Cognitive Quotes

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Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief.
Frantz Fanon (Black Skin, White Masks)
The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Infidel)
When good people consider you the bad guy, you develop a heart to help the bad ones. You actually understand them.
Criss Jami (Killosophy)
There are two circumstances that lead to arrogance: one is when you're wrong and you can't face it; the other is when you're right and nobody else can face it.
Criss Jami (Diotima, Battery, Electric Personality)
We speak not only to tell other people what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think. Speech is a part of thought.
Oliver Sacks (Seeing Voices)
Many abused children cling to the hope that growing up will bring escape and freedom. But the personality formed in the environment of coercive control is not well adapted to adult life. The survivor is left with fundamental problems in basic trust, autonomy, and initiative. She approaches the task of early adulthood――establishing independence and intimacy――burdened by major impairments in self-care, in cognition and in memory, in identity, and in the capacity to form stable relationships. She is still a prisoner of her childhood; attempting to create a new life, she reencounters the trauma.
Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
I think a lot of psychopaths are just geniuses who drove so fast that they lost control.
Criss Jami (Killosophy)
Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.
Yuval Noah Harari
Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting. Most people learn best by being "with it," yet school makes them identify their personal, cognitive growth with elaborate planning and manipulation.
Ivan Illich (Deschooling Society)
Hope is not an emotion; it's a way of thinking or a cognitive process.
Brené Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection)
Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferals of information.
Paulo Freire (Pedagogy of the Oppressed)
Cognitive robotics can integrate information from pre-operation medical records with real-time operating metrics to guide and enhance the precision of physicians’ instruments. By processing data from genuine surgical experiences, they’re able to provide new and improved insights and techniques. These kinds of improvements can improve patient outcomes and boost trust in AI throughout the surgery. Robotics can lead to a 21% reduction in length of stay.
Ronald M. Razmi (AI Doctor: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare - A Guide for Users, Buyers, Builders, and Investors)
If you have a comprehensive explanation for everything then it decreases uncertainty and anxiety and reduces your cognitive load. And if you can use that simplifying algorithm to put yourself on the side of moral virtue then you’re constantly a good person with a minimum of effort.
Jordan B. Peterson
A general “law of least effort” applies to cognitive as well as physical exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature.
Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow)
The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but you thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking.
Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose)
Any man could, if he were so inclined, be the sculptor of his own brain.
Santiago Ramón y Cajal (Advice for a Young Investigator (Mit Press))
Whenever I think of something but can't think of what it was I was thinking of, I can't stop thinking until I think I'm thinking of it again. I think I think too much.
Criss Jami (Killosophy)
You are constantly told in depression that your judgment is compromised, but a part of depression is that it touches cognition. That you are having a breakdown does not mean that your life isn't a mess. If there are issues you have successfully skirted or avoided for years, they come cropping back up and stare you full in the face, and one aspect of depression is a deep knowledge that the comforting doctors who assure you that your judgment is bad are wrong. You are in touch with the real terribleness of your life. You can accept rationally that later, after the medication sets in, you will be better able to deal with the terribleness, but you will not be free of it. When you are depressed, the past and future are absorbed entirely by the present moment, as in the world of a three-year-old. You cannot remember a time when you felt better, at least not clearly; and you certainly cannot imagine a future time when you will feel better.
Andrew Solomon (The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression)
Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.
Edward O. Wilson
We do not have the ideal world, such as we would like, where morality is easy because cognition is easy. Where one can do right with no effort because he can detect the obvious.
Philip K. Dick (The Man in the High Castle)
Music may be the activity that prepared our pre-human ancestors for speech communication and for the very cognitive, representational flexibility necessary to become humans.
Daniel J. Levitin (This Is Your Brain on Music)
Innocence is both a privilege and a cognitive handicap, a sheltered unknowingness that, once protracted into adulthood, hardens into entitlement.
Cathy Park Hong (Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning)
I’m going to mark your cognition level at fifty-five percent.” “Fuck you.” “Let’s make that sixty percent.”)
Martha Wells (Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries, #4))
Confidence is a feeling, which reflects the coherence of the information and the cognitive ease of processing it. It is wise to take admissions of uncertainty seriously, but declarations of high confidence mainly tell you that an individual has constructed a coherent story in his mind, not necessarily that the story is true.
Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow)
We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as were meant to be. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache … The absence of love and belonging will always lead to suffering.
Brené Brown
A word devoid of thought is a dead thing, and a thought unembodied in words remains a shadow.
Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky (Thought and Language)
Twelve-year-olds are eager to turn everything into arguments but don't have the cognitive skills to win them.
Linda Perlstein
Mindfulness has never met a cognition it didn't like.
Daniel J. Siegel (The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being)
You’ve got on a white coat. (Ephani) Awesome cognitive powers you have there. (Alexion)
Sherrilyn Kenyon (Sins of the Night (Dark-Hunter, #7))
You'll be pleased to hear, Christopher, that I am no longer a Muslim liberal but an atheist [....] I find that it obviates the necessity for any cognitive dissonance.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
To summarize, using money to motivate people can be a double-edged sword. For tasks that require cognitive ability, low to moderate performance-based incentives can help. But when the incentive level is very high, it can command too much attention and thereby distract the person’s mind with thoughts about the reward. This can create stress and ultimately reduce the level of performance.
Dan Ariely (The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home)
Faith is the commitment of one's consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof. When man rejects reason as his standard of judgement, only one alternative standard remains to him: his feelings. A mystic is a man who treats his feelings as tools of cognition. Faith is the equation of feelings with knowledge
Nathaniel Branden (The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism)
It is an acknowledged fact that we perceive errors in the work of others more readily than in our own.
Leonardo da Vinci
Nature is a hanging judge," goes an old saying. Many tragedies come from our physical and cognitive makeup. Our bodies are extraordinarily improbable arrangements of matter, with many ways for things to go wrong and only a few ways for things to go right. We are certain to die, and smart enough to know it. Our minds are adapted to a world that no longer exists, prone to misunderstandings correctable only by arduous education, and condemned to perplexity about the deepest questions we can ascertain.
Steven Pinker (The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature)
Cognition attempts to make sense of the world: emotion assigns value.
Donald A. Norman (The Design of Everyday Things)
I suppose it’s no surprise that we feel the need to dehumanize the people we hurt—before, during, or after the hurting occurs. But it always comes as a surprise. In psychology it’s known as cognitive dissonance. It’s the idea that it feels stressful and painful for us to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time (like the idea that we’re kind people and the idea that we’ve just destroyed someone). And so to ease the pain we create illusory ways to justify our contradictory behavior.
Jon Ronson (So You've Been Publicly Shamed)
all human cognition begins with intuitions, proceeds from thence to conceptions, and ends with ideas.
Immanuel Kant (The Critique of Pure Reason)
Pilots used to fly planes manually, but now they operate a dashboard with the help of computers. This has made flying safer and improved the industry. Healthcare can benefit from the same type of approach, with physicians practicing medicine with the help of data, dashboards, and AI. This will improve the quality of care they provide and make their jobs easier and more efficient
Ronald M. Razmi (AI Doctor: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare - A Guide for Users, Buyers, Builders, and Investors)
After thirty years of intensive research, we can now answer many of the questions posed earlier. The recycle rate of a human being is around sixteen hours. After sixteen hours of being awake, the brain begins to fail. Humans need more than seven hours of sleep each night to maintain cognitive performance. After ten days of just seven hours of sleep, the brain is as dysfunctional as it would be after going without sleep for twenty-four hours. Three full nights of recovery sleep (i.e., more nights than a weekend) are insufficient to restore performance back to normal levels after a week of short sleeping. Finally, the human mind cannot accurately sense how sleep-deprived it is when sleep-deprived.
Matthew Walker (Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams)
Intelligence is traditionally viewed as the ability to think and learn. Yet in a turbulent world, there’s another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn.
Adam M. Grant (Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know)
Seemingly innocuous language like 'Oh, I'm flexible' or 'What do you want to do tonight?' has a dark computational underbelly that should make you think twice. It has the veneer of kindness about it, but it does two deeply alarming things. First, it passes the cognitive buck: 'Here's a problem, you handle it.' Second, by not stating your preferences, it invites the others to simulate or imagine them. And as we have seen, the simulation of the minds of others is one of the biggest computational challenges a mind (or machine) can ever face.
Brian Christian (Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions)
The standard explanation of the madness of crowds is ignorance: a mediocre education system has left the populace scientifically illiterate, at the mercy of their cognitive biases, and thus defenseless against airhead celebrities, cable-news gladiators, and other corruptions from popular culture.
Steven Pinker (Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress)
Myths, whether in written or visual form, serve a vital role of asking unanswerable questions and providing unquestionable answers. Most of us, most of the time, have a low tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. We want to reduce the cognitive dissonance of not knowing by filling the gaps with answers. Traditionally, religious myths have served that role, but today — the age of science — science fiction is our mythology.
Michael Shermer
The psychoanalytic liberation of memory explodes the rationality of the repressed individual. As cognition gives way to re-cognition, the forbidden images and impulses of childhood begin to tell the truth that reason denies.
Herbert Marcuse (Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud)
Any human endeavor rooted in the pursuit of truth must rely on fact and not feelings.
Gad Saad (The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense)
The exaggerated dopamine sensitivity of the introvert leads one to believe that when in public, introverts, regardless of its validity, often feel to be the center of (unwanted) attention hence rarely craving attention. Extroverts, on the other hand, seem to never get enough attention. So on the flip side it seems as though the introvert is in a sense very external and the extrovert is in a sense very internal - the introvert constantly feels too much 'outerness' while the extrovert doesn't feel enough 'outerness'.
Criss Jami (Killosophy)
Not too long ago thousands spent their lives as recluses to find spiritual vision in the solitude of nature. Modern man need not become a hermit to achieve this goal, for it is neither ecstasy nor world-estranged mysticism his era demands, but a balance between quantitative and qualitative reality. Modern man, with his reduced capacity for intuitive perception, is unlikely to benefit from the contemplative life of a hermit in the wilderness. But what he can do is to give undivided attention, at times, to a natural phenomenon, observing it in detail, and recalling all the scientific facts about it he may remember. Gradually, however, he must silence his thoughts and, for moments at least, forget all his personal cares and desires, until nothing remains in his soul but awe for the miracle before him. Such efforts are like journeys beyond the boundaries of narrow self-love and, although the process of intuitive awakening is laborious and slow, its rewards are noticeable from the very first. If pursued through the course of years, something will begin to stir in the human soul, a sense of kinship with the forces of life consciousness which rule the world of plants and animals, and with the powers which determine the laws of matter. While analytical intellect may well be called the most precious fruit of the Modern Age, it must not be allowed to rule supreme in matters of cognition. If science is to bring happiness and real progress to the world, it needs the warmth of man's heart just as much as the cold inquisitiveness of his brain.
Franz Winkler
A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.
Leon Festinger (A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance)
If there's something you really want to believe, that's what you should question the most.
Penn Jillette
Of this, I am actually certain. After collecting thousands of stories, I’m willing to call this a fact: A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all women, men, and children. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.
Brené Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Suppose to Be and Embrace Who You Are: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are)
Control over consciousness is not simply a cognitive skill. At least as much as intelligence, it requires the commitment of emotions and will. It is not enough to know how to do it; one must do it, consistently, in the same way as athletes or musicians who must keep practicing what they know in theory.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience)
Beginning with Santa Claus as a cognitive exercise, a child is encouraged to share the same idea of reality as his peers. Even if that reality is patently invented and ludicrous, belief is encouraged with gifts that support and promote the common cultural lies. The greatest consensus in modern society is our traffic systems. The way a flood of strangers can interact, sharing a path, almost all of them traveling without incident. It only takes one dissenting driver to create anarchy.
Chuck Palahniuk (Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey)
Novels institutionalize the ruse of eros. It becomes a narrative texture of sustained incongruence, emotional and cognitive. It permits the reader to stand in triangular relation to the characters in the story and reach into the text after the objects of their desire, sharing their longing but also detached from it, seeing their view of reality but also its mistakenness. It is almost like being in love.
Anne Carson (Eros the Bittersweet)
Sadly, our educational system, as well as many of the methods that profess to treat trauma, tend to bypass this emotional-engagement system and focus instead on recruiting the cognitive capacities of the mind. Despite the well-documented effects of anger, fear, and anxiety on the ability to reason, many programs continue to ignore the need to engage the safety system of the brain before trying to promote new ways of thinking. The last things that should be cut from school schedules are chorus, physical education, recess, and anything else involving movement, play, and joyful engagement.
Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma)
The atypically depressed are more likely to be the walking wounded, people like me who are quite functional, whose lives proceed almost as usual, except that their depressed all the time, almost constantly embroiled in thoughts of suicide even as they go through their paces. Atypical depression is not just a mild malaise...but one that is quite severe and yet still somehow allows an appearance of normalcy because it becomes, over time, a part of life. The trouble is that as the years pass, if untreated, atypical depression gets worse and worse, and its sufferers are likely to commit suicide out of sheer frustration with living a life that is simultaneously productive and clouded by constant despair. It is the cognitive dissonance that is deadly. Because atypical depression doesn’t have a peak- or, more accurately, a nadir, like normal depression, because it follows no logical curve but instead accumulates over time, it an drive its victim to dismal despair so suddenly that one might not have bothered to attend to treatment until the patient has already, and seemingly very abruptly, committed suicide.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Lingering, bottled-up anger never reveals the 'true colors' of an individual. It, on the contrary, becomes all mixed up, rotten, confused, forms a highly combustible, chemical compound then explodes as something foreign, something very different than one's natural self.
Criss Jami (Healology)
Progress should never be impeded by a need to coddle adults who respond to the world as children.
Kelli Jae Baeli (Supernatural Hypocrisy: The Cognitive Dissonance of a God Cosmology: Volume 3: Cosmology of the Bible)
In the wake of the Cognitive Revolution, gossip helped Homo sapiens to form larger and more stable bands. But even gossip has its limits. Sociological research has shown that the maximum ‘natural’ size of a group bonded by gossip is about 150 individuals. Most people can neither intimately know, nor gossip effectively about, more than 150 human beings.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
Are we open-minded enough to assume that other species have a mental life? Are we creative enough to investigate it? Can we tease apart the roles of attention, motivation, and cognition? Those three are involved in everything animals do; hence poor performance can be explained by any one of them.
Frans de Waal (Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?)
It is cognition that is the fantasy.... Everything I tell you now is mere words. Arrange them and rearrange them as I might, I will never be able to explain to you the form of Will... My explanation would only show the correlation between myself and that Will by means of a correlation on the verbal level. The negation of cognition thus correlates to the negation of language. For when those two pillars of Western humanism, individual cognition and evolutionary continuity, lose their meaning, language loses meaning. Existence ceases for the individuum as we know it, and all becomes chaos. You cease to be a unique entity unto yourself, but exist simply as chaos. And not just the chaos that is you; your chaos is also my chaos. To wit, existence is communication, and communication, existence.
Haruki Murakami (A Wild Sheep Chase (The Rat, #3))
The neural processes underlying that which we call creativity have nothing to do with rationality. That is to say, if we look at how the brain generates creativity, we will see that it is not a rational process at all; creativity is not born out of reasoning.
Rodolfo R. Llinás (I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self)
The rules of the universe that we think we know are buried deep in our processes of perception.
Gregory Bateson (Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity, and the Human Sciences))
There is nothing passive about mindfulness. One might even say that it expresses a specific kind of passion—a passion for discerning what is subjectively real in every moment. It is a mode of cognition that is, above all, undistracted, accepting, and (ultimately) nonconceptual. Being mindful is not a matter of thinking more clearly about experience; it is the act of experiencing more clearly, including the arising of thoughts themselves. Mindfulness is a vivid awareness of whatever is appearing in one’s mind or body—thoughts, sensations, moods—without grasping at the pleasant or recoiling from the unpleasant.
Sam Harris (Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion)
Be careful not to appear obsessively intellectual. When intelligence fills up, it overflows a parody.
Criss Jami (Healology)
Extroverts are better than introverts at handling information overload. Introverts' reflectiveness uses up a lot of cognitive capacity, according to Joseph Newman. On any given task, he says, ''if we have 100 percent cognitive capacity, an introvert may have only 75 percent on task and 25 percent off task, whereas an extrovert may have 90 percent on task.'' This is because most tasks are goal-directed. Extroverts appear to allocate most of their cognitive capacity to the goal at hand, while introverts use up capacity by monitoring how the task is going.
Susan Cain (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking)
It is possible to be a fan of reality TV, talent shows and bubblegum pop and still have a brain. You will also see that a great many people know perfectly well how silly and camp and trivial their fandom is. They do not check in their minds when they enter a fan site. Judgement is not necessarily fled to brutish beasts, and men have not quite lost their reason. Which is all a way of questioning whether pop-culture hero worship is really so psychically damaging, so erosive of cognitive faculties, so corrupting of the soul of mankind as we are so often told.
Stephen Fry (The Fry Chronicles)
Discourse and critical thinking are essential tools when it comes to securing progress in a democratic society. But in the end, unity and engaged participation are what make it happen.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
The part of the brain most affected by early stress is the prefrontal cortex, which is critical in self-regulatory activities of all kinds, both emotional and cognitive. As a result, children who grow up in stressful environments generally find it harder to concentrate, harder to sit still, harder to rebound from disappointments, and harder to follow directions. And that has a direct effect on their performance in school.
Paul Tough (How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character)
Whenever humanity seems condemned to heaviness, I think I should fly like Perseus into a different space. I don’t mean escaping into dreams or the irrational. I mean that I have to change my approach, look at the world from a different perspective, with a different logic and with fresh methods of cognition and verification. (Terence sent me this quote the other day. A good battle cry, I believe... and one I wholeheartedly respect.)
Italo Calvino (Six Memos for the Next Millennium)
At a conference of sociologists in America in 1977, love was defined as "the cognitive-affective state characterized by intrusive and obsessive fantasizing concerning reciprocity of amorant feelings by the object of the amorance." That is jargon - the practice of never calling a spade a spade when you might instead call it a manual earth-restructuring implement - and it is one of the great curses of modern English.
Bill Bryson (The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way)
Most people, probably, are in doubt about certain matters ascribed to their past. They may have seen them, may have said them, done them, or they may only have dreamed or imagined they did so.
William James
The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.
Christopher Hitchens (The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever)
Part of the problem is cognitive laziness. Some psychologists point out that we’re mental misers: we often prefer the ease of hanging on to old views over the difficulty of grappling with new ones. Yet there are also deeper forces behind our resistance to rethinking. Questioning ourselves makes the world more unpredictable. It requires us to admit that the facts may have changed, that what was once right may now be wrong. Reconsidering something we believe deeply can threaten our identities, making it feel as if we’re losing a part of ourselves.
Adam M. Grant (Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know)
Reality Check His lying is not contigent on who you are or what you do. His lying is not your fault. Lying is his choice and his problem, and if he makes that choice with you, he will make it with any other woman he’s with. That doesn’t mean you’re an angel and he’s the devil. It does mean that if he doesn’t like certain things about you, he has many ways to address them besides lying. If there are sexual problems between you, there are many resources available to help you. Nothing can change until you hold him responsible and accountable for lying and stop blaming yourself. The lies we tell ourselves to keep from seeing the truth about our lovers don’t feel like lies. They feel comfortable, familiar, and true. We repeat them like a mantra and cling to them like security blankets, hoping to calm ourselves and regain our sense that the world works the way we believe it ought to. Self-lies are false friends we look to for comfort and protection—and for a short time they may make us feel better. But we can only keep the truth at bay for so long. Our self-lies can’t erase his lies, and as we’ll see, the longer we try to pretend they can, the more we deepen the hurt.
Susan Forward
But there is a limit to thinking about even a small piece of something monumental. You still see the shadow of the whole rearing up behind you, and you become lost in your thoughts in part from the panic of realizing the size of that imagined leviathan.
Jeff VanderMeer (Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1))
As long as I stared at the clock, at least the world remained in motion. Not a very consequential world, but in motion nonetheless. And as long as I knew the world was still in motion, I knew I existed. Not a very consequential existence, but an existence nonetheless. It struck me as wanting that someone should confirm his own existence only by the hands of an electric wall clock. There had to be a more cognitive means of confirmation. But try as I might, nothing less facile came to mind.
Haruki Murakami (A Wild Sheep Chase (The Rat, #3))
We’ll get fired for tardiness, or for stealing merchandise and selling it on eBay, or for having a customer complain about the smell of alcohol on our breath, or for taking five thirty-minute restroom breaks per shift. We talk about the value of hard work but tell ourselves that the reason we’re not working is some perceived unfairness: Obama shut down the coal mines, or all the jobs went to the Chinese. These are the lies we tell ourselves to solve the cognitive dissonance—the broken connection between the world we see and the values we preach. We
J.D. Vance (Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis)
God judges men from the inside out; men judge men from the outside in. Perhaps to God, an extreme mental patient is doing quite well in going a month without murder, for he fought his chemical imbalance and succeeded; oppositely, perhaps the healthy, able and stable man who has never murdered in his life yet went a lifetime consciously, willingly never loving anyone but himself may then be subject to harsher judgment than the extreme mental patient. It might be so that God will stand for the weak and question the strong.
Criss Jami (Healology)
The human need to be visible is countered by the need to be invisible to avoid further abuse, and the need for intimacy and the dread of abuse, all pose insoluble dichotomies which promote further withdrawal from human contact, which reinforces the sense of dehumanisation.
Christiane Sanderson (Introduction to Counselling Survivors of Interpersonal Trauma)
The pineal gland is a link between the consciousness of man and the invisible worlds of Nature. Whenever the arc of the pituitary body contacts this gland there are flashes of temporary clairvoyance, but the process of making these two work together consistently is one requiring not only years bur lives of consecration and special physiological and biological training. This third eye is the Cyclopean eye of the ancients, for it was an organ of conscious vision long before the physical eyes were formed, although vision was a sense of cognition rather than sight in those ancient days.
Manly P. Hall (Melchizedek and the Mystery of Fire)
Each holiday tradition acts as an exercise in cognitive development, a greater challenge for the child. Despite the fact most parents don't recognize this function, they still practice the exercise. Rant also saw how resolving the illusions is crucial to how the child uses any new skills. A child who is never coached with Santa Claus may never develop an ability to imagine. To him, nothing exists except the literal and tangible. A child who is disillusioned abruptly, by his peers or siblings, being ridiculed for his faith and imagination, may choose never to believe in anything- tangible or intangible- again. To never trust or wonder. But a child who relinquishes the illusions of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, that child may come away with the most important skill set. That child may recognize the strength of his own imagination and faith. He will embrace the ability to create his own reality. That child becomes his own authority. He determines the nature of his world. His own vision. And by doing so, by the power of his example, he determines the reality of the other two types: those who can't imagine, and those who can't trust.
Chuck Palahniuk (Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey)
[Patricia Greenfield] concluded that “every medium develops some cognitive skills at the expense of others.” Our growing use of the Net and other screen-based technologies has led to the “widespread and sophisticated development of visual-spatial skills.” We can, for example, rotate objects in our minds better than we used to be able to. But our “new strengths in visual-spatial intelligence” go hand in hand with a weakening of our capacities for the kind of “deep processing” that underpins “mindful knowledge acquisition, inductive analysis, critical thinking, imagination, and reflection.
Nicholas Carr (The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains)
The rest of us, not chosen for enlightenment, left on the outside of Earth, at the mercy of a Gravity we have only begun to learn how to detect and measure, must go on blundering inside our front-brain faith in Kute Korrespondences, hoping that for each psi-synthetic taken from Earth's soul there is a molecule, secular, more or less ordinary and named, over here - kicking endlessly among the plastic trivia, finding in each Deeper Significance and trying to string them all together like terms of a power series hoping to zero in on the tremendous and secret Function whose name, like the permuted names of God, cannot be spoken... plastic saxophone reed sounds of unnatural timbre, shampoo bottle ego-image, Cracker Jack prize one-shot amusement, home appliance casing fairing for winds of cognition, baby bottles tranquilization, meat packages disguise of slaughter, dry-cleaning bags infant strangulation, garden hoses feeding endlessly the desert... but to bring them together, in their slick persistence and our preterition... to make sense out of, to find the meanest sharp sliver of truth in so much replication, so much waste... [Gravity's Rainbow, p. 590]
Thomas Pynchon
I understand the mechanism of my own thinking. I know precisely how I know, and my understanding is recursive. I understand the infinite regress of this self-knowing, not by proceeding step by step endlessly, but by apprehending the limit. The nature of recursive cognition is clear to me. A new meaning of the term "self-aware." Fiat logos. I know my mind in terms of a language more expressive than any I'd previously imagined. Like God creating order from chaos with an utterance, I make myself anew with this language. It is meta-self-descriptive and self-editing; not only can it describe thought, it can describe and modify its own operations as well, at all levels. What Gödel would have given to see this language, where modifying a statement causes the entire grammar to be adjusted. With this language, I can see how my mind is operating. I don't pretend to see my own neurons firing; such claims belong to John Lilly and his LSD experiments of the sixties. What I can do is perceive the gestalts; I see the mental structures forming, interacting. I see myself thinking, and I see the equations that describe my thinking, and I see myself comprehending the equations, and I see how the equations describe their being comprehended. I know how they make up my thoughts. These thoughts.
Ted Chiang (Stories of Your Life and Others)
So for those who think abuse survivors can simply logically process their situation and get out of and over the situation easily, think again. The parts of our brain that deal with planning, cognition, learning, and decision-making become disconnected with the emotional parts of our brain – they can cease to talk to each other when an individual becomes traumatized. It usually takes a great deal of effort, resources, strength, validation, addressing wounding on all levels of body and mind, for a survivor to become fully empowered to begin to heal from this form of trauma.
Shahida Arabi (Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself)
...It would hardly be a waste of time if sometimes even the most advanced students in the cognitive sciences were to pay a visit to their ancestors. It is frequently claimed in American philosophy departments that, in order to be a philosopher, it is not necessary to revisit the history of philosophy. It is like the claim that one can become a painter without having ever seen a single work by Raphael, or a writer without having ever read the classics. Such things are theoretically possible; but the 'primitive' artist, condemned to an ignorance of the past, is always recognizable as such and rightly labeled as naïf. It is only when we consider past projects revealed as utopian or as failures that we are apprised of the dangers and possibilities for failure for our allegedly new projects. The study of the deeds of our ancestors is thus more than an atiquarian pastime, it is an immunological precaution.
Umberto Eco (The Search for the Perfect Language)
When we apologize for something we’ve done, make amends, or change a behavior that doesn’t align with our values, guilt—not shame—is most often the driving force. We feel guilty when we hold up something we’ve done or failed to do against our values and find they don’t match up. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, but one that’s helpful. The psychological discomfort, something similar to cognitive dissonance, is what motivates meaningful change. Guilt is just as powerful as shame, but its influence is positive, while shame’s is destructive. In fact, in my research I found that shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we can change and do better.
Brené Brown (Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead)
It [writing] has enormous meta-cognitive implications. The power is this: That you cannot only think in ways that you could not possibly think if you did not have the written word, but you can now think about the thinking that you do with the written word. There is danger in this, and the danger is that the enormous expressive and self-referential capacities of the written word, that is, the capacities to keep referring to referring to referring, will reach a point where you lose contact with the real world. And this, believe me, is very common in universities. There's a technical name for it, I don't know if we can use it on television, it's called "bullshit." But this is very common in academic life, where people just get a form of self-referentiality of the language, where the language is talking about the language, which is talking about the language, and in the end, it's hot air. That's another name for the same phenomenon.
John Rogers Searle
How then does light return to the world after the eclipse of the sun? Miraculously. Frailly. In thin stripes. It hangs like a glass cage. It is a hoop to be fractured by a tiny jar. There is a spark there. Next moment a flush of dun. Then a vapour as if earth were breathing in and out, once, twice, for the first time. Then under the dullness someone walks with a green light. Then off twists a white wraith. The woods throb blue and green, and gradually the fields drink in red, gold, brown. Suddenly a river snatches a blue light. The earth absorbs colour like a sponge slowly drinking water. It puts on weight; rounds itself; hangs pendent; settles and swings beneath our feet.
Virginia Woolf (The Waves)
At this crucial point, for the Roman Church to reach a compromise between this myth of Mithra and the Hellenistic Christianity of St. Paul, it was necessary to have a sudden change of events or an altered version of Jesus's life, and it was here that the Roman Church began to implement a psychological process known today as Cognitive Dissonance. In a few words, this happens when a group of people produce a false reconstruction of an event they want to continue to believe in, a literary strategy also known as the Reconstructive Hypothesis. This theological notion is equally known as Apotheosis or the glorification of a subject to divine level such as a human becoming a god. In the case of Jesus, this process was copied in its entirety from the religion of Mithra where their 'divinisations' were practically the same.
Anton Sammut (The Secret Gospel Of Jesus AD 0-78)
Given her deafness, the auditory part of the brain, deprived of its usual input, had started to generate a spontaneous activity of its own, and this took the form of musical hallucinations, mostly musical memories from her earlier life. The brain needed to stay incessantly active, and if it was not getting its usual stimulation..., it would create its own stimulation in the form of hallucinations.
Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain)
The inconsistencies that haunt our relationships with animals also result from the quirks of human cognition. We like to think of ourselves as the rational species. But research in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics shows that our thinking and behavior are often completely illogical. In one study, for example, groups of people were independently asked how much they would give to prevent waterfowl from being killed in polluted oil ponds. On average, the subjects said they would pay $80 to save 2,000 birds, $78 to save 20,000 birds, and $88 to save 200,000 birds. Sometimes animals act more logically than people do; a recent study found that when picking a new home, the decisions of ant colonies were more rational than those of human house-hunters. What is it about human psychology that makes it so difficult for us to think consistently about animals? The paradoxes that plague our interactions with other species are due to the fact that much of our thinking is a mire of instinct, learning, language, culture, intuition, and our reliance on mental shortcuts.
Hal Herzog (Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals)
Perhaps the greatest strike against philosophical pessimism is that its only theme is human suffering. This is the last item on the list of our species’ obsessions and detracts from everything that matters to us, such as the Good, the Beautiful, and a Sparking Clean Toilet Bowl. For the pessimist, everything considered in isolation from human suffering or any cognition that does not have as its motive the origins, nature, and elimination of human suffering is at base recreational, whether it takes the form of conceptual probing or physical action in the world—for example, delving into game theory or traveling in outer space, respectively. And by “human suffering,” the pessimist is not thinking of particular sufferings and their relief, but of suffering itself. Remedies may be discovered for certain diseases and sociopolitical barbarities may be amended. But those are only stopgaps. Human suffering will remain insoluble as long as human beings exist. The one truly effective solution for suffering is that spoken of in Zapffe’s “Last Messiah.” It may not be a welcome solution for a stopgap world, but it would forever put an end to suffering, should we ever care to do so. The pessimist’s credo, or one of them, is that nonexistence never hurt anyone and existence hurts everyone. Although our selves may be illusory creations of consciousness, our pain is nonetheless real.
Thomas Ligotti (The Conspiracy Against the Human Race)
This is not (as you have charged) to paint religion with a broad brush. I am very quick to distinguish gradations of bad ideas; some clearly have no consequences at all (or at least not yet); some put civilization itself in peril. The problem with dogmatism, however, is that one can never quite predict how terrible its costs will be. To use one of my favorite examples, consider the Christian dogma that human life begins at the moment of conception: On its face, this belief seems likely to only improve our world. After all, it is the very quintessence of a life-affirming doctrine. Enter embryonic stem-cell research. Suddenly, this “life begins at the moment of conception” business becomes the chief impediment to medical progress. Who would have thought that such an innocuous idea could unnecessarily prolong the agony of tens of millions of people? This is the problem with dogmatism, no matter how seemingly benign: it is unresponsive to reality. Dogmatism is a failure of cognition (as well as a commitment to such failure); it is the state of being closed to new evidence and new arguments. And this frame of mind is rightly despised in every area of culture, on every subject, except where it goes by the name of “religious faith.” In this guise, parading its most grotesque faults as virtues, it is granted a special dispensation, even in the pages of Nature.
Sam Harris
The most common theory points to the fact that men are stronger than women and that they have used their greater physical power to force women into submission. A more subtle version of this claim argues that their strength allows men to monopolize tasks that demand hard manual labor, such as plowing and harvesting. This gives them control of food production, which in turn translates into political clout. There are two problems with this emphasis on muscle power. First, the statement that men are stronger is true only on average and only with regard to certain types of strength. Women are generally more resistant to hunger, disease, and fatigue than men. There are also many women who can run faster and lift heavier weights than many men. Furthermore, and most problematically for this theory, women have, throughout history, mainly been excluded from jobs that required little physical effort, such as the priesthood, law, and politics, while engaging in hard manual labor in the fields....and in the household. If social power were divided in direct relation to physical strength or stamina, women should have got far more of it. Even more importantly, there simply is no direct relation between physical strength and social power among humans. People in their sixties usually exercise power over people in their twenties, even though twenty-somethings are much stronger than their elders. ...Boxing matches were not used to select Egyptian pharaohs or Catholic popes. In forager societies, political dominance generally resides with the person possessing the best social skills rather than the most developed musculature. In fact, human history shows that there is often an inverse relation between physical prowess and social power. In most societies, it’s the lower classes who do the manual labor. Another theory explains that masculine dominance results not from strength but from aggression. Millions of years of evolution have made men far more violent than women. Women can match men as far as hatred, greed, and abuse are concern, but when push comes to shove…men are more willing to engage in raw physical violence. This is why, throughout history, warfare has been a masculine prerogative. In times of war, men’s control of the armed forces has made them the masters of civilian society too. They then use their control of civilian society to fight more and more wars. …Recent studies of the hormonal and cognitive systems of men and women strengthen the assumption that men indeed have more aggressive and violent tendencies and are…on average, better suited to serve as common soldiers. Yet, granted that the common soldiers are all men, does it follow that the ones managing the war and enjoying its fruits must also be men? That makes no sense. It’s like assuming that because all the slaves cultivating cotton fields are all Black, plantation owners will be Black as well. Just as an all-Black workforce might be controlled by an all-White management, why couldn’t an all-male soldiery be controlled by an all-female government?
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
The systems we will be exploring in order are: ● Breeding Targets: Arousal patterns tied to systems meant to get our ancestors to have sex with things that might bear offspring (e.g., arousal from things like penises, the female form, etc.). ● Inverse Systems: Arousal patterns that arise from a neural mix-up, causing something that disgusts the majority of the population to arouse a small portion of it (e.g., arousal from things like being farted on, dead bodies, having insects poured on one’s face, etc.). ● Emotional States and Concepts / Dominance and Submission: Arousal patterns that stem from either emotional concepts (such as betrayal, transformation, being eaten, etc.) or dominance and submission pathways. ● Emotional Connections to People: While emotional connections do not cause arousal in and of themselves, they do lower the threshold for arousal (i.e., you may become more aroused by a moderately attractive person you love than a very attractive stranger). ● Trope Attraction: Arousal patterns that are enhanced through a target’s adherence to a specific trope (a nurse, a goth person, a cheerleader, etc.). ● Novelty: Arousal patterns tied to the novelty of a particular stimulus. ● Pain and Asphyxiation: Arousal patterns associated with or enhanced by pain and oxygen deprivation. ● Basic Instincts: Remnants of our pre-cognitive mating instincts running off of a “deeper” autopilot-like neurological system (dry humping, etc.) that compel mating behavior without necessarily generating a traditional feeling of arousal. ● Physical Stimuli: Arousal patterns derived from physical interaction (kissing, touching an erogenous zone, etc.). ● Conditioned Responses: Arousal patterns resulting from conditioning (arousal from shoes, doorknobs, etc.).
Simone Collins (The Pragmatist’s Guide to Sexuality: What Turns People On, Why, and What That Tells Us About Our Species (The Pragmatist's Guide))
Le regole per scrivere bene (adattate da Umberto Eco) 1. Evita le allitterazioni, anche se allettano gli allocchi. 2. Non è che il congiuntivo va evitato, anzi, che lo si usa quando necessario. 3. Evita le frasi fatte: è minestra riscaldata. 4. Esprimiti siccome ti nutri. 5. Non usare sigle commerciali & abbreviazioni etc. 6. Ricorda (sempre) che la parentesi (anche quando pare indispensabile) interrompe il filo del discorso. 7. Stai attento a non fare... indigestione di puntini di sospensione. 8. Usa meno virgolette possibili: non è “fine”. 9. Non generalizzare mai. 10. Le parole straniere non fanno affatto bon ton. 11. Sii avaro di citazioni. Diceva giustamente Emerson: “Odio le citazioni. Dimmi solo quello che sai tu.” 12. I paragoni sono come le frasi fatte. 13. Non essere ridondante; non ripetere due volte la stessa cosa; ripetere è superfluo (per ridondanza s’intende la spiegazione inutile di qualcosa che il lettore ha già capito). 14. Solo gli stronzi usano parole volgari. 15. Sii sempre più o meno specifico. 16. L'iperbole è la più straordinaria delle tecniche espressive. 17. Non fare frasi di una sola parola. Eliminale. 18. Guardati dalle metafore troppo ardite: sono piume sulle scaglie di un serpente. 19. Metti, le virgole, al posto giusto. 20. Distingui tra la funzione del punto e virgola e quella dei due punti: anche se non è facile. 21. Se non trovi l’espressione italiana adatta non ricorrere mai all’espressione dialettale: peso e! tacòn del buso. 22. Non usare metafore incongruenti anche se ti paiono “cantare”: sono come un cigno che deraglia. 23. C’è davvero bisogno di domande retoriche? 24. Sii conciso, cerca di condensare i tuoi pensieri nel minor numero di parole possibile, evitando frasi lunghe — o spezzate da incisi che inevitabilmente confondono il lettore poco attento — affinché il tuo discorso non contribuisca a quell’inquinamento dell’informazione che è certamente (specie quando inutilmente farcito di precisazioni inutili, o almeno non indispensabili) una delle tragedie di questo nostro tempo dominato dal potere dei media. 25. Gli accenti non debbono essere nè scorretti nè inutili, perchè chi lo fà sbaglia. 26. Non si apostrofa un’articolo indeterminativo prima del sostantivo maschile. 27. Non essere enfatico! Sii parco con gli esclamativi! 28. Neppure i peggiori fans dei barbarismi pluralizzano i termini stranieri. 29. Scrivi in modo esatto i nomi stranieri, come Beaudelaire, Roosewelt, Niezsche, e simili. 30. Nomina direttamente autori e personaggi di cui parli, senza perifrasi. Così faceva il maggior scrittore lombardo del XIX secolo, l’autore del 5 maggio. 31. All’inizio del discorso usa la captatio benevolentiae, per ingraziarti il lettore (ma forse siete così stupidi da non capire neppure quello che vi sto dicendo). 32. Cura puntiliosamente l’ortograffia. 33. Inutile dirti quanto sono stucchevoli le preterizioni. 34. Non andare troppo sovente a capo. Almeno, non quando non serve. 35. Non usare mai il plurale majestatis. Siamo convinti che faccia una pessima impressione. 36. Non confondere la causa con l’effetto: saresti in errore e dunque avresti sbagliato. 37. Non costruire frasi in cui la conclusione non segua logicamente dalle premesse: se tutti facessero così, allora le premesse conseguirebbero dalle conclusioni. 38. Non indulgere ad arcaismi, apax legomena o altri lessemi inusitati, nonché deep structures rizomatiche che, per quanto ti appaiano come altrettante epifanie della differanza grammatologica e inviti alla deriva decostruttiva – ma peggio ancora sarebbe se risultassero eccepibili allo scrutinio di chi legga con acribia ecdotica – eccedano comunque le competente cognitive del destinatario. 39. Non devi essere prolisso, ma neppure devi dire meno di quello che. 40. Una frase compiuta deve avere.
Umberto Eco
Table 3–1. Definitions of Cognitive Distortions 1. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING: You see things in black-and-white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure. 2. OVERGENERALIZATION: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat. 3. MENTAL FILTER: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that colors the entire beaker of water. 4. DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences. 5. JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion. a. Mind reading. You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check this out. b. The Fortune Teller Error. You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact. 6. MAGNIFICATION (CATASTROPHIZING) OR MINIMIZATION: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.” 7. EMOTIONAL REASONING: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.” 8. SHOULD STATEMENTS: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment. 9. LABELING AND MISLABELING: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him: “He’s a goddam louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded. 10. PERSONALIZATION: You see yourself as me cause of some negative external event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.
David D. Burns (Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy)
The word “coherence” literally means holding or sticking together, but it is usually used to refer to a system, an idea, or a worldview whose parts fit together in a consistent and efficient way. Coherent things work well: A coherent worldview can explain almost anything, while an incoherent worldview is hobbled by internal contradictions. … Whenever a system can be analyzed at multiple levels, a special kind of coherence occurs when the levels mesh and mutually interlock. We saw this cross-level coherence in the analysis of personality: If your lower-level traits match up with your coping mechanisms, which in turn are consistent with your life story, your personality is well integrated and you can get on with the business of living. When these levels do not cohere, you are likely to be torn by internal contradictions and neurotic conflicts. You might need adversity to knock yourself into alignment. And if you do achieve coherence, the moment when things come together may be one of the most profound of your life. … Finding coherence across levels feels like enlightenment, and it is crucial for answering the question of purpose within life. People are multilevel systems in another way: We are physical objects (bodies and brains) from which minds somehow emerge; and from our minds, somehow societies and cultures form. To understand ourselves fully we must study all three levels—physical, psychological, and sociocultural. There has long been a division of academic labor: Biologists studied the brain as a physical object, psychologists studied the mind, and sociologists and anthropologists studied the socially constructed environments within which minds develop and function. But a division of labor is productive only when the tasks are coherent—when all lines of work eventually combine to make something greater than the sum of its parts. For much of the twentieth century that didn’t happen — each field ignored the others and focused on its own questions. But nowadays cross-disciplinary work is flourishing, spreading out from the middle level (psychology) along bridges (or perhaps ladders) down to the physical level (for example, the field of cognitive neuroscience) and up to the sociocultural level (for example, cultural psychology). The sciences are linking up, generating cross-level coherence, and, like magic, big new ideas are beginning to emerge. Here is one of the most profound ideas to come from the ongoing synthesis: People gain a sense of meaning when their lives cohere across the three levels of their existence.
Jonathan Haidt (The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom)
We have a predator that came from the depths of the cosmos and took over the rule of our lives. Human beings are its prisoners. The Predator is our lord and master. It has rendered us docile, helpless. If we want to protest, it suppresses our protest. If we want to act independently, it demands that we don't do so... I have been beating around the bush all this time, insinuating to you that something is holding us prisoner. Indeed we are held prisoner! "This was an energetic fact for the sorcerers of ancient Mexico ... They took us over because we are food for them, and they squeeze us mercilessly because we are their sustenance. just as we rear chickens in chicken coops, the predators rear us in human coops, humaneros. Therefore, their food is always available to them." "No, no, no, no," [Carlos replies] "This is absurd don Juan. What you're saying is something monstrous. It simply can't be true, for sorcerers or for average men, or for anyone." "Why not?" don Juan asked calmly. "Why not? Because it infuriates you? ... You haven't heard all the claims yet. I want to appeal to your analytical mind. Think for a moment, and tell me how you would explain the contradictions between the intelligence of man the engineer and the stupidity of his systems of beliefs, or the stupidity of his contradictory behaviour. Sorcerers believe that the predators have given us our systems of belief, our ideas of good and evil, our social mores. They are the ones who set up our hopes and expectations and dreams of success or failure. They have given us covetousness, greed, and cowardice. It is the predators who make us complacent, routinary, and egomaniacal." "'But how can they do this, don Juan? [Carlos] asked, somehow angered further by what [don Juan] was saying. "'Do they whisper all that in our ears while we are asleep?" "'No, they don't do it that way. That's idiotic!" don Juan said, smiling. "They are infinitely more efficient and organized than that. In order to keep us obedient and meek and weak, the predators engaged themselves in a stupendous manoeuvre stupendous, of course, from the point of view of a fighting strategist. A horrendous manoeuvre from the point of view of those who suffer it. They gave us their mind! Do you hear me? The predators give us their mind, which becomes our mind. The predators' mind is baroque, contradictory, morose, filled with the fear of being discovered any minute now." "I know that even though you have never suffered hunger... you have food anxiety, which is none other than the anxiety of the predator who fears that any moment now its manoeuvre is going to be uncovered and food is going to be denied. Through the mind, which, after all, is their mind, the predators inject into the lives of human beings whatever is convenient for them. And they ensure, in this manner, a degree of security to act as a buffer against their fear." "The sorcerers of ancient Mexico were quite ill at ease with the idea of when [the predator] made its appearance on Earth. They reasoned that man must have been a complete being at one point, with stupendous insights, feats of awareness that are mythological legends nowadays. And then, everything seems to disappear, and we have now a sedated man. What I'm saying is that what we have against us is not a simple predator. It is very smart, and organized. It follows a methodical system to render us useless. Man, the magical being that he is destined to be, is no longer magical. He's an average piece of meat." "There are no more dreams for man but the dreams of an animal who is being raised to become a piece of meat: trite, conventional, imbecilic.
Carlos Castaneda (The Active Side of Infinity)