Free Your Mind Using Good Mental Habits

by Luna Flesher (cross-posted from

The world is full of many ideas and belief systems. Many of these ideas are contradictory, and they can't all be true. It is obvious that believing something does not mean it is reality, no matter how many people believe it, no matter how good those people are.

Yet a lot of people are motivated to convince you to believe like they do. Many of these people are highly skilled in the arts of persuasion, and we're all at risk of believing a lie.

So how can you sort fact from fiction, truth from lies? It's not always possible, but good mental habits can increase your odds. Ultimately, the best judge of reality is you. If your goal is like mine, to bring your beliefs as close to reality as possible, then read on.

Cognitive Dissonance and This Election

by Luna Flesher (cross posted from

Let me preface this by stating I am a pragmatic libertarian, meaning I am civilly liberal and fiscally conservative. I add "pragmatic", because every situation is complex, and should be looked at from all sides, where "principle" is only one factor -- reality is another.

I've done a lot of reading over the years on how people are persuaded, and how beliefs work in the brain. Most of my studies focused on cults and mind control, but it gives me an interesting perspective on societal dynamics as well.

There is a psychological theory called Cognitive Dissonance/Consonance. A cognition is defined as any thought, belief, feeling, experience, idea, or other mental "thing". We have tons of cognitions, and they all add up to be our total belief system. Our brain is motivated to more or less keep these cognitions in harmony. When we encounter a new cognition that confirms our existing cognitions, we feel consonance. When something goes against our existing cogntions, we feel dissonance.

How Group Dynamics Are Changing

by Luna Flesher

Prior to the internet, group dynamics seemed to be as likely to produce greater stupidity (the lowest common denominator) as it was to create beautiful productive things.  Group have even produce great evils that could never come about under a single individual.  Members of such groups reflect that they never would have done such things on their own.  Much has been written on this.  Many researchers and authors attribute this to, among other things, the lack of accountability that a crowd can provide.

Internet technologies appear to be changing that, allowing the greatest common ideas and actions to float to the top.  Collaborative review allows acceptance or rejection of ideas before they are implemented.  Search and integration technologies allow us to access the right content as it is needed.

The iterative nature of these technologies mean that nothing is cast in stone, and can be quickly changed if needed.

Transparency helps to retain personal accountability that was lost in the large groups of the past.  In many ways, you are or can be more anonymous in these new communities.  But even with or without levels of anonymity, a record remains, attached to your chosen identity.

Transparency also helps us focus more on our commonalities.  In past dynamics, groups thrived on differences.  This Us vs Them mentality motivated people to destroy rather than create.  With physical barriers removed, information "wants to be free", and we understand each other better.

When I read "We is smarter than Me", in the past I would have laughed and said Fat Chance!  Now?  Through technology we're able to keep the Me in We, which lets We reflect the best of the group.