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why when the check-out person at the store sneezes you see it as proof you are bad

Posted Feb 28 2010 3:02pm

Or... "the self-perpetuation problem"

You know how the other day we were talking about developing these belief systems where we think we are bad or a failure or a crime against humanity? Well, here's the other part of that idea- the "what happens over the long haul" part...

Back in the day you learned to believe something awful, like our example from the other day where a wonderful woman thought her mere existence was a "crime"

What happens next is that something like a bubble develops, a strange kind of psychological bubble that takes just about any feedback or information that comes along, sucks it into the bubble, and views it ONLY within the context of your established belief. I think of it as a "closed feedback loop" (think of it like those wheels hamsters run around in- any information that comes in gets stuck going around and around and around- and it all melds into something that all looks the same). No questioning is allowed, no alternative viewpoints are allowed to have their say or be considered.

What's ideal is for us to have "open feedback loops," where we can take in information from a variety of sources, add it to information we already have/know, think about it, make any necessary/appropriate revisions, and adjust our perspectives and beliefs accordingly. Open feedback loops allow for the free flow of information. Closed feedback loops prohibit free flows of information, and they prohibit flexibility in thought, perspective and belief.

If you've got a closed feedback loop based upon the (erroneous) belief that "my existence is a crime," then most anything that comes your way after that loop has been established will be somehow seen as "proof" that the belief is correct. 

The feedback loop mutates any incoming information so it conforms to the established belief. And it does this to big pieces of info and small ones- info that's kind of obvious it would mutate, as well as info that's subtle and you wouldn't expect it to even notice (like the check-out person at the store sneezing!).

It's amazing how this happens. The closed feedback loop is incredibly effective and efficient at mutating info to perpetuate it's belief system. The longer the feedback loop exists, the more entrenched it becomes, and, unfortunately, the harder it is to get any opening in it. 

Which makes our Bumper Sticker for this week: Closed feedback loops are dangerous things
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