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Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Why do - or don't - we believe someone or something?

Last Saturday, the Dutch Financial Times featured an essay by Gloria Origgi: Say goodbye to the information age. From now on, it's about reputation. She certainly has a point. However, the reputation of a source of information has always defined the credibility of information. The real question is: Why do - or don't - we believe someone or something?

When my younger brother and I were children, we were sent to the local Roman-Catholic church to attend mass. For decades, I did not really believe that Jesus had ever existed. Some 10-15 years ago, I read an article about the Jewish-Roman writer Flavius Josephus. In his 2,000 year old books, he casually mentions the existence of Jesus. This opened my eyes.

In my 2017 blog, I have defined the 4 levels of human consciousness: knowledge, beliefs, intuition and imagination. The underlying criteria for defining these four levels are borrowed from risk management analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb: known knowns (ie, facts), known unknowns (ie, beliefs), unknown knowns (ie, intuition), and unknown unknowns (ie, imagination).

Clearly, our (non-) beliefs can change following changes in our consciousness: Jesus is a historical fact rather than a make-belief person.

This results in a fascinating conclusion: we define ourselves what and when we believe - not others. Our consciousness filters all incoming external information. This still leaves the why question.

By default, I trust people until they are no longer worthy of my trust. My trust is not without effort. Usually, I check people and things out before I proceed. My motto in life is: trust, but verify.

My 2016 blog, Human Emotions (2) - a revisit, shows two primal human emotions: Love and Fear. The first belongs to people with a positive attitude, the second to people with a negative attitude towards life. A default trust is based upon a default positive (loving) outlook on life. Similarly, people with a negative outlook are likely to let distrust and fear rule their lives.

The way we are raised (ie, the nature vs nurture debate) may change the above: negative events (eg, in childhood) may change your outlook on life from positive to negative (eg, lack of parental love). In mathematical terms: pos x neg = neg. Given these mathematics, the opposite is difficult to achieve (ie, negative x negative = positive).

Ultimately, only we are accountable and responsible for what we do (not) accept (facts), believe (beliefs), feel (intuition), and/or imagine (imagination). Blaming others (my 2015 blog) for our failing equals a refusal to change ourselves from negativity to positivity.

Positivity (2019) by Steffen Morrison 

Every dream you imagine 
Can be real if you believe

Positivity 
Is All Within Your Reach 
It’s matter over mind 
Find the strength inside


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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