Thursday 10/01/15, another day, another mass shooting in America. The usual flare up of more gun laws or no change. The mental health issue, on and on and on. Of the 7 billion people on the planet, why am I still the only one who sees the problem as stemming from dichotomous/black-and-white thinking?  Why am I the only person who see the problem as a victory of the reptilian brain over the cortex?

What more evidence is needed? Does it get any more reptilian than shooting a bunch of innocent people? Is there any better example of the disconnect between action and achieving “whatever.”

What if children were taught at an early age there are 2 brains BIG (solves problems, achieves goals) and LITTLE (feels and only thinks in black-and-white)? What if this distinction were re-enforced through out life? Every time an adult does something stupid, the explanation is “They were thinking with their little brain instead of their big brain” What if every victory of the reptilian brain over the cortex were routinely identified as such? Is there any chance this might decrease the incidence of gun violence? Is there any chance the question “What will this really accomplish?” will come up before the shooting?

Yes there is a need to keep guns out of the hands of individuals with dangerous psychiatric diagnoses. It is also true that there are clinical conditions that seem to only respond to medications. But in those cases where gun violence stems from some form of deranged attempt at achieving a goal, I urge you to consider that pubic discussion and a deeper understanding of how thought processes become so deranged will help more than any form of legislation.



“We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.”

“…we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind.”

“But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners.”

“The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps.”

“rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity”

“We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome.”



“We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within.”

“To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.”



“The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation”

“The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.”

“…in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost.”

“enter into dialogue with all people about our common home”

“Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a ‘culture of care’ ”

“When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all.”


I am not a professional educator nor do I have any special training in child developement. I would, therefore, gladly welcome any thoughts from those with more experience than me. I believe children should be taught as early as possible, that everyone has a Big Brain and a Little Brain. The Little Brain tells us what we like and don’t like. The Big Brain helps us get the things we want. Whenever the child asks “Why?” regarding adults doing stupid things, the answer can then be “They are thinking with their Little Brains, not their Big Brains.” For those of a religious persuasion, the Big Brain tells us what to do to REALLY please God. In essence there is a battle between the Big Brain and the Little Brain.

At later ages, terms such as: Alligator Brain and People Brain, Reptilian Brain and Mammalian Brain, Cortex and Sub-cortex can be introduced. In each case, the former being responsible for emotions, black-and-white thinking, dichotomous thinking etc, while the latter is responsible for problem-solving and achieving goals. Again, there is a dynamic between the two that is important, and a lot of problems are caused or exacerbated by using the former in lieu of the latter.

Planting the seed as early as possible that this is an important distinction will increase the likelihood that children will recognize when DT is usurping problem solving. They will be less prone to bullying and being bullied. Perhaps bullies will even be called “Alligator Brains.” Growing up they will be less susceptible to manipulation by advertisers, politicians, and those hoping to radicalize them. When pondering a new idea the questions “What is the goal here? Will this idea help achieve that goal?” will come before “Do I LIKE this idea or not?” “How does this idea make me feel?” Finally, individuals taught early to recognize the distinction between Big Brain and Little Brain might be less likely to resort to violence, especially gun violence later in life.



Several points in the speech made by the president point out the problem of small-mindedness. He made several references to “ending the mindset that got us into [the Iraq] war.” This mindset is a dichotomous mindset that rejects problem-solving in favor of small-mindedness.

He said “Wars are anything but simple.” And yet wars are typically promoted be simple-mindedness.

He said “Worry less about being labeled weak (an example of DT) and worry more about getting it right (problem solving)”

He referred to “Knee-jerk partisanship” which is a clear example of dichotomous thinking.

He spoke of “The gradual evolution of human institutions” and “Promoting human progress” DT is the greatest barrier to human progress and human evolution.

He advised “Shutting out the noise.” DT is the source of that noise.

Most importantly He pointed out that “Those who chant “Death to America” have a common cause with the Republican caucus.” This is a fundamental human problem. If only he could go one step further and point out that DT is that common cause. DT is the glue that unifies the small-minded.

If we lived in a world where the word “dichotomous” was in regular use and the process by which DT stifles problem-solving was generally recognized, most of the points the president made would be considered obvious. Many of the various specific problems he pointed out would be seen as manifestations of a single more fundamental problem.


Plans to behead Pamela Geller are just another phase in the ongoing mutual support between her and Islamic terrorists. It may seem counter-intuitive to see a death threat as a call for support, but that is what it is. By threatening her, they support her. They add to her notoriety. They support Islamaphobia, her principal cause. A death threat makes it difficult for problem-solvers on either side to argue against her inflammatory actions. In her own words the death threat “has given [her] greater resolve.”

Pamela Geller deserves the death threat as a form of thank you for all the support she has given to Islamic terrorists. That is not to say that she deserves to die, only that the terrorist owe her one. No one was happier to see her “Draw the Prophet Contest” than the terrorists. It strengthened their resolved and bolstered their arguments. It was an excuse for “Martyrs” to go to their graves. It counters the efforts of Islamic problem-solvers to build trust. Over-all, that contest supported their fundamental goals.

DT is the glue that binds Pamela Geller and Islamic terrorists in their mutual battle against problem-solvers. On the surface they may claim to be enemies and, in truth, they may both be too stupid to recognize the nature of their mutual support. In reality, they are comrades fighting for the same thing, the victory of small-mindedness over problem-solving.


The main goal of this site is to point out the deleterious effects of the overuse of DT. There can be no better example of this then the recent shooting in Garland Texas. Under the guise of free speech, a group encourages children to mock the Prophet Muhammad.  The result: among the countless number of appropriately infuriated Muslims, two take up arms in an attempt to commit mass murder. DT amplifying DT.

Had there not been a shooting, we never would have heard about the “Draw Muhammad Contest.” Now that there was a shooting, DT completely shields the organizers from any criticism. Any suggestion that such a contest is ridiculous, divisive, hateful or counter-productive is met with the questions “Are you suggesting it was our fault?” “Are you suggesting this contest justifies the mass murder the two shooters were planning to commit?”

In the world I envision, proposing a “Draw Muhammad Contest” among children would not be met with dichotomous statements like “Hey you are being a racist” or “Hey you are being a redneck.”  It would be met with the questions “What is the problem for which a ‘Draw Muhammad Contest’ is the solution?” “Will this contest aid in the fight against terrorism?” “Will it bolster the arguments of reasonable Muslims trying to dissuade would-be terrorists?” No one would need to point out the obvious truth that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

In the world I envision, terrorism would not be gone immediately, but the echoing of dichotomous noise would be universally accepted as the root cause of terrorism and every effort would be made on both sides of the religious divide to dampen that noise.


The problem with the term “animals” is that it is too general. What rioters do is below many member of the animal kingdom. Do primates or dolphins act this way? Of course not. Also, if black people are involved, the term “animals” sets off an escalating cycle of dichotomous noise around the comparison with monkeys.  The result is a lot of time wasted, more dichotomous thinking and a clear insult to monkeys.

Riots are in response to real longstanding injustices. The problem is the disconnect between the goal of addressing injustice and the counter productive acts of rioting and looting. Higher animals are capable of learning and making connections between actions and consequences. I suggest a more useful pejorative is to compare rioters specifically to reptiles.

For years I have been promoting the use of the word “dichotomous” as a way of promoting problem solving. I have never had any illusion that teenagers or those who think like teenagers would ever pick this word up. When it comes to the problem of rioting and looting, only teenagers will be able to influence other teenagers. Teenagers love to call each other names, but terms like “idiot’ and “moron” are too worn out to be effective.

The term “reptilian brain” is often used to refer to the more primitive anatomical structures that underlie dichotomous thinking. Rioting is as good an example of dichotomous thinking usurping problem-solving as there can be. If we could encourage a comparison between rioters and reptiles we might be able to embarrass some individuals into rethinking their actions without introducing new cycles of dichotomous noise.


On the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, we ask: Will Turkey ever own up to what really happened? The barrier of course is dichotomous thinking. As long as preserving national pride is more important than acknowledging the truth, we can not expect their position to change.

Should the crime be labeled as genocide? There is no question it was an atrocity and a war crime. It was clearly a crime against humanity. Proving it was genocide, however, means proving there was an intent to destroy the Armenian people. As long as an argument can be made that the Ottoman Empire faced an existential threat (which it did in the form of Russia) it can be argued that the actions against the Armenians was in self-defense. (An argument still used to this day to justify a variety of dichotomous actions)

If we set human evolution as our goal, we hope to see the Turks develop into a modern people who can admit the truth about their past. Demanding they admit to genocide before they are ready is counter productive. It simply amplifies the dichotomous noise. It plays into the “You say we are bad, but we are not bad, we are good, your are bad…” mentality.

We in the modern world may look down on those who deny the truth out of fear of being called “bad”, but unless we give them the space they need, they will never get past this very dichotomous way of thinking.  Without giving them the space they need, they will never see that denying the truth today does much more to hurt their national image than anything that was done100 years ago.


We can not think of Iran as a monolith. Some in Iran see nuclear weapons as essential for their national security while others see them as a waste of time and more trouble than they are worth. As long as the belligerence between Iran and the rest of the world continues, there will remain a compelling argument that Iran needs nuclear weapons to remain safe.

Once again, I would like to propose that the battle line is horizontal rather than vertical. The battle is not between Iranians and the rest of the world, it is between the small-minded and the problem solvers. As in so many other conflicts, the small-minded have the ability to work together. Fox news and the some Republicans in the U.S. Congress will say we can not trust the Mullahs so we should not negotiate.  The Mullahs will prove them right by trying any way they can to cheat. The Mullahs will use the belligerence as their excuse and the Republicans and the Israelis will essentially support the legitimacy of their argument.

Dichotomous thinking spreads like a virus and reverberates like the world is one big echo chamber. Step one is to recognize this process.


What will dissuade “radicalized” individuals like those who perpetrated the attack on Charlie Hebdo from carrying out such action in the future?  Criticism from the west? Criticism from clerics they view as puppets of the west? Arguments about morality?

Presumably, the goal of these terrorists was to discourage disrespect for the Prophet Mohammad. Their actions have called world attention to a publication that, up to now, has had a very small circulation. The “offensive” cartoons are being disseminated in even greater numbers. They have promoted anti-Muslim sentiment and violence around the world.

Terrorists are victims of DT. They are overwhelmed by it. The way to decrease the spread of terrorism and radicalization is to address the underlying problem, DT. The more we teach people, especially, young children, how easily DT leads to unwanted consequences, the harder it will be to radicalize them. Terrorist will stop being terrorists when they realize how counterproductive it is.