You’ve probably noticed that when people want to believe in something–by all means–they tend to be annoying to the point of being a pain in the a.s. Or — when they’re in the majority — you have to hold back, swallow all the BS and not roll your eyes (while keeping your mouth shut!). It’s disrespectful and even dangerous to question any widely shared cultural idiocies.
Proofs of belief-based cultural “truths” are always reductionistic. As long as they serve some convictions, people will fit reality into various images using any fallacy of argument they can get their minds upon.
Reductionism can express both as oversimplifying and overcomplicating. If you’ve ever debated with a flat-earth buff you must have bumped into an alternation of both types of arguments, some overly simplistic and some wrapped into jargon and too complex to make any sense. The same happens when you debate with a conservative adherent of any narrowminded discipline or ideology, whether religious or profane.
Let me clarify: I don’t mind overcomplication; I don’t mind oversimplification either — in and of themselves. They both serve a function when used intentionally and nested in a context. Sometimes you have to focus on a single phenomenon to understand it better (and thus to better understand the whole), while in other cases you have to bring into the picture hypothetical “complications” that nobody thought of before.
Just think of modern physics. The hypotheses of subatomic dimensions are mindboggling. I think there is a function in such “overcomplication” in the development of human thought, just as germ theory had its place, as much as it was shunned by the mainstream medicine over many centuries. Just as germ theory supplanted miasma theory, someday a new theory will supplant the germ theory. Or do you maybe believe that germ theory is the end of knowledge? If you believe that, please think again!
If you’ve learned anything from history, you should have learned that humans don’t learn enough from history. We should learn to be humble and admit that we don’t know s.it! Even when we have something figured out pretty well, we should keep a window open that there’s more to discover and even that we might be outright wrong.
Doubt keeps knowledge alive. Conviction kills it.
I’m frustrated when my questions bounce off of a thick wall of denial and resistance to plain common sense; when doubt gets ostracized.
My “favorite” example of oversimplification/overcomplication and of ostracizing doubt is neoliberal economics. On the one side, it reduces the success of society to GDP and economic growth. On the other side, it creates insanely complicated “free”-market regulations that give advantage to the largest multinationals and disadvantage local producers and traders.
Such an economy is prescribed, instituted, indoctrinated, enshrined. Even if you manage to get economists to agree with you in principle, the momentum of the global economy is too strong to change anything, they might say. What they’re saying between the lines is that economic games count more than all life on Earth.
We don’t think of economic games as madness because they’re so customary. You’ve been playing such games too long.
If you could only squeeze decades into 5 minutes you might get a better perspective of the game. To understand what I mean, check this video about the Time Travel Dietitian:
You’ve probably noticed how the dietitian wanted to believe —by all means–being annoying to the point of being unbearable. Gradually he succumbed to doubt and “came down to Earth.”
Many mystics in the past stopped talking at a certain point in their lives. When asked “why”, one such mystic said: “What I say can’t benefit the fools because they can’t understand it. It doesn’t benefit the wise either because they already know it. So why should I speak at all?”
Basic cultural conventions are impenetrable to doubt anyway. No matter what you say and do, people will just go on as they’re used to in culturally conditioned manners.
As long as this doesn’t change, there’s no reason to expect the society will change to anything even slightly reasonable.
As long as religion has a special allowance to keep its prominence in society without having to make sense, all appeals to reason in other spheres are useless.
When people want to believe in something, they’ do it no matter what and there’s no logical argument that can change their minds.
The systems theory comes with a hope of evolution of thought, but to ensure such an evolution it needs to strike at the core of historic backwardness to make a difference. How to strike at the core? By leading the evolution with their (our!) own example — quite like Marx claimed that philosophy has to be active, not confined to armchair philosophizing.
We have to challenge all the cultural idiocies rooted in superstitious cultural beliefs. As systems thinkers, we have to divorce from our own cultural identities and even if we’re unable to cut the ties with our own culture even an act of admitting our own weakness will prove the point: cultural idiocies are holding everyone in their grip. That’s why they need to go! If we can’t do it now, let’s pass the task on to the next generation, even if it hurts us.
The proof of admitting the mistake is through openminded doubt, not through closedminded certainty. Curiosity is a good sign of openmindedness.
The beginning of knowledge is: I don’t know. I’m ready to question everything, including my most sacred beliefs.
The opposite of knowledge is: Don’t you dare question my truth! I’ll prove you wrong no matter what!
My point is that if you think that you know, you’re most likely wrong. If you doubt, you might be insecure, but you’re at least open and your “truth” true in the sense that it’s not a monolith. It’s flexible, amenable. What you’re saying is “I don’t know.” That means you’re curious. You’re humble. You want to know, whatever that means, whatever it implies, no matter how painful it is.
Ideological pain is good. It’s the only way out of the maze of our cultural idiocies.
As B.S. Forbes said: “The truth does not hurt unless it ought to.”