The Dissatisfaction of a Restless Mind

In dealing with ideologues, it makes one wonder what makes some people so strongly trapped in a worldview. Plenty of people are passively stuck in all kinds of assumptions, belief systems, and reality tunnels. That is normal human behavior, but others take it to a whole new level. It becomes an active defense of dogma.

Being a skeptic and a freethinker doesn’t mean never falling into various cognitive biases and ideological blinders. It simply means constantly climbing back out of the holes one constantly falls into.

I was thinking about myself, in this context. These past years I’ve come to question and doubt so much that I held to in the past. When I grew up, I learned many things from my parents and other authority figures, from public education and mainstream media. I didn’t think to question most of it at the time, for I didn’t even understand that there was something to question and alternative perspectives from which to question.

What forced me to change my mind so much over these past decades?

Take genetics, as an example. In high school science, I was taught a hereditarian view of genetics, not unlike what many HBDers and other race realists hold. I wasn’t taught much, if anything, about environmental influences, gene-environment interactions, multiple gene interactions, epigenetics, etc. Public education didn’t give me a great preparation for scientific understanding. But I can’t blame just public education. That hereditarian view was a fairly dominant view of our entire society for a long time. Much of the most challenging research, especially about epigenetics, is relatively recent.

I had to study on my own to realize there were other views and other evidence. But I had to be motivated to do so. What makes some people motivated and others not?

I could say that I’m just more intellectually honest or more curious. That would be self-flattering. The truth is more psychologically fundamental. I’m a basically dissatisfied person. I have a way of seeking out or otherwise attracting data that contradicts what I think I know and people who disagree with what I believe. I climb out of holes of my own bad thinking, if even just to to climb into new holes to find out what it looks like from there. I couldn’t imagine spending my entire life sitting in the same hole.

I like to blame this on my depression. I’m simply an unhappy person. My restless mind precedes any expression of intellectual curiosity. My mind was always restless, long before I took up intellectual pursuits. I feel incapable of being an ideologue, not for reasons of internal strength and inherent honesty, but because I lack something many other people possess. It is a weakness, as far as it goes for being successful in this society. A permanent state of dissatisfaction is not a blessing.

I’m not the smartest person in the world. I’m not the most learned. The main thing I’ve got going for me is dissatisfaction, for whatever its worth. Given enough time, I will question and doubt anything and everything… sometimes to the point of cynicism and despair. It isn’t a pleasant fate. If I must suffer this dissatisfaction, I will force ideologues to suffer along with me by constantly challenging them. It is only fair.

Poking Beehives

“I yam what I yam and tha’s all what I yam.”
~ Popeye the Sailor Man

There are two sides of my personality. Let me first put them into political terms, just for the fun of it.

One aspect is what I call my pansy liberalism. It can be quite radical even. I have been called a classical liberal because I take Enlightenment values seriously, but this gets filtered through an alternative hippy mentality.

This because I was raised in pansy liberal Unity Church (New Thought “Positive Thinking” Christianity). And in the formative years of young adulthood, I used to live with a bunch of Deadheads and potheads. I’ve been in drum circles and Hare Krishna chanting circles. I’ve been in anti-war protests and seen hippy chicks dance half naked around a bonfire.

I genuinely believe in compassion and understanding, of freedom and equality. It’s my naive utopian fantasy that win/win scenarios are actually possible and should be more common. I have a faith that humans are fundamentally good and that human potential is vast. So, why can’t we all just get along?

The other aspect is my politically incorrect libertarianism. It is mostly an impulse for freedom of thought and action, but it can be ornery and antagonistic at times. It can lead to skepticism and agnosticism or else curiosity and wonder.

I don’t want to be told what to do, what to say and not to say. Sometimes the more I’m told what not to do the more I want to do it. Get me curious about something and there is no holding me back.

This is my my hardcore intellectuality. This is a different offshoot of classical liberalism. Part of me wants to put truth before all else, even before compassion and sympathy. I see humans as having the capacity for reason, and I’m committed to demanding it of myself as much as of others. More fundamentally, it is just an urge to understand, to question and contemplate, to make sense of a crazy world.

My pansy liberalism is the sensitive side of my personality. I was a quiet child who easily had my feelings hurt. I spent a lot of time alone, but would enjoy the company of a close friend or the family cat.

I loved being outdoors. Nature was a refuge, an escape from responsibilities and the authorities that demanded that I be responsible. In nature, there were no parents or teachers. I quickly learned that animals, plants, and trees didn’t judge. A wooded lot hid me from the larger society of people, including most other kids.

On the other side, I was just plain curious about the world around me. I was always exploring the woods and wandering down creeks. This would cause me to poke sticks down holes, to climb trees, to turn over rock after rock just to see what was underneath.

I was a dirty, scabby little boy. And I loved picking at my scabs, maybe for the same reason I loved turning over rocks. I couldn’t leave things alone. This is why, when my mom warned me not to put anything into outlets, I soon after shoved a paperclip into an outlet. Live and learn. Experience always makes for the best lessons. Otherwise, how do you know what people say is true? And besides, how are you supposed to have fun when you always follow the rules?

I wasn’t a rebellious brat or troublemaker. I just felt compelled to do my own thing in my own way. I didn’t want to stand out and I didn’t want to get in trouble, but the way my mind operated didn’t always perfectly conform to the world of either adults or peers.

All of this is my personality. It wasn’t a choice I made at some point. As long as I can remember, I’ve always been this way. My politics naturally flows from my inherent sensibilities and tendencies. I don’t know why I’m like this, but I’ve come to accept it as best I can.

Still, it makes relationships challenging for me at times. I feel a desire to poke at things. My mind won’t stop running and my curiosity is never sated. I know that this annoys some people. I don’t always play well with others. I end up questioning everything and I don’t always heed intellectual caution. If someone reacts strangely or vehemently, my interest increases a thousand fold. If someone tells me to shut up, it gets my hackles up and I’m even less likely to do as told.

I have a talent for irritating people across the political spectrum, including friends and family. If I haven’t irritated you yet, then we must not have known each other long enough. Just give it time and I’ll find a way to provoke you and be provoked by you.

I think too much, I talk too much, I write too much, I question too much. I rarely can leave well enough alone, even though I don’t want to be mean or annoying. Too often I end up apologizing for aggravating conflict and getting myself into misunderstandings, but at least I usually apologize. I mean well, and I hope that counts for something.

I like to poke at beehives. Sometimes I find honey and sometimes I get stung. It’s the nature of bees to sting, just as it is my nature to poke.