believing something that’s wrong

30 08 2008

John McCain sure surprised a lot of people with his choice for Vice President, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  His choice has everyone talking.  But I’m not going to discuss the merits of her for VP — there are plenty of blogs and political analysts on TV doing that already.  I want to make a point out of what I’ve heard professional political analysts say within the first day or two.

I heard one analyst say this choice was the best thing the Republicans could’ve done, and I heard another analyst (on the same program, even) say this choice was the worst possible thing the Republicans could’ve done.  Those two viewpoints are very much opposite of each other.  So at least one of them will be wrong (and possibly both).  Yet these people are professionals at this; they analyze politics for a living.

This wide gulf in opinions / judgment shows how two people can look at the exact same situation and see opposite things.  This applies to a lot of areas in life.  Sometimes we may wonder how someone can believe what they claim.  It goes to show how we can believe something yet our belief is wrong.  And there are probably areas where we all have some type of belief that isn’t 100% correct.  You probably don’t know about it, because it would be crazy to believe something that you knew was false.  So it’s wise to sometimes listen to viewpoints that differ from our own, because we aren’t experts on everything in life, and we don’t see all sides of the issues.  (That’s not to say all sides are correct, because they’re not.  But sometimes we may see something incorrectly and not know it.)

It may be tempting for us to say there can’t be anything I believe that isn’t completely true.  Because, as far as you know, everything you believe is true.  But there’s the catch — as far as you know.  None of us know everything, even about a particular topic.  One of the “requirements” for being wise is in knowing what you don’t know.  🙂  Confucius once said, “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”  (Please don’t think I believe everything Confucius said because I quoted him.  Even that quote can be debatable, but it makes a good point.)  You’ve probably met people who didn’t know where their knowledge ended; their conversation would sometimes go beyond wisdom and into ignorance, and that’s a recipe for saying foolish things.

My point is that we all have limits to how much we know.  (We don’t have limits on how much we can learn, but there is a boundary to what we know at any given time.)  It’s wise to consider our words, to think about whether we really know what we’re talking about.  For example, there are people who would like to tell President Bush how to balance the national debt, when they can’t even balance their own checkbook.  There are people who talk like experts on foreign diplomacy even though they can’t get along with all their neighbors or family.  There are people who say, “God would never do that”, even though the Bible shows they’re clearly wrong.

I don’t know where I’m going with this (so maybe I should stop before I say something in ignorance!).  🙂  I don’t have a particular reason for saying all this, except that I thought of it after hearing that political analysis this week, and I think it’s something good to consider.  It’s easy to think that our reasoning and rationalization is correct, because it makes sense to us at the time, but we need to be careful that we know enough to make that reasoning and that it’s not clouded by emotions or ignorance or bias.

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One response

14 10 2008
Reason

Blind ignorance is what is causing many of the divisions we have today.
Few care about the truth, many just care about being “right” all the time.

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