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Backfire Effect

The so-called “backfire effect” only works on those who have decided to pretend they don’t have free will. Of course, they wouldn’t admit to this, as it’s a decision made subconsciously, because of the seeming ease versus facing the cognitive dissonance of self-examination and worldview reevaluation. This is an ironic choice, since the short-term ease leads to immeasurable difficulties. It’s like avoiding the sting of removing a bandage, and instead letting the wound become infected until requiring amputation. And when people try to help by pointing out the health hazard, they would get blamed and accused of outlandish plots. 

The discomfort caused by toxicity being constructively pointed out is an obsolete artifact deeply ingrained from generations of superstitious slaughter. It’s evolutionarily related to racism, yet more overarching and pervasive. If constructive criticism feels personal, that’s a flag to zoom in, not out, (AKA Jungian shadow work,) especially given the truth expressed by greats such as the ones below. Shout out to family that can look past what can be easily misperceived as attacks, to the truth of empowering upliftment. And special gratitude for helping me to hone my craft with support and useful input.

This is why I don’t find it useful when it’s recommended to work on the delivery of writing that is specifically about exposing cognitive blind spots. It’s like saying, “sure, tell people when they’re hitting themselves, but just don’t tell them they are the ones doing the hitting, and don’t say it’s damaging.” How about instead of implying that people don’t have free will, (which is far more insulting than constructively pointing out destructive behavior,) we instead destigmatize constructive criticism and the act of admitting being wrong. 

We now have some of the most powerful corporations on the planet, who have been caught subverting democratic elections and censoring opponents, engaged in psyops to silence debate. They paint even the most healthy dialogue as “just arguing,” “trolling,” or being a “hater.” When people think deeply and have discussions, they don’t hate themselves and each other enough to view ads and buy junk. It’s quite simple, yet people still gobble up the PR that it’s all just about promoting [the shallowest] connection and engagement.

What if the watchmen in old cities were attacked by their fellow citizens for sounding the alarm about oncoming armies, and then accused of causing the army to attack by attracting them with the warning? Or if the market center of commerce was relocated specifically to be far from the watchtowers, because the warnings were “bad for business?” 

This is a metaphor translating armies and physical attacks, with things much more pervasive and subtle. This Stockholm Syndrome (AKA battered person syndrome) paradigm holds many still under its grip, but it’s quickly fading. You can see it surface in the eyes that glaze over the instant a conversation makes even the most casual and on-topic transition away from small talk towards deeper topics. Or online, in the flocking to sensationalist content, while ignoring the meaningful.

Suggest that we hold some autonomy and responsibility over ourselves in the wrong crowd, and they look at you like you’re an undercover agent who just called in a raid on them. That casual look of terrorized glazed eyes… just keep the laughs coming, haha! Since this is subconscious groupthink, it just registers as “bad vibes,” upon which personal projections can build a scapegoat image to allow easy dismissal of consideration.

There’s no accountability when everyone has the deniability, like politicians, of “just playing to their base,” or appealing to popular opinion. Largely unconscious cultural influences and cognitive biases, combined with algorithmic social ranking and filtering, allows the disingenuity of self-censorship to be impersonally written off as a supposedly viable PR strategy. The breadth of the Overton window and plausible deniability have been systematically expanded, as weapons of subversion, beyond meaningful limits. 

Intimidation can only enter through your own delusional fear, which is fed only by submission. The desperate illusions of control are increasingly crumbling and being seen through by all. This is a tide that can’t be stopped, but will be surely opposed with increasing cowardice and ineptitude. While leaving room for constructive and respectful dialogue, suffer no cowards or fools in your midst, for in doing so you swear allegiance to their false idols.

Hate and ignorance are able to pass in civil society, scurrying among the shadows like cockroaches, within humor, sarcasm, and even something as fundamental as discernment. These things are of course not necessarily corrupt in and of themselves, and in fact are often necessary. This is exactly what makes them ideal breeding grounds for the proliferation of bigotry. When spotted, these parasitic elements burrow in and pretend to just be what they infest, while plotting the next advance. Why would they admit to being what must be destroyed?

Identify, correct, & commune. 

Otherwise we’re left to petrify, neglect, & subsume.

See also: Escalation of Commitment (Sunk Cost Bias)
Cognitive Biases
Rhetological Fallacies | Information is Beautiful
Cognitive Biases – A Visual Study Guide