This is a name for what I’ve referred to elsewhere as “dream logic”. It’s important because this appears to be a sort of magical thinking that we use to process very big ideas, like conspiritards’ insistence that we’re ruled by literal snake people rather than figurative snake people.
Here’s how I think this works. The mind understands the essence of something (as in “common element”), either consciously or unconsciously. Essences are typically expressed through analogical idioms, maybe because it’s easier to give an example of something than state a general rule. For example, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” is an example of the general rule that you only get to control your side of a two-way relationship. Idioms and essences are a subset of analogical thinking, like in the analogies IQ subtest. Interestingly, this suggests that the English would score very high on analogies. Or would have, back when the English were responsible for the language and its heavy reliance on idiom. (As a tangent, there are two heavily g-loaded subtests in IQ testing: Raven’s and analogies. Raven’s matrices scores are increasing drastically. Analogies scores and decreasing drastically.)
This is where the naive literal bit comes in. In a dreaming state our counterfactual imagination faculties are maximized (e.g. “imagine a pink elephant” prompts a more vivid picture in a dream state). This suggests that some other processes are minimized on the grounds that processes share hardware. Let’s presume without evidence that critical faculties are minimized in sleep, sort of like in improvisational theater where the premise is always accepted. So the mind’s ability to dispel a nonsensical illusion is dampened. This could describe children too, as mentioned in previous blog posts. So the process is essence -> idiom -> counterfactual imagination -> lack of critical thinking to break the trance.
I think this process is what explains the phenomena I shared in this older post:
Some of the visual and dramatic elements of dreams also appear to have an abstract verbal element to them. The best example I can think of comes from a dream I had during the initial period of frenzied activity when the Complete SJW List was starting up. In the dream my left ear caught on fire and half of it burned off before I succeeded in dousing it. I realized later that the best interpretation of this was that the abstract verbal portion of my brain had used the phrase “my ears are burning”, and the childishly literal portion was interpreting this with dramatic imagination. This is similar to the tendency of autistics and children to interpret turns of phrase too literally, in combination with the adult tendency to use proverbs to help them interpret situations using previously acquired mental models.
To give another example of children interpreting turns of phrase with naive literalism, I’ll borrow one of my dad’s anecdotes. When he was at the post office as a child, his dad (my grandpa) gave him a letter to put in the mailbox outside in the parking lot. He was warned to make sure he “got it over the water”. In retrospect some years later, my dad realized that it had rained that day and the mailbox’s “in” slot was probably wet, and my grandpa was only telling him to toss it through the opening to avoid getting the letter wet. But because he was young and naive, he imagined that there must be some sort of water reservoir (maybe a bucket) inside the mailbox that some of the letters dropped into if they weren’t thrown hard enough. So for years afterward, he’d throw letters into mailboxes as hard as he could.
So anytime an idiot paranoid starts going on about the earth being hollow, try reframing the idea as figurative rather than literal and see if that does anything for you.