The Thinker and The Prover: Part 2

A Twitter thread by Jim O’Shaughnessy

Aaron Morekin
3 min readDec 30, 2020

To read this thread as intended on Twitter, follow this link

So why is being aware of this software “glitch” in our HumanOS useful? I believe that understanding it can help you immeasurably in both understanding yourself and other people.

The first observation is that while many can see this process clearly in *other* people, they passionately believe that it does not affect them. If you’re a human being, it DOES affect you, and realizing that can help you out of the conundrum it causes all of us.

“ A good way to discover your shortcomings,” said the Master, “ is to observe what irritates you in others.” ~Anthony de Mello

But before we turn to self-examination, let’s look at some other ways understanding this process can help us improve the clarity of our mental models and belief systems. The first is fairly obvious — when people marry beliefs about things to strong emotions and passion, their Prover will work overtime to “prove” the belief so conclusively that NO contradictory argument or pile of “facts” will be able to pierce their “reality tunnel” (Wilson’s term for belief systems and mental models).

To see the truth of this, simply peruse Twitter on any given day to see people shouting at each other with each party absolutely certain of the truth and correctness of their beliefs.

To paraphrase Kipling, we humans are all islands of different beliefs shouting at each other over seas of misunderstanding. This is so because if your perceptions are seriously challenged, it almost always and instantaneously bypasses the Prefrontal Cortex which is responsible for logic and reason and lands in the more ancient part of the brain that processes things emotionally.

This is perceived as a dangerous threat to you as an individual, igniting the “fight or flee” reflex to kick in. Understanding this allows you to see other people very differently and may save you a world of angst and anger trying to convince them of the error of their ways. If you want to honestly and ethically try to change minds (more on techniques that I view as unethical that *do* work later in the thread) you can save yourself the endless efforts that you’d make and simply move on.

The positive effect this will have on you as an individual may stun you.

Try it for a week and you’ll see what I mean.

Another of the more deadly outcomes of this process is that people with fixed, rigid perceptions suffer from filter failure. Depending upon the strength of the emotionally laden belief, their Prover might block so much useful information from their minds that they become locked into dogma so deeply that they are, in an intellectual sense, brain dead.

“Intelligence is the capacity to receive, decode and transmit information efficiently. Stupidity is blockage of this process at any point. Bigotry, ideologies etc. block the ability to receive robotic reality — tunnels block the ability to decode or integrate new signals; censorship blocks transmission.” ~Robert Anton Wilson

If you find this hard to believe, all you need do is study the history of deeply fundamentalist religious or political beliefs (And, to make it easier, start with those you disagree with). They rarely worked out well for members of society who were at odds with the reigning dogma. Many of the ideas and concepts that gain mass acceptance over time when a majority of people’s “Provers” are all following the same paths, a consensus reality forms and it can be a positive or a negative outcome for society as a whole, depending upon the shared beliefs of consensus reality. Being out of sync with the current consensus reality can be a very dangerous or lucrative position, depending almost upon the consensus.

If you exposed anti-church beliefs during the Middle Ages you risked execution but if you “thought differently” during the beginning of the computer revolution, you became a billionaire like Steve Jobs.

[Oops, grandchildren are incoming, so I will continue with Part 3 later on. I also wonder if unquestioning love of your grandchild is a universally held belief of consensus reality, I sure hope so.]

A Twitter thread by Jim O’Shaughnessy