Questions of the Day: No. 535

By Troy Headrick

Regular readers of this blog know that many of the pieces posted here are examinations of culture, psychology, and human behavior (among many other sorts of topics).  In fact, the subtitle of the blog, “Understanding Ourselves and the World We Live In,” provides insight into what Pointless Overthinking is all about.  With all that in mind, here are today’s questions:

What most intrigues you about culture, psychology, and human behavior?  What sorts of subjects (or questions) are you most interested in thinking, asking, and reading about?  If you were to suggest a topic to one of the Pointless Overthinking writers, one that you think needs to be addressed in blog form, what would it be?

I look forward to reading your comments.  Thanks very much participating in this intriguing conversation.

Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here.

46 thoughts on “Questions of the Day: No. 535

  1. The fact that those with power and money are never mentioned as the real perpetrators-of things like climate change. They just get richer at our expense.

    Increase their taxes? They will never pay their fair share…they have the politicians in their deep pockets left and/or right!

    1. Are you American? If not, where do you live? In the US, rich and powerful interest groups actually write the legislative language that is then voted into law. Of course, the point you’ve made in your comment is absolutely true. The rich and powerful become richer and more powerful as time passes. The rest of us “have the vote.” That’s pretty much it. Thanks for the comment.

      1. I live in Florida. Yes the politicians write the legislation to get the filthy rich the best deal so they get their support and money. No matter your political persuasions laws should be written for ‘We the People” not just your supporters.

    2. I really agree with your reply about how laws SHOULD be written for the people, and not just for a few that benefit (for some reason it wouldn’t let me reply to that comment). I heard a really interesting Ted Talk recently (link: that talks about how our politics are actually doing EXACTLY what they are designed to do. It’s kind of a devastating idea, to me. It makes me feel really powerless, but I agree with this lady when she suggests that fixing this problem requires a MAJOR overhaul of our political system. But, the more we know about the problem, the more we can think about the solution.

      1. Sorry about the problem you had while posting your comment. I sometimes have issues as well. I appreciate the link to the TED Talks. I really like the TED program. American democracy has long seemed very flawed. I think this is especially true now. Thanks so much.

  2. Great thought to ponder Troy. For me personally, perhaps the affect of nearly 8 decades of life”s mellowing, it’s no longer the circumstances and things of this world that capture my focus, but the ‘it’s all good’ eternity that awaits as each passing moment draws me closer to Home.

    1. We do change a lot as we age. When I think about the sorts of things that used to occupy my mind in contrast to what I’m mostly concerned with now, I see that I’m hardly the same person I once was. I’m getting more relaxed with “how things are.” I used to fight and struggle a lot in an attempt to shape my future and the world around me. I still have ambition but I am much more subdued and relaxed. Learning to care less about what others think about you is a major breakthrough. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I am personally intrigued by how ego inhibits honest self-examination. I contend that ego in the individual is the greatest evil we face, both personally and collectively

    1. The Buddhists and the Stoics would definitely agree. And I agree too. What can be done about this? I suppose we’d need some kind of collective awakening. Perhaps such a thing is possible, but I won’t hold my breath. Thanks.

      1. I do see more and more people who are skeptical about our current state of affairs. Unfortunately, there is a reactionary group among us who wants to keep humanity from evolving.

      2. Surely ideas of what evolution for humanity can be quite diverse. In my opinion and from my experience it’s beyond the natural senses, which is repulsive to some.

  4. Really appreciate this provocative question Troy. Probably given my propensity to see myself as a bit of a cultural anthropologist and meditator – my leaning on this is toward a place of a being a spiritual watcher mixed with a remembrance of a position of empathy and curiosity of self in relation to world. Thanks for asking. Ari

    1. I think we must be very similar in our demeanor and outlook. I have long joked that I’m a closet sociologist. Perhaps that’s why I’ve long been comfortable standing at a distance and simply observing. What conclusions (if any) have you come to while watching yourself and others? I’d truly like to know. Thanks so much for such an interesting comment.

  5. One intriguing aspect of humans is their ability to create from delusional imagination. Once provoked by a delusion and solidified by imagination, the manifestation is possible and sometimes impossible to stop. Beyond morality, manifestations from our creative lust can possess humans.

    1. Are you familiar with outsider artists? I’ve always loved the artwork made by those who are untrained and sometimes possessors of what you call “delusional imagination.” Am I understanding that concept correctly or not? I really think almost all artists are “possessed” by a kind of “creative lust.” I like to think of creativity as “the god act.” Artists (like god) see an empty space and want to fill it with color, life, energy. I could philosophize all day about creativity and art. Thanks, Doug.

      1. Yes, your interpretation fits the ideas of the archetypes permitted “outsider” art. And too, in science, the anomaly of ideas comes from some unknown, Chasing the fractals.

      2. I’m going to Google “chasing the fractals” and see what comes up. I’ve long been the sort who naturally “colors outside the lines.” I guess it’s just the way I’m built. Thanks, Doug.

      1. I do not know a lot by any means about AI itself but, if machines can learn like we can (and inevitably better) we will become increasingly redundant. Only the most clever humans would still have a role to play. I think humans find meaning in being useful and even if we live in a society where we are well looked after by the state (like animals in a zoo) we would not be able to function or even remain peaceful. An excellent book on this topic is Harari’s book, Lessons for the 21st century (

      2. You’ve given me lots to think about in your comment. I really appreciate the link to the Harari book. Most of us like to think that we are “free” but we are controlled in ways we’re not even aware of. I wonder if Hariri builds on this idea or goes in a different direction? I’ll definitely look for the book you mentioned. And thanks so much for leaving a really thought-provoking comment.

      3. Thank you first of all for allowing the question and for taking the time to delve deeper into what I was asking. I would say that one of the topics that Harari speaks to is how allowing AI to develop could increase the level and nature of the control that are already there (as you mention)

  6. The shift from caring about the greater good and having a sense of community to caring primarily about the self and our own selfish interests at the expense of others

    1. It does seem true that there was a time when we believed in something called “the common good.” In America at least, it appears such an idea is so dead that it’s in a state of rigor mortis. Radical individualism is a notion that inevitably leads to a “coming apart at the seams.” And it does seem we’ve come apart in lots of different ways. Thanks so much for the comment.

      1. To me, there seem to be at least two groups of people that are more concerned with their own person than the “common good.” 1. Those that are selfish and truly don’t care about others 2. Those that are sick and tired of other people taking all to themselves and just leaving destruction in their path. The second group is tired of the abuse and they want to take matters into their own hands to make sure they do not suffer anymore. I have to admit that I kind of see myself in the second group. Although, I still have a conscience and am unable to fully dissociate and only care about myself.

  7. Some great suggestions, though I am perhaps most intrigued by Doug Sandelin’s proposed topic. But not just how internally in our own mind we ourselves manifest life-long illusions, but how the influence of propaganda from the outside world primes us into believing them. And — intentionally so! Why, as a species, are we so easy to manipulate?

    1. Illusion. Delusion. Especially important subjects today. I was just watching TV and saw an “expert” saying that we need to bolster our scientific education because people don’t understand science. I basically agree with that, but I’d put it this way. We need to teach critical thinking skills so that people don’t fall for hogwash. If you can’t tell the difference between hogwash and “real wash,” there’s a problem. Thanks so much for the comment.

  8. We like to pretend that we are “man the wise” (Homo sapiens) but in reality, we’re still driven by the same instincts and insecurities as a quarter-million years ago. Yet we refuse to acknowledge this fact. We’ve built a huge edifice based on thousand of years of progress in philosophical and natural science but those prehistoric drives still lay claim to most of our behavior. A huge cerebrum in service to our amygdala, the reptile part of the brain where primordial fear and lust and anger dwell.

    Now a bunch of paleolithic tribes are playing with nuclear bombs and radically changing the environment. The bickering between races and ideologies and nation-states is no different than troops of chimpanzees in a turf battle. We may yet destroy ourselves with “monsters from the id,”
    even if we don’t have a full-up Krell machine.

    If only humans could get in touch with their inner bonobos.

  9. Being from India, a question that I have often asked is how much of our culture was swept away because of Colonization, I always look forward to reading books from countries that are not limited to North America and UK or the EU.
    Colonized countries have cabinets in the government for culture preservation and that in itself speaks a lot.

    1. Supposedly “civilized” peoples went all around the world and laid claim on people and places and cultures and used brutal measures to enforce that claim. You’re asking an important question. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. Like you, I cherish authenticity and wonder how much of it has been swept aside by all kinds of powerful forces.

  10. The way I see it, the majority of life conflicts are trivial, unreal or “fake”, in the sense they are “forged” by humans themselves through the collective decisions based upon their “flawed” psychology and often faulty presumptions, that seers have been calling desires, and what I put simply as a dearth of clarity, for there are many which are not yet recognized and not categorized under vice.

    For example, straining common livelihood, the guise of “market economics” has branched into multiple strains, like competitiveness, lucrativeness, conspicuous consumption, demand orchestration, cost-pull inflation and so on, where resource availability is the lone matter that could be original, real or a true concern, in the sense of (absolute) problem, in contrast to mere conflict (of interest). I do not defy the science of economics but clearly something unaccounted is drifting humanity away from the Utopian happiness. If only I could figure out the perfect economics, unlike the impossibility of the perpetual machine !

    1. How many of those “desires” are natural and how many have been created by clever marketers? The average person is very vulnerable to psychological manipulation. We are told we need this or that. We are given life models that we are told we need to follow. Get an education, get married, make a lot of money, have a family, buy a house. We feel like failures if we don’t follow this ideal pathway. I suppose I’m saying some of the same things you are, just using different words to do so. Thanks, for sharing your wisdom.

    1. I’m interested in that subject too. That’s what took me abroad and kept me abroad for so many years. Thanks for participating in this important and interesting conversation.

  11. All our conflicts are no different from chimpanzees troops fighting over turf.

    The mind we have today is little different from the mind of a hundred thousand years ago, same instincts, same fears. Only today we take the instinct that protects us from lions and hyenas and use it for political parties, ideologies and nations. It is a very bad fit.

    All our technological advancement as we ignore what is fundamental in being human. We imagine we’ve reached some plateau when really we are just stone age people with nuclear bombs. We may yet destroy ourselves with monsters from the id.

    1. I’ve long thought that humans are just advanced primates. Heck, come to think of it, we may not be all that advanced. We have our good moments…and our bad ones. I haven’t watched the video yet, but I will once I get caught up on these comments. Thanks, Fred. Have a nice weekend.

  12. One subject that really intrigues me is COMMUNICATION. My husband and I have been working on our communication a lot after we realized how much we struggle with it. Or actually, how communication was the root of most of our problems. I think it’s something we take for granted in many levels, and it’s important in every single level! Right now I feel like it’s something I could think, read and talk about all day haha

      1. Hi Troy! I hadn’t replied before because I wanted to watch the video first, and I finally just did. Thank you for sharing it, I really enjoyed it! He makes some great points. I really enjoyed what he says about “staying with the feelings”, and exploring them. It really is the only way to get past a conflict. I am a huge fan of discussion and debate, sharing one’s point of view with someone who potentially thinks the exact opposite. It’s hard to find people who can do this without getting hot when they try to defend their point (I only recently feel like I got a little better at it haha!). But it’s all part of this concept of learning to LISTEN and to express yourself, and exploring perspectives, and finding middle ground. At the end of an argument, you may not change the other’s mind, but you may have both learned something about the opposite side. Anyway, thanks, I did enjoy this Ted talk!

  13. Linguistics and gender roles. How culture influences both language and gender ideas and how they influence each other. Its all a beautiful puzzle to me.

  14. That’s a broad question.
    I enjoy learning about what makes people do what they do and say what they say. Of course, all that depends on the individual in question, but it’s still fun to try to figure out ‘why?'”

    If you would like me to be a bit more specific, I’m curious to see if people really believe in what they say or if it’s all an act.

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