Delusion control, or the tricky art of personal honesty
One of the strangest concepts in human mentality is the belief that anyone knows what they're doing. Despite an impeccable history spanning thousands of years in which the human race has successfully proven beyond contradiction that it has absolutely no idea what it's doing and has spent most of its time making life as difficult for itself as possible, this concept persists.
Homo Collective and Individual Idiots Sapiens is if nothing else excellent proof of the fact that mistakes are created specifically by people who do think they know what they're doing. This particular delusion is based partly on vanity, and partly out of a pathetic desire to avoid the feeling of insecurity that believing oneself to be an idiot causes.
Delusions are often merely expedient, to prevent confrontation with a rather irritating problem known as reality. No vaccination against this nuisance has yet been developed despite the desperate efforts of politicians, mainstream media, public relations saints and other repositories of human wisdom and strong, immutable ethical practices.
The net effect has been to make humanity what it is today. A sparkling, effervescent species in a world of endless enchantments governed by fantastically interesting people with large breasts or larger egos and high, unquestioned intelligence without parallel.
Or perhaps not. Ironically, all this collective brilliance is based on the sometimes rickety intellectual practices of individuals. Some of these individuals don't actually get a lot of practice, mainly because they're too busy being interesting.
Individual opinion of one's own intelligence and competence can be as dangerous as a chainsaw. Self-doubt may be infuriating, but as an alternative to turning yourself into a train wreck, it's often the better option. The fact is that people have to either talk themselves into making mistakes or avoid thinking entirely to make them.
Everybody has "better judgment" after the event, hardly anyone has it beforehand, and if they do nine times out of ten it’s accidental. Most people have the ability to think of something, and then provide themselves with endless interpretations of the thing they just thought.
This useful process is commonly known as stupidity, and is often derived direct from the personal knowledge base. A person may see a rock perfectly clearly, and then proceed to trip over it. If survival instincts are allowed to get a word in, the incidence of stupidity usually lessens considerably.
Fortunately Homo sapiens has a remedy for that, too. The delusion of high personal intelligence is quite sufficient to make an idiot out of anybody. The more convinced you are of your own infallibility, the more likely you are to do something unbelievably stupid.
Because delusions are usually preferable to reality, the default perspective in many cases requiring the use of intellect is the delusion. Sanity may interfere with this process, but its success rate is debatable.
Arguably the best and certainly the easiest option for avoiding the worst effects of your delusions is a form of constructive self-distrust. It should also be pointed out that self-distrust is a lot safer and far less stressful than usual response to making mistakes which provide such inconvenient, and worse, irrefutable, proof of stupidity.
For those to whom self-congratulation is a sort of hobby, self-distrust can also be used to prove one's cleverness, rather than indulge in the messy process of attempting to understand exactly how one could be such an idiot. For people who actually are stupid, and prefer on principle to be stupid, self-distrust can be used as a method of ensuring that irritations like death, bankruptcy and serious injury do not interfere with one's TV watching.
For ordinary humans (Surely you remember them... No? Perhaps just as well...), self-distrust is best viewed as a portable defence against oneself. Given that the average human being is able to find endless different ways of creating problems for themselves, self-distrust can work as a sort of medical bracelet.
The alternative to delusion is reality. It’s probably better to avoid both, and sad to say the only way to do that is personal honesty. Self-distrust is about as honest as you can get. Mistakes always cost something, and undoing mistakes can be a pretty grim process.
So let the delusions babble on, just don't take them seriously and try to avoid being any stupider than actually necessary. You'll find that your relationship with yourself improves immensely with a bit of extra backup from self-distrust.
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