Archive for the ‘Skepticism’ Category

The Truth

Posted: July 15, 2012 in Skepticism

This one had been on my mind for a while but came out on a recent discussion with some collegues. The point was how could one decide what is wrong and what is right. If X is right for you, then it could be wrong for someone else, in that case we are actaully left with no truth to follow, and eventually skepticism has no meaning at all. But we do forget that all are humans and each one looks at the things in more or less the same way. The only thing that changes the definition making it a truth or lie is our own mental state. Some people are brought in an environment to believe a simplest of thing as a miracle while questioning the obvious, while others have a tendency to find the source behind the information that is being presented may that be as trivial as sun rising from the east.

At this point I would like to share a video by Michael Shermer on how to identify the news as a truth or lie via Baloney Detection Kit. Its really good and leaves one with more clear view of the world.

You always doubt the first thing that is mentioned to you by some stranger, but if the source of the news is close to you its difficult to doubt the validity of the same. It is believed that about 65% of our characteristics are hereditary rest all is nurture, but there are still some doubts on that, so its always nature vs. nurture.

Questioning has always been human nature, irrespective of the age, sex, or ethnicity everybody questions which is the reason why we have came all the way from stone age to the age of computers. But advancing in science has not stopped our beliefs in superstitions and other pseudoscience to diminish at all in face they have gained a special place in peoples lives now due to increase in use of internet and other media sources. Everyday you can see various TV channels starting their day with general predictions for different birth signs & that’s not it now you can even subscribe them to get it daily on your mail. People claiming to predict the future, and past with great accuracy can be found everywhere, in every country and every city of that country. And each of these people have a different way of doing the same. Psychics use their energy to read people thoughts and tell about their past, or use a crystal ball to tell their future. Then you have astrologers who use the positions of stars and planets to tell predict the entire life cycle of a person. Then there are tarot card readers using playing cards to play with people future, and recently I learned about a new type of predictions where in it is said every persons future is already written in documents, all you have to do is go to that place and they will search for your document and read it from there all about your future. And there would so many more that I am not aware of, but all of them are doing more or less the same thing.

So seeing all this one question that comes to mind: why is it that despite being such an advanced race we are so easily lured to something which has got such a mundane explanation? What is it about the future that people are so interested in knowing or what is it about the miracles or magic that amuses people. Scientists have been working on the same question for years now. Studying human mind, doing various surveys and yet they are far from getting a definite conclusion on that. I remember a reading a quote which goes something like “If there were to be a river of wine somewhere people would pay huge amount and go in huge numbers to see the miracle, but a river of water is a miracle of same level and I enjoy it with same amount of joy”. We live in a world where miracles happen on a daily basis. Water evaporating and then coming down is a miracle in itself, it is not a easy process by which it happens and yet people ignore such a beauty and look for astrology, or faith healing. There may be several explanations available for this but none of them has got any strong scientific proof which is one of the reason people do not believe any of the scientific explanations for these phenomenon, and I ask them one question: If you can blindly believe something which does not give any conclusive result, then why is the belief on science not possible which is the reason why you are reading this in the first place?

Lately I’ve been having a lot of discussions on skepticism, rational thinking and logic. People ask me how can you be so skeptical about something which is quite evident and I only have one answer: it is evident form your vantage point but the way I see it there are lot questions which it does not answer, think rationally and you will also see same. Lets take astrology itself. It may look like a science and people get a phd. on it but it still doesn’t make any sense. No two person on this earth are same and yet people everyday get up and check their horoscope for the day, that gives if its true then every 12th person on this Earth is supposed to have exactly the same day as you are and that’s a really odd number isn’t it? You go out and meet hundreds of people everyday and if everything goes according to prediction you’ll end up meeting yourself number of times and that would really freak me out. Despite this simple fact of mere numbers people tend to believe in astrology.

When tell this to people they often have one question ‘ Why does it matter to you what they believe in’. Its a fair question as to why should I care what the world thinks. But again I live in the same world, and if one person starts thinking crazy then it’s not long before he gets up and make a group and slowly the whole world could end up being crazy. Things which are crazy or unusual but simple gets more easily absorbed by the people which is the reason why it was hard for people to accept that the Earth was not the center of solar system and eventually the universe. Sooner or later the truth of the fact comes out but it gets harder to accept the change once you are adopted to a belief. This is one reason why rational thinking is required before any conclusion is made, and skepticism is required to support that rationality…..