Flinches are an essential part of our thought process, and also an important part of rationality. They appear when we are presented with an idea, and they are difficult to first detect. Even more difficult is to have the will to not follow through with them and stay objective and curious

"Chocolate bars dipped in honey are super yummy!" Alice said. "Sounds gross," my mind says (flinch!). 

Here, I experienced non-evidential influence - hostility to Alice's idea - because it's something I've never tried before. It's also an idea that would take effort to confirm, or the motive is something along those lines. We all know about the classical "Ew I don't want to try X food!" and then we end up liking it. "It doesn't hurt to be a 'lil' irrational here". Keep in mind that choosing to be rational or irrational is in itself irrational. It leaves you prone to rationalization, and other such blunders. The flinch happens when we are first presented an idea and we quickly form an opinion on it/have a reaction to it. The opinion is often a cached thought, an emotional and 'pre-programmed' reaction which we have to notice and ignore in order for us to think rationally. Therefore flinches are often subliminal, and people often make the mistake of rationalizing it, believing that noticing the flinch is the only necessary part. Flinches are a great enemy of curiosity. Becoming aware of the flinch is the first step, and the second step is to 'act upon it' - to ignore it and test the idea with curiosity. A major part of being curious is to fight against our flinches and to obsess with the idea presented - to find its ups and downs. 

  1. When Galileo provided the Copernican theory (held that the Earth revolved around the sun), everyone disagreed (flinch) with his idea because the idea of the earth being the center of the universe felt easier, anything else must've been absurd. Galileo faced charges for his theory.
  2. "Death is an inevitable and tragic part of life." Bob says. "What!? Death is what provides meaning to life! How could you call it tragic or bad?" (flinch!! I'm not saying this view is right or wrong) We often flinch when an idea opposes another which is widely accepted, and appears obvious. 
  3. Robin Warren and Barry Marshall received a lot backlash for their discovery of H. Pylori which were the real cause of the stomach ulcers which many fell victim to. "I mean, how could there possibly be bacteria in super low pH? If that were true, our understanding of the bacteria would change. Everything we knew would be wrong! It would be inconvenient for it to be true! "
  4. Imagine going back to the 1800s and telling someone that all matter has a limit to how fast it can go, and that as you approach that speed, time begins to slow down. He/she would have a 'mental flinch' and say that you're absolutely absurd and crazy.
  5. "Son, why do you keep playing this video game for hours? Do something more productive!" said Charlie's father. Charlie innocently replied, "But this video game has this logic part to it which teaches me how the ALU of a computer actually works!" Charlie's father gave him a dumbfounded look and said (flinch) "Are you serious? Video games can't teach you anything because we all know that games=entertainment!"

Always watch over your flinches!


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