The Conscious Ape

The Dragon in Our Head

1. The Damnation of Human Certainty:

Human certainty is an inconspicuous mechanism deeply marred by flaws, driven by limited knowledge, clouded by cognitive biases, and swayed by emotions. This unfortunate sum of factors leads to incorrect assumptions, false conclusions, and beliefs unsubstantiated by evidence, resulting in a mind apt to err and often culminating in undesirable outcomes (whichever they might be depending on what the culture surrounding you parted and parcelled as appropriate).

Incomplete information feeds human certainty, as individuals believe they know the truth from mere scraps of articles or opinions. The truth, however, is a labyrinthine entity that demands a deeper understanding beyond surface-level claims of knowledge, everybody sees themselves as an expert with the capability to solve world problems no matter the order or complexity of the said problem. Your average Joe will happily tell you in 5 minutes how to solve a nuclear crisis or a war conflict with the same zeal and ardor of debating which Sport Joint has better chicken wings.

Cognitive biases distort perceptions, with individuals exhibiting confirmation bias - a tendency to only acknowledge information that aligns with their beliefs and ignore contrary evidence. This results in a narrow and rigid perspective, resistant to change. All of us are at the same time guilty of this and have been in situations where we were subjected to this. From something as innocuous as a choice of diet to a complex topic like global warming. A vegan and a carnivore will fight with the same ferocity as a climate change denier vs an “eco-terrorist”, confirmation bias is a primeval bane of all men.

Following that, emotions hold immense power over human certainty, with individuals becoming certain when they feel strongly about a subject. Political views, for instance, might be held as gospel due to passion, rather than reason - a state susceptible to fear, anger, and anxiety. Just look at any political debate, no matter the affiliation on either side, they are all fuming at the mouth and insane in their demagogical views.

Human certainty, as a result of these factors, often leads to conflicts, divisions, and a lack of progress, with individuals being less open to alternative perspectives, “they will take my bloody T-Bone steaks from my cold dead hands!” It drives individuals to make decisions without considering all available information, resulting in avoidable mistakes and missteps. Just take a quick gander through a myriad of human-induced disasters and atrocities. Here, I compiled a short list for you:

  • The Holocaust

  • Cambodian Genocide

  • Rwandan Genocide

  • Armenian Genocide

  • Holodomor

  • Nanjing massacre

That’s just a short list of six points. Those six points alone contain a level of human suffering, pain, bloodshed, and unmitigated violence as you, unfortunately, see a lot through our history. And every single perpetrator behind them held the same level of immoral conviction that is capable only to be reproduced by human certainty in ourselves. This damnation is a deep scar in our souls that eats our humanity and turns us into Lovecraftian beasts of the abyss.

2. Asymmetrical Constructions, The Flaws of Perception and Hyper-Certainty in Shaping Beliefs:

All of our beliefs are shaped by how we perceive the world, yet our understanding is restricted by the inherent flaws in our ability to comprehend our surroundings. This leads to an asymmetrical construction of beliefs that may rest on false presumptions and deficient data. It results in a state of hyper-certainty where individuals cling to beliefs unsupported by fact and disregard opposing viewpoints. This point alone puts into question all human agency regarding everything I wrote about in the first part. Before I go any further, how would one classify human agency? One way of looking at it would be that Agency refers to the thoughts and actions taken by people that express in their power. The core challenge at the center of the field of sociology is understanding the relationship between structure and agency.

The constraints on our ability to perceive stem from various sources, including biological and experiential factors and the limitations of our sensory organs. For instance, the brain tends to ignore information that contradicts our established beliefs while accentuating information that confirms them, creating a distorted view of reality and leading to erroneous beliefs. So with all this in mind, this brings up the question of the existence of a free will and how our consciousness plays a role in all this. Is morality but a sham, are we just simple meat puppets living in delusion believing we live in a moral and meaningful world? Everything is more complicated than it seems unfortunately, only the ignorant and stupid can believe otherwise.

Hyper-certainty is another key contributor to an asymmetrical formation of beliefs. It is the tendency to regard one's beliefs as irrefutable truths without weighing alternative possibilities or facts. Such certitude often stems from emotions and results in a narrow and unyielding viewpoint. Millenia or more ago, when we as a species were still cave or hut dwellers, this hyper-certainty that lead to random acts of violence paid reproductive dividends in a way of giving one a possibitly to rule over his mall tribe. We are in a sense, hardwired for it, but this is a remnant of the stone age, a not-dead but useless appendage of a darker age that is holding us back like an anchor in a sea of blood.

The ramifications of a skewed formation of beliefs can be widespread and often culminate in conflict and division. For instance, those with entrenched beliefs may be less receptive to others' opinions, leading to miscommunication and disagreements. Additionally, hyper-certainty can obstruct progress on crucial issues as individuals refuse to reconsider their beliefs in light of new information that could lead to improved outcomes. Just look at the whole picture, we need to find a way to rise above us being simple hominids, just mobs of savages, just people pretending to be something else, clutching at the holly scriptures of our beliefs while we do nothing but devouring – killing and fucking our way to the grave. We live in an Armageddon world with 7 or 8 billion heroes where the unknown is irrelevant and attempts to confront yourself are nothing but a loser's game.

The human condition is a maelstrom of sensory information and emotional states, with our beliefs serving as anchor points amidst the chaos. But these anchor points are flawed, based as they are on limited perceptions and over-certainty. Our understanding of the world is therefore distorted, leading to a narrow and entrenched perspective that is resistant to change. How can we change when we are not even aware that there is a need to change?

I know I sound pretty fucking nihilistic in what I have written until this point, and in a way I am. The world and this life do seem (to me) to be purposeless and meaningless, just one big unwashed anus of human suffering and indifference, and the tragedy of this situation is that we (I) deceive ourselves into believing that our beliefs are absolute truths when in reality they are the product of a host of limitations and biases.

The result is a world plagued by conflict and division, as individuals cling to their beliefs and refuse to consider alternative perspectives. And this is the paradox that plagues my mind and rakes my soul; am I nihilistic because of my limited worldview that is based on my perception and experience or am I seeing a glimpse of the truth, a sort of a meta-view and I am given a chance to change my viewpoint? The sheer lunacy of this Catch-22 situation is apt to drive anyone and everyone insane.

The only way to escape this cycle of flawed beliefs and over-certainty is to embrace the uncertainty of our existence and approach important issues with a sense of openness and humility. By doing so, we can avoid the pitfalls of over-certainty and gain a clearer understanding of the world around us, and maybe escape this extreme insanity.

This journey toward truth and understanding is a constant struggle, but it is a struggle worth undertaking for there seem to be only two other options against it:

  • a) To live in a world papered over with conceit, a world steeped in psychological needs instead of psychological fact resulting in a life of total delusion.

  • b) Embracing the nihilistic insanity of it all, and simply ending it.

So, the only logical course would be embracing the chaos of the human condition and living with the hope to escape the cycle of flawed beliefs and find a sense of meaning in an otherwise absurd existence and somehow fight off this horrid dragon living in our heads that perpetuates our desolate suffering.