Opinions Slow Down Progress

Foreword

“If today, in social psychology, I submit a paper to a social psychology journal showing that people think rationally, logically, act in their self-interest in situations I won’t only be rejected they will send the men to my house to kill me. They will be like you are not a social psychologist you are a fool.”Robb Willer, Stanford University Professor.

This post is an attempt to show you how inefficient our opinions are due to our cognitive limitations along with less relevant information available about observed physical phenomena. I will be exploring how people formulate their opinions and solidify them through reinforcements coming from their environment. Even though at times it may seem like it, this post is not an academic paper on social psychology hence the limited amount of biases discussed. In my attempt to explain the insufficiencies of our opinion I will briefly discuss the hypotheses formed during the “Age of Enlightenment” era to show the reader that even though people started discussing controversial subjects with their limited cognitive tools at the time, these hypotheses continue to stagnate societies’ progress as a whole. Of course, I do not disregard the fact that there had to be a slow process of social evolution but resisting new information to protect outdated established practices is detrimental to humanity. We will look at cognitive biases and errors to an extent relevant to this post; I will conclude by explaining how the scientific method can help us as a tool to arrive at decisions without using our subjective opinions.

Age of Enlightenment

In the 17th and 18th century, during the “Age of Enlightenment,” the standard model of rationality explained that human reasoning is and should be logical. Basically that the universe works with logical and consistent principles, and we could understand the laws of nature and the human deductively. Rene Descartes’s view and the views of other philosophers in his era were that human reasoning is always very mathematical. This view placed the blame on the individual for his behavior rather than the environmental conditions he was immersed in. This approach is inadequate today since according to modern social psychology we do not always think logically and rationally. It seems to me that philosophers arriving at the standard model of rationality through deduction proves the inadequacy of their methods.

Unfortunately centuries later, people still believe in the opinion that we are these conscious, cold, reasonable and logical beings. We punish people for their behavior; we execute some; we also get angry at people for being perfectly ‘normal.’ Normal according to their background. This behavior is reinforced, not by the latest information received, but reinforced by our very own social system. Supported by our families, famous leaders, and even friends. The punishing behavior is further reinforced by our media and the personal satisfaction we get when a person causing trouble in our life has been ‘removed,’ neglecting the fact that removing someone does not get rid of the value system which shaped the behavior of this person in the first place.

It seems to me that economic inferences of human behavior also dominate the justice system as well, in particular ‘Rational choice theory,’ as it assumes that individuals will always make logical and prudent decisions that yield the most benefits for themselves, but of course we don’t see that in people who volunteer in the program such as ‘Doctors Without Borders.’ Also, that they are driven naturally by personal desires and motivated by personal goals or selfishness. Within the monetary system, this is evident: we live in perceived scarcity, and this generates a certain pattern of behavior. This is the basis of most economic theories and is also considered by some a general theory of public policy. One of the assumptions made by the rational choice model is that one has full or perfect information about the alternatives, in other words, the ranking between two alternatives involves no uncertainty. This would be interesting to observe in practice but detrimental to competition. The ‘survival of the fittest’ attitude which businesses have to adapt to stay in business will not allow perfect information to be advertised. In the ‘real’ world a company that spends more money on advertising will make their product more attractive than the product of their competitors, which spend less money on advertising. So, you might see one product being marketed more often on television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and billboards, by very convincing actors and a well-written script, and a competing product being in a local newspaper marketed by an easily missed advertisement.

29 Comments

  1. I want to help making the world a better place for everyone. I’ve been wanting that since I was a child. I forgot it for a few years but The Venus Project helped me to remember it.

    Thanks for that.
    I want to help you. I want to discover if I can.
    Ch.B.

  2. I dedicate my life as you have Mr Fresco and co. Please contact me so I can learn and do everything possible to help make this happen. I’m am so grateful for your self an need to learn and then learn how to spread this across the globe. Please contact me . I know you are extremely busy. I’ve done jobs to trying to help but before learning of yourself I knew it was never going to be the answer as its like patch work. I’ve heard it said before about yourself. That you make sense of queries humans have had towards themselves and existence and their relationship with the world.
    If I do here from your team I will be.
    If I don’t here from your team I will be like civilization a still water with nowhere to run.
    Lets make it happen.

    Thank you for reading .

    Lloyd Lindsay

  3. I really wish there is a way that I can support this besides “donating money” – which I know we still need to get this off the ground. I greatly appreciate any suggestion besides what I already do to the best of my current knowledge.
    Thank you for all the effort and stamina and belief in a better world for us all.

    Please contact me when needed,

  4. I might as well jump out of my comfort zone and express my exitement.
    Many times in my life have I dreamed about a world where we valued real valuable things
    but doubts and confusions and anxiety held me inside in seach for something magically happening either inside myself or in the news

    I really want to help in this work. anything I can do for this project speeding up and myself feeling alive again,
    I will stay close and explore what oportunities that fits my capabilities.

    thanks to all founders and cofounders and especially to jaque fresco for your lifelong care and exhausting work for the future of humanity and life on earth

  5. It’s so life-affirming reading about The Venus projct. In this hopeless time.
    I am full of admiration for Your Thoughts, work and vision.
    I can only give you right that this will create a better world for all
    I’m With You 100% and will be happy to participate in this journey
    I wish you all the best of luck
    Henrik

  6. As a representative of those just above the poverty line, I’d like to say that I am exceedingly interested in seeing this project succeed. Among the many obstacles this project must overcome before it even gets off the ground, the project boasts an end to war, but let us not forget the numerous wars fought over religious hatred. How do you propose to put a stop to religious zealots murdering in the name of their own beliefs? Any answer you can afford would be greatly appreciated.

  7. That’s a well thought out opinion. And honestly I can see where you are coming from with your thoughts about this. But basically you said a whole lot of nothing.

    Opinions are the only reason things ever change, nothing would change if people did not have their opinions. You would not have this opinion about opinions without said opinions. This whole website is based off of an opinion about how Humans should change our culture and society to create a better world and what is better is subjective to opinions.

    If no one had the opinion that we should regulate our interactions and build communities, would it still haven’t happened? Would we have any of the modern technologies we have unless someone felt that these things should exist and were needed?

    • I will attempt to work along the lines you are working on and say :

      An opinion which helps us arrive at decisions based on research through the scientific method, while considering the earth and everyone on it. Is a much more informed opinion than someone who is sitting in his armchair and making decisions that cause events like war, poverty, corruption, and deprivation.

      Does that help you?

  8. But it’s still all opinions. This site wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for opinions, nor would the scientific method exist. Someone had to decide it was worth it and was favorable to come up with the idea of the method and then spread it.

    Though I see your point about how opinions in themselves can hinder progression, they are also a catalyst for change and advancement. This is a double sided coin and it will always be this way. Even if everyone in the world perfectly followed the scientific method the results would still vary. Sure it would lead to a lot less stagnation and quite possibly lead humans to a better future. However opinions are still apart of these methods whether you acknowledge it our not, how you test a hypothesis and how you perceive the given results will be up to the practitioner of the method and their opinions. Though it is still more cut and dry and leaves less to hearsay, it still comes down to each individual’s own perception.

  9. You two and any other nay sayers on here I want YOU guys to think:

    On here YOU are the oppressors and selfish bigots. Their arguements are not anything less JUST because YOU said you don’t agree with the arguement and have successfully (in your own perspective’s ego) won that arguement. Why not end your statemenst with, “oh, by the way, I want the world to progress in a positve evolving fashion.” Your blah, blah, blah, hate, hate, hate is JUST SELFISHNESS. Think outside your ego for once. Jacque Fresco did. AND he is a better and more important person than any of you talentless-uncontributing-persons.

    • Careful. Someone expresses opinions about opinions about opinions which you may not entirely agree with your own opinion, so you attack them and call them bigot, hateful, selfish, and denounce their ego. I don’t entirely know about this article or the nay-sayers. But going on the offensive might reveal that you feel threatened in some way. Doubtful if you have any direct financial or emotional investment in the project such as running websites, paying bills, booking conference halls, etc, which might serve as a more easily understood form of ego defense. But if you are attacking people for having a different opinion when most of us have just only begun to read a few articles, then your attack becomes less descriptive of them and more reflective of your own self. This is not said as an attack or ridicule, but a phenomenon I have observed in myself and others enough to understand that it is an anti-pattern of critical thought.

  10. Dear Jacque and Roxanne,
    I am a great fan of your work and ideas for the future of humanity. I concur with the thought that we need to overhaul our behavioral science department of our humanity so that our younger generation can grow up to be a cooperative citizens rather than competitive citizens. Science and technology are great tools to bring about that change of abundance to every body on earth, but if they are guided by greed and selfishness the results will be much worse. It’s not an easy choice to make for a grown up in this society which we have created, unless we cultivate the spirituality of universal brotherhood right from the birth we will not be able to achieve what you have set forth. So educational systems should be the starting point for this change. We may design the latest and greatest stuff with our intellect for great comfortable living but if we are not brought up in an empathetic society based on cooperation we will end up destroying each other and the earth. I wish you all the best in your endeavor and I hope that the Venus project will come to fruition to its fullest extent. I believe that no dream goes unfulfilled in this universe, if not this earth there are many more in the universe where your dreams will be realized fully.

    L ife
    I s
    F or
    E verybody

    Sincerely yours,
    Sridattadev Kancharla.

  11. I have a slightly different criticism of this than Guy, though his point about what would make the world a better place is just another opinion is a very good one. My criticism specifically concerns the fundamental attribution error and the heavy reliance on the environmental explanation in the essay. While it is true that we tend to make judgments about others’ behavior based on some character flaw inherent in them and to explain our own behavior based on the circumstances at the time, what isn’t noted in the essay is that two people in exactly the same circumstances will react in completely different ways while blaming the environmental situation. So what explains the difference? Their internal character. Some people really ARE bad people, regardless of circumstances. And I think ALL utopians have a blind spot in that regard.
    http://www.answers.com/Q/Who_are_some_serial_killers_who_have_had_a_normal_childhood_life_and_why_they_would_kill_people

    • Let me explore this idea by taking the position of “Devil’s Advocate”. Perhaps such cases are an extension of the effect of the environment. Perhaps the affects of the environment are not cut and dry delineated by an individual’s own birth and death, but are influenced by the effect of the environment on previous generations, which repeatedly reinforced certain genomes, and led to a higher probability that such individuals who are eventually born into “good” environments nonetheless have developed a severely damaged portion of the brain which expresses itself in such ways as seemingly “spontaneous” psychopathy, lack of ability to feel remorse, guilt, conscience, judgement, social connection, etc. If this hypothesis could be reliably tested and demonstrated by adjusting the parameters of “environment” to “that which affects a person during their life” to “the cumulative effects of the environment upon a genome across an arbitary number of generations”, then your argument that “all people are good or bad” falls apart and is revealed as “holier than thou”, more of the shallow, shortsighted, judgemental opinions which call for immediate vindictive action based on emotion, which is a continuation of the concept of free will which is posited by the article as a falsehood.

      If on the other hand, after living for decades, centuries, or millennia in a eutopia (vs a outopia), people are still being born as killers, we might still claim it to be part of the effect on our genome for living millions of years as animals in the wild as we evolved, and is still therefore the result of the environment.

      I think the point taken is that many idealized visions of the future simply ignore the reality of this probable occurrence, and don’t give a strong sense of safety and security to the population. Some people are driven to harm others. This needs to be addressed and managed in a constructive way. Not with judgement or fear or anger. Opinions may be part of a driving force to explore an idea. Ideas are worth exploring. I think the phenomenon here is not that “opinions = bad”, but rather, in the Buddhist sense, the level of ATTACHMENT to an idea is what develops into strong opinions and leads to unhappiness in three ways. First, that it leads to a feeling of unfulfillment or invalidation if not met. Second, that it leads to dispute. Third, that the fixation on this one thing has a tendency to blind us to the act of quietly observing and seeing the infinity of potential. These are characteristic signs of ego.

      In any case, I don’t really know anything, have an opinion fixed, or attached any meaning to it. Just exploring ideas.

  12. We appreciate efforts,

    There are some ways of helping the project, mainly by just talking to it to more people and explaining it if you can, promoting by social networks with relevant links , buying books, set’s of dvd’s, donations, TVP store at TVP site.

    Mainly… locally trying to join a local team at your region with a point of contact.

    Figuring out what technical skills “you” might have and joining a area team of TVP.

    Using teamspeak and grouping on meetings and chats.

    But in overall just saying “i want to help” has got to depend on what you want to do.

    An example of a volunteer
    https://youtu.be/TXpKBlSa9CE

    But one day after talking to him he said to me that after he did what he did he learned that he had to stop doing this that way because he was facing things that Jacque many times repeats at his talks about social behavior of people.

    So he changed a bit his tactics, but was still a great work.

    But mainly the best way of help is studying the Project and Learn to spread the message. and make it forward.

    https://www.thevenusproject.com/opinions/

    P.S.- text written by a helper

  13. Dear Jacque Fresco and The Venus Project Community

    Thank you for this amazing project, a practical solution for human beings to live together abundantly on Earth. Thank you for dedicating your life to the benefit of all beings. It is truly inspirational, and each video I watch and article I read enthuses a passion to help make this vision possible.

    I participate in another incredible global grassroots community, whose strapline is ‘for the benefit of all’. http://www.balancedview.org. We are people from around the world, from all walks of life who are training up in the nature of mind. The training and worldwide support network enables us to live our everyday lives for the benefit of all, no longer limited by our programmed reactions to our environment. We train up in using our mind to tap into ‘open intelligence’ (the vast, clear, knowing, seeing, always present intelligence which is our natural state) rather than living a life as victims to our constantly streaming ‘data’ (our conditioned thoughts, emotions, sensations, all experience we perceive).

    It is a profound training that has greatly impacted my life as the wish to benefit all and solution orientation subsumes all limiting beliefs, hopes, fears, emotions and other strong urges such as anger, hatred and desire. Strengths, gifts and talents pour forth in amazing ways as does clear seeing and discernment, and the energy and desire to act for the benefit of all becomes a natural way of life. We become solution focused, decisions are made based on what is of most benefit to all and consequently working in groups and teams is effortless.

    I wondered how the Venus Project plans to bring about the personal aspect of self-leadership that is required for individuals around the world to make this vision happen? Do you think Balanced View could support with this in anyway?

    Warmest Regards
    Michelle

  14. Of course opinion or more precisely wrong opinion slows down progress. Well actually humanity is regressing. And this is cause by wrong belief system or opinion. You should have discuss where all this misguided belief system came from so we can do something about it.
    I tell you where its coming from. It comes from THE MEDIA. well actually it comes from the very few elite who wants to take control of the earth and everything in it and the media is their tool so it gets to us. In a nut shell its brainwashing to advance the agenda of the few.
    Best wishes to the venus project though I dont see it coming to fruition unless we first reform belief system which can come about only after we remove the sociopaths and narcissist in power.
    The only path I see is “be the change you wanted to see” each one changing for good until we have sufficient number.

    • The reason why I wrote this article was to demonstrate to people that we are unable to have valid opinions due to our neural insufficiencies. Even if the brainwashing was not present, we still would not be able to do so, without utilizing the scientific method.

      We are not here to remove anyone. We are presenting a holistic alternative system which would possibly outgrow the need for the type of behavior you mention; and through environmental management we could possibly generate the type of behavior which would take care of our Earth and everyone on it.

      By writing this article and future articles, producing documentaries, and having an (for now in-house) education system in place. We are looking to educate people towards a new direction. Brainwashing is not the business of The Venus Project. Education is.

  15. You where right in saying “opinion” as the problem you where wrong in saying that we are progressing more wrong in spending resources in the venus project. you should have spent it to change “opinion or belief system”

    I have writen to mr fresco many years ago suggesting that resources attention should be on brainwashing for good or more precisely “brain reforming” now if venus project believe that opinion is really the culprit then it appears that I was right all along. But who am I for them to listen to. perhaps now they will.

  16. For those that are struggling with understanding this post. Make sure you know what the work opinion means first. An opinion is “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.” The key here is NOT NECESSARILY BASED ON FACT OR KNOWLEDGE. Hope that creates some clarity.

  17. Mr Fresco please contact me I watched zeitgeist when I was 15 I am 25 now I saw then and ten years later my disposition is the same as it was then and the same as yours “this shits got to go”. please do me the honor of contacting me. I do not want to sit ideally by I do not want to remain neutral as men a women around me are building up a new world. I know that what we actually achieve is little compared to the effort we put in but if we see that as part of the total effort to create this new world well then its a question of witch building of I want to put my stone in. I know witch building I want to put mine in so talk to me guide me please.

  18. Of concern to me is the almost fanstical and seemingly religious devotion to “The Scientific Method” embraced by popular and often powerful cultural institutions. What IS TSM, who defines it, can TSM be used on itself to objectively decide if it is correct, or to limit its scope? TSM often fails to produce any wisdom and often not even any intelligence. Sure, I learned about TSM in school as a younger person, various acts of observe, hypothesize, test, conclude and repeat. The problem is that in Western societies, the fixation is always upon observing smaller and smaller discrete variables. Why is that a problem? It ignores the behavior of large complex systems. For simplistic systems of grossly oversimplified models, TSM appears to produce valuable results. For moderately complex systems (theoretical physics, grand unified theory, etc), TSM begins to break down. For complex systems (the weather, earthquakes, formula for health and well-being of 1 person to transform them from undesirable state A to desireable state B), it is so totally broken down to not only be revealed useless, but actually intellectual snake oil. When there are a near infinite number of variables, which can not be measured independently and plugged into near infinite unknown equations, because of the overlap of that variable affecting an unknown number of other equations which all together drive the outcome, and because the simple act of measurement of the variable by itself destroys the variable and thus modifies the outcome and invslidates any predictive model. TSM is revealed to be little more than a child’s toy. We are still at the very dawn of awakening in this universe, and we will need more robust tools of thought. I do not know what shall come next, but I suspect the continued usefulness of TSM is dwindling as the problem domains it is capable of solving is ever shrinking. I do not place unbound faith in a particular construct. It is valid and useful for certain problems. The generalized concept of critical thought will be key in the next stage of refinement or evolution of the concept we now refer to as The Scientific Method. One that is less susceptible to the many biases of the mind and society such as that of infinite dissection, oversimplification, observer-bias, interpreter-bias, value-bias, economic-bias, political-bias, academic-bias, tradition-bias, religious or superstitious-bias, and so on, but also better able to determine models which yield accurate and reliable outcones for complex systems.

  19. It always touches my heart when people are working hard to improve the world. Only thing, no gates or fences, (open courtyard or greenhouse concept. ). I just don’t like feeling trapped :P

  20. I read about The Venus Project today via The Futurist, and I detect a conflict in your thesis. If I understand you correctly, you believe, as I do, that human beings exhibit a behavioral response that depends much more heavily on their environment and conditioning than on any philosophy. That means that logic does not apply when it comes to motivating human beings. To put it another way, no one believes a true thing unless their heart believes it first. People today are not in the environment you propose, nor in any condition that gives them the freedom to develop a new way. So, how DO you intend to produce a consensus that yours is the correct approach?

  21. For the past 25-30 years (I’m 44), I have been a “silent” believer of the idea that our society has some serious fundamental problems and that we could create a much better world in the absence of money and, maybe more importantly, the absence of the cult that has been created around money. I spent most of my adult live analyzing and detaching myself from many of our society’s common ideas and concepts, coming to the exact same conclusions Jacques Fresco did (although not at the same in-dept level for some subjects).
    I found out about the Venus Project only recently and aside from connecting certain dots it opened my eyes to the necessity of actually doing something about the situation instead of just thinking about it. So I decided to start investing some of my time in creating an informational project, aimed at opening the eyes of those who blindly follow the paved road of our current society and establishment.
    Though I might have some good ideas, I also have plenty to learn, both at the informational level as at the technical level (how to go about informing people). Therefore, I’d like to get into contact with people who have experience with social media and more specifically with YouTube and the production of quality videos. I’m already working on a script and intend to also do some real life presentations in the future. Anyone interested in cooperation can contact me at [email protected]

  22. Hey,
    This is a really interesting post. I love that you explored the impact of the Age of Enlightenment in regards to opinion vs logic. I think it is definitely accurate to say that humans are not always entirely logical. Thanks for sharing!
    Best,
    Dennis

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