Beware Of Your Dogma

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble, its what you know for sure that just ain’t so.  Mark Twain

It is said that to be wise has changed from being able to answer the questions to being able to question the answers. Doubt is the beginning, not the end of wisdom, George Iles. When it comes to the future, we cannot know (in the rational sense of knowing) everything we need to know. This, of course, leads to the increasing presence of uncertainty, even in a Knowledge Society and an Age of Information Glut. People don’t like uncertainty; they even fear it.

The truth is that we cannot avoid uncertainty. This not-knowing is part of the adventure. It is also what makes us afraid. Pena Chodron

This future sense strategy is about uncertainty and open-mindedness. It is accepting the fact that some things you know may no longer be true. When people are afraid of not knowing they crave certainty. Dogma is truly man’s best friend, Swami Beyondananda. Certainty is not truth.

In 1993* my article, Future Sense, identified “future phobia”, fear of the future, as a new neurosis. Because people fear or dislike a future that is unknown, they tend to avoid making decisions about it. Or they believe the future is predetermined, completely random or out of their control.

The reason this is my Future Guideline is because humans have a need to know but need to become comfortable with not knowing, with uncertainty. Being uncertain leads to open-mindedness. What one knows for sure, by definition, is absolute certainty, dogma. The benefit of doubt is that it keeps you receptive to new ideas, and avoids closed-minded certainty. I want to be comfortable with uncertainty and avoid knowing something for sure that just ain’t so.

 Here are some statements and quotes to support my strategy.

  • Old knowledge blocks new learning.
  • Socrates taught his disciples that a truly rational person understood how little he knew.
  • The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. Daniel J. Boorstin
  • Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things. Murphy’s Law

Do you suffer from future phobia? Are you receptive to new and different ideas? What is your definition of dogma? Do you believe the future is predetermined, completely random or out of your control. How would you describe your comfort with uncertainty?

* THE FUTURIST, September-October, 1993: The World Future Society



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  1. John Krumboltz says:

    Certainty about what??? I am certain that I will not live forever, even though I want to. I am certain that there is no life after death even though many wish there were. I am certain that earth is being visited by beings from other planets in the Universe because of the overwhelming amount of evidence supporting that belief and despite consistent government efforts to withhold the truth from its citizens. John

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