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Philosophy of Closure

  1. Mar 16, 2010 #1


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    Over the last few weeks, I have been participating in a few discussions with tea party members. Although we never came to any agreements (Apparently, I'm a liberal communist Nazi freedom-hating socialist), there was an interesting trend to our discussions. In any discussion of sufficient complexity, tea party members always took a very simplified view, and they would continue to hold their viewpoint even though a mountain of evidence was provided to counter their assertions. Some people would have contradictory claims throughout their argument, and they didn't even notice them. Obviously, there must be a scientific explanation, and there is one called cognitive closure (psychology definition).

    I think much of human history has been shaped because of cognitive closure. I think cognitive closure is the perfect explanation for such widespread religious zeal in the world, and it could also explain so many wrongdoings throughout human history. For example, the attack on evolution may be caused by closure. People who need more closure feel displeasure when they are faced with uncertainty or complexity, and evolution has a bit of both. So these people turn to a more simplified explanation despite evidence for evolution.

    I could go on and on and on and on.

    So what are your thoughts?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2010 #2
    I think it all comes back to ego. People hate being wrong. People who hate being wrong are close minded because they do not want to be wrong. People who are close minded are not fun to have conversations with. I suggest you do not have discussion with them.
  4. Apr 3, 2010 #3
    The thing I wonder about is whether it is possible for you or someone else in your position to realize that they might have been bombarded with propaganda that brought them to a level of complexity that they gave up reasoning and accepted the claim the complex reasoning was designed to support.

    The reason I wonder this is because you said they "hold their viewpoint even though a mountain of evidence was provided to counter their assertions." That makes me think that you only took on a viewpoint because of "mountains of evidence" instead of adequately critical reasoning. Maybe it's a semantic nuance, though, and you really base your beliefs on reasoning instead of propensity of evidence.

    Anyway, just in case propensity of evidence is the issue, I wonder if you realize how propaganda works. The word "propaganda" itself is related to "propagation," which explains the way propaganda works, at least in my observation.

    An ideology gets propagated by taking its basic ideas and multiplying them into numerous expressions. These expressions repeat the same basic, unproven or unreasonable ideas so many times in so many different ways that your mind can begin to make connections between different things in different contexts, which produces a sense of synthesis and idea-coherence, which can pass for truth.

    In other words, you could be mistaking associations and connections for reason, if you haven't taken the critical effort to question those associations and connections at a deeper level. For this reason, I think a large amount of politics and other discussion is little more than propagation of ideologies and assumptions.

    Cognitive closure is the problem, but don't be so quick to assume that an open-mind is susceptible to achieving closure through mountains of coherent propaganda.
  5. Apr 3, 2010 #4


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    Propaganda is not sufficient evidence.

    Allow me to provide you an example: Health-care.

    There was a chain letter (started by the Ron Paul camp) being circulated throughout the tea party that the health-care bill contained language of mandatory chip implants on all citizens of the US. After making the claim, the chain letter even provides a citation for the bill and section. Although the letter contained a citation, nobody bothered to check it, and they accepted it as fact.

    So I jump in and attempt to debunk it. For evidence, I simply check the citation contained in the chain letter. And surprise, there was no language of 'mandatory chip implants required for all US citizens' at the citation nor anywhere else. So I copy verbatim the entire section cited in the bill and references, and I add a link directly to the bill from congress itself. For good measure, I also include links to the other bills in both house and senate.

    To defend the idea, they argued that congresses must have removed the language because 'we are now informed'. You know... Covering their tracks and all that. So I go to some other sites that had copies of the bill that are older than the chain letter, and I did the same thing all over again. To defend the idea, they beleived the government 'controls' everything, and it used its evil powers to remove the language from countless websites.

    The only way that I can understand their reasoning is by closure. There has to be a really high need of closure in these people. Closure fits like a glove.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2010
  6. Apr 4, 2010 #5
    I have never liked it when people say, "be careful opening your mind too much because your brain will fall out."

    That said, I have also noticed that some people promote open-mindedness in order to exploit it for propagandizing people into political alignment.

    I was very strongly aligned with the left before realizing that this very tactic of aligning into collective movements is contrary to free independent and critical thinking. The left is attempting to unify people through criticism against the right, and by so doing to reduce critical discourse among individuals.

    In other words, the left has become an instrument for generating docility and consensus. That makes it more fascist than the right. Has the left been co-opted by fascism for the purpose of cultivating radical fascism for the benefit of right-wing authority? Sounds like a conspiracy, but maybe that's the reason it is happening; I don't know.

    The point is that closure or openness is irrelevant to reason and rationality. A completely closed person can be held accountable to their lack of reason or rationality. A completely open person can be even more resistant to rational reasoning, because they may see it as a form of narrow-mindedness or limited values; while they want to remain open to irrationality and unreasonable forms of thought.

    Personally, I think reason and rationality are good because "sheeple" isn't possible when people actually reason and think rationally on their own. It's a different story when people are just going along with something someone else thinks/says because they identify that person as reasonable or rational. That's just more irrational conformity.

    If you could reason with these people about these tracking chips or whatever it is your concerned about, wouldn't it be better than arguing with them over citations and whether congress is censoring documents? Good democratic politics, imo, involve people reasoning with each other instead of trying to manipulate others into simply conforming to a certain point of view because of a preponderance of evidence or propaganda. No one's mind should be open to that, imo.
  7. Apr 23, 2010 #6


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    I think policies have to reflect the realities of the day.

    I think people abuse the word fascism.

    If a person with a high need of closure refuses to consider new ideas or facts, how is the person capable of proper reasoning?

    If you remove evidence, are you not left with faith?
  8. Apr 23, 2010 #7
  9. Apr 24, 2010 #8


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    The realities are defined by international and domestic affairs occurring at a point in time. These affairs can be military, economic, or political in nature.

    I suspect that closure is hardwired into people through biological means.

    Are you a relativist?
  10. Apr 24, 2010 #9
    "International and domestic affairs" sounds like you're talking about macro-social discourses as structuring human interactions and affairs at the micro level. If this is the case, you should realize first that the "realities" are what happens at the micro level. The discourses of macro-structuring are conceptual exercises people use to interpret and "structure" their perceptions of immediate realities and their actions relative to those.

    Yes, I think it is related to what Freud calls "the death drive." The life drive, or libido, is what stimulates people to explore things, create, and be interested in the creativity of others. Death-drive is when people get saturated with creativity and the new and desire to control, limit, or destroy it. People don't always seek closure - they just do so when they have reached their limits of openness. After a time of closing off, they start to be interested in becoming open to new things and ideas again.

    Sometimes, though, I think that some people live in such a constant state of libidinal excess that they maintain a constant low level of tolerance for anything that doesn't provide an immediate sense of closure. On one hand, such people are lucky to be so saturated with life - and on the other they are unlucky because they are unable to experience new things and ideas happily as a result.

    Not at all, except maybe to the extent of recognizing how perception and experience can be relative to other perceptions and experiences. I'm more of an empiricist. I can observe relativism taking place, but I do not avoid taking moral or ontological stands. Realities are only relative to the extent they are constructed as relative.
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