The Persistence of False Beliefs

Our world these days is heavily laden with a constant flow of information moving through our minds.  It’s unavoidable.  How do we determine what of that steady information stream we will choose to believe?  Once we’ve made that choice, what if we later find out that the information was false?  How do we shed false beliefs?  It’s a very biologically expensive thing to demand from our brains to change our beliefs.

On this week’s show, the good doctors, Art Markman and Bob Duke, discuss with Rebecca and analyze the process of belief formation and why our false beliefs are so persistently insistent that we reconsider them. In short form, our beliefs inherently require a certain amount of faith in the validity of the evidence that we recognize as support for those beliefs.  An idea creates an imprint in our minds of the thought patterns that we use to justify our commitment to accepting a belief as true or false, whatever the case may be.

If we learn information later that challenges the validity of our belief, or if we downright learn that the belief was, in fact, false, we are then required to use our biological energy to create a new thought pattern imprint over the old one.  It’s energy expensive.

The easiest way to view the world and the variety of differing beliefs or opinions in it is to identify ourselves with the people who share our beliefs.  We tend to divide the world into two categories – 1) the people who share our beliefs, and 2) the idiots.  While this may conserve energy, which it does (and we are instinctively programmed to conserve our energy,) the more energy expensive option of considering and learning to appreciate differing beliefs or opinions is more socially appropriate.  You’ll have more friends if you are open to accepting differing beliefs, essentially.

Our current and rapidly developing technology-loaded existence can be very isolating.  Society, these days, doesn’t require much confrontation with differing beliefs that will challenge our own, so we have to manually inject such exposure into our lives.  In the non-stop stream of constant information flowing, try examining something outside your usual path.  If you identify as a Democrat, watch Fox News. If you’re a Republican, watch the Colbert Report.  You might find something interesting.