Posted: Apr 21, 2015 1:05 am
by epepke
igorfrankensteen wrote:The more that I have pondered and directly observed anti-WHATEVER prejudices, the more I have been frustrated by the very nature of them.

The main concern that I find, is that prejudiced people tend to be what I refer to as "Anti's."

"Anti's" are people who don't reason from concern---> opposition, they instead reason either that

* if someone is a member of group XXXXX, then they are "bad," by my definition of the "group XXXXX" designation. They are inherently guilty of whatever crimes and personal defects that I have assigned to all members of that group.

* if someone does something which I don't like, this proves that they are members of "group XXXXX," and this explains why they offended me.

In short, they have arranged the circuitry of their mind, such that EVERY fact, no matter what the fact is, proves that the person they are "anti" about, is what they thought they were. The common follow on, is that any "correct" acts the members of group XXXXX commit, isn't proof that they aren't that bad, it is proof that they are sneaky and duplicitous.

I've become interested in this lately from a Cognitive Science perspective. I'm writing a paper in which I'm introducing a new kind of category that I call "dissociative." As far as I can tell, all category theory is about what I call "associative" categories. Whether one is talking about classical category theory (which is demonstrably wrong) or prototype and metaphorical theory, it always associates a group of things or ideas, in classical theory by attributes or properties, and in prototype theory by similarities through certain prototypes by a wide range of connections.

I argue that some categories are really based on the need to distinguish one group from another, and that coherence within the group is secondary. In the case of Jews, the category is dissociatively constructed simply to distinguish Jews from others in the society. "Pagan" is perhaps a clearer modern example of this. There is no coherent idea that I have been able to find that categorizes pagans in any meaningful sense. It is essentially defined as not-Abrahamic.

The thing about this that I find interesting is that there is good evidence that dissociative categories will become associative categories. Dissociative categories require much more and more complex cognitive machinery than associative categories, so over time in a culture or even in an individual, the meaning will shift. So everything that the default or contrasting category is will become stuck to the the other category as is-not. It is simply a lot easier for the brain to think that way. When this happens, the resulting categories will work poorly, but the fact that they are much easier for cognition means that they will win. To keep a dissociative category dissociative requires a lot of work.

I think this goes a long way toward explaining why people develop various -isms without much experience with the people in question. There is no contrasting need to form the associative category properly, so an inaccurate associative category forms pretty much automatically. This is depressing to me. It would mean that an -ism is the normal tendency of the brain, which has to be challenged. On the other hand, it explains a connection between mental effort and avoiding -isms.

Your second statement also follows from this. There is no real cognitive direction in association, which is simply Hebbian. For example, hearing a song may make you think of a time when you heard it, and thinking about that time will make you think of the song. It is ultimately circular, but the circularity simply emerges from the way the brain forms associations. Not to do that requires extra work.