The world is full of a myriad of ideas and ways of viewing experience and events, but do any of us really know the truth?
I’ve had this discussion on Twitter recently, because due to the pandemic in the UK, we have had a few laws put in place and a few temporary restrictions. Now, some would say they are not temporary, and I’ve had many people come to me saying how stupid I am for believing this and that I’m not listening to ‘The Truth’ on what is really happening globally.
Now, I’m a fairly open-minded person. I love to explore different thoughts, ideas, I like to look at the bigger picture. I understand that there is often more going on behind the scenes than I could possibly grasp fully, but I do know that truths are personal and often we think we have the absolute truth based on facts we think are true and we stick to that.
In the past I thought I had the absolute truth on so many issues and life events. I didn’t. I think sometimes when we are so strongly wanting a certain result or outcome to be true, we do practice what is called confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias (according to Wikipedia) is:
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values. It is an important type of cognitive bias that has a significant effect on the proper functioning of society by distorting evidence-based decision-making. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. For example, a person may cherry-pick empirical data that supports one’s belief, ignoring the remainder of the data that is not supportive. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. The effect is strongest for desired outcomes, for emotionally charged issues, and for deeply entrenched beliefs.
Instead of keeping open to the possibility that the other person or group may have a point, we stay resolute in our perception of truth and we go looking for information to back up that truth.
We Are All Biased – It’s Human Nature
All of us have bias. If you think you don’t have bias look again.
If you were born into a certain culture, with a certain family, a religion, a group of morals passed down through generations, you were programmed into certain biases. Now you can question them as an adult, toss away those that no longer work for you, but many don’t, and many don’t even realise they have biases.
The problem comes when divisions in society become so huge that one lot of bias is mirrored by an equal amount of bias from the other side. So, to use the current example. In UK there is a group that believe the virus is fake or is not really here anymore, who think masks are pointless, that our Government are now dictators and that we need to stop limiting people through lockdown measures.
And on the other side of the ‘divided thought boxing ring’ we have those who believe the virus is huge, that we need to lockdown even more and that people should be ‘hung drawn and quartered’ who don’t wear a mask or ignore lockdown measures.
The first group I have encountered mainly because I simply accept the measures as temporary and don’t think resisting what is happening serves a purpose or helps my own mental health. I know the restrictions are damaging to the economy and mental health in some areas, but I also feel this is not a forever experience. So, I have received name calling ‘stupid’ ‘sheeple’ and told I need to ‘wake up’ to The Truth.
Now to them the truth is based on the ‘facts’ and ‘research’ they have found and gathered, but I also feel they have searched for reasons to back up their beliefs that lockdown is wrong. That’s how I view it.
The other side are as strongly ‘for’ the measures as the anti-lockdown people are against. Neither group seeing they are the same but with different ideas right now. The first group, angry, fearful of other types of losses, the economy, potential mental health issues and the second group are fearful of the virus and what could happen to their families and themselves.
Both groups are coming from fear, because anger often masks fear, even those angry at the Government fear losing control or the illusion of control.
Both have truths based on bias, but if you talk to either group or mention this, most will not think they are biased; both groups will think they have the truth on whatever issue they are passionate about.
Truths Can Become Identity
You can’t argue with emotion or irrational thought processes, ever. We try but it doesn’t work, because sometimes it can actually be dangerous for a group or individual to have their belief system destroyed. Sometimes people are so identified by whatever truth they stand for that they don’t know that their truth is founded on quicksand. If one part of that truth were knocked out the whole house would come falling down, so when we are identified with a certain biased belief, we will not allow any other truths inside that safe space. Our whole identity relies on this.
If someone has highly religious beliefs and another manages to convince them that something about that belief is untrue, their entire world can crumble around them and if they are not emotionally or mentally stable it can cause major problems, even suicide.
We may think it is our right to prove others wrong, but somethings it’s not the best or healthy way to live. I’m guilty of this as much as anyone else, because we can see what another is saying and think ‘they’re crazy’ and think we know what is best for them and that they need to change their minds on this topic. It never works really.
I was born into a family who were not religious, so I never got programmed with religious morals and beliefs, and I am open to other ways of viewing the world. I do know people who are strict in their religion and are opposed to certain things I am not opposed to.
Truth is deeply personal and yes some things may be morally wrong in our eyes, for example murder or rape or terrorism, but if we flip our thinking into, for example, a terrorist’s mindset, we may discover that what we view as terrorism is to them justice for their families being killed by drone attacks, for example. To them they are freedom fighters. And if we put ourselves into the position of the other side, we can almost always find a commonality that as humans we may do the same if we were in a war zone or everyone we knew was being killed by another country’s war machines. We may be programmed against that culture and that country and we may have the same hate and same desire for revenge.
Fortunately, most of us are in more comfortable free countries and we are blessed with security and safety on many levels so it can sometimes feel hard to put ourselves in their shoes. Especially when it comes to morally questionable truths.
The Truth is whatever you feel is true to you at this time. This does not mean your truth need be another’s truth. You can own your truth, satisfy your truth, identify with your truth, but all it is, is your truth, born from your beliefs, your biases, and your life experiences.
The most we can do is understand our own truths, be open to other truths, but not be so heavily identified that our whole inner house comes tumbling down because we’re unprepared for any change in those truths.
At the moment our mainstream media in the UK keeps communicating our Government decisions as U-Turns in a very negative way, but life is full of change and if evidence arrives that changes your beliefs or truths, it pays to listen and change direction if needed. This is a positive and empowering thing for any life decision I feel.
What do you feel about The Truth?