The Fundamental Attribution Error

           I’ve always been drawn to Gnosticism because it’s one of the few religious traditions to admit that all may not be right in the world. It didn’t take me long to learn that most people seem to very quickly rationalize away any problems that they feel unable or unequipped to face head on, a phenomenon that social psychologists have labeled “the just-world phenomenon.” This defense mechanism encourages people to justify any number of atrocities, as well as the perpetuation of blatantly unfair social inequalities, in order to allow themselves to personally feel less powerless and vulnerable; most religious doctrines seem to cater quite nicely to this insanity, even within some versions of Gnosticism, but nothing, after all, is perfect.

           Without a doubt, that this current world is the best of all possible worlds is nothing but a dangerous delusion concocted by the weak and helpless which only serves to keep them that way. After all, if the world metes out rewards and punishments according to fair, or at least nonarbitrary, standards, then one can attempt to control the otherwise unpredictable whims on fate simple by obediently “acting right.” It’s a great comfort to believe that the rich and powerful have all done something to deserve their high stations in life, if only in a past one, and that the terrible tragedies that befall people on a daily basis were each somehow called down upon them by some invisible and mysterious justice. Virtue, far from being its own reward, is often merely a bargaining chip by which we hope to bring good fortune while simultaneously helping us to avoid the bad, but this is not really the case; This is not really what virtue is meant to do anyway.

           Many social scientists credit this just-world phenomenon as being behind yet another common injustice of human rationalization called the “fundamental attribution error,” which is the tendency of people to attribute various positive or negative outcomes to some kind of personal quality inherent in the people involved rather than to impersonal situational factors. This is also observed in conjunction with something called the “actor-observer bias,” whereby if you trip over a rock I’ll be quick to assume it was because you’re clumsy, in accordance with the fundamental attribution error, but if I trip over a rock, I’ll probably very easily find some sort of situational cause for the event, namely a big rock being placed somewhere that it obviously shouldn’t be.

           In the end, it would appear from social research that even though we may make excuses for ourselves quite often, and are even willing to make excuses on behalf of the entire world in order to preserve an undeserved and unfair illusion of safety and security, we are rarely so generous towards other people.

           I myself am not innocent of such unfairness. It’s far easier for me to look down upon the multitudes of people who have failed to educate themselves outside of the corrupt and unworkable institutional structures set up for mass indoctrination, or who have failed to rise up and find justice in any sort of forum beyond the leverageless strictures of our rigged political system, or who have become slaves to jobs they hate in order to feed children they didn’t want with a spouse they no longer know how to love, than it is for me to realize that they are all simply locked within a sophisticated web of pacification strategies and crippling taboos that have left them each cowering alone beneath the shadow of a seemingly monolithic governing machine. They have not failed me; their world has failed them, and I have failed them as well.

           Being that we are now a bit more conscious of the enormously unfair situational forces that have shaped our fellow human beings, perhaps each one of us in the Neo-Illuminati, myself included, can attempt to give people the benefit of the doubt and work a bit harder to show them new ways to secure their safety and bring good things into their life, beyond their continued thoughtless compliance with the nearly ubiquitous control machines that are exploiting them at every turn and transforming each successive generation into even more perfect servants for the rich and powerful. Good luck and Namaste.

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5 Responses
  1. Does Gnosticism today have any resemblance to the original Gnostic traditions? If so, than I may have some argument points for you on this.

  2. This questions reeks of dogmatic oversimplification. I can assure you that we're coming from different Gnostic traditions, and, yes, I'm aware of the "original" traditions that you're positing as a definitive point of reference.

  3. This response reeks of more bigotry and pride than a redneck revival.

    I never said you didn't know what i was talking about. I asked because all I know of are the original traditions; I was hoping you could help me out, and then we could have a discussion.

    What we have here is an example of the unfairness you mentioned in your post, because now I'm frustrated, and any chance we both had at learning and growing is shot for now.

    Sin has fractured the world, and gnostics at least (as you say) acknowledge that something is wrong. This is what it all boils down to, the pride of man. that same pride which we are both now speaking from, hindering our ability to move on to more important matters, such as the original post.

    I'll try again some other time. Peace.

  4. I'm not sure where the bigotry enters into it, but pride is usually only mentioned as a sin where one's actual goal is to see others humbled by way of a vaguely poisonous moral rhetoric, and, should it be warranted, I prefer to humble people in far more direct and honest ways than this.

    What your question implies is that my take on Gnosticism appeared to be somewhat different from the ancient traditions that you were familiar with. As I said, you are most likely correct in that appraisal; it probably is, since most modern Gnostics are simply attempting to use it to reform or amend the errors that they are aware of within Christianity. However, ancient "Gnosticism" is far from the orthodox monolith that many current Gnostics seem to want and make it out to be, thus, as I said, I automatically resent this ill-conceived and overly dogmatic comparison. After all, Orthodox literally translates as "narrow minded" (Oh, THERE'S my bigotry; Alright, point taken).

    Anyway, what it appears that you were saying is that if my observations were supposed to conform to the particular model of Gnostic belief that you had in mind, then you had some disagreements with me. The trouble comes from the fact that "Gnosticism" was originally just a term used by the Church as a catch all label for a host of "heresies," some of these Christian, some not, but many of them having little in common other than the rejection of Pistis(faith) in favor of Gnosis(Knowledge); and then some of them seem to barely hold to even this central eponymous idea; Marcion attempted to make HIS so-called "Gnostic" ideas the one and only official dogma of the Catholic Church, and simply failed, causing that institution to then become dominated by a different orthodoxy as a direct and ironic reaction to his ill conceived push).

    Although I'm perfectly willing to consider your argument points, I saw no reason to mince my words about the implied foundation of this proposed argument, which, as I said, I find flawed.

    However, I am sincerely sorry that I was so brisk and harsh in my response. I'm grateful that you took the time to read my words and respond, and I'm sorry that I used the term "reeks" in my response. I was just cutting to the chase, but the polite thing to do would've been to give you a chance to express yourself without get so far ahead of our actual dialogue. I'm sorry.

  5. Thank you for your apology, and I in turn apologize for responding in frustration, and not in love.

    To the original post:

    Biblical Christianity acknowledges the evil in the world, and never attempts to make it seem just. Yes, the Lord is just, and yes, He makes all things work in due time, however that due time will not be until he trashes the whole world and starts fresh with his chosen. Furthermore, often times in scripture, God's idea of justice involves the killing and enslavement of his very own people (see Habakkuk).

    I see the just-world phenomenon working itself out in 1st and 2nd century gnosticism with the philosophy of dualism, i.e. since the flesh and the spirit are separate, nothing really matters materially on this earth, and therefore justice is not needed because there are no wrongs that require it.

    Yet, this kind of Dualism is not Gnostic Dogma (which I now know thanks to you), and therefore doesn't bear much weight here.

    Thanks again for your kind words.

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