Feedback Loops

I am pretty sure that neurotypicals (normal people) have “feeedback loops” in their brains that reward them for conformist behavior and punish them for non-conformist behavior.

We can call this “mirror neurons”, though I understand that’s probably an oversimplification.

Americans tend to glorify being non-conformist in their words, but are actually pretty darn conformist in their actions. The average person seems to think of themselves as a radical noncomformist, while going along with whatever ideas happen to be in their vicinity. Then they loudly trumpet about how great it is to be a nonconformist like them and how terrible it is to be a sheep.

Such people are annoying.

In reality, conformity actually has a lot going for it. You learn to talk by imitating the people around you. If you can’t imitate, then you probably won’t learn to talk, and you’ll be fucked for life. Other people do tons of things right, every day–hence why they are alive. Imitating other people is actually a good way to learn how to do lots of useful things.

In the state of nature, if everyone in your tribe eats the blue berries and avoids the red ones, its probably a good idea to eat the blue berries and avoid the red ones. Even if your fellow tribesmen give you a totally dumb reason for avoiding the red ones, like, “Thors blood got on them,” you should probably avoid them.

Likewise, if you’re out collecting berries one day and a fellow tribesman runs past, yelling “LION!” it’s probably not in your interest to say, “Are you sure it was a lion?” You should probably imitate him.

These feedback loops may not just encourage you to imitate others, but also punish people for non-imitation. That is, people may feel deeply unsettled or uncomfortable if they find themselves out of sync with others. This provides strong incentive to fix the problem, or if unfixable, may create long-term psychological stress.

Downsides to these feedback loops:

1. Sometimes, everyone around you is wrong.

2. Sometimes, you cannot conform to everyone, especially if everyone does not conform to each other.

3. These loops may induce great discomfort in people merely observing other people non-conforming.

If I have a strong urge to conform at all times, and that urge utilizes mirror neurons to tell me what other people are doing, and then I observe you non-conforming, that may induce the same reaction in me as if I were the one non-conforming. Then in order for me to feel psychologically at peace, I have to make you stop non-conforming.

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5 thoughts on “Feedback Loops

  1. […] Since religious belief is probably driven by some kind of neural feedback loop that basically results in people doing whatever the majority of people around them are doing, if you live in a world where everyone you talk to is Catholic, you’ll probably be Catholic, but if you suddenly switch to a world where you are watching TV and movies and talking to people on FB and Twitter and whatnot and some of them are Catholic and some are Protestant and you can even follow the Dalai Lama’s FB feed, suddenly you aren’t surrounded by Catholics anymore. Now your feedback loops cannot pick out any dominant religion for you to follow, and without the belief-experience feedback loops going on, you start to feel nothing at all. […]

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