Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Influence of Belief

Recently I mentioned how keeping your identity small allows new information to inform your beliefs. Actress and vaccine-autism mountain maker, Jenny McCarthy, gives a perfect example of this. The debate over the casual connection between vaccine and autism has finally and completely been discredited. Yet, for someone who's spent several years promoting a now debunked theory, it's not over:
This debate won't end because of one dubious reporter's allegations. I have never met stronger women than the moms of children with autism. Last week, this hoopla made us a little stronger, and even more determined to fight for the truth about what's happening to our kids.
Writer on everything from dreams, to emotion, to commuting, Jonah Lehrer reminds us that:
that everyone is vulnerable to cognitive dissonance, that we all recoil from information that contradicts a deeply held belief. We live in a world overflowing with information and yet we’re still saddled with a brain that knows exactly what kind of information it wants. When the information cuts against our desires, we can’t help but double-down. We will believe almost anything to keep our beliefs from being wrong.
This is beliefs are so dangerous. They're clay when we create them, but they harden quickly. Here's where some wise words from Justin Scott can clarify the idea:
First, have few beliefs. Second, hold these few beliefs dearly, passionately, and with as much conviction as you can muster. Choosing these beliefs is mighty difficult. I know Christ died and was resurrected to free us from sin. I know we must love our neighbor. There are a few others. I used to cast this net wider, but the humility I hope God is teaching me has shrunk it. Thank God for that. For those beliefs which I have given holding as unquestionable, perhaps the fear I feel at the instability of doubt will move me to rely on him.
By describing your core understanding you allow the other, less important beliefs to mold. So here's my current motto: I believe we're all inherently self-obsessed and that it takes work to consider others. But it makes for a pretty good world.


  1. Perhaps this is another way of saying something similar? Philippians 2:3,4

    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

  2. Thanks for the thoughts Patty.


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.