People can have such strange ideas about what others think and feel.  One does not have to go so far as to believe in the sameness myth.  People may thoughtlessly take it for granted the mental processes of others are the same as their own.  Usually, this is not the case since such things varies individually.  One has to find out how others differ from oneself.  Otherwise, one’s ideas of what others think and feel becomes faulty.

Unfortunately, it seems like normal theory of mind can be paralyzed by hostility.  Opponents are believed to do the same thing as one would have done oneself in the same situation.  When one’s opponents are genuinely different this reasoning does not work.  In war this have had devastating consequences.  Troops has been sent to entirely different places than where the enemies were.  This based on faulty ideas on how one’s enemies behave.

One variant of this of this is believing “the others” to react as oneself from something being analogous.  The person him- or herself takes offence from seeing Muslim symbols.  Then the person believes Muslims to take offence from seeing Christian symbols.  I don’t think the Muslims this is about do that.  The Muslims in question are prepared to be in minority in the country.  Christian symbols being visible in public is nothing they care about.  Why would the presence of religious symbols mean the religion is forced upon oneself?  No-one forces one to practice it just because its symbols are seen.  Besides, forced conversion is not allowed by mainstream Islam.

A related error is believing the reactions of others to be precisely opposite of one’s own personal.  The person gets upset over the film hero not being a white man.  Then one’s opponents are supposed to get upset over it being a white man.  Few individuals get upset from people continuing such a tradition.  I consider those few to be extremists.  The rest of the group supposed to get upset just think it is boring.

Worse is believing one’s mental categories to always correspond to groups with naturally sharp boundaries.  Others having other mental categories is then not considered.  Say one is having to do with individuals which accept homosexual behaviour.  Then they are believed to also accept adults having sex with children and/or animals.  But they don’t place such behaviours in the same mental category.  The boundaries set by these individuals is instead about consent.  I consider it questionable if other species can give that.  Children of less than 14 – 15 years I think is too immature.

Some seem to believe the boundaries of their categories would be obvious to everyone.  In reality, mental categories are due to personal experience and knowledge.  There are people lacking knowledge without themselves knowing it.  In 1990 Svante Pääbo got job in a zoological institution in Munich.  Presumably out of lack of any better place to pursue his genetic research.  He got the question if he could hold a lecture on the taxonomy of insects.  Thoughtlessly he then found it strange they were working with insects.  To him the concept of “animals” only included some types of mammals.  By saying this he revealed his lack of knowledge in the area.  At the time I was in the process of learning to read.  Still, I think my concept of “animals” at least included chordates.  This means I had a wider concept than an adult countryman with a university education!  “Animals” is still a rather simple concept.  How different ideas may one then have of more complicated concepts?  To me it is quite obvious they can be very different.  Something some never spend a thought at.


Uploaded on the 18th of January 2024.