But the cilantroversy doesn’t make us angry, polarized sociopaths.
Some of us Americans LOVE the taste of cilantro and some of us taste moldy stinkbug+rubber+garbage+gym foot+vile soap — some of us HATE it so, so hard. I wanted to live in a more connected, less polarized world…so I studied cilantro.
23andME says our olfactory receptor OR6A2 gene causes our different perceptions of cilantro (and other aldehyde chemicals). The geneticists aren’t sure exactly why or when that gene flips towards tasty or towards the disgusting repulsion zone in 10–21% of us. The OR6A2 is not hereditary and not very predictable — it seems pretty random as far as I could discern from the research.
· 20% of identical twins don’t share the same perception of cilantro.
· 50% of fraternal twins don’t share the same perception of cilantro .
· I’m a twin and my older brother is also a twin. So these statistics made me curious. I did my own study — I polled three generations of my family…35% loved it; 50% hated it; 15% didn’t care either way.
These stats are interesting for about 5 seconds then most of us move on. No big deal. No drama.
Whether you already knew about the OR6A2 effect on perception or not, I bet none of you have ever posted a virtue-signaling “cilantro (GOOD) will save America” meme or “cilantrists are (BAD) ruining America” conspiracy theory.
RARELY, DO WE FIND THIS “CORIANDER CONFUSION” OFFENSIVE
We don’t seem to project moral judgment onto each other’s sensory perceptions about cilantro (sometimes referred to as coriander); we just accept that some of our family and friends’ perception hardware/software works the way it works. If even the genetically identical twins’ perception hardware/software works differently, we can’t expect the rest of us to see it the same way. Instead, we might even find it adorably peculiar and maybe even interesting — but rarely do we find this coriander confusion offensive. We don’t blame it on our loved one’s faulty morality. We don’t label each other as “sociopaths” based on the other’s perception. We don’t, in part, because we know the correlation isn’t accurate, intelligent or helpful (unless making future enemies out of loved ones is the desired goal).
ONLY 4% OF AMERICANS ARE SOCIOPATHS; NOT 50% OF VOTERS
There are way more sociopaths out there than I thought. In The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout provides data showing that 4 percent of people have no ability to feel shame, guilt or remorse. They have no conscience. “One in twenty-five everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath.” I’ve heard others quote 1 in 100 of us are sociopaths. Either way, that’s a lot of us.
· 331,000,000 people in the usa x .04 = 13,240,000; that’s a lot of sociopaths
· 331,000,000 people in the usa x .01 = 3,310,000; that’s still a lot of sociopaths
But even 4% is way less than the 50% of Americans who voted differently than me in 2020, 2016, etc. So, 70+ million republicans aren’t racists/nazis and 70+ million democrats aren’t communist/socialists. Forget political parties and sports team affiliations, all of us self-proclaimed NON-sociopaths (96% of us loving Americans) need to stick together and watch each other’s backs because there are a dangerous 4% of crazy extreme/zealots out there in all walks of life who can’t look beyond themselves…and the “phone calls are coming from inside the house”.
MY PERCEPTION OF REALITY IS LIKE YOUR PERCEPTION OF CILANTRO
We’re kind of attached to our own perception of reality. Like you, I’m attached to my beliefs and worldviews being right. That’s normal. It’s normal too, that based on how I grew up and the experiences that I’ve had, that my worldview is what it is. That’s where my default-knower mindset comes in. It’s gotten me this far, so it works for me. If I’m unaware of how my default-knower mindset operates though, it takes over and triggers the self-protection launch sequence. It triggers my defensiveness and if challenged aggressively, it will activate a spectrum of anger (e.g., annoyance to violence). If the triggering experience goes unexamined it quickly leads to almost irreversible contempt for the other. My contempt helps to reinforce my feelings of superiority, which only triggers more contempt/judgement and more knower energy.
OUR PSYCHO-ACTIVE & SELF-RIGHTEOUS REACTIVITY WINS BECAUSE WE LET IT WIN
The energy part of this is key…this cycle of reactivity energizes me. I get a psycho-active charge out of this opportunity to feel and express my self-RIGHTeousness — especially when I get to feel and express it with others — that’s good shizzle. This frenzy (filled with good/bad neurotransmitters), this cycle of reactivity attached to my certainty of being right (not so much the content anymore) is what I am really attached to — and maybe you are too. Neuroscientists like Dr. Andrew Huberman 1:49:36 tell us that the #1 brain button that we humans choose to activate more than any other brain area (connected to our dopamine reward systems) is the emotional button for MORE frustration and MORE anger — not less. We are addicted to the #DOPAMINEDRAMA. It is disproportionately satisfying and addictive like cilantro catnip.
Cilantro-like divisiveness (with higher stakes) happens and the costs range from distraction to destruction…ruining our relationships and undermining our effectiveness. We have a two-party system where both parties are training us to live in a reactive/defensive state of mind…we’re all different kinds of woke, supremacists, nazi racist, bully communists. We’re getting all frothed up to a point where dissolving the other party member is all we can focus on, as a way to enhance the highs and relieve the lows of our reactivity.
We know all about cognitive biases and how our own hardware/software is designed to NOT see the pathology of our own perception (blindspots) the way we clearly can see (only see) the pathology of the other’s perception. So what’s going on? Are we that much more energized/satisfied by our reactivity and our feelings of contempt for the other’s perceptions than we are energized/satisfied by our love for the others? Even when they are family, neighbors, friends?
I have noticed that my pursuit (conscious appreciation) for the healthy positives of the other’s perception/worldview is not as strong/energizing, satisfying as my contempt (reactive hatred) for the unhealthy negatives. As far as a short term “fix”, the contempt and reactive hatred wins every time. If we shift our focus and invest beyond the immediate gratification we can break free from the cycles of reactivity. Reactivity is not effective, but it is a clue that maybe it’s time to refocus our attention and to try something different…but only if we notice our own reactivity. Let’s celebrate noticing and consider trying something different.
WHY MIGHT WE TRY TO REFOCUS OUR ATTENTION? HOW MIGHT WE FIND SATISFACTION IN SOMETHING MORE BENEFICIAL?
1. If we’re in the 96% camp of NON-sociopaths, let’s look for the upside in what the other believes and not take the bait (cut out the “contempt cat-nip”)…engage when of sober mind, not when reactive.
2. If we see ourselves as lifelong learners and that is an energizing part of who we are, then let’s examine things humbly, with curiosity, without judgment — let’s not focus on changing others, just focus on learning…the process of learning changes us.
3. If we are energized by shining light on our own blindspots and illuminating truth…then let’s look beyond the preference of our own echo chambers to seek out disconfirming evidence and just sit with it — don’t react, don’t DO anything (yet) besides seek to understand it.
4. If we are energized by ideas and want to be more effective, faster…then let’s integrate, diversify and expand our thinking while simultaneously increasing trust with others.
5. If we are more motivated by the possibility of a shared reality — determined to protect/nurture our relationships and demonstrate care during the limited time we get to ride this ride, then let’s dissolve the unhealthy tension and vote for healthy creative tension by continuing to embody it, even in the ways we treat each other’s perception of reality — despite the circumstances and/or the state of our hardware/software.
IF POLITICS HAS DESTROYED YOUR RELATIONSHIPS…YOU MIGHT BE A SOCIOPATH
If you and I have let politics damage our relationships and if we still don’t get how anyone can vote for ____, then we don’t understand how our own hardware/software works. Maybe we’re incapable of understanding it — maybe we’re the sociopath — or maybe we’re addicted to our reactivity.
If you have lost relationships because of your/their thrashing around on social media, don’t blame yourself…blame the other person. That’s the easiest thing to do. I tend to blame the other person too when relationships dissolve. Eventually, regretfully, I realize it was actually my fault because I wasn’t Jedi enough to keep the relationship together. If the relationship is important enough to me to salvage, then I will take full responsibility for finding a way to repair it and find peace with it. If I screwed it up beyond repair, then I need to take full responsibility for finding peace without it.
OUR HARDWARE/SOFTWARE (CILANTRO RECEPTOR) IS WHAT IT IS…IT’S NOT WHO “THOSE PEOPLE” ARE
I can be more discerning about how I am perceiving things and more curious about how others are too. But it’s not constructive to judge another’s perception of reality. Judging/hating others for their perception is simply my reactivity at work.
I remind myself that it is senseless to demonize or attempt to dissolve the other’s worldviews — whether it does or doesn’t tastes like soap.
I remind myself that my own reactivity, being all self-RIGHTeous and (raging against another worldview) is what distracts me from nurturing, leading & loving a community of diverse human beings (with an infinite variety of worldviews) more effectively.
I remind myself that raging against “those people” (raging against the unhealthy expression of their worldviews) is NOT the same as running towards “those people” (and embracing the healthy expression of their worldviews).
I will work on loving “those people” because I am “those people.”
#FHC “those people”