“To trace something unknown back to something known is alleviating, soothing, gratifying and gives moreover a feeling of power. Danger, disquiet and anxiety attend the unknown — the first instinct is to eliminate these distressing states and the first principle is that any explanation is better than none.., what drives this addiction and excitement is the feeling of fear…”
Most of what we think and do is locked in place by explanations based on past experience and justify long-held points of view. These explanations give the illusion of certainty and allow us to avoid the discomfort and anxiety inherent in raising fundamental questions. Transformation, a fundamental shift in genre, arises from awareness born of stepping into the unknown.
John Mauldin in his “Notes from the Front Line,” points out that behavioral psychologists say the process of explaining actually releases chemicals in the brain that make us feel good. We literally become addicted to the simple explanation. The fact that our explanations may be irrelevant or even wrong is not important for the chemical release.
Jonathan Lewis Smith says that, “most people, when faced with uncertainty, need the ‘fix’ of their already adopted explanation to feel secure. The imagery of a junky blindly following his ‘feel good’ could easily be linked to the stubbornness we see in politics, among other things.”
So, we eagerly look for more unnecessary explanations in order to feel good.