Imagine an individual you trust, and another individual you do NOT trust (the reasons being irrelevant). Both make a simple, observable, statement to you: ‘It’s a clear day outside.’
Without an ability to verify, who do you believe?
Now imagine the same people make contrasting statements: Trust person says ‘It’s overcast outside,’ and No-Trust states ‘It’s a clear day outside.’
Again, you are unable to verify before making your decision of whom to trust (which your brain will make for you immediately, anyway). Whom do you believe?
Finally, you are able to witness external conditions PRIOR to the same two individuals making their statements. It IS clear outside, but Trust person says ‘It’s raining cats and dogs,’ and No-Trust says ‘It’s perfectly clear.’ What are your first thoughts? How do you rationalise that the individual you trusted has provided observably incorrect information to you?
Is it the source of the information you trust, or the content?
The perceptive duality of friend-enemy, insider-outside, saves us energy. We save that energy in a cognitive sense when we recognise that the source of the information we have received has been previously defined as a potential threat. Threats require an immediate response, and the safest such response is to disengage. (Confronted on the street with a person who is clearly much largely and angrier than we are, making explicit verbal and physical threats to harm us, I would suggest that few would choose to whip out a tape measure and politely ask to measure their biceps).
Disengaging in an informational sense means rejecting the package as a whole, without examining any of the content. (Bad wrapping paper = bad present. Toss over veranda into swimming pool). The content of the information is rejected based solely on the perceived trustworthiness of the source.
By making such a rejection, we save ourselves from having to expend the energy required to acknowledge, analyse, and ascribe value to, the content. That doesn’t sound like much effort, but consider how much information we are bombarded with now, in addition to the normal bodily function feedback mechanisms. Any energy saved is a blessing.
This rejection in order to save cognitive energy is the fate of much conservative informational content. It is recognised as a threat (constant projection-inspired propaganda from our competitors has seen us positioned as the negative side of the friend-enemy duality), and the recipient’s brain immediately disengages and rejects the package as a whole, without considering the veracity or usefulness of the contents. The recipient saves cognitive energy by not analysing the content of the information.
Unfortunately, the conservative information sender will continue to waste their energy by believing that the content of their information package will easily pass the recipient’s cognitive gate-keeping (Friend or enemy? Trusted or Not-Trusted?), and be analysed as-is.
For whatever reason, the conservative is unwilling or perhaps unable, to acknowledge that such cognitive gate-keeping exists, which is why they continue to focus on tweaking the content. The same content that is clogging – still wrapped – the swimming pool in the backyard, or wherever else the recipient discards the unwrapped, unexamined information they have received.
It is NOT the content of the message that is the barrier to more effective outcomes. It is the automatic identification of the SENDER of the content, which triggers the gatekeeping rejection response, that requires deconstruction and rebuilding.
Think back to the thought experiments at the beginning of this post: When the No-Trust person’s statement was observably correct, how did you process that? Was your very first thought: ‘No, that cannot be true. I must have misheard it?’ The easiest option in that circumstance would have been to reject their observation, and justify why the Trusted person responded in the way they did. It doesn’t make sense to believe someone you KNOW to be a threat; an enemy or outsider whose very existence jeopardises your safety. You expend your cognitive energy on analysing the non-threat, because your immediate reaction to the threat (the information from the No-Trust person, whose informational content was observably correct) has already rejected it.
Conservatives CANNOT sneak their information packages past the cognitive gatekeepers (after which the content can be analysed). The gatekeepers must be removed.
In the cadre of core disciples, this will be an uphill battle (in 20 feet of snow).
For those not programmed in detail, who have absorbed the hollow mantras only because there have been no effective counter-tactics, removing the gatekeeper could be viable.
HOW can the gatekeeper in the minds of these individuals be removed, so that the rational, empirical content of conservative information can enter? I only have simplistic, incomplete suggestions for that. Before you begin mocking my inadequacy in this regard, however, conservative messengers might choose to ask if the content they have put so much effort into, is being rejected prior to, or after, examination by the intended recipients.