“Your wise men don’t know how it feels
To be thick as a brick.” — Ian Anderson
I heard an interesting theory as it pertains to all of the nonsense that has been going on lately. I can’t take credit for it. My wife is a Biologist by training even though she primarily works in physics. So, understanding certain symptoms and conditions comes with the trade. Essentially, our bodies lose their elasticity as we age.
Of course, that’s nothing new or groundbreaking. Our skin starts to sag or show more wrinkles as it loses that elasticity. Our bones become more brittle and easily broken. Our muscles stiffen and become more difficult to use. All of us of a certain age know all of these things all too well. As I am fond of telling kids, I can do the things they do, but it takes me a lot longer to recuperate. At a certain point, it’s difficult to do even that.
The theory came in that we can mentally lose our elasticity as well. My wife called it “getting old” but I’m sure there is a more official sounding term for it. The old-timers would call it “getting set in your ways” but there are all kinds of euphemisms to describe this condition. As you might expect, there is more psychology than biology around this phenomenon.
Psychologists called this process the process of schema. Essentially, all of us have our own conception of the world and that conception is built on what we have been taught, what we have learned, and what we have experienced in our lifetimes. Our world view could be called schema. Occasionally, something happens that goes against that schema. How we react to it can help determine how much elasticity our brains have.
Sometimes, that new information causes us to change our schema. However, all of us get to a point where our minds stop growing. So, that new information becomes false information (or fake news as it were). It is not to be believed. It can’t possibly be true because it doesn’t fit our conception of the world. Thus we have reached a point where we have no more brain elasticity.
When that occurs depends on the person. Some people reach that point relatively early in their lives while others hold on for decades. It also helps explain why some people buy into bullshit like Q’anon or the malarkey with the vaccine. It sounds so fantastical and difficult to fathom based on what is being said and the sources saying it. Yet, if it fits your schema then you might be tempted to believe anything.
Try to throw logic and reason into the conversation and you find you’ll be hitting a brick wall. It just doesn’t compute. The information you are giving doesn’t fit the schema and they simply don’t have the mental elasticity to take in new information. Thus, the person you are debating has become thick as a brick.
Tying this in with yesterday’s conversation then becomes very easy. If roughly a third of the population believe fantastical things to be true, you can waste all kinds of time and energy trying to convince them otherwise. Their schema isn’t changing. As I’ve said of administrators throughout the years: don’t waste time asking me what I think if you already know what you want to do. Just do it. Science (those pesky biologists) have told us what needs to happen. We can waste all kinds of time trying to come to a consensus or we can simply implement what we know needs to be done and let the crying masses fume. They’ll do it anyway.