This may seem obvious, yet I think it should be noted from my words and perspective. We are all surrounded by many that refuse to think they can ever be incorrect on many topics and if shown even a small amount of evidence that they are incorrect they go into immediate meltdown. I have no degree in Psychology or formal courses however I’ve benefited greatly from therapy and have read up on these fascinating and often self-illuminating topics.
I’ve been quite wrong on many numbers of subjects. I will speak soon on these matters. It wasn’t just my dogged belief in Christianity or where I stood regarding American Politics. This disclosure is a matter for a later date. I want to express that I am willing to admit to it and not just call it out. We can all be wrong about something. Period. So let us look at what may be at play. The causes of such kneejerk reactions are often multifaceted.
The first facet is Arrogance. Believe it or not arrogance is still a behavior or characteristic humans can all be guilty of to some degree. However, a well-adjusted person will rarely slip from being thankful for correction even if at first it is embarrassing. In the long run, the person being corrected will likely gain respect from their peers and will be less likely to make similar mistakes whether it be of judgment or method.
If a person is so consumed with always being right, then that person robs themselves of the freedom of learning and growing. They rob others too. They must conflict with others so much thus robbing them of their time and energy as they try to steer the person in error in the right direction.
The second facet is Antiprocess. Timothy Campbell, an atheist writer, coined this term back in the IRC chat days. It is one of my go-to perceptions of what often happens with hyper-religious types, partisan hacks, and those that take the woo train to Fantasy Ville. These people hold ideas so sacred, so true that they meld their complete identity around them. When these ideas are questioned or shown to be in error then out of defense the mind will break from that critique and will behave as if it is an attack upon their very person or they will ignore it or interrupt to stop the thought. This can result in psychological discomfort and will often prevent them from considering in the slightest degree the opposing view.
They will often reinterpret what they hear into what they want to hear you say rather than hearing what you are saying. This is often the origin for so many strawmen fallacies. In addition, Antiprocess can be a comfort because admitting you have spent a great deal of time and energy into something that is not true can be quite painful, embarrassing, and shocking. That is the flaw of Sunken Cost.
It is no wonder we have built-in defense mechanisms in the mind to avoid or deflect or even run from such situations. Yet, if a person is concerned with what is true, they must try to make some of their core beliefs open to scrutiny until it becomes a habit and admit they could be fully or partially wrong about that idea. If they cannot do this, then they are making life harder for themselves, and growth and understanding may remain rather stymied.
So, we must take each idea proposed on an individual basis. In addition, it is possible to be very smart and to be very wrong about any subject. In fact, the smartest people are great defenders of incorrect ideas because they can create all sorts of elaborate workarounds and defenses.
This brings us to the next facet, Narcissism. This is different than the two antecedent facets but may intersect along the way. This is egotism married to the idea that one is near perfect thus this is the position adopted by the most stubborn among us. They actively resist being corrected and will never admit they are ever wrong. There is always someone or something else to blame. Hopefully you’re not in their sphere of power or influence or they may be blaming you. Narcissists are not always dangerous and like all conditions there exists a spectrum however many narcissists can be extremely dangerous people.
Many psychologists speak of a large slice of CEO’s and higher management or world leaders coming from this trait. Many of them succeed because they are unscrupulous. They dagger anyone they can to get ahead or just to feel they can get away with it if anyone crosses them even in the slightest. They manipulate those around them. They belittle, gaslight, and bully others. Note that I add that Sociopathy and Psychopathy is also a trait found in many leaders. It is odd that some can live their life this way and not be physically harmful to others, but they can make life hell in all other ways while some are physically harmful too. Life can be very hard internally due to their wiring or uncontrollable nature and the problems it causes them and not just others, yet there are some that take immense sick pleasure in bringing the most displeasure and harm to others.
What we see here on social media and in our societies is a microcosm of sheer wrongness in some and the inability, lack of will, out of defensiveness, whereby an idea’s preservation will stand not to be corrected. I just hope we can find better ways to patiently get through to some that may be reachable. This doesn’t mean it may not be a formidable task.
I speak of all this because for a long time I was a cross-section of facet 1 and facet 2. I was quite a disagreeable person, to be honest. I had a lot against me as I went through troubling stages ranging from mental health issues to intense physical pain due to my medical conditions. Yet once I received medications and treatment and faced my personal problems through therapy and from friends and acquaintances that offered their advice to me, I started in a new direction of improvement.
Prior to this help and me reaching a bottom I was covering for my ignorance with blustering statements of my intelligence or my past achievements. I am happy to be free from that “guy”. I am happy to be corrected, even if I must eat crow. I want to grow now and live life as fully as I can. However, I should be careful not to let that “guy” come back.
That is about it for my basic observation of this phenomenon. If I missed something or got something wrong, please inform me. I promise if shown in a reasonable manner I will concede a point and adjust my thoughts based upon the new data.