People think differently. Because of this they behave differently.

Every so often I’m reminded how differently people behave. They behave differently because theythink differently. The behavior follows the thinking and is as closely linked as light source and shadow length. Some people don’t get this. For some the entire concept is invalid. For others they get it to the extent that they can acknowledge themselves and anyone with analogous beliefs beliefs as “normal” and the rest of humanity as complete freaks of nature

The next stop on the understanding chain are the people who get that their are differences, but are constantly baffled by their appearance. This would be the person who understands that some people become cops, but when confronted with the aggression needed to do that job in some situations, or the need to carry a gun daily, can’t organize it into a way in that makes doing something they hate (carrying the gun, or simply the aggressive demeanor) fit intotheir preview of a functional human being.

One of the inherent stumbling blocks for people who can’t understand that the thought and behavior styles of a lot of things are linked, is that they assume that other people don’t really think or believe in a way different than they do. To this person, actions different than they would take arewithout reason . More, they are actions and beliefs that aren’t needed for success in those entirely different behavior patterns. In order to be a successful Army Command Sergent Major, than a news anchor, soccer goalie, wedding planner, or underwater welder.  If you take three or even one of the major mental tools and talents away from the CSM, such as the ability to recognize ordinance, and the detachment needed to keep an embattled company functional (or even dominant) against a numerically or technologically superior foe, they just can’t succeed, and if they never had those abilities, they probably never made that rank in the first place.

Likewise, a therapist who doesn’t recognize the varying cues and what they mean in a patient, is pretty useless from the word go. If they can’t tell that a patient squirms or starts sweating every time they mention “summer camp” or gets frosty if they ask “do you understand?” on a given item, it doesn’t matter how many times the therapist rolls the dice with a new patient, they’re gonna roll snake-eyes far, far more often than is statistically valid.

Sure, meeting the people who can’t grok the thought-behavior link and it’s inherent value can be amusing in small doses, but as readers, writers, agents and editors we need to appreciate that in life, and in books that those people who think differently, couldn’t be what they are, especially if it is different than ourselves without their peculiarities.

One recent example of this, is the comment thread attached to this story on the Mt Everest Avalanche that killed several climbers. One major camp is of the “well, they died doing what they loved” folks, arrayed in another strata are the “how could they do anything so dangerous in the first place, there’s no point” alignment. The first group clearly beliefs the reward of the vista, persisting despite the cold, exhaustion, oxygen issues, and the danger. The second sees no point to the risk for reasons that run from being deliberately uncomfortable, to the danger, to the lack of productiveness to the expense and risk. For themselves each individual is correct. If you can’t fathom the risk, and don’t see the reward to a non life maintenance activity, you aren’t going to go climb a mountain, go skydiving, or see how your car handles at a 140 miles per hour. But for the other camp, that visceral rush is worth a years worth of drudgery and privation, not just for the experience, but for the memory they get to hold onto forever.

Another common example is how many words people need to feel they’ve spoken or written something in a useful manner. At the top end of word use are the folks who think a quick hello is twenty five minutes catching up on everything that has happened since the last two they interacted with someone. At the other are the people who consider a nod, the upward turn of one or more corners of the lip and eye contact an exhaustively lengthy conversation. Most of homo sapiens falls somewhere between those extremes. One example of what some will call the verbal misers of the world is Bill Belichick, multiple Superbowl winning coach of the New England Patriots. The famously terse gent was pegged exactly by an NFL.com writer here. Which I’ve quoted here:

Those comments came after a lengthy explanation of how the situation got that point. Belichick spoke for more than three minutes just on the situation, which translates to sixteen hours from a normal coach. – Greg Rosenthal

I think a debate between Belichik and New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella could be cover twenty topics and be held to under 500 words total.