There is nothing but beliefs between us
Belief is a byproduct of the impossibility to represent our world’s full complexity — even with all the brain power of mankind, or the most impressive supercomputing clusters. Measurement tools, models and computing power will fail to embed the world sheer complexity.
Evolution found its way to Belief naturally as a powerful tool of approximation, Bayes made it a central mathematical formalism of statistics, but for humans as a group, processes built around Belief is also the easiest way to hold us together in spite of uncertainty. Today, as it is cyclically the case in our history, belief is coming back with a vengeance to settle or destroy until some sense of rest is achieved.
One might say that those times in history were necessary, such as the French revolution, or the American civil war, and that those events brought through violence and destruction an objective long term benefice for humanity. But those few events in history pale in comparison to the vast majority of horror and unnecessary destruction that biases, beliefs, religion and propaganda has created. Whether it be wars, crusades, slavery, the Spanish inquisition, or genocides (most of them probably lost to history), beliefs was always the cement that held one group against the other. And those events, although inevitable as they might seem in their historical context, were always backed by a strong adherence to a common shared belief that somehow what was happening was right.
As history unfolds, and humanity’s power of communication and destruction increases, these events seem increasingly pathological: colonialism, world war 2, communist witch hunt, URSS goulags, Vietnam wars, terrorisms and ISIS.. And since the rise of internet, although allowing for free and unlimited access to knowledge and the potential ability to form educated decision, the need to believe in strong messages and short-cuts seem to have grown. Extremist and populist messages are winning over moderate, inclusive, realistic and open stance — eating at all the political parties.
We see conservatism and necessary differentiation as truth for the far right, humanist morality as truth for the far left. The pitches have been rehearsed and improved to perfection, backed by data science, social psychology and communication experts, for the most impact on our tired minds.
Alas, humans are complex and chaotic systems inside a complex network of interactions with a chaotic world. Without beliefs, our word would appear to us in all its chaotic and unpredictable nature. All information of the world is a distorted reality, good men hold grudges with enemies that exists only in their minds, straw men, necessary fictions for an ever growing complexity. But at least in dialogue and unity, we might find common ground, a belief that stands for all of us. Those who want to break, destroy, who counts stories of evil, now have the most pull over our overloaded psyche. Those who wants to embrace complexity, to find the common grounds, the equilibrium, are in over their heads. No one wants the truth anymore.
The game did not change, but honoring the facts, beyond the emotional gratification of simplicity, is now made impossible by the sheer amount of information.
Be courageous, look for the facts, know to recognize what is a solid fact, leave your emotions at bay. Know your biases.
For those building a case against nuclear power on moral grounds:
And of course, while you are busy feeling deeply about populist messages stirring you up inside, building walls upon walls of beliefs, those using your emotions will be able to push a cold and hidden agenda:
But no matter how fat the facts and chocking the truth will be, humans under populist rules will remain blinded by their own rationalisation.
One thing rationalisation is bad at doing is letting ones enemies talk, hence, one of the most predictive sign of intellectual honesty is how you treat your enemies. Although, as in any war, the least honourable opponent will decide of the weapons, and populism is stronger than reason.