What Gives People the Right?

I have written several postings related to Various topics including the military, Voting, the economy, religion and etc in America. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address additional issues in these topics.

This article investigates why people think they have the right to force their opinion or views onto others. The reason for this tendency is egocentrism. It is defined as follows:

Definition of egocentrism

the quality or state of being egocentricexcessive interest in oneself and concern for one’s own welfare or advantage at the expense of or in disregard of others.

+ Human dignity has once again been forced to the margins as corporate greed and egocentrism are given homage.

— Reverend Matthew Pearson

+This is the height of immaturity, another example of my generation’s egocentrism …

— Susan Stewart

Obtrude is the actual term, and it means to impose or force your way in where it is unasked or unwanted.

Synonyms for obtrude

Synonyms

Why do people force their beliefs onto others?

When you wholeheartedly believe something to true, you’d want everybody else to believe it too. That’s why people immerse themselves in echo chambers so that they can receive the affirmation that they seek.

If they are in a position of power and influence, they might abuse it and impose their beliefs on others. But it doesn’t make it ok.

For example, let’s take the issue of abortion. There are 2 main camps regarding this; 1) those who believe that every woman has the right to decide what she wants to do with her body; 2) those who believe life begins at conception (a controversial viewpoint, if I should say so) and therefore think they have a right to tell a woman what to do with her body. There are other arguments for and against it too, but they generally fall under those categories.

I belong to the first camp. It’s a complete no-brainer. Her body, her choice. End of story. It is nobody’s business but hers. I get that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but an opinion or a belief is all that it is. I’m not imposing my point of view on anyone. Abortion is a divisive topic—though it shouldn’t be—and so we’ll always have those for or against it. But that doesn’t make it ok to impose one’s beliefs on women.

Another example would be the topic of religion. Again, we’re split between 2 main camps; theists and atheists. Theists believe in gods, and for many, their god is their sole reason for existence and the explanation for their world in general. Atheists don’t believe any gods exist.

Theists have been taught to “spread the word of god” and many have been made to think that all atheists are basically the devil’s minions. They try to force their beliefs on others for one main reason – the promise of an eternal afterlife in paradise. Atheists, on the other hand, have got no beliefs, or agendas to foist on other people.

In most cases, those who try to force their beliefs on others are convinced they’re on a moral high ground. If you treasure life, you therefore think you deserve the right to tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her body. If you believe in god, you are morally superior to those who don’t and therefore find a need to defend your position.

But that’s what we’re facing every day. Instead of looking at societal issues objectively, lawmakers are abusing their power and influence to write laws that reflect their beliefs, and thus in effect are forcing their beliefs on everyone else. Look at the laws against gay marriages, abortion, euthanasia all around the world. It’s never ok to force one’s beliefs on others, but people still do it. And most of the time, it’s those with imaginary sky daddies that are guilty of it.

5 Reasons Why People Stick to Their Beliefs, No Matter What:

Once, when I asked my 5-year-old nephew who ate the last piece of cake, he said it was his invisible friend. I replied that Mr. Invisible must not be a very good friend because he ate the last piece of cake and left my nephew to take the blame. My nephew agreed as that was exactly what Mr. Invisible wanted me to think, having pulled off the perfect crime.

I doubt my nephew really believed his invisible friend existed. But he may have believed he convinced me that Mr. Invisible was real. How is it that someone can cling to a belief even after objective facts show it to be inaccurate?

We all naturally strive to reduce uncomfortable thoughts and emotions that sit poorly with our dearly held beliefs. Such is the way when we deny the evidence of an unfaithful partner or of the abysmal performance of a beloved sporting team. Our beliefs become impervious to the facts in a process psychologists call cognitive immunization.

Cognitive immunization helps to explain why some beliefs become even stronger when challenged. They also help to explain how we cannot let go of some beliefs in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence. 

Immune beliefs are almost impossible to challenge with reasoning and structured argument. Try the following experiment: Google “greatest ever superhero” or something similar, and glance through the stunningly vigorous mass of blog, forum, and web article debate. Our mental firewalls defend immune beliefs well, so it really doesn’t matter if Superman should logically be able to defeat Batman to the keyboard warrior already committed to the opposing position.

Classic psychology studies show that we have trouble remembering the times when our personal beliefs have failed the test of outside evidence. This is because our minds automatically neutralize clashing information—such as that awkward moment when practitioners of a doomsday cult realize that the world did not come to an end when predicted. They just need to reset the date to accommodate a variable that went uncalculated in the initial forecast.

In fact, one characteristic of strong and resilient beliefs is their internal logic and structure, even when they defy logical verification as a whole. As a result, believers come to arguments well-prepared, having become adept at using their confirmation bias—the natural inclination to avoid any information that contradicts a strongly held belief, while seeking out information that strengthens it. 

What sticks in the mind does not necessarily have much to do with how we reflect upon its legitimacy. And, if the ideas stick and help us get by, we find ways of working through any hiccups.

What matters, once we accept a belief, is whether it continues to be useful. When it does, what matters is a rigorous defense of those advantages. Research suggests that we employ five major belief-enforcing techniques:

  1. We isolate ourselves from people who hold outside beliefs in order to shield our ideas from even the possibility of contrary voices and arguments. Forms of isolation play a role in most group memberships, ranging from strong examples such as military basic training to subtle examples such as a spouse who tries to exclude one of his or her partner’s unappreciated friends.
  2. We try to reduce our direct exposure to other beliefs and ideas that might challenge our own. We can see stronger examples in hardline nation-states with totalitarian regimes that ban media and free speech. At the same time, all forms of education use similar principles, whether in selecting appropriate texts for the classroom or in prescribing the best nutritional advice.
  3. We connect our beliefs to powerful emotions. One approach involves anchoring negative emotions to belief failures. The obvious example is the fear of an unpalatable afterlife as a result of non-compliance to a religious doctrine. On the other hand, we also scare our kids deliberately in order to shape their behaviors and steer them away from risk, whether in the form of electricity or pools, or both at the same time.
  4. We associate with like-minded groups in which we work together to undermine rival beliefs and the groups proposing them. Targeting competing beliefs is common in politics, especially along party and ideological lines. Academics have also made this into a fine art under the rubric of the scientific method by highlighting the weaknesses in theoretical adversaries’ arguments while ignoring their strengths.  
  5. A final technique for immunizing our beliefs relies on repetition. Repetition is, of course, the backbone of all learning (for better and worse), including the essentials, such as grammar; the extraneous, such as sporting allegiances; and the repugnant, such as racism.

These five natural techniques for protecting our beliefs suggest that minds did not evolve to evaluate what is or is not the truth. Our minds were equipped through evolution with an impulsion to create, transmit, and defend beliefs that are useful, whether true or not. Although accurate beliefs can of course be useful, useful beliefs are not necessarily accurate.

Conclusion

By nature people are narcissistic and egocentric. Everybody wants to believe that they are right, that their way is the best way. Many feel that if someone chooses to follow a different path, then they are bound to fail. However, the average person will not say anything as these “fools” go about their lives. Live and let live is their moto, as long as their activities don’t affect them, all is well. However, may people are zealots and fanatics. Because they feel so strongly about things, they feel that it is their duty and right to force people to follow their path. These individuals also tend to be the most outspoken, because they feel so strongly about their beliefs or agenda. A small percent of the U.S. population feels that socialism is the way to go. They feel that our capitalistic way of life in unjust and unfair. That the only way to correct the situation is the destroy our country and start over. Mainly because there is no hope of salvaging the mess, we are simply too far gone. We live in a free country, or at least we did. However, these times are changing. That small percentage of individuals has enough control and power that they now can make those changes. We are in for a bumpy ride. The conservative population can persevere, if they remain strong and stay united.

Resources

quora.com, “Why do people force their beliefs onto others?” By Roy Yeo; psychologytoday.com, “5 Reasons Why People Stick to Their Beliefs, No Matter What: A mind convinced is immune to logic. Here’s why,” By AaronC.T. Smith; answers.yahoo.com, “Why do people like to FORCE their beliefs on others?” By Zen Shinobi;

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