Posted: Nov 22, 2019 5:22 pm
by I'm With Stupid
Alan B wrote:It's all about control. The psychopathic control freaks use any means to exert control over others. With some, religion is the tool and where the populace begins to 'see through' the con, politics or financial control will be used and so-on...

I think this is sometimes true, but I think often it's more organic than that, and the reason I think so is because what I've witnessed since the birth of platforms like Twitter. You see similar patterns with political views that you would often associate with religious thinking. Basically in order to gain status and followers, you have to basically reflect the views of your tribe, and those who appear more pious, more committed, and often more extreme (perhaps up to a point), will often gain more status. The group attacks anyone who sways from the agreed narrative and the agreed narrative can include all sorts of things that are seemingly unrelated. So if you get status as a prominent liberal Briton because of your views on immigration, feminism and the NHS, you could easily find yourself ostracized if you came out in favour of cutting corporation tax, even though there's no logical reason why you couldn't hold all of those positions. But ironically the person with this level of status arguably also has more leeway to say the unpopular thing without consequence. John Barnes can say "I don't think that was racist" in a way that someone without his history of fighting racism wouldn't get away with.

I think it was Stephen Pinker who gives the example of a southern conservative in America and why upon knowing their views on a couple of issues, you're likely to be able to predict their views on a whole host of other seemingly unrelated issues. It's basically because in that person's social circle, these are the accepted political opinions that confer status and respect. And in real life, your day-to-day experience is far more likely to be impacted if you start expressing views that are considered wrong, crazy or even immoral among your peers than it is by any election. Which isn't to say that these people don't genuinely believe the opinions they hold, just that everyone's values and beliefs are affected by the values of the social group they belong to. If everyone you know believes something, the chances that you believe it too are going to increase exponentially.

I honestly think that watching how Twitter works has taught me more about belief and its causes than all of the religious debates I've seen and all of the books I've read on the topic.