Why nothing makes sense | John Mangun

The world that we live in makes it hard to believe that anything makes sense. While I adhere firmly to the idea that nothing is what it appears to be, even that concept is stretched to the limit sometimes.

I could give several examples that prove my point. Unfortunately, these are mostly politics-related and I would be stomping down on someone’s very sensitive feelings. It used to be that elections ended, and the results were grudgingly accepted until a few months before the next election. But now, politics is a 24/7 never ending affair, and that is not just for the Philippines.

I have always assumed that not only am I not the brightest guy in the room, but it was also always safer to assume that I was near the bottom on the ‘Smart-Guy’ list. That way I might learn something new.

But I am not getting intelligent insights into issues that affect all of us. The US/Western Europe has been fighting a proxy war with the USSR/Russia since World War 2. We think that the Chinese civil war was Commie dictator Mao Zedong on one side and God-fearing, freedom loving Chiang Kai-shek on the other. Wrong. It was the USSR versus the US. And it is a never-ending list.

The big ones are obvious: First Indochina War in the 1950s, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Soviet-Afghan War, the Syrian Civil War, and now the Russo-Ukrainian War. But for more than 50 years the two sides have been fighting a stream of wars: Paraguayan Civil War, Dominican Civil War, Chadian Civil War, Angolan Civil War, and the Ethiopian Civil War, to name only a few.

What the hell is the matter with those people? No, change that. What the hell is the matter with us for accepting this kind of (and much more) nonsense from global leaders?

Collectively—unlike other mammals—we can be incredibly foolish. Even as individuals, our level of lunacy can seem infinite. There are specific problems with human thinking that can lead us down a path to damnation. It has to do with our poor critical thinking skills that are replaced with delusions. Here are a few to avoid at all costs.

We overestimate how much attention people pay to our words and appearance or the “Spotlight effect.” It is a historical fact. Nobody cares what you think, who you are going to vote for, or who/what your favorite deity is. Social media has turned too many people into superhero-wannabes. But it has also created the ‘Third-person effect’ that everyone else is more influenced by SocMed and Traditional Media than we are, and therefore we are smarter. We’re not. We’re all equally dumb.

The Internet has also caused us to believe in ‘Declinism’ or the belief that the past was superior to what lies ahead. The happiest and most productive people are those that get up every single morning with the thought that today will be better than yesterday if you work for it.

The Internet and SocMed have made us ‘data fanatics’ and that is killing critical thinking. “Twyman’s law” says, “Any data that looks interesting or different is usually wrong” following the principle that “the more unusual or interesting the data, the more likely they are to have been the result of an error of one kind or another.”

“Google Trends as a Predictor of Presidential Elections”—research published November 2020. “The results show that this method has predicted the real winner (US and Canada) in all the elections held since 2004.” Except for the 2022 Philippine election.

Finally, let me share the obstacle to critical thinking I like best. It’s called “Gibson’s Law.” In public relations, in the practice of law, and in SocMed/TradMed, “For every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD.” Remember, having a Ph.D. does not necessarily make someone correct; it just makes them more skilled at being incorrect.

E-mail me at [email protected] Follow me on Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis provided by AAA Southeast Equities Inc.

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