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5 Ways Your Brain Is Turning You into a Jerk

#2. The Woozle Effect: We Parrot Previous Information Without Critique

E.H. Shepard

There is an A.A. Milne story where Winnie the Pooh and Piglet walk in the snow, tracking down an increasingly mysterious creature they come to call the Woozle. In the end, the mystery animal turns out to be nothing but their own damn footprints. The hilariously named Woozle effect is that exact same thing, only with less cute fairy tale characters and more of your old thinking machine pissing in your ear once again.

Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images
Can we all just take a moment to scream insults at this picture?

According to the Woozle effect, our brain has a tendency to rely on previous information regardless of how flawed it might be. This is a natural enough reaction, but it becomes a huge and potentially damaging problem when everyone does it. As a result, tons of people end up quoting, misquoting, and adjusting information for the sake of making it sound more interesting, until we finally just straight up make the perverted end result canon. You can imagine how a worst case scenario might work: Have a bunch of legal experts mindlessly bamboozle their doozle with obscure Woozle for long enough, and the next thing you know, your ass is in court because it's now illegal to walk past a duck on a Tuesday.

junial/iStock/Getty Images
"Four years. Fo'shoozle."

Luckily, the Woozle effect is not much of a problem in the judicial system. However, it's a massive one in scientific research. Think about that for a moment: If freaking scientists keep passing those same turds of flawed knowledge on like the world's most academically decorated human centipede, just imagine how this phenomenon must manifest in other, less research-centric aspects of life. Hell, that shit may well be one of the reasons why elderly male politicians participate in rape discussions with statements about the female anatomy that seem to hail from the 19th century.

On the positive side, it's definitely one of the reasons why the De-Textbook is far superior to any "real" textbook you can find.

Amazon
Just saying.

#1. The Pollyanna Principle: We Refuse to Deal With Unpleasant Things

Walt Disney

When was the last time you genuinely felt like an asshole?

Unless you've indulged in illegal and/or extramarital shenanigans, chances are it was in a situation where you ignored some urgent but unpleasant matter so that you could dick around instead. Don't worry, you're not a demon. It's a pretty common phenomenon known as the Pollyanna principle.

Walt Disney
Her evil knows no bounds.

Like the annoyingly positive character it was named after, this brain bias gives people an attitude of general, often baseless optimism. In fact, it does quite a lot more than that: The tiny Pollyanna that has commandeered our brain can flat out force us to minimize evil in our immediate vicinity by constantly downplaying unpleasant and threatening stimuli and making us focus on the stuff that makes us feel good.

Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
It's basically this, and the one who's more fun always wins.

If you face a situation where your roommate has gotten drunk and clogged the toilet with what appears to be two buckets of first generation Furby toys, chances are Pollyanna will convince you to stay in your happy zone, calmly playing video games on the couch as the toilet and your passed-out roommate make strange gurgling noises in unison. The inevitable result is, of course, that your gaming is interrupted by a poop geyser filled with googly eyes and Furbish screams of anguish.

Hasbro
You still see them every time you close your eyes.

Even if Pollyanna eventually helps you forget that shit, there are only so many shitstorms you can endure before you should start rethinking your priorities. But you probably won't, because that's what the Pollyanna principle is all about: focus on the positive, no matter what. It's the reason we enjoy talking about the nice things that happen to us, while sharing personal bad news is difficult as all hell. It's why we never bother looking into that weird noise in our car until the spiders break through the roof lining, and it's why politicians never get around to tackling big, nasty issues like "inequality" and "world peace" as long as it's more fun to fling silent filibusters at each other.

Oh, and despite what you might think because of the millions of semi-professional whiners on the Internet, the Pollyanna principle is actually the default state of the human mind. That's right -- inside every goth lurks this maddening creature:

Walt Disney
Goddammit, kid.


Pauli Poisuo has sealed his treacherous brain in a needle, which is in an egg, which is in a duck, which is in a hare, which is in an iron chest, which is guarded by a beast that only speaks in dick jokes. Follow him on Twitter.

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