Mindset · Open Post

Open Post: The Status-Quo Bias

Ubermensch recently left a very good comment on why people stick to their beliefs, even if they do not serve them well. Here it is in full:

The majority of people have “status quo” bias when it comes to their beliefs. If you point out a flaw in them, instead of changing their belief, they will get angry at you. A lot perceive it as a personal attack if you point out a flaw in their thinking. Evolutionary, it makes a lot of sense that we have this bias. Whatever beliefs you hold, you know one thing about them with 100% certainty: they didn’t kill you so far. And in a dangerous world, this is quite a lot. Especially since most of our ancestors lived in a quite stable environment. There were no new technologies which changed the rules of society every few years. And add to that the social pressures which come from living in a small tribe, in which a wrong belief could easily make you a social outcast. So it makes a lot of sense that most people are highly resistant to changing their minds, even if the beliefs are harming them.

I particularly like the evolutionary angle. In fact, I find it quite helpful to muse about what life in the ancestral environment may have been like when trying to understand contemporary follies. Back then, we were organized in small tribes and you knew who was leading the tribe. The tribe is surviving so Stone-Age Chad is competent enough. Also, you know that if he tried fucking with you, he’d suffer himself as he couldn’t survive on its own. Fast forward to the present day, though, our leaders are no longer dependent on the cattle class and they face no consequences for lying to you for four to eight years until they get replaced by the next bit-actor. Yet, the average normie seems to be immune to understanding that he is being ruled by a hostile elite that does not have his best interest at heart.

Also, to build upon the thoughts of Ubermensch, it is probably also an issue that survival is too easy nowadays. You can hold the dumbest sets of beliefs and you will not get punished. Heck, you may even make it big as a YouTube influencer or a politician. Thus, as long as there is no pushback by reality, it is perfectly fine to tout that there is a gorillion of genders, that the world is going to end due to global warming even though we have record winters, and that we need to get locked up because of the flu. In some corners of the Internet, the saying, “the crazy train has no brakes” is popular. This is true. The brakes disappeared when humanity became too prosperous. We would be a lot saner if we still had to work with our hands, if only because this would lead to obvious parasites getting run out of society because they would at best slow us down and at worst destroy our tribe. On that note, I think this is also the origin of the death penalty: some people were so harmful to society that the only way to effectively deal with them was to kill them. Well, we are way too advanced for such brutish methods now, aren’t we?

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4 thoughts on “Open Post: The Status-Quo Bias

  1. @Aaron: about the origin of the death penalty:

    I think it was also done mainly for pragmatic reasons.

    It was not really possible to put people into jail. Putting them into jail would have been a death sentence anyways, considering the sanitary conditions and that there was barely enough food to feed the non criminal population.

    Same with prisoners of war, it was just not logistically possible to jail so many people.

  2. Regarding how we evolved and how conflict arose between our hunter-gatherer ancestors, you can get a good overview in the first part of a book by Azat Gat, “War in Human Civilization”. IIRC the first 8 or 9 chapters of this book deal with the subject the evolutionary origins of competition and conflict between humans, in a pretty nuanced and objective manner.

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