Decision Making-Being A Good Skeptic
In the beginning of our evolutionary process we had to rely on our intuition and senses to keep us safe and alive. If something had a foul odor or tasted peculiar we could discard it. If danger lurked our antennae went up. We learned but there were always new experiences, so it paid to be cautious and skeptical. It was a necessary decision making tool. It seems we will have to rely on our intuitive decision making again to keep us healthy, balanced, and able to enjoy our lives.
As we fast forward into the 21st century immediate threats to our physical safety have been replaced by perceived threats from the information world. For example we have long accepted that believable information comes in printed form thereby making “untruthful” printed data not be so easy to detect . What and whom do you rely upon in this age of the internet?
From Wikipedia we have this: the word skepticism can characterize a position on a single claim, but in scholastic circles more frequently describes a lasting mind-set. Skepticism is an approach to accepting, rejecting, or suspending judgment on new information that requires the new information to be well supported by evidence.
Skepticism can be double-edged sword. It guides us to be cautious and yet can keep us from being open to the new. Since extremists seem to control much of the news, people and ideas who are in opposition are branded with labels. You could be a dove, hawk, liberal, conservative, wacko, new ager, hippie, socialist, etc. Lack of evidence is not necessarily proof that something does not exist. It merely means that verification is absent and as such we cannot say with certainty one way or the other. For example the alternative medicine world has long been discredited by the allopathic and scientific community because there was no proof that taking an herb or vitamin had any bearing on one’s health. It could be beneficial and then again if one were relying solely on it when more stringent measures were called for the consequences could be severe.
The challenge comes in our society when a belief or idea that could be true and beneficial is discredited for lack of evidence. This discourages honest investigation, pushing forward to the edge, to gather more pieces of the puzzle until there is definitive proof. This form of thinking is a cultural norm. Any idea that could threaten the stability of the norm is rejected. People who threaten the stability of the group are non-conformists, and historically have been shamed, banished and often put to death. Yet as Alfred North Whitehead, an English mathematician and philosopher observed the universe seems to be made up of two opposing forces, novelty and habit. Novelty is the urge to change and habit is the urge to preserve and stay put. Therefore there is always a dynamic tension between these two forces. But Whitehead observed that there was always a little bit more novelty than habit. Hence change is a certainty. The skeptical challenge is that skepticism sits more on the side of habit.
For example witness the current issue around the Wiki-Leaks. It is an expression of novelty. Whether you agree or disagree with what has happened, it is causing major revelations around core human questions: how much transparency is too much? Can there be too much truth? What is it we really fear? Are our fears really justified? The bright side of this event is that we as a society are now pushing forward with bigger questions to answer such as what is the role of the U.S. in the world today? Are we thinking correctly?
A popular beachhead of skepticism for example is found in the non-provable points of view surrounding spirituality and the paranormal. Dr.Raymond Moody the famous psychiatrist who studied near death experiences used to say that believers and disbelievers are one in the same. Neither one can prove their viewpoint. He liked to think that he was a non-believer, meaning that he did not know, but was open to what might develop. Even our science is founded on a principle that can be traced all the way back to an assumption called the Big Bang. And what was before that? Now however, quantum physics is providing more answers and more certainty.
The real challenge is not allowing skepticism to deny us a reality we don’t as of now understand but are intuitively drawn to support. It is a tightrope walk perhaps urged on by the forces of some great attractor we have yet to understand.
So what is the prudent course of action? If there is a new belief system in the early stages of development, meaning that it has not been scientifically proven and it’s veracity could benefit you, then why not approach it logically. If it can’t do much damage, then bite off a small chunk. Test it. If that works out well, bite off another but bigger chunk and test it. But check these things out for yourself. For example that is my advice surrounding such ideas as the newer principles of manifestation as articulated by David Spangler. It is also the way I believe we must treat working with our intuition and the unconscious to meet the rapidly changing world of the future. In this way we can let skepticism serve our decision making but not rule it.