Friday, September 26, 2014

The Availability Heuristic

Again I mention this, but please bear with me, as it is all-important. The required memorization and daily reading time of 1-2 hours, with more encouraged, provided much fodder for the availability heuristic - the innate mental shortcut where things commonly seen and easily brought to mind are deemed important. This is done by our brains completely without our awareness.

An oft-quoted example of the availability heuristic is shark attacks. When one occurs anywhere on the globe, you will find it reported in international news. This gives us the impression that such attacks are more common than they really are. In reality, fatal cow attacks are more common. In fact, statistically, you are 22 times more likely to be killed by a cow than by a shark.*

So all that "word time" and memorization could not help but bring those formative thoughts to mind continuously. That was the behavior that was held as ideal, "constantly living in the word." I embraced that as a good little cultist should, memorizing, reading, and studying the Bible even to the neglect of my physical care, hygiene, and exercise - and I had been an avid swimmer, which I suddenly stopped completely (resulting in weight gain, of course.) My poor parents must have been beside themselves with worry over this drastic personality change.

As I was underage, I continued to live with my parents until my 18th birthday, but I spent as much time as I could with the COG. When I was not with them, I was busy proselytizing or studying the Bible or publications from the group.

The members lived communally, strongly reinforcing the very real feelings of pseudo-kinship, i.e., my new "family." The united activities that naturally occurred, and which were scheduled each day, in this living set-up further reinforced that idea of group cohesion and separateness from outsiders. "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the lord."

All the things that were done together cannot be emphasized enough in the formation of my believing and accepting mindset. Emotionally laden thoughts are even more apt to be brought to mind in the availability heuristic, and with all the emotional turbulence of the teenager I was, the COG's emotional pull, the highs that came with group singing and "inspiration time," I was fully in its grip.

Research has shown that the psychology of teams shuts down open-mindedness, and we were a team. In fact, we were "the Lord's endtime army," or so we told ourselves.  


No comments:

Post a Comment