EMAIL# 230- 22ND AUGUST 2023- # "WHY YOU BELIEVE THE THINGS YOU DO"
We all have a belief generating system.
“When you have no money and your child is really sick, you’ll believe anything.” Unknown
The above quote sums up something that deep down we all know is true; what you believe to be true is heavily influenced by how much you want it to be true.
Last week something pretty dramatic happened beside one of my building sites.
The next-door neighbour drove straight through her garage door only a few meters away from where our bricklayers were working. The neighbour shortly after found out that she had let her house and car insurance lapse and now believes that because DDB is doing a renovation right next to her garage that we are somehow responsible for causing this accident, and she has $50k of reasons to justify her belief.
“A belief’s allure can eclipse its truth” Morgan Housel
Philosopher Bertrand Russell stated “The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. So, whenever you find yourself getting angry about a difference of opinion, be on your guard; you will probably find, on examination, that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants.”
It is human nature to protect your own (kids, family, community, property etc etc). People justify their actions by reinforcing them with strong beliefs and by enlisting other people that share their beliefs.
The legal term for this is “Gibson’s Law” (no relation to Lyle!).
“For every PHD there is an equal and opposite PHD. No matter what argument you are trying to make, you can find a qualified expert witness who is willing to make it, under oath, for $500.00 an hour.”
So, what are some of the main forces that shape your beliefs?
- Your upbringing and your memories. People gradually filter their memories, so they fit their beliefs. They refine the details of their storey so the narrative they tell is an extension of their existing views and they discard details and facts that contradict their beliefs. This is called a “Belief generating system.”
- Your fear of making mistakes. It is much easier to fool yourself into believing a falsehood than to admit making a mistake or error of judgement. This is why people rarely change their view about long held beliefs such as politics or religion.
- We are all influenced by what other people think. If most people around you have a certain set of beliefs, you are highly likely to hold very similar beliefs.
“Logic forms the basis of scientific reasoning, yet wishful thinking, irrational fears, and cognitive biases often dominate our decisions.” Richard Faynman
Thanks for reading,
Stay safe and keep an open mind.