Yesterday I explained why I attended an anti-Monsanto rally despite being pro-GMO (generally).
It occurred to me while I was writing it that I was protesting too much. I went ahead and finished the post, because I thought it was interesting and it made a point. And also because I realized having a follow-up post on the topic I’m about to cover would be much more interesting with an example already published.
Those familiar with the “free will” and “consciousness” debates will have already come across the argument that human consciousness is basically a giant PR gambit. Decisions are made, and actions are undertaken, before we are consciously aware that we’ve made a decision. Our conscious mind doesn’t decide much of anything – it is there to put together a coherent story of why we did things that is acceptable to those around us and present it to them. And a story is far more likely to be believed by an audience if the teller believes it as well – thus a primary duty of the conscious self is self-deception.
(Incidentally, this is why hacking yourself is vital if you want to actually change anything about yourself. Simply deciding to make a change won’t alter shit. You need to bust out the tools and go to work on your subconscious, because you are not in direct control.)
There is a far simpler explanation for why I went to the anti-Monsanto rally. My SO strongly wanted to go. As the provider of the overwhelming majority of my emotional support and sexual activity, her happiness and her opinion of me is very important to my life. Attendance would raise me in her esteem, and make her happy. My abstaining would disappoint her a lot. We have several friends who likewise would approve, and very few who would disapprove more than a token amount. There was much to gain from going, and not much to lose.
By coming up with the explanation that I did (yesterday’s post), I could almost completely mitigate the negative aspects of attendance – those who would disapprove of the rally attendance would accept the excuse given and reduce the penalties for doing so. I could keep my self-image as one who is pro-tech and reasonable, while strengthening the image of one who cares about politics. More than anything else, I could keep my own self-image of those without admitting I could be swayed by something as base as what other people would like of me.
I considered not publishing yesterday’s post at all, once I figured it was likely an elaborate self-deception. But – just because it’s not my actual motivation for going doesn’t mean it’s not true. I don’t disagree with anything I said.
I do appreciate the meta-thinking training I’ve gleamed from Overcoming Bias and LessWrong. Without that I never would have noticed what my brain was doing, and I would have pigeon-holed myself further into that identity.