Introduction to Antiprocess


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Introduction to Antiprocess
Copyright © 2004, 2005 by Timothy Campbell
Email: antiprocess —at— tc123 —dot— com
November 26, 2005 Edition
You may NOT reproduce this article without prior written permission
Approximate reading time: 35 minutes

Skeptic debating with paranormalist.
Atheist arguing with theist.
Paper or plastic?
Does anybody ever change their mind?
Some days ... we wonder.


Have you ever been in a discussion with somebody and even though the facts were solidly on your side, they wouldn't change their mind? Who hasn't been in that situation?

Everybody is pig-headed but me!

In this article, I will be describing a phenomenon I call "antiprocess". Here are several explanations of the concept:

The Formal Explanation:  Antiprocess is the preemptive recognition and marginalization of undesired information by the synergistic interplay of high-priority acquired mental defense mechanisms.
An Informal Explanation:  People can very cleverly defend their beliefs without having to fully understand the arguments against them.
A Very Informal Explanation:  They're not being annoying on purpose.

If those explanations haven't made things clear, don't worry about it; this article will explain the underlying concepts and then explain, with examples, how antiprocess operates.

A Note About Interpretation

This article uses diagrams to portray what is going on in the mind. Please do not take these illustrations literally; they are not presented as a map of the brain or an explanation of consciousness. They are not designed for use in a psychology course. The diagrams are simply my attempt to show, in a visual way, something we can't actually see.

Antiprocess isn't something you can see

Incidentally, some of the words I use (such as "subconscious") have different meanings to different people. Please bear in mind that I am using various words in my own idiosyncratic way so that I do not have to invent new terms. If you think I am using the word "subconscious" incorrectly, I encourage you to substitute a different word, such as "unconscious", or "non-conscious", or whatever seems most appropriate to you.

So Is This a New Theory?

The short answer to that question is:  no.

This article describes how and why people cling to comforting beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I am not claiming that I've discovered a new circuit in the brain or anything outlandish like that. I'm hoping that as I explain antiprocess, you'll realize that you've known about it all along, but you never had a name for it. How antiprocess physically operates is a matter for another article.

An Example of Antiprocess

Does this seem at all familiar to you?

He's deliberately missing the point!

After years of debating people without much success, I started to suspect that there was some hidden barrier to understanding, but I didn't know what it was. Why were people being so difficult? And why was I occasionally compelled to be just as irritating?

I believe the concept of antiprocess helps to explain the problem.

What's Ahead

In the following sections I will explain some underlying concepts, in the following order...

Mental multitasking
Resolving contradictory motivations
Positive and negative mental filters

Once you've read through these section it's quite likely that you'll already have a fairly good idea how antiprocess works. In any case, some examples are given in the subsequent section, followed by a general conclusion.

Skeptical note: This article contains occasional "skeptical notes" like this one, which provide some additional details and answer some common objections. You can skip these comments if you wish.

To proceed to the next section, please click on the NEXT link, below.