What’s Your Skeptical Conversion Story?
I was cleaning up around the house this weekend and I came across something that I wrote for my University paper back in the day.
It was very interesting to reflect on what I was thinking at the time and how my worldview has changed over time. I could immediately see things that I completely disagree with now (like the apocryphal “belief in flat earth” example and limiting my rant to university students), but I also saw the roots of my skeptical worldview developing and how it came from an increasing desire for rationality, finding truth in the world and a frustration with how ideas are presented to us with such overstated certainty. This is something I wrote not long before knowing that there was such a thing as scientific skepticism.
The trouble with –isms
University educated students, particularly in western countries, really think they know it all. They are on the right track to knowledge, but they are certainly suckers for popularism.
Many people that I respect as critical thinkers are constantly putting their proverbial feet into their collective mouths by mindlessly insulting whatever –ism seems to be unpopular with their peers or society at large.
This –ism bashing trend is certainly not new. It used to be cool to think that our flat world was the centre of the universe, that a monarch was omnipotent, or that free-thinking women were devil worshipers.
We’ve gone back and forth from polar opposites throughout our entire existence. Liberalism and conservatism, for example; some of our ways of thinking are incredibly similar, yet their members ignorantly criticize each other over their different defining nuances. Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism, for example.
Statistically, it is incredibly improbable that any one of them would be completely correct. Is individualism the right path, or collectivism?
However, the reverse is actually very true as well. There is a very good chance that many of them will be right in many different ways. Both industrialism and environmentalism have merit.
So, what do all our favourite –isms have in common? They cant all be completely right, but they cant all be completely wrong.
Furthermore, what has history taught us? Ignorance may be bliss for a while, but no single way of thinking has lasted the time.
Maybe were just early into our evolutionary path; maybe that path was designed by an intelligent being; maybe well make contact with other intelligent life forms; maybe there is more to the human psyche than we could ever conceive; maybe we can be united or maybe division and segregation is in our nature.
With our current knowledge of science, spirituality, humanity, politics, economics, and the universe, there is really only one option, if you want save face and escape humiliation by ignorance or hypocrisy:
Be humble, open-minded, practice constructive critic-ism, and, most importantly, learn to bite your tongue.
Seeing this really did get me thinking about how we change, grow and develop in our understanding of the world.
That leads me to ask the question of you dear reader (if you’re still with me), do you have any time that you look back on as a foundational shift in your thinking?