Don Quixote and the problem of reality
A unique and important characteristic of human beings, which should not be overlooked, is their tendency to develop an understanding of the reality they inhabit based on a small amount of information.
Human beings have developed an incredible capacity to construct a complete picture of their situation based on incomplete information. This ability can give rise errors. For example, a person walking in a forest might conclude that the sound of a car engine was in fact the sound of a dangerous animal approaching.
In practice, crossword puzzles and other such games merely act to stimulate cognitive processes to which we are already biologically predisposed.
Deduction, induction and abduction are the three principal systems that guide our reconstruction of the world around us.
In the cases of deduction and induction, we begin with two given elements, using rules and known facts to deduce results or using facts and results to induce rules. In the case of abduction, we are forced to abandon the rules that we have already learnt, as the facts we have in front of our eyes cannot be reconcilled with the deductive or inductive systems with which we are familiar, and are forced to make a cognitive effort to discover a new rule/fact or result/rule combination.
It is important to understand that abduction comes into play when we encounter an incompatability with our established cognitive processes. This compabtibility cannot be the result of encountering a simple exception or irregularity, rather it must be the result of our encountering a regularity such that we conclude that our system of deduction and induction needs to be revised in the light of presupositions. In order to do so we require what Pierce describes as an “irregular fact”.
We should also add that it is important that the regularity of irregular facts not be diminished by the creation of a cognitive dissonance between their expected interpretation and an alternative reading of the facts.
If we were to attempt to carry out the above described actions on a Facebook page or group, we would soon discover the existence of a centrifugal force, present across social networks, which leads users to consider differences as irregularities to be rejected (or at least minimized) and which brings predicted regularities to the fore.
In the fortunate case of our having been able to stimulate an alternative reading, we will encounter a problem linked to space. The page itself will have a particular title which will bring with it a certain position. A post that were to bring that position into question would be interpreted as one which was “unacceptable”. The participants in the discussions would soon find themselves called upon to justify their behaviour, rather than their reasoning, and the centrifugal forces would swiftly return the discourse to the norms required by the grammar of the page itself.
What is to be done?
With regard to the current situation, I see no other way forward than to make use of the very rules against which we find ourselves fighting: we must use the centrifugal force of social networks to win internauts over to our side.
To do so, we will have to begin by going with the current; there would no point in wearing ourselves out battling upstream just to try to initiate impossible interactions.
We will give a clear definition to our message and contextualize it using clearly visible symbols that will be acceptable to those we believe to be most similar to ourselves, or most likely to accept the message we are transmitting. Then we will need to take our bearings. Here we can take inspiration from the old saying “Birds of a feather flock together”.
Alternatively, if we feel like dedicating our time and effort to a hopeless cause, we could decide to swim against the current in order to get into enemy territory. When doing so, we should be aware that our targets for interaction will not be playing by the same rules as we are, and that we won’t be able to win them over straight away. Rather, we will have to accept some of their suppositions in order to be able to to arrive at out desired conclusion.
Between these two cases there lies a vast plain inhabited by those who have yet to clearly declare an opinion, by those who don’t turn up to vote when there’s an election. This group, even though they may initially seem easier to win over than those who argue for a particular position, are actually far more complex. This is because in refraining from publicly expressing what they think they also refrain from providing others with data which could be used to better understand them. The inherent uncertainty of the variables related to this group means that dealing with them requires a less structured, more random approach.