Monday, April 12, 2021

When Cynicism is your Armor

Cynicism has blind spots.

For one thing, cynics believe that every human is a rational-being solely motivated by their own best interest. There is ample evidence that the native human operating system is emotional and rationality is frosting smeared over the top. Sometimes a thick layer. Sometimes thin. Usually non-existent.

Those times when the typical human ventures forth into rationality, it is to justify some bone-headed decision that popped out of their emotion-driven operating system. Hence the origin of the word "rationalize".

Cynicism as body armor
Comments on body armor at the 7:20 mark

It calls to mind something Clint Smith (an icon in the shooting world) said about body armor. "It isn't going to protect you from somebody who does not know where to shoot you or somebody who is a lousy shot....say, roughly 95% of the people who carry handguns"

Cynicism is not going to protect you from people when their brains are stuck in their native operating system (emotion) nor will it protect you from stupid people. Consequently, cynicism is an "armor" that will leave you unprotected at least 95% of the time.

Cynicism as your master's gloves

Furthermore, the pet-rocks that own prime-time TV are gifted at engaging cynicism and stoking it to outrage. Rage is emotion. Rage supplies an neuro-chemical "high". It is addictive.

Moving otherwise rational people back into emotion driven thought processes allows our would-be masters to manipulate us like a liquid.

As a general rule, if somebody is attempting to manipulate you, it is rarely to help you make a decision that will be in your, best, long-term benefit. Rather, they are manipulating you to maximize their advantage.

Cynicism has its uses but don't let the tool be your master or those who know how to wield it will be your master.

Cynicism as a thief

Finally, cynicism robs you of the joy of meeting people who are windows to God's goodness.

There are good people out there. There are also people operating on a logic system that might be opaque to you. Some of us bank on Karma. Others have sworn sacred oaths to "professionalism".

Life can suck. Don't let cynicism suck the joy out of it.


  1. "[C]ynics believe that every human is a rational-being solely motivated by their own best interest."

    Where did that come from? I don't see that as being true at all. The two things seem totally unrelated to me.

    1. I pulled it out of my rearmost orifice.

      The background for this post is a series of emails I have been swapping with my token Progressive friend. In his world-view, people only do things for mammon, power and crass advantage.

      I am curious, why do they seem totally unrelated?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I guess because in my worldview, cynics tend to believe in the idiocy of humanity, not their rationality. Or rather they assume a lot of their fellow humans are irrational, and some are rational, and whichever gives you the worst outcome is what you will encounter. Cynics tend to assume the worst, or at least in the indifference of their surroundings. Murphy's Law (and Murphy's Laws of Combat) are prime examples of a cynical view of the world.

      I'll grant you that cynics probably think of THEMSELVES as rational (most of the time) but I think that is a fundamental flaw in all humans and their philosophies. And a really honest cynic would probably admit that they aren't always that rational either.

    4. I keep adding revising my thoughts ... sorry.

      Cynicism is more a way of anticipating what results you will get, not what motivates people. Of course, cynics will anticipate that many people they will encounter will be motivated to do evil things.

    5. And even those people who are motivated to do good, or motivated by good things, will often give you catastrophic results.

    6. I agree. People tend to be driven by what makes them feel good. They then spend a lot of time and effort finding a rationale for why what made them feel good in the moment was the right thing to do.
      Ol Joe's line about the OS being emotion certainly seems consistent with that.
      It applies in spades to women, of course.

  2. Well, cynicism does tend to give you a 'grounding' if you will, in reality.

  3. My Dad who is almost ninty says all you can count on is "change". "It is going to change", he says.

    1. If you've read or watched the scifi series "The Expanse," one of the characters (Amos, my particular favorite)explains it as "The Churn."

    2. Here's a quote ...

      "People are tribal. The more settled things are, the bigger the tribes can be. The churn comes, and tribes get small again."

    3. Or

      "Float to the top or sink to the bottom. Everything in the middle is the churn."


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