In a previous essay, Independent thinking, part II, I said, or agreed with, the idea that personality drives behavior; and suggested that personality is determined by factors that just might give Third Wave Behaviorist Psychologists a reason to question the money they invested in their education (half-a-million dollars). But one of many ideas we (3rd wave CBTs and I) do agree on is that patterns of behavior are important – indicative of something.
This morning (26 September 2019) I watched the House Intelligence Committee’s inquiry into “serious wrongdoing” by President Trump that ought (some say) to lead to his impeachment and removal from office (of, it is generally agreed, the most powerful person on planet earth) by the chair of said committee, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA).
My question is: Who does Schiff represent? and what, where, when, and why does he think what he does?
What is going on
My answer is: All that has, and is, going on since election day, November 8, 2016 is but an attempt to negate/nullify all that is representative of the greatest country the world has ever experienced. This is at root, the great debate. Yes?
Is America great? Special? Exceptional? Or are we no different than anyone, anywhere, in any time, throughout history and time? Trump Derangement Syndrome might just be a new manifestation of patterns of behavior that have gone on since man became modern.
Patterns of behavior
Specifically the behavior exhibited by Schiff, the “Never Trumpers”, and Democrats in general, is that of cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, the over-justification effect, over compensation for insecurities, and other ego defense mechanisms, that fall under the broad heading of repression. In other words – their self-esteem has been threatened by an event (the election of Donald Trump as POTUS), and subsequent events, to the extent of humiliation. Furthermore, the feeling of humiliation elicits behavior that requires either changing one’s actions, or changing sides (tribes).
This is the essence of the human condition, and has been going on forever. Remember this basic tenet of Behaviorism: Rewarded behavior will be repeated. Tribal affiliation works! Living solo carries a tremendous risk.
What do you want? Confirmation of what you believe? Truth?
What is the truth? Does it depend upon what you believe, in addition to bringing about positive outcomes? Or, is belief and affiliation sufficient to foster safety and security, as well as your basic physiological needs?
How about science? Science (accurate measurement and replication of those measurements) is relatively new to the human experiment. Tribalism, safety in numbers, has been around a long, long, time.
Is “Climate Change” settled science?
In fact it’s not, but there is safety in numbers and agreement. To challenge the status quo, or patterns of behavior is risky. It carries with it great danger.
The “climate” can refer to weather conditions – patterns of behavior of atmospheric conditions, but also – patterns of behavior of the human condition. Both, now, in this “connected global community” seem unstable, which probably has always been the case.
Here’s an experiment you can do at home, actual real science.
Fill a glass (the earth) with ice cubes and add water, set it on a table. Then watch/observe/measure [i.e. science], what happens. The water level recedes and the temperature of the water decreases – in the short term.
But wait! What happens next in the long term?
What I know
What do I know?
Rewarded behavior will be repeated. Are we rats in a Skinner box? No? Then why can I predict what Adam Schiff and the Democrats will do next? Why did I know that Trump would not only be the Republican nominee for POTUS in early 2016? but would win?
Because people (individuals and collectively) have not changed, I argue. We are who we are and respond to immediate reinforcement and threat. And if it feels good – we’ll do it again. Patterns of behavior.