Letter: The world is ending
In speaking with people day to day, frequently a conversation on a given issue will devolve into a discussion of myth, rather than fact. It can often be disappointing. I figure that if I want information in order to better myself and my life, then imaginary superordinate entities and the like do me no good. But it’s understandable, to some extent, that people are so susceptible to myth.
In our contemporary society, with its lack of good news coverage and investigative journalism, a penchant for ignoring issues important to the common individual but not ignoring those of the elite, and with the incessant cavalcade of false, myth-based programming on cable, it’s not too surprising that many people subscribe to popular myths. Too frequently, people believe that if someone is saying something that confirms a belief they already have, then it must be true.
But just because an argument seems plausible doesn’t mean that it is not specious. Hence, believing in Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Atlantis, witches, warlocks, spirits, black magic, a cabal that runs everything, angels, demons, heaven, hell, God and the devil has zero proof, and is strictly a matter of faith, being, by definition, the suspending of reason.
While it is more dangerous to ignore an evident hazard, being vigilant against a nonexistent threat can cause problems too. At the very least, the stress and anxiety caused by worrying about things that aren’t real is costly. Additionally, one could ignore more important matters while obsessing about fantastic ones. I could choose to believe that there are 12 ethereal blocks of cheese revolving around my head, but it would be of no benefit. Cheese, while powerful, does not help my life.
However, we can fortify ourselves. A more informed view of the world can be calming, relieving the cognitive dissonance caused by the inconsistencies of false arguments. Merely understanding that the world is often more complex than at first glance can aid in determining if an argument or belief is errant. Reading or listening to good information provided by actual experts can give one an idea of what truth actually “sounds” like, as well. And most importantly, epistemology, the study of how we know what we know, informs us that we can know objective reality through shared experience. If there is no credible evidence, then it’s just hooey, piffle and flapdoodle.
Nevertheless, if the world does end, at least we’ll all get to go together. For further reading, Carl Sagan’s book “The Demon Haunted World” and Michael Shermer’s book “The Believing Brain” are exceptional.
Brett A. Warehime