Sunday, 27 January 2013

Why We Believe


Why We Believe What We Do and Why We Should Be Concerned

I venture to say that most of us take for granted the reasons for why we believe what we do and what we don’t.  After all it is a process we automatically and without forewarning enter into as soon as we became able to grasp our first the-terrace-by-david-mcdonald concepts about the world.
To complicate matters our world is filled with biased learning sourcesand our own thinking is subject to certain subconscious tendencies predisposing us to believe in ideas having little or no validity outside of our heads and/or we are apt to confabulate spontaneously (make up on the fly).
What is the “Truth”?
Anthropologists, psychologists and other cognitive scientists use the term veridicality to refer to the degree of relationship between the ideas we have about how or why anything exists or functions and the actuality of it.
For example, it was once believed the universe revolved around the earth (geocentric view) when in actuality the earth revolves around the sun (heliocentric view).
The idea of a geocentric view would persist for over 2000 years until better tools (telescope) and methods (scientific process) were developed. Therefore the degree of veridicality between the idea of a geocentric universe, an erroneous understanding, versus a heliocentric universe, the actuality, was zero.
There was absolutely no correspondence between what was believed, geocentrism, and the reality of heliocentrism.
The “truth” is then any idea, belief or concept that accords with independently verifiable evidence. Everything else is either a fabrication, a speculation yet to be proved or disproved or an idea already proved false.
The scenario just shared illustrates the basic difference between many mythosophical concepts (spiritual, religious, philosophical) and scientific discovery.
Scientific discovery employs a methodology to remove as much error as possible from our knowledge. Scientific understanding evolves via a commitment to incorporate new information as it is proved trustworthy. The development of better tools and methods has and will continue to upturn the many erroneous ideas persisting and abound in our world.
Many mythosophical concepts are based on the primitive and un-evolved understandings of our ancient ancestors. Most present day adherents of religious ideology resist the evolution or further development of their religious concepts.
There are reasons for the resistance to what would seem to be the smartest thing to do.
New evidence should compel a revision of out-dated beliefs, but the present world leadership does not operate that way.
Our tools are unimaginably complex and evolved, but our social organizations are as primitive as at the start of Western Civilization some 6000 years ago.
It would be an easy job to remove obsolete ideas were it not for the deadly and persistent forces fighting for their continuance.
The Delusion and the Deluders:   Biased Learning Sources
Three fundamental factors stand in the way of an “enlightened society”.
The first and most formidable obstacle is the tyrannical resistance of the established religio-political-commercial systems ( prevailing culture ) religious-illusionsof the West.
Blind spot number two is the liability inherent in certain learning acquired during childhood and adolescence.
Learning which then makes it difficult to release any errant and embedded ideas which have come by way of pervasive and persistent outside agents (propagandists).
Propagandists who offer ideas they would have us believe in and adhere to, regardless of their validity or consequences to us or others for supporting such ideas.
The propagandist maybe an older sibling, parent, teacher, politician, priests or the millions of sales pitches thrown at us over the course of a year.
The third roadblock is the effectiveness of assembly-line, mass-educational efforts, i.e., government approved public education and mass media propaganda campaigns.
The foregoing examples are what I mean by biased learning sources.
Being instructed during childhood or at any age is not a liability in of itself.
The liability lies in the content of what is offered and its consequences to us or others if the promoters are successful in training us (indoctrination) to believe and therefore act in accordance with their wishes.
We would be wise to root out what has been either maliciously (propaganda) or erroneously (enculturation) implanted in our minds. In the Western world much of what we are taught via the mainstream channels is either invalid, harmful to us, others and or the environment.
The Deluder Within
Subconscious tendencies are biases existing independent of outside influence. We are born with them or it may be that our cultural language structure may predispose us to certain ways of thinking.
Psychologists and alike use the term “promiscuous teleology” to define the tendency of young children to describe the world in terms of design and purpose. I wish to substitute the more telling phrase of erroneous attribution of purpose. Childlike reasoning is also used to describe the natural tendency of not only children, but of college students as well.
The other primary subconscious mental tendency is what I call non-clinical confabulation (NCC).
Clinical confabulation is a recognized mental disorder. Most mental disorders are often time everyday human behaviors taken to extremes.
NCC results from an incomplete understanding or incorrect perception of the subject in question and of the human tendency to sometimes spontaneously and automatically fill in the blanks.
It’s an automatic function of our subconscious brain processing to arrive at the quickest interpretation of an item or situation. Our conscious mind is often times the awareness of what the subconscious mind has brought to our attention.
As a thought or perception enters our awareness our conscious mind seeks to attribute a rational or best explanation of why we said, thought or did.
In other words we are naturally biased to explain objects or events with what we have at our immediate disposal even if our rational is not based on any evidence or valid logical process.
As one can see the road to “truth” is not only riddled with pot holes and infested with landmines, but there are also innumerable forks in the road. An open mind, life long learning and a reliance evidence based information will help diminish the chances of believing in and acting upon erroneous and harmful ideas.