Tag Archives: beliefs

A better alternative to facts

A better alternative to facts

Fact-checking is hard work. It’s a lot easier to pass along that email about the Australian PM threatening Muslims to integrate or get out of the country, or about an aircraft carrier attempting to bully a lighthouse into changing course, than to check if it’s true.

People often pass along stories that reinforce their worst fears and beliefs, and we reflexively accept them as true simply because of who passed them along or how it’s presented. And many of these stories are not as easily falsifiable as the ones the current U.S. President tells. So what should an optimist do?

To share or not to share: an easy test

Here’s an easy test—maybe not for truth—but for what to spread. Ask yourself the following questions:

Does this interpretation, fact or narrative promote

  • Fear
  • Hate
  • Division

Yes? Then disregard it. Don’t like it, comment and definitely don’t share it. Even if it’s true, anything that causes fearful and hateful reactions will divide us into opposing groups.

Focus on what builds and unites

It’s easier to kick a sandcastle them to build one, and this is a great metaphor for life. It’s easy to destroy a city, business, relationship or life than to build one, and surprise surprise, sometimes the truth can be as destructive as a lie, which is why when it comes to deciding what to focus on, or pass around, I think a better criteria than truth are kindness, helpfulness and compassion.

How to tell

If you’re wondering how to tell if a narrative, belief, fat or opinion is not helpful here are some follow-up questions you can use to assess whether it makes sense to not comment or hit the share button.

  • Does the story, belief, fact or opinion
  • Paint an entire nation, gender, ethnic or religious group in one stereotype.
  • Give one explanation as THE reason for the behaviour of a person, group or country.
  • Make you or the group you belong to feel stronger, better, morally superior to another?

Look to the agenda of the person telling the story.

Is the person pushing this position guilty of a double standard e.g. being for it now that his party is in power, but against it when an opposing party is. Shows like The Daily show, A Closer look and Last week are valuable because they expose this hypocrisy.

Share what is helpful rather than truthful

Mandela was great because he focussed on what was more important for his country than his being right about apartheid’s evil. He could have focussed on the truth about apartheid and the rightness about punishing its perps, but instead he chose to focus on what was more important: a future S.Africa that worked for all races.

This meant letting go of the hurt, anger and injustice of what was done to him and his people. Focusing on the truth about what happened would have led to thoughts and acts of vengeance, but then what?

He didn’t want to switch places with the Afrikaners, he wanted to include them in a new S. Africa that worked for everyone. This didn’t mean denying or ignoring the truth but simply placing attention on the stories of a new bright future.

I think a bright future for mankind depends on more and more of us making a similar choice…every single day.

Trust but verify

Trust but verify

Most people spread lies without ambitious agendas. They often parrot other people’s talking points and opinions because it makes it sound like somebody’s home. They’ve never thought about distinctions of truth, belief, fact, opinion, assessment, gossip, and allegation, or why they matter. They’re not weak or stupid, just lazy and indoctrinated. Not surprising. Maybe weContinue Reading

My scientists smarter than yours

My scientists smarter than yours

Not two weeks ago, I was floating on a noodle, beer in hand, life and conversation good, when the topic of climate change came up and suddenly the world seemed full of short-sighted ignorant people. It started when a new friend seemed untroubled that 2016 is on track to be the hottest year on record,Continue Reading

The half-life of a grievance

The half-life of a grievance

Every now and then, an old grievance comes to mind. There’s one about a guy who accused me of something I didn’t do, and whenever his name comes up, the grievance is right behind. Sometimes from out of nowhere the grievance enter’s the spotlight of my mind and a variation of the incident replays —oneContinue Reading

Thinking now old-fashioned

Thinking now old-fashioned

The truth, we’ve been told, is out there somewhere and we can thank science for showing us how to arrive at truth, reject untruth, and most importantly to dethrone old truth’s that no longer apply. This is good because the truth is much bigger and more unknowable than we give it credit for; that’s whyContinue Reading

Fake it till you make it

Fake it till you make it

Everyone faces times when they feel like a fraud; some people live their entire lives with that feeling. Many artists confess to this, especially writers.  David Duchovny’s character in Californication proclaims that he’s a writer that doesn’t write. Boy I can relate to that. Interestingly enough, sometimes this feeling persists despite all of the evidenceContinue Reading

Are beliefs true?

Because you believe something does it make it true? There was a time when educated people believed the world was flat, that ships could not be made of metal, the earth was the center of the solar system and indeed, the universe. The answer to my title question should be obvious yet, this is aContinue Reading

What is your concept of truth?

What is your concept of truth?

What is your concept of the truth, and why is it germane to the practice of your life? Well think about it.  If you live your life according to things that you believe are true, and they’re only partially true or flat out wrong, what do you think the impact would be on your life?Continue Reading

How much work is it to live your life as a practice?

Yesterday I wrote about my concern that living your life as a practice will occur for many people as a lot of work. And they would have a point. When I think about what’s involved it covers the following: Inventing a story or vision of your life. And oh, by the way, your life hasContinue Reading