How To Control Your Life

Part 90

Top left: planet earth from space ♦ Top right: biblical cosmological view ♦ Bottom: still from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, with planet earth in the background

Welcome to my world. I believe in reincarnation, homeopathy and that the moon landings were a mock-up by Steven Spielberg. I also believe that salt and saturated fat are good for you and that champagne comes from France. I believe that cats purr when they’re happy and that Diana, Princess of Wales was murdered.

Not really. Or not completely…

Reincarnation? Some people, and some religions, believe in reincarnation. That living beings (or just people) have a spirit or essential being which, after physical death, comes back in some form and goes on living.

Homeopathy may be all in the mind - but if it is then it’s interesting that animals treated with homeopathic remedies also heal.

The mock-up moon landing theory was established, if not originated, by filmmaker T. Patrick Murray who mocked-up a video confession by Spielberg and released it after his death, with an actor playing the part of Spielberg. Or did he? Perhaps not, and it was an actual video interview which vested interests are trying to suppress?

Decent salt (Himalayan or naturally dried sea salt for example) contains a wealth of minerals which are good for you and, of course, we are actually made of salt (amongst a few other elements). It’s been the widespread use of denatured ‘table salt’, which is mainly sodium chloride, anti-caking chemicals, refined sugar and aluminium derivatives, in processed foods which has caused so many problems and given salt a bad name.

We’ve been eating saturated fat for thousands of years and were doing just fine on it, until Ancel Keys and his rather tweaked research came along.

Champagne? Well appellation d’origine contrôlée apart, it was the English who developed glass sufficiently strong to contain fizzy wine, the addition of sugar to get it going, and the cork stopper to keep it all in place. There wouldn’t have been champagne without any of that.

Cats do purr when they’re happy - but also when they’re in mortal danger or dying; no one knows for sure why they purr.

As for the Princess of Wales, the jury of history will have to decide that one.

And you’ll find a wealth of opposing views and objections to all of the above if you have ten minutes to spare.

130. Slaves built the pyramids
A pharaoh would never trust slaves to build a tomb in his honor. Highly skilled craftsmen built the pyramids.
132. Vikings were wild, ruthless, savages.
Vikings were so particular about their appearance that each Viking had a delicate grooming kit with tiny scissors, razors, ear spoons, and tweezers to keep their beard and hair perfectly groomed.
You might think, “Nonsense! Where would they keep this kit when they were invading towns?”
In their purse. Let me say that again. Vikings. Wore. Purses. During battle. Male Vikings. On purpose.
Most Vikings bleached their hair with soap to make it blond.
Also, Viking women had far more power than men. It was they who chose who to marry and when to divorce.
135. Christians were thrown to the lions in the Coliseum.
Emperor Nero persecuted Christians before the Coliseum was even built. By the time it was constructed, the majority of Romans were Christians.
181. James Watt invented the steam engine.
Hero of Alexandria invented the first steam engine back in 331 B.C., two millennia before James Watt. It was used to rotate a globe on its axis.
255. The driest place in the world is the Sahara Desert.
The driest place is…Antarctica.
301. Evolution is the process of animals adapting to their surroundings within a few generations to survive.
Ironically this is what people used to believe before Darwin came along.
Mutations are random. If the world suddenly became far colder, your genes wouldn’t just adapt to cold. Of all the millions of animals in the world, there will be a few here and there who are more genetically resistant to cold, and they would survive because they were more adaptable.
That doesn’t mean they are “better”. They just happened to be suited to those specific circumstances. If the planet suddenly became far hotter, they would be the first to die.
363. You see with your eyes.
Seriously? Where else are you expected to see things?
Well, how do you see dreams? Blind people have images in their head. How? If you picture an apple now, how does that work? Your eyes weren’t looking at one, so how is it possible? You see through the visual cortex. Your eyes assemble images by absorbing light and send it to your brain to register in your cortex.
This takes eighty milliseconds. So everything you see happened a split second earlier than it seems.
You will never see the world the same again (through your visual cortex).
365 Things People Believe That Aren’t True by James Egan

You will never see the world the same again.

I hope not.

If you want to control your life, you have to change the way you see the world. Again, and again. Your world view should be a continuing process, not a learn-once-and-that’s-it thing. Just about everything you were taught when you were a child is not actually true.

Did you write with a lead pencil during your lessons?

No - not unless you were at school in ancient Rome. The English discovered that graphite was capable of making useful marks and so developed the pencil around the year that Shakespeare was born. (If you find yourself gripped by this avenue of knowledge, there’s a pencil museum in Keswick in England; I kid you not.)

Did your teacher write on a blackboard with chalk?

Not even if you went to school before the 1990s, when whiteboards became popular. Classroom ‘chalk’ is in fact gypsum.

Of course we need a working hypothesis in any situation. We can’t sit in a cave and meditate on the nature of things, the meaning of life, the universe and everything - we have to get out there and earn a living, do the shopping, eat food and all that stuff. So we have to form an idea of what things are, who people are, and what it’s all about just so that we can function. We need to create a world picture.

The trouble is, we have a nasty tendency to set that world picture in stone. It becomes something to hang onto at all costs: safe, steady, reassuring. Finding out that something you believed to be true actually isn’t, or has now been proved not to be true, is very uncomfortable indeed. The earth - flat or not - suddenly seems to shift under our feet.

You can’t do anything about this. Actually virtually everything we know about ourselves and the life on this planet is nothing more than a working hypothesis. We used to think that babies got into women’s bellies (not their wombs - how would we have known about those?) by some sort of magic process. Now we know (roughly) how it happens and we know about DNA (sort of). We can prevent pregnancy (some of the time) and induce fertility (in a hit-and-miss fashion). What will we know tomorrow about genetics (why do some people with mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes never develop breast cancer? why do some people who sleep with multiple partners with AIDS never contract it?) and what nonsense will it make of what we think we know now?

It’s not just that what you think you know might not be true. It’s also that what even your nearest and dearest think might not be the same as what you think. In fact their world views might be so different from yours that it’s almost as if you’re living on a different planet. Or on a parallel timeline.

A friend of mine (let’s call her Marilla) used to give small groups of her psychology students random pictures. One picture per group, and then ask them to sit and discuss what was happening in the picture. After time for reasonable discussion, Marilla would reassemble the class into a whole and ask each group to give the story they had drawn out from their picture. It would be obvious that not all the students were in agreement about the stories their group had decided upon, but of course they would go along with the majority (or the most persuasive, or argumentative, person in their group). Then Marilla would repeat the exercise but, this time, each group would unbeknownst to them be given the same picture. When the groups came together as a class again, each group would have a different story to tell about the picture. Marilla needed to exert some vigilance to ensure blows weren’t exchanged…

A working hypothesis is not only OK, it’s the only way to survive. It works for now, which is what you need to function - but it won’t work for ever. If you try to make it work for ever, if you set it in stone and over-control it, it will all get out of control. You will feel disoriented. You’ll feel old and out of the swim of modern life. You will feel seriously uncertain about everything.

Your world view can only be a working hypothesis if you want to stay in control of your life.

Twitter: Maryon Jeane

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