Where do our beliefs come from? We would all like to think that we believe certain things because they are correct. If we thought they were wrong, obviously we would change what we believe.
The problem lies in that most of our beliefs spawn from someone else’s opinion. This is true whether it comes from our parents and upbringing, or has evolved since then. It is usually a combination of childhood and experiences. Our beliefs pattern themselves early, but they continually evolve and change throughout our entire life. When we listen to someone else, their beliefs are put into their words, and thereby temper what you believe.
There is no such thing as truly objective. No matter how hard we try, nothing we say or write cannot be affected by what we believe. When you read someone else’s report, or hear them speak or preach, you are not really hearing or reading the truth per se, but rather their “truth” as they see it.
Most of the items which we believe we have studied are really simply that we have listened to someone’s opinion of someone else’s opinion of someone else’s interpretation. The politician that denounces the scientist probably did not even read the scientific report. The politician that knocks the scientist did not read the scientist’s report. At best he had an aide do it. At worst, the aide read another politician’s report on it. Ever play the kindergarten whisper game?
Perhaps even worse than that is the fact that if something is repeated enough times, it becomes the truth. Why do you think they replay commercials over and over and over, ad nauseam? It’s because the more you hear that their product is the best, you become to believe it. We’ve known for decades that Columbus was not the first European to settle in the Americas. The Vikings and Celts had established trade routes into the Gulf of Mexico for at least two hundred years prior to Columbus. America was not named after Amerigo Vespucci, but in fact after those same Vikings’ legendary hero / god Meric and his land across the sea, meric’a. But you have heard those old stories so many times it has become truth to you.
Most people believe concepts in society because of who said them without ever actually looking. If the political party (or religious group) that you like says so, it must be true. We believe that without looking into it further, or worse we simply read more of their propaganda, and believe we are reading actual facts. I cannot count the times someone has told me, “Well, it’s in the Bible.” And when I respond with, “Really? Where?” They had no idea it wasn’t. They have simple heard that enough times, they came to believe it and repeat it.
No one who has ever studied the actual facts about global warming has ever said it is not true – causes and cures may be debatable, but the warming itself is real. No one who has ever studied the actual facts about medical marijuana would say that it is not a much better drug, medically speaking, than anything currently in existence – control and monitoring may be debatable, but increased efficacy with a much lower side effect profile is obvious. No one that has looked at the facts of GMO’d and medically altered food would say that it is not harmful long term – the cure is hugely debatable, but the damage is not.
None of us can be an expert on everything. None of us can research the raw facts of each and every topic before forming an opinion, or speaking out, or voting. To some extent we always have to look at the opinions of others for direction. We read reports and stories, or listen to politicians or preachers or other professionals, and we instill in them a lot of faith and trust that what we are getting is not overly biased by their opinion.
Part of what is important is to look at why that person, or company, or party, or group would want you to believe them. The politicians obviously want you to believe their stance because they want you to vote for them. The drug companies obviously want you to buy their latest and greatest synthetic control substance rather than listen to a doctor tell you he can cure you with diet changes and natural substances. An advocate for a cause obviously wants you to jump on their bandwagon.
What you believe is up to you. What you base those beliefs upon is also up to you. If you are not going to check out the facts, at least consider who is doing the talking.
Think about it.