Friday, February 1, 2013


I think non-stop. Of course everyone does, but what I mean is deep, critical thought. It can be about anything, the universe, the existence of God, whether my beliefs are rational, am I a good husband and father, am I doing all I can do in this life? Things like that.

Sometimes it's really distracting and can interfere with ordinary activities like brushing my teeth. I like to think in the shower a lot. I once reasoned in the shower that intelligence and a predisposition to believing silly, irrational things have to be separate cognitive functions right before my wife yelled at me that I was going to be late if I don't hurry up.

During my non-stop, introspective discourse I often wonder how is it that intelligent people come to irrational beliefs.  I have come to the conclusion that evolution has selected this psychological trait. The tendency to believe what you are told without question is a flawed thing in the human psyche, but one that certainly confers a direct survival benefit.

Imagine back to prehistoric times and a conversation between a father caveman and his two sons goes something like this:

Dad: "Don't go in that cave. Stuff will eat you."
Son A: "Ok dad, sounds good."
Son B: "I skeptical about that, I'm going to investigate what's in there."

Guess which son had a greater chance of surviving, having offspring, and thus passing on a genetic predisposition to obeying authority without question?  We are living in a golden age where skepticism is no longer dangerous in a survival sense, but is it still not regarded as an admirable practice by the majority of society.  It's simple. We have been successful as a species up to this point by obeying authority, and not questioning our older, wiser elders. It's innate in most of us to fall in line and believe what people we trust tell us, even if its ridiculous.

So I assert that even brilliant people are predisposed to believing silly things. Rational skepticism is our only shield against falling for nonsense. Skepticism is the intentional practice and recognition that as a human being, we are susceptible to believing stupidity and its a commitment to shielding ourselves against it.  It's a commitment to leaving emotions out of forming beliefs. It's the statement that I will not allow what I prefer to be true effect my decision in believing what is rational to be true.

That being said, would I prefer professional wrestling be real? Heck, yes. Could I ever doublethink myself into believing it's real? No. I'm a skeptic, absolutely no doublethink is allowed, ever.

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