In-Between Thoughts 7.1.19:

OH MY GOODNESS when I warmed up for my sumo deadlifts, EVERYTHING IN MY LEGS WAS POPPING. The oldz are slowly taking root in my body. At least it’s still able to deadlift like a boss.

Onto gym thoughts….

I read a fantastic book last week. The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. It’s meant to be a descriptive account of different moral matrices and approaches, all developed from a set of shared moral foundations. Aka, we all care about a set of moral concerns, but how we prioritize those is very different between and consistent within groups.

It’s one of those books that makes you look at the world differently and look at others more charitably. I just love it for that. Any book that does that is going to get a 5 star Goodreads rating from me. (BETTER THAN A GLOWING NY TIMES REVIEW, THAT IS.)

What I keep thinking about is how we are such deeply moral creatures. The human species is so fascinating, and questions of nature vs. nurture so difficult to answer. Then there’s the question of whether we even have free will! Ugh, my head…

I really believe 99% of us just want what’s good. We just want what’s right. We want the best in every situation.

Where we differ is in our acceptance or rejection of new or existing facts.

I think there needs to be another kind of moral reprobate, besides that of the sociopath/psychopath variety. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s someone who doesn’t care what information is out there, they just want their existing worldview to be confirmed.

Shouldn’t morality have a built-in reality feature? What is good or right only can be called that in context. Context can only be defined by reality. Reality is articulated in information, data, facts. If you reject facts in general, you cannot be considered truly moral. You are simply someone who wants their existing opinions verified, justified. That is not morality. That is myopia, narcissism.

And I am not lobbying this charge against any “side.” We all do this to a certain degree. If we didn’t, confirmation bias wouldn’t be a thing. Facts that confirm our opinions feel good! It’s like a shot of dopamine or something. There’s probably a study about that somewhere…

But morality asks not what feels good but what is good and what is right. Vaccinations don’t feel good, but they do good. Having hard, honest conversations about contentious relationship issues doesn’t feel good, but it does good.

It’s remarkable that our brains are the products of an evolutionary process that didn’t prioritize truth. It prioritized what was advantageous for survival. No wonder morality is still hotly debated. We kind of aren’t awesome at thinking in terms of reality. We think in terms of “should” really well — instinctively, actually. Thinking in terms of “is” is much harder when our brains really, really, really like one set of assumptions that could have nothing to do with “is.” Dislodging that preference and blindness is really hard. It takes an unusual commitment to what is real, true, demonstrable. It takes a deprioritizing of what we WANT to be true (aka, our existing opinions) in favor of prioritizing what is ACTUALLY true. That is where the best and most helpful morality will come from, regardless of which side we happen to be on.

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