must be kind and not cruel. I must be considerate. I must be dedicated. I must be honest. I must be clear of judgements. I must be open to communication. I must be brave. I must have courage - for the path we walk is one that the world condemns, for it is the path that does not accept the world for it's abuses and atrocities. Ours is a path of controversy for saying what no one else dares to say. Ours is a path of aloneness, for we will be rejected by society for calling society out for what it is: nasty, cruel, abusive, vengeful, hateful, spiteful, false, jealous, envious, angry, ignorant. Our path may be long and hard, but we shall not falter until we can honestly say that Earth is a H(e)aven for everyone.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day 424: What does this Mean for Us?

I don't think we realise how much we define ourselves by those few people who are close to us, until they are gone. Bernard made more of a difference than most people ever will in the lives of the people he met. Now that he is gone, we are realising how much we depended on him to be there to tell us when we were doing something that we might end up regretting later, or when we were not considering all the possible factors that may influence whatever point we were working with, or when we were simply being downright dishonest with ourselves.

In a way, this was necessary so that we could actually take responsibility for ourselves and our thoughts - before we relied on Bernard to "set us straight" - we saw him as a point of stability for us that we could use whenever we didn't want to be the directive principle of our own lives and stabilize ourselves.

I have never met another person like him - he had this sense of absolute certainty - there was never any hesitation when you spoke to him, he always had a clear answer that made sense, either immediately or after discussion. How often will we meet someone like that? He took on the point of standing as a principle, which is rare enough, and lived as an example, always patient with you, always with a comprehensive understanding of where you were in your process and life. We relied on him too much. In that sense we almost forced him to die, so that we could actually take responsibility for ourselves. Was this preventable? Yes. Was it inevitable? Maybe.

There may not be another like him. We will spend our lives living up to the example he set: always put LIFE first. It is easy to die for a cause, it is difficult to live for one - to give up your self interest and act only in the best interests of all life. Bernard did this, he pushed so hard to make this life better that it ended up being the death of him. He literally gave all of himself. His every waking moment was spent in awareness of all the things in this life that need to change: the abuse, exploitation, dishonesty, suffering, war, cruelty, starvation, lack of parenting, lack of education.

We can never become like him, or "fill his shoes" - it is pointless to try to achieve the impossible. We each have different strengths - and weaknesses - and we each must develop ourselves and support each other to become the best we can be. We have everything we need - Bernard never planned to be the one to head any political movements - all along he was only laying the foundation, we must fill in the details and build the remaining 90% of the structure. His death does not change this. His death does not remove what we have already done. His death does not diminish our abilities. His death does not invalidate our principles. His death does not alter self forgiveness. Over the years he said the same things over and over - we have everything we need. Now we stand.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Day 423: My Dad is Dead

My dad is dead. I felt safest around him. His presence enveloped me in a cocoon of safety, trust, honesty and silence. Now he is gone - at least in the physical sense. Who he is remains, integrated into this existence we are each a part of.

He taught me to question everything - from TV shows to words, relationships, people, my thoughts, my beliefs, my assumptions, the health system, the governments, education systems, politics, economic, psychology. He taught me how to look at this world in a way that is contrary to the norm. He taught me how to trust myself. He taught me how to talk to people. He taught me what real love is. He showed me what it is to sacrifice yourself for the good of all.

When he looked into your eyes, he saw all of you - even those thoughts you tried to hide. This made many people uncomfortable.

He challenged your self beliefs "Is this really who you are? That which you so strongly believe yourself to be?" Most could not bear to answer him.

He challenged your intentions "You say you care, so then live like you care - show you care. Stand and live by principles and a practical plan that will bring about change. Saying you care does not change the world."

He challenged your relationships "Why do you allow sexual thoughts of a person other than your partner? Do you realise what the consequences of this are?"

He challenged the world system and your trust in it "Why do you accept a system that does not care for each and every being? Why do you trust in a system that is based on exploitation and allows daily genocides?"

He challenged your commitments "Why are you not consistent? Why are you allowing yourself to only do the bare minimum?"

He was controversial - but only because what we already accept as being acceptable is so completely unacceptable that the only things we consider to be reasonable are abuse and inequality. Bernard demanded equality and so he was labelled as controversial.

He is not here to motivate us anymore - we must motivate ourselves.

He is not here to challenge our beliefs and what we accept and allow anymore - we must challenge ourselves.

He is not here to remind us to be patient anymore - we must give ourselves patience.

He is not here to quiet our thoughts anymore - we must quiet our own thoughts.

He is not here to resolve our petty conflicts anymore - we must stand in stability with others and breathe through our reactions, not allow words coming from emotions.

I commit myself to walk this path I have chosen. I commit myself to stand by the principles that are best for all. I shall not waiver.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Day 422: What Could Have Been...

This is a continuation of my previous posts, starting on Day 16 - please read at least this first post for some context.

Counterfactual thinking: Imagining what might have been, EG: "If only I had studied longer and harder I would have done better in the exam."

Depending on its focus, counterfactual thinking can yield either boosts to, or reductions in, our current moods. If individuals imagine upward counterfactuals, comparing their current outcomes with more favourable ones than they experiences, the result may be strong feelings of dissatisfaction or envy, especially if they do not feel capable of obtaining better outcomes in the future (Sanna, 1997). Olympic athletes who won a silver medal but who can easily imagine winning a gold one, experience such reactions (eg, Medvec, Madey, & Gilovich, 1995). Alternatively, if individuals compare their current outcomes with less favourable ones - it might have been worse - they may experience positive feelings of satisfaction and hopefulness. Such reactions have been found among Olympic athletes who won bronze medals and who can easily imagine what it would be like to have not won any medal whatsoever (eg, Gleicher et al., 1995). In sum, engaging in counterfactual thought can strongly influence affective states (Medvec, & Savitsky, 1997).

This is only a small extract from the section on counterfactual thinking. What is also discussed is how we will change our opinions or level of sympathy towards someone, for example, based on the counterfactual thoughts we generate. So say someone is in an accident, they left work early to run an errand but was hit by a car and is now in hospital. Our sympathy towards this person may be influenced by thoughts of "well he/she shouldn't be leaving work early in the first place - if he/she hadn't done that, then they would not have been in the accident" - these thoughts can become so severe that we may end up feeling strong negative emotions toward this person.

Many of us live in the grip of what might have been, creating scenarios in our heads of how we end up being super amazing and how everyone loves us and the world revolves around us. Don't try to deny it - just don't. We create entirely separate worlds of "The life I could have lived" and end up invest a huge amount of ourselves into these make-believe worlds - our time, our attention, our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams and wishes. Sometimes we end up believing that this imaginary world we've created is more real that the world around us. Well hell, we all believe that - if we didn't then we wouldn't live the way we so, as if we can rewind time and redo life on Earth so that Earth is not turned into a toxic cesspool.

Maybe this is where our sense of superiority comes from: our vested interests in our imaginations of what could have been. We spend a large chunk of our lives imagining how great we are, it's no wonder we each think of ourselves as "secretly special", or better than we actually are.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Day 421: My Life will be AMAZING

This is a continuation of my previous posts, starting on Day 416 - please read at least this post for context and details of the book I am quoting from.

While most of us recognize that our past has been mixed in terms of highs and lows, we tend to forecast a rosy or golden future - one in which we will be quite happy and in which few negative events happen to us. In fact, research by Newby-Clark and Ross (2003) indicates that this tendency is so strong that it occurs even when people have just recalled negative episodes from their own pasts... ...When we think about the future, in contrast, we tend to concentrate on desirable goals, personal happiness, and doing things we have always wanted to do - such as engaging in travel to exotic places. The result? Because our thinking is dominated by these positive thoughts, we make highly optimistic predictions about the future and tend to perceive it as indeed golden, at least in its promise or potential for us.

This entire book on social psychology I am reading is just a testament to the stupidity and ignorance of the human race. We are all living in our magical fantasies where everything turns out OK and we are finally happy. I suppose that this post is going to continue, at least in part, from yesterday's post on optimism.

People wonder how the world and the human condition deteriorated to its current state of completely screwed up. Really? It amazes me: psychologists have found a part of the answer, but instead of actually using it and working out a solution that will improve our lives, they sit around philosophizing and theorizing and doing F knows what else - what I do know is that they are most certainly not doing anything to improve our lives on a large scale - not everyone can afford therapy.

So let me break it down: We are living in fantasies in our heads more than we are living in the real world. We care more about our imaginary lives and ideals than we do about the actual world and people around us. We would rather imagine having sex than actually having sex because we like it more. We are content to dream about how amazing a holiday would be and how we would be the life of the party, instead of actually changing our lives and the world so that everyone can go on holiday. We are content to imagine ourselves being super-amazing in whatever situations, because doing it for real may not turn out quite as well as it does in our heads. We create all sorts of weird and not-so-wonderful connections, ideals and definitions relating to our relationships with other people so that the relationships we imagine having differ vastly from how they actually are.

Is it any wonder that the world is falling apart when we spend so little time actually being in it? Let's face it: the way things turn out in real life are seldom as lovely as how they turn out in our minds - the problem is that we actively choose to live in our heads and not in the real world - we are so focused on our magnificent futures that we don't consider the lives of others around us, all we want is our happiness, even if we never actually get it and only imagine it.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day 420: I am Infallible, Invincible and Downright Amazing

This is a continuation of my previous posts starting on Day 416 - please read at least that post for context.

So, the topic I am discussing today (taken from my book on Social Psychology mentioned in Day 416, link above) is all about our positive outlook on life. Behold:

While the tendency to notice negative information is a strong one, we also have a seemingly opposite tendency known as the optimistic bias - a powerful predisposition to expect things to turn out well overall. In fact, research findings indicate that most people believe that they are more likely than others to experience positive events, and less likely to experience negative events (eg Sheppard, Ouellette, & Fernandez, 1996). Similarly, we often have greater confidence in our beliefs or judgements than is justified - an effect known as the overconfidence barrier (Vallone, Ross, & Lepper, 1985). Our strong leaning toward optimism is seen in many other contexts, too: Most people believe that they are more likely than others to get a good job, have a happy marriage, and live to a ripe old age but are less likely to experience negative outcomes, such as being fired, getting seriously ill, or getting divorced (eg Schwarzer, 1994). And when entrepreneurs start a new business, they believe that the chances of making it successful are much higher than is actually true (Baron & Shane, 2007).

The book goes on to talk about another fallacy of our over-optimism: a planning fallacy, where we tend to focus so much on the future when planning things, that we do not take relevant past experiences into account, as well as not taking possible obstacles into account, which leads us to make overly optimistic time frames for when our task will be completed. For example within governments: new roads, new airports, new bridges, etc will have overly optimistic schedules that are not actually based on practical planning by taking all possible circumstances into consideration. We do the same within our own lives, planning that something will take a certain amount of time, but it ends up taking much longer.

What does this say about who we are? Is this something we are bound to keep repeating - is it a part of our nature? Essentially, this optimistic tendency of ours shows exactly how much we live in our own little fantasy worlds. We would rather not consider the reality of the situation (ie, shit happens - there may be an accident, there may be delays, there may be death, there may be traffic) and instead think about "how wonderful life will be once this or that is finished, or has happened."

This type of thinking and living causes an interesting thing: It causes us to live as if we have already won, or accomplished what we have set out to do. This then causes us to not give the task, whatever it may be, our full attention and consideration. This can be translated and recognised within multiple aspects of our lives, for example, in relationships: We exist within relationships as if they are already the best they could be, and therefore do not actually spend any time or effort on improving our dynamics with our partner. We live within and treat our relationship/partner as if it is enough to simply be in the relationship and want to grow old together - it is not enough - relationships require, well I don't want to say work, but work to thrive. We cannot merely exist and expect everything to work itself out, we must take the initiative and work to improve our communication, understanding, sexual expression, etc with our partner. There is no magic fairy that will make everything OK.

That is the crux of the problem: we believe that everything in our lives will just magically happen to us - that issues will magically solve themselves. Although it is a nice notion, it is still just a fantasy. Our lives, our society and our planet will not magically bend to our desires - we must actually move ourselves within this world to effect the changes we want to see, to create the lives we want for ourselves and for each other.

All that this optimistic outlook creates is an apathy within us, an apathy born out of a blind and insane hope that everything "will work out" for us and that our lives will be happy and meaningful, while the world crumbles around us. Well I suppose we will still have our hope after toxic waste consumes the planet, maybe the magical fairy will decide to save us then.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Day 419: I Love Myself, I Hate Myself

This is a continuation of the discussion I've been posting over the past few days starting on Day 416 - please read at least this one for a basic understanding of the terms I am using.

Imagine that you meet someone for the first time and are forming a first impression of this person. Most of the information you notice is positive: This person is pleasant, friendly, and seems intelligent. But in addition, you notice that he is also somewhat conceited; he has what appears to be an excessively positive view of his own characteristics. What kind of impression do you form? Research indicates that probably it will be quite negative (Kunda, 1999). Why? Because it appears that we pay more attention to negative information than we do to positive information about another person, an event, or almost anything(eg Cacioppo, Gardner, & Brentson, 1997). Social psychologists refer to this effect as negativity bias, and it seems to be both general and powerful, strongly influencing our social thought in many different situations.
From an evolutionary perspective, this tendency makes a great deal of sense. Negative information reflects features of the external world that may, potentially, be threatening to our safety or well-being. For this reason, it is especially important that we be sensitive to such stimuli and thus be able to respond to them quickly. Research findings offer support for this reasoning. For instance, consider our ability to recognise facial expressions in other. It appears that we are faster and more accurate in detecting negative facial expressions (eg, ones showing anger or hostility) than positive facial expressions (eg, ones showing friendliness [Ohman, Lundqvist, & Esteves, 2001]).

Interesting, we interpret negative interactions, or even facial expressions and body language, as being a potential threat to our survival. That's pretty extreme, if you ask me. It makes sense though, if you take a good look at the world we live in: suspicion, deception, murder, war, competition, and more is rife - a clear indication as to the nature of our minds and thoughts. If we were a peaceful people then this would be a peaceful world. The sad thing is that we could be a peaceful people, but we choose to remain ignorant to the fact that that choice is available to us.

So why else would we focus on and single out negative aspects over positive ones? And we do not only do this with the things, places and people we encounter in our environments - we do this with ourselves as well. We are a contradictory species - driven by a high level of self interest borne from a profound love of self, but also despise ourselves and abuse ourselves extensively because of this.

It may be that our negative views are developed so that we can feel better about ourselves - our minds' attempts to not feel quite so shitty about ourselves. We meet another person and, by the end of the meeting, will have found an assortment of things that are "wrong" with this new acquaintance. We then start comparing these things to ourselves and boost our ego's. Later on, though, we will inevitably resort to criticizing ourselves for all of our own perceived faults. And so, the wars within us go on, with battles for supremacy being won and lost on both sides, but neither ever quite getting an edge over the other.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Day 418: The Law of the Land

This is a continuation from my 2 previous posts: Days 416 & 417 - Please read at least the first one for a basic foundation of today's post.

So, according to my book on Social Psychology, schemas are pretty hard to get rid of. Resistant to change. The perseverance effect is what it is called - meaning that schemas will remain unchanged even in the face of contradictory information. Racism is a good example - it makes no logical sense, but is a prevalent state of mind simply because it was learned by children and adults through example.

What does this imply about us? That we have no self control? That we have no self awareness? That we are pre-programmed? That we have no control over our lives? That we have no self discipline? That we are slaves to our natures?

On the topic of human nature: do our schemas determine our natures, or do our natures determine our schemas?

So, we do not choose this life (ie we did not choose to be born); we do not choose our parents; we apparently do not choose our natures; we apparently do not choose our schemas; and we apparently are practically incapable of letting go of any established schema. Well, what the hell is the point of living, if all we are are predesigned machines with no real free choice? Do not fool yourself - if we are unable to choose even who we are as the thoughts we have, then we do not truly have free choice. Would you accuse a prisoner of having free choice? Maybe insofar as the limits of the prison walls and routine allows, a prisoner has free choice - but no more. So if we are living according to schemas and all sorts of things over which we have absolutely no control - and these things are actively influencing and determining our very thoughts, feelings, experiences and actions - then can we truly claim to have free choice? We are each effectively brainwashed to be who we are, brainwashed from a lifetime of receiving and integrating inputs from the people around us, to such an extent that we cannot comprehend any kind of scenario that falls outside of our brainwashing parameters - this most certainly does not indicate that free choice is possible.

Essentially, we have absolutely no control over our lives. We all go through our days thinking we are the cat's pajamas - that at least within our own selves, our word is law. But now if our words are not truly our own we cannot claim to be the lawmaker, only a figurehead with no real power. We play at being kings and queens, but we have no real understanding of how our castles (bodies) or countries or planet functions. We may as well be children running around with wooden broomsticks, pretending that they are our noble steeds.

The real directors of our lives are the schemas that we are living according to. Now how does that make you feel?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 417: Priming

I will continue my discussion that I started yesterday - Please refer to it for descriptions of some of the terms I will be using.

The stronger and more well developed schemas are, the more likely they are to influence our thinking and especially our memory for social information. 
Schemas can be temporarily activated by what is known as priming - transitory increases in the ease with which specific schemas can be activated produced by situations relevant to schemas.
...recent experiences make some schemas more active than they would otherwise be, and as a result, they exert stronger effects on our current thinking. 
...(studies) suggest that priming tends to have long lasting effects once it occurs... it can be deactivated by something social psychologists describe as unpriming. What unpriming means is that if some thoughts or actions are primed by a recent experience, this priming only persists until it somehow finds expression. Once it does, the effect dissipates. 

This priming effect, something no one seems to be aware of, is present in pretty much every aspect of our day-to-day lives. When we watch TV we are "primed" by the shows, movies, adverts, actors, music, words, ideas, ideals. When we go to school we are primed by the tone of the teacher and our classmates. When we go to work we are primed by the moods of our coworkers, the pressure that is placed on us, the tone of the customers we deal with. At home we are primed by our family members. When we're out on the town we are primed by the settings we enter, the mood of the places we go to, the energy of the crowds.

So if we're spending every day being constantly stimulated into thinking about certain things in certain ways, leading us to speak and act according to this priming - then how much of ourselves is actually who we are? Can we claim to be independent, autonomous beings if we don't actually have any awareness of why we do what we do - never mind that we're actually being influenced to act and think in certain ways without us even knowing. Can we claim to be in control of ourselves? Can we claim to have free choice? We are brainwashed and we don't even know it - how's that for ignorance?

I suppose that the very definition of brainwashed implies a form of ignorance - it is not easy to recognise that you are brainwashed if that is all you know. Once again, psychologists have discovered, researched and studied the effects of priming - so why have advertisements not been banned as a violation of human rights due to attempting to brainwash people into feeling a certain way about a (probably unrealistic, or simply false) presentation of a product or service? Why do psychologists not demand that the content of TV shows, movies and adverts be altered in order to minimise priming and maximise the education of the human, so that we might learn to recognise attempted priming and then choose not to be affected by it? Isn't that what people who care about people would do? Wouldn't they want what is best for all people? Why else would someone choose the career of psychology/psychiatry if not to help people?

Priming influences the way we see things and think. This implies that we have no sense of internal stability, we are as flimsy as a piece of string,  flopping this way and that according to what we see around us. I don't know about you, but I don't want to live like that - I don't want to be influenced to become or think aggressively just because I watched a movie with aggression in it - do you? I don't want bad moods to follow me around all day after a negative experience. I want to be able to take a deep breath and move forward without looking back and taking the rest of the day, week, month, year, or my life around with me on my shoulders. We live our lives thinking we have no choice, thinking that there is no way to control or direct the way we think or feel, thinking that we are at the mercy of various "forces" pushing us this way and that. You know what? It may not be easy, given how we have spent all of our lives believing what we do - but it is possible. We can change the way we think, act and feel so that  we never have to carry around a bad mood all day. We don't have to snap at our family after a stressful day.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 416: I am in CONTROL

I will start with describing a few terms that I will be using, if not now, then in posts to come.

  • Schema: A framework for specific situations, built from past experiences. They are mental frameworks centering on specific themes that help us to organise social information. An example would be one's idea of what an hour in Maths class is like, or going out to a restaurant - these are experiences that we come to have certain expectations about. 
  • Affect: Our current feelings, mood, or emotions. 
  • Priming: A situation that occurs when stimuli or events increase the availability in memory or consciousness t\of specific types of information held in memory - for example: you go to watch a violent movie and afterward go to a shopping center where someone cuts in front of you to take your parking spot - chances are you will perceive the other driver's action as aggressive, because you have had your aggressive schema activated by the violent movie, more so than if you had watched a comedy. 
  • Unpriming: The effects of the primed schemas tend to persist until they are somehow expressed in thought or behaviour and only then do their effects decrease. 
 This information I have taken from a book called Social Psychology (12th edition) by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe & Donn Byrne.

So, we all have schemas which we develop throughout our lives based on recurring similar experiences. The social psychology book says that schemas are used to help organise social knowledge and assumptions about the situations or themes, which then helps us to process the information. I call it brainwashing.

I will take some excerpts from the book...

...schemas play a role in determining what we notice about the social world, what information we remember, and how we use and interpret such information. 
Schemas have been found to influence all of these aspects of social cognition... With respect to attention, schemas often act as a kind of filter: Information consistent with them is more likely to be noticed and to enter our consciousness. Information that does not fit with our schemas is often ignored, unless it is so extreme that we can't help but notice it. And even then, it is often discounted as "the exception that proves the rule."
Turning to encoding... the information that becomes the focus of our attention is much more likely to be stored in long-term memory... in general, it is information that is consistent with our schemas that  is encoded.
...this research suggests that people tend to report remembering and using information that is consistent with schemas to a greater effect than information that is inconsistent. 
The stranger and more well developed schemas are, the more likely they are to influence our thinking and especially our memory for social information. 

There is a lot more I could quote, but I would like to add my 2 cents before the end of the week.

Psychology has determined that we are influenced by these schemas we develop and that we can be influenced by external sources by activating our schemas. So now, why the hell is Psychology not making this known to the general public? It seems like something that, once being aware of it, one could actually really assess one's life and thoughts - because it brings the realisation that we are puppets, shaped and molded by everything around us, and we have practically no say over who we will be in our lives. Why does psychology not develop and research how we can rewrite our schemas to be supportive, or how we can take control of our lives and not live according to whatever schema inside us has been "activated" by this or that advert, song, sentence, whatever.

There is some interesting stuff in this book, which I will be discussing over the next... however long.