Are we Blind?

(By Serena Nebo)

Can we still believe anyone at all?

This question is more urgent now than ever before. We live in an extraordinary time that is not comparable to any known epoch. Our technology has advanced so far that, for the first time, it potentially has the power to destroy, if not the planet, then still at least us and the contemporary animal and plant world. Or, in contrast, to enable us all to live a good, fulfilled life without want, for everything necessary would be available. Our decisions will, as it happens, lead to one or the other outcome in the foreseeable future … and they will be made on the basis of the information we receive.

So it is high time to thoroughly examine how far our world picture is congruent with reality. After all, we are certainly lied to on a regular basis — the question is only, just how bad is it really? Is it the eleventh hour, or just business as usual, after all?

If we want to check everything we believe to know for reliability, we must first of all establish a neutral appraisal framework, in order not to pursue, without noticing, habitual but false mental paths. Absolutely everybody has them in their head, and there can be no new findings or insight, neither where personal growth is concerned, nor in our world view, without first embarking on new and unfamiliar paths. Which of these we later add to our personal inner landscape, is up to us.

The important thing is to test new routes at all — regardless of how greatly the part of our mind that wants to insist on safety, familiarity and immutability may protest. Otherwise we have reached our final state before we are 30, and ossify, rather than grow.

Consensus as a thought trap

The most dangerous misconceptions are those which we all share and consider to be self-evident.

In this time of ubiquitous confusion and disinformation, it is important to keep a clear head.

It does not help us to believe any and all official statements on various matters without reservation. The conviction that the big media or governments would never lie to us is, unfortunately, boundlessly naive and dangerous — because even if it is true today, it may be quite different tomorrow — and how would you notice this critical change (for which there are plenty of examples in recent history) if you never do any fact-checking?

It is just as pointless, however, to then unquestioningly believe every alternative explanation, out of shere defiance.

The filters in our minds, that much is clear, do not allow for specific — individually different — arguments. The desire to strive for group consensus is deep within our human programming, with the result that accordance is often more important to us than truth.

Those who are involved in a group (therefore, with very few regrettable exceptions, all of us) defend its values ​​not only externally, but also censor their own thoughts — so much so that they are virtually unable to think in certain directions at all.

But how do you think free and uninfluenced?

The answer is, of course, that the ideal of perfect impartiality can never be fulfilled.

The prerequisites of being an inhabitant of earth, a biped, a mammal, and the affiliation to the respective culture give some very elementary points of view which can never be completely left behind. Because these preconditions are so deep, they are also invisible to us and as self-evident as the air we breathe. It is precisely through this omnipresence, with simultaneous invisibility, that they can distort our perception at all — if we knew where they were, it would be easy to circumvent them.

The extent of the misconceptions, as well as their frequency, can, however, be reduced by taking completely different points of view and thinking in as great a picture as possible. In the learning of other cultures, for example, the view of one’s own is sharpened, as every much-traveled person will confirm. The more alternatives to the familiar you know, the more surefooted you become — and as a side effect, the less fear of the unknown you will have.

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