Project Description


[ blahr-nee ] noun
deceptive or misleading talk; nonsense; hooey: a lot of blarney about why he was broke.


smsart sarah schumacher mixed media painting word of the day blarney brain the100dayproject 100daysofartandessays

thought process

When I read the word blarney, it made me think of the intellectual explanations people use when describing their beliefs.

This painting is intended to represent those influencing factors. I’m trying to do more intuitive abstracts lately, so I didn’t have a layout plan. The tape is a nod to streets/neighborhood/local environment/culture. I used a blue background to represent religion/belief in higher power/moral judgments. I collaged a brain shape over the top of that, because that’s where all these things come together. I overlaid a transparency of a brain diagram on top as a representation of the logical reasons for the beliefs that have been influenced by culture/religion underneath.

explained as simply as possible…

I love neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and I read a lot in these areas. There are a multitude of factors that influence belief systems. Off the top of my head: personality, parenting style, parent’s beliefs, home environment/family, surrounding culture, neighborhood, religious or other social organizations, friend groups, school choices, history, media intake… etc. All these things influence how your brain is wired.

According to Jonathan Haidt and the first principle of moral psychology: intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second. All the things I listed above can push you toward a certain set of conclusions that might seem to be rational because you find rationalizations after choosing to believe them.

“People hold the beliefs they do because of the way they think and they think the way they do because of the nature of the societies they live in.” – Richard E. Nisbett (Geography of Thought)

Have you ever wondered why most artists seem to skew toward more open-minded, empathic policies? I’m working on a longer essay about this, but it’s my opinion that we’re more in tune with the right side of the brain, which is where empathy comes from. We tend to be more sensitive to social issues. Do artists have certain political ideas, or do people attracted to certain political ideas tend to be artists?

When you learn more about all the factors that conspire to create a unique individual, then someone lists out the rational explanation of why they believe what they do, as if it were based on simple facts, I think that’s blarney. Humans aren’t entirely rational. The set of circumstances are too complex and subconscious to know without long-term inner work. Oftentimes we choose a set of beliefs, then find justifications for those beliefs. There might be reasons to choose them initially, but once we’ve committed, our ego demands that we defend those beliefs. It’s difficult to have open dialogue when someone already has the “right” answer, and confirmation bias keeps it that way. Believe it or not, but it’s ok to change your mind. It’s actually a sign of growth.

If you want to learn more, I highly recommend Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind (morality). Thinking, Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman (thinking). Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhardt (implicit bias/race). Political Tribes by Amy Chua or any book about tribalism. Any books or articles on attachment theory (parenting). Anything on the Enneagram (personality). Anything about history/American history or Eurocentrism.