Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Myths We Want To Believe

Cracked.com has a post "4 Reoccurring Myths We Apparently Really Want To Believe" that examines some of the more persistent internet rumors and the reasons they have endured. The author is mostly speculating (but probably fairly accurate) about what type of socially unacceptable needs get met by, for example, watching videos of rich people behaving badly.

Amusing, possibly accurate. My favorite part, though, is the ending:
If you ever run into a news story that gets you physically excited, make sure to take a step back and ask why you want it to be true so bad, and see if it's clouding your judgment.
People are frequently reluctant to ask the question, "Why do I believe this?" I'm not talking about major, big-B "Belief", such as belief in God or reincarnation, but the smaller, day-to-day beliefs that we cling to even in the face of other evidence.

"Crime may pay in the short run, but it'll lead to a bad end."

"Study hard in school and you'll get a good job after college."

"Michael Bay is capable of making a great movie."

Big-B Belief tends to be made of many smaller beliefs. in many ways, that makes it worse. It's easy to deal with one potentially non-rational choice, but having to assess and assimilate hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller individual beliefs is daunting. It's easy to believe in big Beliefs like "The government shall not obstruct free speech," or "Thou shall not kill." It gets more difficult when looking at specific cases.

When it gets to the level of these details, it is important to determine not only what you believe but why you believe it. Did you examine the evidence and decide this is the most rational stance, or is it because of a bad experience you had in college? I won't argue that one is better grounds than the other, but it is important to understand for yourself. You may find some of your tightly held beliefs don't actually match your values, if you look closely enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment