Good evening readers. If you haven’t guessed by the title, tonight’s article is about how a person can see straight through the illogical stance of one group and yet still fall fully into a giant vat of their own bullshit. It seems strange but someone can be incredibly logical, rational, and a well-rounded person for the most part, yet fall off the deep end in other facets of their life. So tonight we will take a look at the reasons for this phenomena.
For the most part, the reason for this is that we all like to feel as if we have a good understanding of the world around us. We live in this world, we survive as best as we can, and yet there are large portions of the world and our own bodies that we don’t understand or at least don’t have a full grasp. Add into this that admitting you don’t know something is very hard for the majority of people and you will see why it is so easy to be blinded by your own illogical or dogmatic stances.
Let’s use myself as an example.
When I was a minister of the Christian faith I could tell you exactly why the Islamic religion was false, I could point to the illogical nature of the Mormon faith, and I could let you know with great detail the history and various fallacies of the New Age movement. However, my own faith was filled with illogical and asinine dogmatic stances. Homosexuality was wrong, why? Because god said so. Drinking was wrong, why? Because god said so. Tattoos and pork were ok, why? Because god had changed his mind on those things…. God was the same yesterday, today, and forever….yet I knew every verse of scripture where god explicitly changes his mind and does the opposite of what this supposedly timeless being had set out to do.
How is it that I could easily point out the bullshit of others and yet could not see through the muddied waters of my own former faith. Simply put, I didn’t want to. To expound on that, I didn’t want to because my own beliefs made the world a much easier place to understand and so to admit the error of my own faith would add a level of confusion to my life that I did not want. I’d like to say that there is more to it but sadly this is the case for the majority of people in the world today.
The second factor that plays into this issue is something that has been mentioned several times before on this blog, confirmation bias. It’s easy to find articles online that agree with your chosen stance, regardless of the topic. Just to prove my point here are a few idiotic ideas that I came up with on the spot and found articles in support of my idiotic idea.
Now perhaps you’re going to say….but those articles don’t actually support the things that you say they support. One is an expose of a crazy person is parliament, another talks of the possible dangers of aspartame, and the last is simply a reddit thread. The point here is that it doesn’t matter if they actually support my stance or not, the point is that I can do a google search on just about anything and come up with one or two articles that agree at least in part with any stance. These are the articles that a person who wants to continue in an illogical ideology will accept and promote.
To bring this back around to me.
When I was younger and more prone to young earth creationist ideology I loved to point out that a dinosaur fossil had been found with intact hemoglobin, proving that the earth was much younger than science proposed, You will still see this promoted today as evidence against an old earth, yet when you take a deeper look you will find that the truth of the matter is that intact hemoglobin was not found but only the remains of what would have formed hemoglobin and that the fossilization of this tissue was consistent with the time scale supported by science. The whole idea that this structure couldn’t survive millions of years was actually simply made up to support the argument made by young earth creationists.
What this should show is that the actual evidence pertained in any article is secondary to where a person wants the evidence to point.
Another great example of this is the absolute disdain for fluoride that many people promote. Fluoride is claimed to be the cause of numerous maladies, it’s said to dull the brain and make the populace docile, it is claimed to be the cause of mental issues and yet when you look at the actual evidence you will find that fluoride is relatively harmless and that the benefits far outweigh any possible negatives. For the majority of time that the human race has existed bad teeth were one of the leading causes of death. Fluoride is introduced and people stop dying from bad teeth. Life was made better by this chemical compound that a huge percentage of the world now has demonized. Here’s a link that exposes some of the myths surrounding fluoride.
I hope that you can see by these examples just how easy it is for faulty information to find its way into the psyche of those who want to find it. Now I would like to give some helpful tips in how to avoid bullshit traps in the future.
1.) Is a doctor advising you? (Doctor Oz and your neighborhood herbalist do not count)
If the answer is no, then any information that you are receiving is to be considered suspect. I don’t care if your uncle cured his herpes with whale sperm, anecdotes are not evidence. If the answer to this question is yes then you can be reasonably certain that the information being given to you is accurate and helpful.
2.) Does the information cite its sources?
This is a big one. If the article, video, or podcast does not cite its sources then you should eliminate it from your research. However, you also want to be sure that the sources actually lead to helpful and corroborating information. If they do not then you should disregard any information given.
3.) Are the sources well-respected?
When looking at sources you want to make sure that they are actually good sources. Lets say you are looking at a paper that cites a source which proves that kale causes cancer. If the cited source is Ihatekale.com then you can be sure that the information contained is biased and should be disregarded. Medical and scientific journals are great sources of information, for regular news look for items in Reuters or the Associated Press. Scientific studies can also be a great source of information but public studies tend to be more reputable than private studies which are often paid for by the industry in question. The sugar and tobacco industry are famous for biased studies attempting to prove the health benefits of their products.
4.) Does it sound too good to be true?
The tried and true method to see through most bullshit is to ask yourself, does this sound true or do I simply want it to sound true because it sounds good to me? A recent example of this were the supposed health benefits of eating chocolate every day. The story was completely fabricated, none of the facts had been checked, but since we all like chocolate and the sound of eating chocolate every day is good to us, many people fell for it without a second thought. We wanted chocolate to be healthy and so when a supposed study was released promoting that idea we simply accepted it without a second thought.
In the end, seeing though the bullshit of others is easy, seeing through your own bullshit is not so much. However, if you follow the steps above and double-check your own ideals from time to time you can avoid some of the negative aspects of bullshit. I’m wrong at times, there are many times where I do not know the answer to a given question. It might not always feel good to say I don’t know but it feels much better than once again diving headfirst into a giant mound of bullshit.