Don’t trust your own reality

Peter Montoya explains why he decided to abandon his affiliation with a political party and clinical psychologist Hector Garcia joins him to discuss the psychological reasons and personal benefits of joining a political party.

So, Peter, what is your political party? Are you are you a Fox News guy or are you a Huffington Post New York Times guy?

That is a phenomenal question. I’m so glad you asked that. I denounced my political affiliation back in 2003, and I had a political affiliation because I thought that it was what you did to be a patriot. You joined a party and you try to, you know, fight for your side.

But what I discovered back in 2003 is that I can’t believe in myself, in my mind. I said, you know, who is the most deceptive party? Who is the… which party lies the most? Well, it was the opposite party that I was in.

But what happened was back in 2003 is I found out that I was lied to by my party. And what I came to realize is the most deceptive party, the party that lies the most is the party that you trust.

It’s not the other party because you don’t trust them now. So obviously, I’m speaking in a kind of very, very micro sense to you individually, because if you trust somebody, that’s the person, somebody some news source, some political organization, that is the organization that’s most likely to deceive you.

So my only allegiance is to the United States of America. And I don’t put I don’t affiliate with a political party. My only mission and goal is to make sure that we collectively work together to solve problems. Right now, we are in a power struggle where we have forgotten that it’s not Republican against Democrat.

What it’s supposed to be is Republican and Democrat versus our collective problems. That’s what we’ve got to get back to. I like that last part, I like what you said just now, and that is there, you know, we lose sight of the mission when we began fighting ourselves.

And there’s there’s plenty of social problems to focus our efforts and attention on as as a team, as a unit. I don’t know. I think, you know, how much a party lies may be an objective question. That’s that can be, you know, looked at by fact checkers.

You know, it may be an answerable question and we may be, you know, put in the position of, well, do we choose the lesser of two evils? But at the same time, you know, this idea of never buying fully in with both feet to any any tribe, I think that’s important.

You have to have because of our our tribal psychology is so ancient. It’s so it involves so many primal emotions. We have to have one foot outside of that to remain objective to do so far. As insofar as your tribe being the nation, I think that’s a great it’s a great overall.

It’s a good strategy. Yeah. Because as soon as you put on any identity onto yourself, as soon as you say, I’m a Christian, I’m Jewish, I’m Muslim, I’m Republican, I’m Democrat, as soon as you put that identity yourself, it creates a bias.

And a bias by definition is an error in reasoning. So as soon as you put that identity on you, you are not seeing you’re seeing reality even worse than it is, even more distorted than if you would at least attempt to be neutral.

I was listening to an amazing podcast with Donald Hoffman, a psychologist at a University of California, Irvine. He studies consciousness. Are you familiar with him and his work? No? Oh Gosh. He’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. And they were talking about consciousness and they asked Sam Harris, asked him and said, what was the hardest thing you ever learned?

And he said that my version of reality is not true, that what I perceived to be reality is not reality at all. And on top of that, this is what he said. This blew my mind.

He said, I actually believe that the moon is not there if no one looks at it. He said, when you look at the fabric of the fields of study in physics, that this is what he believes. The moon’s not there.

Now, whether that’s true or not is not the point. The point is we really a wise man knows his own mind well enough to mistrust it. All of my knowledge is temporary, pending new information. I hold on to my facts very, very loosely.

They’re always… I’m always looking for new information to replace the bad stuff and find the stuff that’s better. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You have to you have to update what you know or think, you know, with incoming information. But we know one thing you said.

I have a question about it. Good. Are you saying that we can’t be in a political party? We can’t remain objective and, you know, belong to a political party or a tribe or an organization? Is our our identities inherently biased or do you think that we can we can have an affiliation, but approach that approach that organization or the tribe or the social group with thoughtful questions? So I think a person can. So here’s my question and I’ll see where you land on this. I don’t understand what the benefit is to me as an individual to belong to a political affiliation.

So here’s what the benefit is to the political parties. First of all, they have a source for revenue. They have a person who’s most likely… their cognitive defenses are lowered and they’re more likely to be a foot soldier and get enacted in the course of that.

Also, that person is more likely to then attack or go after our enemy. The other party. So there’s lots of benefits for political parties for us to be part of them. But for me as an American. Okay. Here in California, I can’t vote in the primary because I’m independent.

That’s OK. And I think that for me, a better off and keeping hopefully better objectivity. I’m not objective. I don’t have any monopoly on the truth. My mind and my thinking is as flawed and error ridden as anybody’s.

And every single day I wake up going half of what I believe is not true. Let’s see if we can find out what it is. And I think when you affiliate with a political party, it makes it harder.

So let me test that and you tell me. And by the way, I have donated. I voted on both sides of the aisle. I’ve donated money on both sides of the aisle. Is there really a benefit to us that I’m missing when we belong to a political party and I’m talking about we as individuals, not the party?

I don’t think we can dispense with with political parties or groups or, you know, those kinds those levels of organization just just for practical reasons. But I do think, you know, some very old psychology gets enacted that makes us blind to the logical fallacies of our party because we want to belong so badly.

Right. And because in our ancestral past, really not belonging to the tribe was a very dangerous proposition. So it was death and it was. Yes, I mean, either being executed by the tribe or abandoned by the tribe.

So so we have this this natural tendency to fear going against the tribe. But, you know, every group, just like every individual, needs a mirror. And I think that’s what discourse like this. And, you know, the book that that you’ve written and the objective that you’re putting forth.

I think that’s what it serves. If you are more committed to national unity than partisanship, please check out my book, The Second Civil War: A Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation.

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