Soon the spirits of Rabbit, Turtle, Thunder, and a great being called Wakjonkaga came among the people in the shape of human beings, and told them that Co-No was not a gambling consultant but an evil spirit who was created before humankind was upon the earth. Rabbit said that this being was filled with jealousy and anger against the human race and was to be avoided at all costs. —Winnebago myth
I used to wonder why people behave the way they do. I saw much illogical behavior, so I eventually concluded that they were simply stupid people. I figured that if they can't reason properly, that is, basing their decisions and judgments on evidence (i.e., reality) and think logically, from cause & effect, they were just plain dumb. For example, superstition: otherwise normal people honestly expecting television psychics to speak to their dead relatives on a personal level. But worryingly, it seemed like so many people were stupid that society itself should have collapsed by this point. I witnessed stupidity in the young but also the old; the stupidity seemed randomly distributed throughout the population, whether in wizened ancients, middle-aged potbelly boomer-men, surf bums, or high schoolers.
Recently, thanks to the help from our scam-denying friends, I finally understood the source of the ever-present "stuperstitions" of the world: emotional-driving biased thinking. The failure isn't intellectual, but emotional. Also called by its old fashioned equivalent term, wishful thinking. I prefer to call them High Self-Esteem Idiots. I am not referring to the ScamDeans, or their consciously complicit Professorial enablers, but the innocent bystanders like "JeffM" that a recent post on here discussed.
The phrase "Self-Esteem" is somewhat misunderstood; it is associated in the media with schoolchildren feeling proud despite being slow or disabled. But really, it applies to all adults too. Self-esteem is an emotional state that very strongly affects people overall feelings, worldview, susceptibility, and thoughts. I am not trying to call other people's personally (or permanently) stupid, since I have done my own great share of wishful thinking, but rather to understand their point-of-view. This is about trying to understand why scam-deniers like JeffM refuse to understand basic logic when it conflicts with their emotional state-driving belief system:
- Self-Esteem makes people susceptible to dogma. Self-esteem makes people feel good, so they don't want to change their opinions, which might make them feel bad.
- Self-Esteem makes people ignore evidence. Evidence may mount but the high-self esteem idiot is a victim to his own feelings; he would rather feel good than be right. Therefore,
- Self-Esteem makes people act stupid.
- Corollary: High Self-Esteem idiots think those who disagree with their beliefs to be depressed, mopey Negative Nancys who just need to get a bit of that feel-good stupid juice in their membranes: thus JeffM's repetitious arguments.
- Non-high-self-esteem people think, in turn, that the JeffM's of the world are clueless laced-Kool-Aid drinkers.
You could replace the term "stupid" here with the less pejorative "gullible", but the point is the same. It is as if High Self-Esteem Idiots have mind-blinders on and simply refuse to see what they wish not to see. Our attempts to point out the obvious, therefore, only annoys them. The more we do it, the more they shut their eyes. Their high self-esteem gives them a force field to protect against inconvenient truths.
Extra credit for our blog's gunners & 0L teacher's pets: Read about Galileo's own High Self-Esteem Idiot rival, Professor Cremonini. There is nothing new under the sun, is there?
I admit to making bad judgments and decisions in life, and have made "stupid" choices. But what separates the typical JD Underground and Scamblogger and the JeffM's of the world isn't just our belief systems as much as our temperamental approach to life: we value truth even if it temporarily makes us feel bad (i.e., disappointing). The JeffM's, on the other hand, value feeling good even if based on fallacious evidence or reasoning, and even if it will hurt much more in the long run. The sheer Self-Esteem of feeling like you, awesome special awesome snowflake you, control your destiny makes the JeffM's of the world feel good and be intellectually blind to contrary evidence. They do not change their mind because they do not want to. Only reality, when it finally caves in, or some other emotional argument that is even stronger will wake them up.
In this sense, the law scam as applied to the JeffM's of the world is literally like a drug; once someone is addicted they don't want to face the truth that the once great American legal profession, that once of Abe Lincoln reading law books he rescued from the bottom of a barrel while he was a grocery clerk and eventually sitting for the bar, practing law, winning a congressional seat, fame, and the presidency, is ruined. Marshall, Holmes, and Apprenticeships have given way to Valvoline Deans, Law Reviews no one reads, and sabbaticals for professors who are burned out after "teaching" nine hours a semester.
There are 1.22 million "attorneys" in the United States as of 2011. Outside of boomer partners, ScamDeans, and Professor Dumbledums, only the Matrix-cocooned JeffM's of the world think the legal industry is healthy and profitable to its members, and that a little bit of verve and zest will quickly make wealthy clients come a' callin' for what you're sellin', just like Jeff'em thinks—knows—they will.