Belief Biases Rule The World

We prefer to believe what we prefer to be true. Francis Bacon

I believe it is not unreasonable to say that belief biases are a major cause of the biggest problems in the world today and in the past. Racial, cultural and religious prejudices are belief biases that have been causing harm throughout the world forever. Personal and social belief biases have also caused their share of problems for the inhabitants of the world, the planet earth and the universe. Some of the well-known personal belief biases are labeled “self-serving, bandwagon, perceptual, familiarity, and confirmation” bias. At least 71 have been identified. They create blind spots in the way we see things and do things.

There seems to be plenty of evidence, although no scientific proof, that humans are born believers. We are told that the brain prefers certainty; and that thoughts, the mind’s energy, directly influence how the physical brain controls the body’s physiology. Born believers who develop belief biases are the norm. I like the way Harold Larrabee put it:

Man’s natural state is not doubt, but credulity — a combinationof suggestibility in the face of whatever is clearly and strongly presented, and the will-to-believe whatever is personally or socially congenial.

Francis Bacon, above, and many other wise men, have pointed out that we usually believe what we want to believe. And the fact that what one believes determines the way one behaves is pretty well accepted knowledge. My writing has always been the promotion of a collective worldview that is open and inclusive, one worldview at a time. (worldview: a collection of beliefs about life and the universe). Although I have proposed strategies for achieving this I am not aware of much overall progress. But I keep writing.

Expecting adult believers to become open-minded and inclusive is probably unrealistic (to put it mildly). This would require a first step of self-inquiry (questioning, close examination, leading to self-awareness). This means a believer needs to see his or her beliefs as provisional rather than absolute. It requires beliefs that are not dogmatic or divisive and a mindset that is not rigid or fixed.

Each of us can identify belief biases in other people that are causing major problems in our life or in the world today. Think of politicians, religious zealots, pundits, suicide bombers climate change deniers, your relative or neighbor — you name them. You and I must also have some biased beliefs. But do they cause problems or solve problems in our local world?

Do you agree or disagree that belief biases are a major problem for the world?

                      Your beliefs become your thoughts    

                      Your thoughts become your words

                      Your words become your actions

                      Your actions become your habits

                      Your habits become your values

                     Your values become your destiny

Mahatma Gandhi

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One Response to BORN BELIEVERS

  1. psjarvis says:

    Wow! That’s powerful, H B. It seems nearly impossible to change belief biases (even our own), but until we can, we’re locked in conflicts of ignorance.

    I truly admire your work, and your thought processes. Don’t stop!


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    Phil Jarvis |Director of Inspire Partnerships
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