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January 6th, 2005
01:24 am
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I am pretty sure that people gain a selective advantage from believing in things they can't prove. I am dead serious about this. People who are sometimes consumed by false beliefs do better than those who insist on evidence before they believe and act. People who are sometimes swept away by emotions do better in life than those who calculate every move. These advantages have, I believe, shaped mental capacities for intense emotion and passionate beliefs because they give a selective advantage in certain situations.

I am not advocating for irrationality or extreme emotionality. Many, perhaps even most problems of individuals and groups arise from actions based on passion. ... I am arguing, however, that if we want to understand these tendencies we need to quit dismissing them as defects and start considering how they came to exist.

-- Randolph Nesse, answering edge.org's question "What do you believe even though you can't prove it?"

This is actually surprisingly relevant to my personal approach to draconity (draconity in general, I can't speak for here).

The Inner Skeptic and I grapple all the time with the whole "can't prove it" deal. Ultimately, I have the choice to either accept the lack of proof and believe anyway, or to back away from it in favor of more uncertain but epistemologically solid ground. One of the many factors that has gone into that decision has always been a difficult-to-encapsulate but conscious recognition that it's healthier -- more advantageous -- for me to believe in this theory, which is imperfect (like all the others) and odd but nevertheless has given me the best framework yet for approaching my life.

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(5 comments | Leave a comment)

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Date:January 6th, 2005 02:28 pm (UTC)
Oh that is an excellent point! It doesn't matter what is objectively real; because we create our own minds and circumstances, after all, there's a reason why placebos WORK. It's not because people weren't sick in the first place. It's that we control our own health and healing and it starts in our thoughts.

Believe in what works best for your growth and your health. I have found that is the absolutely best thing to do; proof and evidence mean next to nothing next to that. I believe very strongly in the reality of co-creation and that is why I do not put stock in 'proof'. The existence of scientific proof, lack of such, or otherwise, I have found, does nothing to deter or change my beliefs. I've still got as many subconscious hangups to clear out from my childhood as anybody; I know how that is. But I know those things are only illusions, bad programming, and that I will work through them, in time.

I'm re-reading this book called 'Anatomy of the Spirit' by Caroline Myss and it's got a lot of excellent stuff on those types of things... hmm I've been recommending that book to everybody lately.. but it's very good. u.u;
Date:January 6th, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC)
My Inner Skeptic has totally shut up about a few things, ever since I found less-than-mystical potential explanations. Really, that's all it took - acknowledgements that I might be wrong, and a way or two of looking at things that ends up leaving me in roughly the same position.

Also, take it from someone who's looked closely: epistemological solid ground is something very very hard to find and make good use of. That whole Big Skepticism problem makes a mess of so much. :)
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Date:January 6th, 2005 06:36 pm (UTC)
This is what I think about myself as a practicing witch.

Perhaps carrying sesame seeds in my pocket will not bring me money. Perhaps the $20 I found in my old coat was just a coincidence. But you know what? It doesn't matter.

What DOES matter is how my belief effects my life. Does believing that I have a way to bring money into my life make my life better or worse? The belief makes it better, therefore I will believe it.

It is the same way with ALL Christians/Buddhists/Muslims/Etc. Believing in a higher power that takes care of you does not make the higher power exist. Either the higher power is there or it isn't -- thinking doesn't make it so. All we CAN prove is that thinking this way makes you happy. Therefore, go for it.

By this same logic, any religion/belief that makes you miserable should be given up. Let's say you are being raised in a stanch Fundamentalist Southern Baptist church which is obsessed with convincing other people to be saved so they don't suffer in Hell. Let's say you are a serious person with deep faith and a great imagination, someone like, oh say, me.

Does this belief have any effect on reality? Yes -- it makes me miserable. Therefore I should give it up.
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Date:January 7th, 2005 06:00 am (UTC)
I find this an interesting topic, having struggled with it myself for a long time. I posted the following in my LJ at one point, so you might have seen it.

I finally decided that I would rather be wrong as a mystic than wrong as a skeptic.

That's the simple sentence. To expound... I would rather immerse myself in fulfilling nonsense (which makes it something more than nonsense, and not a waste, since it fills a purpose in my life) and miss out on being completely right and sensible if the skeptics are right... (*big breath*) than immerse myself in nothing but strictest scientific reality and miss out on being heir to a rich spiritual reality and connection to magic if there really is a world of spirit.

There is far more to gain here, IMHO. But only if one keeps a wary eye out for fraud, cults, and fanatisicm/zealotry. But I find it's still a balancing act. The personal signs say I should believe [my personal brand of spirituality], and so I follow my heart and my joy. But I'm always ready to admit that I could be nuts. =) That's the opposite of zealotry, I suppose, and the world would be a happier place if we were all so flexible. =)

All of which is thrown into sharper focus for me since I actually was born into a cult and had to deprogram from that and learn to value skepticism. I valued it hardcore for awhile... then it started getting in the way the same way religions can. So I trust my self now.
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Date:January 7th, 2005 07:04 am (UTC)
I finally decided that I would rather be wrong as a mystic than wrong as a skeptic.

Yes. That's exactly it.

I'm not sure I did see that post -- can you dig up a link? I'd love to read your more expanded thoughts on this.
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