I have learned a lesson from all the controversy surrounding the British Brexit referendum to leave the European Union. When people have made up their mind on a highly emotionally-charged issue, there is nothing in the world that you can do to convince them to think otherwise.
When strong feelings such as national identity and perceived lack of sovereignty override any logical argument that economists, bureaucrats, mathematicians, historians or political scientists put forward, the emotional argument always wins hands down.
Every so often I fall into the same trap of participating in some social media debate, realising afterwards that it was a complete waste of my time. I will not convince someone else to change his or her opinion. Its like trying to persuade someone to give up a religious faith.
We are constantly being manipulated by emotion. You will hardly sell a soft drink by revealing how much sugar and other toxic ingredients it contains. You call it an “energy drink” and nurture an image advertising it in the hands of handsome and beautiful sport or movie stars. Its the image and emotion that do the trick. The cigarette industry was a master of such manipulation and so are the political demagogues.
The human mind works like this: Once a thought or an idea becomes an “emotionally charged” belief it will find examples from past experience, the Internet, chat rooms or from whatever source available to confirm that belief. You will choose friends and associates confirming your viewpoint. That belief becomes unshakeable. Any other information that contradicts your opinion will be censored by the mind, ignored, attacked or denied because it is perceived as a threat to self-identity.
Amazingly you will find that many people believe the twin towers collapsed because of explosive devices and not because of the planes that crashed into them. A significant portion believe the moon landing was a hoax. And so it goes on. Simply dismissing these folk as a lunatic fringe is too simple. It just tells us that we all are victim to emotional reactions and responses in different forms and patterns and that we are susceptible to falling into the “belief trap” even if all the evidence tells us otherwise.
There is obviously a deep alienation between a large section of the population and what is deemed as the “establishment” – those up there making all the decisions. Or those scientists or mass media knowing all the answers. You will find few dissenters in groups and communities holding the same view because of course you want to “belong” to your tribe or group.
What makes the current situation so dangerous is that in a world of information overload – and often an overload of unsourced and misleading information – more and more people are following “false prophets” offering simple solutions to complex problems. We seem to have forgotten how all the “belief systems” “isms” and thin ideologies have so tragically misled humanity in the past.
ITS TIME TO WAKE UP and lift the veil behind all the delusion.
Reino Gevers – coach, author, trainer