You may have been exposed to the latest “new idea” that has been circulating on social media and certain circles. That idea is that the world we live on is flat. We have been duped by the “Masonic Wizards” and others to believe that what was originally believed to be true, the world is flat, and later scientifically proven incorrect is, in fact, true. This would seem to be preposterous to most reasonable thinking people, but it raises a few questions. How do I arrive at my beliefs? Why do they hold firm, even in the face of evidence to the contrary? What if I am wrong?
How you come to believe
Human beings are belief making machines. Nature has dictated that we form beliefs quickly to compensate for our survival shortcomings. Mainly, that we are hairless monkeys who are not particularly strong or fast and we walk on two legs. Therefore, we must use our greatest survival asset. Which is, we are aware of ourselves, and we can form thoughts. While we are doing this, we are continually creating relationships between the events that occur in our lives. We see a certain event “A, ” and it appears to be closely associated to a particular outcome “B” and our brains make a connection. These connections can be correct, but often they prove to be false. That is why the scientific method is so important for us to discern what is actually true. We don’t do such a great job on our own.
Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. This produces a feeling of discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance. Generally speaking, we stick with what we know to relieve the discomfort. Although, it is quite a feeling when we have those “Ah Ha” moments. It not only relieves the pressure created by the dissonance it allows us to begin to see things differently.
What if I am wrong?
I will let you in on a little secret about me that I have kept to myself until recently. I’m not sure if this discovery has come with age or by living a more mindful life, but I have discovered that more times than not, I have been wrong. It is a bit discomforting to discover this about myself, but I can no longer deny it. The majority of the time in my life my beliefs were usually wrong. You may ask how do I know now what I believe is true? Well, unfortunately, I don’t. I have a little faith that I am a reasonably intelligent person who is now more aware of how my brain works and that for most of my life it wasn't working in my favor. In reality, I project meaning onto the world. The world isn’t as it is. It is as I am. And it reminds me that I should be continually questioning my beliefs. Remembering that just because I believe something to be true doesn't mean that it is.