I’ve been following the science of unconscious cognition for several years now. It’s been “consciousness” raising. I’m now convinced – at least in some abstract sense – that most of my choices are deeply influenced and prefigured by introspectively inaccessible “modules” that strategically inform (and misinform) my conscious “press secretary” module. The latter is the one that so effortlessly spins socially self-serving truthy narratives to convince and impress others as much as myself.
Somehow demoting my conscious self to an auxiliary role doesn’t bother me. Perhaps it’s because it seems to get along so well with my “hidden layers” now that they all abide the same naturalistic universe. But this multiplicity does make me wonder about the “true” reasons I embarked on my journey out of Mormonism and then theism.
When I let my mind trip back to former Mormon moments I can almost catch fleeting emotions in the act of cutting away my faith. Could it be simple boredom? Was it feeling repulsed by overreaching TMI-filled testimonies? Was it that patronizing Bishop side-hug? Maybe it was the broken zipper on that dorky triple combination leatherette “suitcase” I lugged around.
I remember feeling very depressed after my third (and final) visit to the temple in 1986. But the dread that preceded that visit might be a false memory – as apparently many are. I can’t recall consciously fretting about the church sucking away my life-time, as John so aptly described. And yet my fretful decision to change careers entailed limiting my exposure to callings with plausible deniability.
As it turned out, I went fully inactive before starting that new career with nary a single overt response from church leader or member. Perhaps they were all subliminal. Beneath my polite reticence I was sending the message: “Stay back. You leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone.” Evidently people communicate more information through body language and tone of voice than the words themselves. That too provides plausible deniability.
Only years later did I get around to substantial Mormon-debunking research. At the time it seemed fueled by anger over being lied to after stumbling across Quinn’s books. But I now suspect it was driven more by shame over my own stupidity – for not letting gold plates and racism move me to the exit earlier.
But that debunking was still productive. Feeding my conscious press secretary line upon implausible Mormon line made me feel better about where I ended up. Perhaps this is the same “real” reason LDS apologists do their research. Hey, but my press secretary insists that I have the better evidence, and I go wherever he goes.
Books by D, Michael Quinn
- Mormonism and the Magic World View
- Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power
- Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power
Popular Science Books on the Adapative Unconscious
- Strangers to Ourselves:: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious (Timothy D. Wilson)
- Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior (Leonard Mlodinow)
- Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocriite: Evolution and the Modular Mind (Robert Kurzban)
- Whose in Charge: Free Will and the Science of the Brain (Michael S. Gazzaniga)
Concerning cognitive illusions associated with conscious experience
- Perplexities of Consciousness (Eric Scwitzgebel)