an immense practical advantage: clarity in the midst of confusion

an immense practical advantage: clarity in the midst of confusion

Pieces of a puzzle

Pieces of a puzzle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
In the midst of widespread ignorance, what would provide a huge practical advantage? If others do not perceive a particular reality at all, such as if they do not have the capacity to see, then accurate perception of that reality could provide a huge practical advantage, right?
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English: Puzzle Krypt

English: Puzzle Krypt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is a simple example. Have you ever built a jigsaw puzzle? Didn’t it help to have a picture of how the completed puzzle would look?
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Jigsaw Puzzle

Jigsaw Puzzle (Photo credit: Beedle Um Bum)

What if there was a group of people who all had the same puzzle and there was a race to build the puzzle the fastest, but only one participant in the race had a picture of the completed puzzle? Would being able to see that picture give that participant a practical advantage in the race?
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Or, what if all of the puzzle pieces were facing down with the solid brown of the cardboard showing and only one person knew to turn them over to even see the colors of the pieces? Would being able to see the colors help someone to match the different puzzle pieces together to build the puzzle faster?
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Of course, building puzzles is not especially important, so building them quickly is not especially valuable. However, if a team was assembling some furniture or constructing a building or a bridge or a vehicle, could it make a difference how quickly the team completed the process?
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Could having an accurate map help you to quickly reach a destination? Could having a translator help you to understand a foreign language?
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With an accurate map, there is the advantage of relevant knowledge. In the absence of the assistance of a map, there is no advantage and we can call that ignorance. Ignorance just means the absence of knowledge that would be relevant as in practically valuable. An awareness of even the possible existence of knowledge that would be relevant is the awareness of ignorance, which is related to humility. Humility can lead to curiosity which can lead to learning and then wisdom which provides an immense practical advantage.
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However, the advantage of relevant knowledge over ignorance is just an introduction to the topic we are exploring here. What if a person was building a puzzle, but had the wrong picture of a completed puzzle as their guide? What if someone was using a map to orient their travels, but the map did not fit the actual territory? What if the map was inaccurate?
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Or, what if there were a team of people who were building a bridge together, but each of them was building a different bridge based on a different design? Would it be easier for them to work together if they were all using the same plan or if they were all using different plans and expecting everyone else to be using the same plan that they were using?
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When there is a conflict between a map and the territory, that can lead to the surprises, which is not really any different than having no map at all- one simply learns about the territory as one proceeds, with surprises happening occasionally or frequently. Generally speaking, anyone who experiences a conflict between their direct experience and the information of a map will immediately recognize that they have an inaccurate map and simply discard it. They would recognize that being surprised simply indicates ignorance and humbly proceed with curiosity toward learning what is accurate and relevant. They might even update an old, inaccurate map or simply create a new one.
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However, when there is the experience of a surprise without a humble recognition of ignorance, there may be no curiosity and no learning and no adaption. If there is a team of builders all working together to build a bridge but each one is using different plans or instructions to guide their actions, they all could just be surprised at what the other people are doing and then humbly recognize their ignorance of how the other people are operating.
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However, another possibility is that the builders would not recognize that their surprise is an indication of ignorance. They might notice that something is strange or weird or surprising, but not recognize what is producing the conflict between their experience and whatever they had been expecting. We can call that confusion. I will clarify how confusion is important in a moment.
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First, note that the builders might even realize that they are all using different plans, but then argue or battle over which plan to use. That is not the personal experience of confusion. If they all know that they are all operating according to different plans, they could stop the building process and do something else besides build the bridge- such as fight over which plan to use.
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They are not mistaking their own plan as the one that others are using. They recognize that there is a lack of coordination to the planning (or maybe there is no plan at all or just not enough clarity among the different team members about what to do and when to do it).
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Conflict is not the personal experience of confusion. People may be confused and people may conflict with each other, but the personal confusion is distinct from the interpersonal conflict.
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So, how is confusion important? Just as someone with relevant knowledge has a practical advantage over those who are frequently encountering surprises, there is a practical disadvantage to being confused. Confusion corresponds to a lack of efficiency or effectiveness. Confusion can lead to blame and contempt, such as condemning the territory for failing to conform to the map (or condemning the source of the map).
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People may often intentionally provide expectations to others, sometimes even knowing that those expectations are inaccurate and will lead to surprises and inefficiency. That is part of competition and conflict, similar to the action of an athlete to begin going one direction and then suddenly reverse direction (fake). The possible advantage from misleading a competitor is tremendous. The best athletes not only are skilled at misdirecting or “faking out” their competitors, but are also skilled at quickly recognizing when a competitor is attempting to mislead them.
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Let’s review an extremely common example of how people intentionally mislead other people so as to cultivate a practical advantage over the targets of the misdirection. This is an example of how adults may systematically mislead children as part of the process of influencing the behavior of the children.
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A stachue of santa claus

As a child, I was told that Santa Claus traveled around the world bringing presents to children, at least to children who obeyed their parents. I learned that Santa entered inside of all of those homes through the chimney of the fireplace.
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I believed these stories. I eventually realized that not every home has a fireplace or a chimney. I also realized that some people do not even live in a home.
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It is natural to presume that everyone else has basically the same kind of life that I do. I may presume that everyone else’s experience is quite similar to mine.  I may presume that everyone is familiar with what is familiar to me. I may presume everyone knows what I know. I may presume that what interests me is of interest to most anyone else.
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If I am honest, I may presume that others are also honest. If I am sincere, I may presume that others are also sincere. If I have certain expectations, I may presume that everyone else does, too. If I know certain rules and follow them, I may naively expect the same of others.
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I may be naive. I may be surprised. However, confusion is a bit more complex.
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Other people may specifically mislead me by providing an inaccurate map or an inaccurate model of reality. Other people may attempt to frighten me or enrage me or embarrass me so as to cultivate an immense practical advantage over me. They may attempt to confuse me so as to make it easier to further misdirect me.
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Competitors, such as athletes or poker players, may attempt to misdirect or confuse an opponent so as to obtain a practical advantage. Religious authorities, such as parents, may attempt to deceive those who are gullible or naive in order to influence the behavior of the target population through religious indoctrination about the future rewards from Santa Claus or heaven.
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However, there may be real rewards available for children who are obedient. Further, some of the teachings about heaven may be practical while others may be competitive and misleading, even unintentionally.
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What if someone has been told that Santa Claus is real, believes it, and then sincerely shares that idea with others? They are now part of the deception.
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So, if I believe everything that I have been told about Santa Claus and I tell others about it. Some of them agree with me, saying things like “I already know all about that.” Others may say, “Wow! This is great news. Thank you so much for letting me know.” Others may say “you are a naive idiot.” Others may say “Is that so?”
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If I do not recognize that I may have been misled with a false model of reality and perhaps even false expectations, then I may respond in anger to being called a naive idiot. As a child, I may not even know what those words mean, but I may be clear that someone may be saying those words harshly and dismissively. I may want to be liked and admired, so I would not want to be rejected or have my beliefs criticized.
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I may favor my beliefs over logic. If someone says to me “Okay, smarty, if you know so much about Santa Claus, then can you tell me how Santa brings toys to atheists who have no fireplace?”
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I may get upset at being challenged. I may criticize my questioner. I may call them an infidel or non-believer or idiot. “I’m not the idiot, here. You are the one who is the idiot. I know what the Holy Scriptures say about Santa Claus!”
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If someone asks me what translation of a particular Holy Scripture that I am using, I may not even recognize that there is more than one. If someone asks which Holy Scripture of which religion, again, I may not recognize that there is more than one religious tradition.

real guns, real soldiers, real young

“My tradition is the best one.” This is the universal fanaticism of all fanatics.
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Each religion is presented by fanatics as better than any of the others. Each branch of each religion is presented as the best branch. Each denomination of each branch is present as the best.
coptic pope shenouda
Christians agree with other Christians about Christianity. Catholics agree with other Catholics about Catholicism. Roman Catholics agree with other Roman Catholics over the Eastern Orthodox churches and other popes such as the Coptic Pope. A particular order of the Catholic Church (such as the Jesuits) may agree with other Jesuits about how they are better than the Dominicans and Franciscans and Benedictines. Even within a particular order of the Roman Catholic Church, there may be disagreement, conflict and schisms.
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However, that is just religious fanaticism. What about any other form of fanaticism?
“My tradition is the best one.” Different political parties all say the same thing about how their own favorite tradition is not jsut their personal favorite, but the best, right?
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Democrats agree. Republicans agree. Libertarians agree. Communists agree. Nazis agree. Fascists agree. Tories agree.
Fanaticism is universal. In academic Psychology, which tradition is the best or most valid? Behaviorists all agree and Freudians all agree and Transactional Analysts all agree.
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Of course, there are also people who study a variety of models and appreciate them all without being fanatical about any one of them. For instance, a map-maker may appreciate different kinds of maps: road maps, elevation maps, and population maps. Each map is designed to focus on specific information and exclude nearly all of the other information so that there is an exclusive emphasis on the particular distinctions presented.
Politics is a realm of conflict and competition. One can make a map showing different geographic areas and different patterns of political activity, such as party affiliations or voting results. The map may be precisely accurate, at least briefly.
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All maps are approximations. Some are designed for accuracy. Others may be designed to mislead.
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Words are a lot like maps. Some statements are designed for accuracy. Other statements may be designed to mislead or distract or confuse.
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When we are taught how to label things, we are generally taught to copy the models presented to us by authorities as the models that they actually use. However, what if different people use different words differently? What if a ruling class modified a story slightly to fit some purpose of value to them, such as to influence the perception and behavior of others? What if a true story was used as a model for another story?
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Consider that there was an actual pattern of behavior amongst a group of elders or priests or shamans. Their actual behavior could be “mapped” using a new story that leaves out many of the details of their actual behavior, simplifying the story in to a very short version. Further, new elements could be added to the story. The story could be made in to a myth.
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Did people ever enter homes through chimneys in order to bring gifts to children? Stories indicate that they did. When so much snow fell that people were trapped inside their homes and could not exit through their doors, which were blocked by several feet of snow, then other people might ride a sleigh pulled by reindeer along the snow. The snow could be so high that it piled up to the roofs of the homes. The people could ride their sleigh right along the snow and on to the roofs of the homes, then enter through the chimney of the fireplace, which would be the only way to get in because of all of the snow. They could leave gifts of mushrooms hanging in stockings over the fireplace so that the mushrooms would soon be dried by the heat of a fire. Where would they find these little egg-shaped mushrooms? Under pine trees.
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The Easter egg hunt and the gifts under the Christmas tree are actually ritual representations of the same seasonal practices of certain Northern European cultures. The myths are not just for manipulating the behavior of children (which is only relevant to the implicit bribery of “do what I say to get better Christmas presents,” not for hunting Easter eggs).
 
Oddly enough, if a fanatical child were to go visit a village which still maintained the original pagan rituals, the child might accuse the villagers of “heresy” and “subverting Christianity.” The child might go up to the elders of the village and harshly tug on their beards, saying, “You are not the real Santa Claus. I know the real Santa Claus and you are definitely not him. I am going to kill you for impersonating our Holy Savior, Santa Claus.”
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Idealism (as in fanaticism) is a stage of intellectual development. It is not really very surprising that a child might attempt to assert that a particular version of the story of Santa Claus is the best version. It is not really very surprising that a child might attempt to assert that a particular tradition of religious practice is the best. It is not really very surprising that a child might attempt to assert to assert that a particular political ideology is the best.
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These may be normal presumptions for a child to make. First, one’s own story is presumed to be the only one. Then, when other variations are recognized, the one most familiar is presumed to be the best. For that individual, it may be practically best to stick with a familiar model, just as it is practically best to use a familiar language rather than learn a new one.
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However, as time goes on, one may learn other languages not as a replacement for one’s native language, but as a new practical competency for functional value. One may learn of other religious traditions and other political ideologies and so on- even other ways of  building a bridge.
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Each method is a tool. Each map is a simplification designed for a particular purpose. Each pattern of using language provides a different subjective emphasis and experience.
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“I was a naive idiot” is distinct from “I was surprised to find out that the map I was using was inaccurate.” However, both of these interpretations in language can reference the same historical development.
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Language allows for a huge variety of ways to emphasize certain patterns or map out certain aspects of what is possible. Language is a tool for organizing perception. Language is a tool for organizing behavior, as in instructing others in what to pay attention to and how to respond.
Chinese characters for Kokachin

Chinese characters for Kokachin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Outside of language, there is no such thing as confusion. Confusion is simply the activity of emphasizing a particular model of reality over the direct experience of reality. Confusion is a normal experience for anyone using language, especially someone who is just learning a language.
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Misinterpretation requires a basic level of familiarity. One cannot misinterpret the spoken sounds of the Chinese language without being familiar with several Chinese words.
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Mere ignorance is not enough to produce confusion. There must be a limited familiarity in order to misinterpret something, such as Chinese. The more fluent someone is, the less often they will be confused and the more quickly they will recognize any instance of  being confused.
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Someone who has no familiarity with Chinese cannot be confused by it. They will simply recognize that the sequence of sounds (or characters) has no meaningful pattern for them. However, they could attempt to repeat the sounds or copy the characters.
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When an infant first begins to copy the sounds of a language, they are practicing the physiological activity of pronunciation. They are like a parrot which can make sounds, such as “I am not a parrot.” (“Some will cry out my name in vain, praising the Lord God with their lips, but they know me not. They do not recognize my spirit in their heart.”)
The Lord says, “These people worship me with their mouths and honor me with their lips. But their hearts are far from me. 
http://bible.cc/isaiah/29-13.htm
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Likewise, when someone first begins to learn about spirituality and words like heaven, they shift from being totally ignorant to being vulnerable to confusion. Rather than humbly recognize confusion as confusion, they may experience fanaticism and fanatically defend a particular model as the only valid model. They may promote that model not through conversation, but through political violence.
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Of course, that is entirely valid. It involves economic resources to create institutions of indoctrination and advance those institutions against other competing institutions.
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Note that there is a vast difference between a fanatical confusion that one’s model or tradition is the only valid one and the recognition that all models may be useful and all of them evolve over time. One can be most familiar with a particular model, but still benefit from other models.
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To confuse one thing for another is to label it inaccurately. To misinterpret something is to confuse it for something else.
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To humbly recognize confusion is adaptive and functional. “I was surprised that other people did not act as I expected, and then I panicked, condemning them for behaving in conflict with my expectations. In my panic, I reflexively favored clinging to my familiar  expectations over the opportunity to relate to those people, which requires learning.”
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When I am confused about being confused, I can call it being frustrated. However, isn’t it impossible to be frustrated without first being confused? Frustration involves recognizing that something is not working, but not knowing what is not working. Frustration requires confusion.
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Resentment involves blaming someone else for behaving in ways that did not conform to my expectations. If I simply prefer that someone act a certain way, but they do not, do I resent that? It is only when I am in a panic of confusion and frustration that I would blame someone for frustrating me, resenting them.
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Rage typically involves repeated instances of resentment and frustration. Rage is the natural result of a particular sequence of experiences that require a foundation of confusion. If the confusion is resolved and clarified, the rage may suddenly disappear.
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Likewise, if a frustrating confusion is resolved and clarified, the frustration may suddenly disappear. Recognizing confusion involves recognizing ignorance- like if I recognize that I have an inaccurate map, then I may not even know if there is an accurate map available.  I just know that the one I have is not relevant. That is humbling.
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However, that recognition of ignorance is the completion of confusion. If there is no confusion present, then I would not invest my attention in to blame or resenting. I would not rage rage or be frustrated. I would not be cynical.
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I might be resigned, as in not knowing if there is any method that would be worthy of hope. I might still be gullible. I might even be confusing mere optimism for actual functionality.
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But when I know that some prior familiar model does not fit with my recent experience, I can quickly recognize that and study my experience to refine my model or create a new one. Confusion does not stop me. Confusion does not frustrate me. Confusion humbles me and interrupts me and signals for me to re-orient to my experience, rather than fanatically clinging to a particular model that happens to be familiar to me.
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I assert that I clearly recognize what is happening in global economics (as well as the economic propaganda or interpretations presented in mainstream media and mainstream education). Many others have other models to interpret and identify what is emerging in global economics.
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My models (given that there are several mutually consistent models or perspectives) have been consistently accurate. The naive may not know they are naive. The ignorant may know that they are ignorant, but they may not know that there are relevant and reliable models of interpretation. The arrogant may only know that they are frustrated and panicking, but they do not know that they are confused and arrogant about their preference for a familiar model over present evidence. They may be terrified, thus blaming others in an exploration of who can assist them in resolving their raging distress.
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Of course, only those with clear perception of what is changing can identify the realistic opportunity within it, as well as how to appreciate or evaluate the various alternatives. When a model stops corresponding with direct experience of reality, there is a simple way to end the experience of conflict: release the inaccurate model.
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Further, one can declare the presence of the experience of confusion. Curiosity and learning naturally emerge, leading to clarity, prudent action, and prosperity.
Matthew 15:8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.


Matthew 15:9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”

Mark 7:6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.


Mark 7:7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’

Colossians 2:22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.

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