Ideological Thinking

The biggest problem with today's world isn't Trump, or conservative, or the Big Energy companies, it's ideological thinking.

"If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change." - Michael Jackson

So before we join the lines fighting to shut down fracking (which is still useful) we should ensure that we get our own minds clean first.

What is an ideology?

  • A grand idea that encapsulates the complexity of multiple smaller ideas.
  • Usually accompanied by a narrative that weaves it all together.
  • Some examples are: Conservatism, Liberalism, Neoliberalism, Left, Right, Marxism, etc.

Why do we create ideologies

In order to motivate larger group of people, we need to tie a range of ideas together under a single narrative that people can get behind.

  • abstract complexity, making it easier to get support for a range of complex ideas.
  • ideologies are heuristics; short cut ways to making decisions about the world.
  • tie in a meaningful narrative to motivate people into action.
  • they make the world easier to understand; ideologies give simple meaning to the complex world.

Ideological battles

Ideologies create counter-ideologies (think Left & Right, Conservative & Labour). When there is a large group pushing one narrative, another group will be created to push the opposite way.

  • ideologies divide people around the narrative
  • The create an in-group/out-group way of looking at the world.
  • they ironically obscure common beliefs between ideologies; divide where there is unity.

Ideological thinking

Much worse is that when we subscribe to an ideology, we are essentially encouraged not to think for ourselves. We are given a set of beliefs and actions that need to take place in order to fulfil the narrative that we believe in.

Ideological thinking:

  • prevents us from thinking rationally about an issue.
  • the ideology becomes a representation of our sense of self
  • this causes us to defend existing beliefs, rather than attempt to find truth through reason.
  • Essentially, ideology is dogma.

The path forward

Ideologies(dogma) will always be around. It's a powerful mechanism in the world of motivating people. There is no point trying to abolish ideology all together. Rather we need to understand how ideologies are shaping our outlooks and change our behaviour a little to compensate for it.

1 – Think things through

Each issue needs to be weighed up individually. To understand whether an idea is good or not, you have to know a bit about the idea, and how it relates to other things in the world. This obviously requires a lot of time, which leads to the next one.

2 – It's ok not to know

We need a bit more humility to say "I don't know." When we don't know enough about the topic, rather than spewing out the dogma we have heard, it's ok to not have an opinion.

3 – Aim to prove yourself wrong

Most people go into a discussion trying to prove themselves right. This is especially the case in politics when ideologies are involved. Rather, go into a conversation aiming to prove yourself wrong. What is important is not being right, but finding the truest idea regardless where it came from.

Psst: If you are interested in exploring the issues with ideological thinking more, check out this good article I found.


Sebastian Kade, Founder of Sumry and Author of Living Happiness, is a software designer and full-stack engineer. He writes thought-provoking articles every now and then on

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