There seems to be no limit to what people will believe. No wonder con men succeed. No wonder politicians can lie and still increase in popularity. We believe what we want to be true and have great difficulty seeing things objectively. We let our own self-interest, greed, fear, and ignorance get in the way of the truth.
Even intelligent people believe silly things. Everyone believes something silly. Some people can be very rational when it comes to some subjects, but completely irrational when it comes to others.
This shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that there is so much we don’t understand and how easily our perception can be fooled. We all fall victim to our own perceptional weaknesses. The mystery of life does not fail to fool everyone in one way or another.
9 Ideas On How To Avoid Believing Silly Things
- Study broadly. Study a variety of different subjects. You don’t have to go in depth into every subject, but look for the main themes.
- Don’t assume you already know everything. Even the brightest people on the planet know very little compared to what there is to be known (and there may be things that are not knowable). Our brain has limitations and this universe is vast. And the human mind is amazingly complex and mysterious. Try understanding the mind of another human being. We don’t even understand our own mind, let alone the mind of another person.
- Read books by various authors — authors with differing view points. I love it when I find a book which changes the way I view the world. Sometimes it can be a little troubling in the beginning, but eventually I’m thankful for the new perspective. This doesn’t just apply to books, this also applies to speakers and anyone else you learn from.
- Spend time alone in thought. Allow your mind to process the things it has been taking in. The brain remembers everything it has ever seen and everything it has ever heard, even though we don’t realize it consciously and are not able to recall everything at will. Often these things show up in our dreams or at unexpected times. They also show up when we give our mind a break.
- Recognize that you have personal biases and that everyone else does too, even the experts. It’s unavoidable, but we can minimize the affects of personal bias. The first step is recognizing that we have them and that they are probably worse than we realize.
- Don’t think with your emotions. This is often how people are manipulated. Someone appeals to their emotions and they become vulnerable to disinformation. It’s especially effective on people who don’t do the sort of things I mentioned in the above points. You don’t want to be an under-educated, heavily biased, emotional person (fear and greed in particular). Otherwise you are going to be susceptible to believing a lot of ridiculous things and may even do ridiculous things to defend and promote your point of view.
- Like a good judge or a good investigator, make sure you look at all of the evidence and hear both sides of the story before you come to a conclusion. Even then, you must be willing to re-open the case if new evidence comes to light.
- Change your environment. Old, erroneous beliefs can be reinforced in an environment where you are discouraged from changing your views. Sometimes we are so worried about what others think of us that we dare not even think about things contrary to conventional wisdom, let alone express them.
- Follow your big questions. Follow your intrigues. This will lead you to places you never thought you would end up, intellectually at least.