“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” —Mark Twain
The more I read, learn, experience, and experiment, the more I realize that most people are wrong about most things. I am not saying that people are stupid. On the contrary, I believe most human beings are capable of amazing feats of intellect and creative problem solving if they have the guts to question what they’re told and stand alone when necessary. The problem is not a lack of brains but balls.
You don’t have to look that far back into history to find numerous commonly held beliefs that we (or at least most of us) now know to be nonsensical, ignorant, bigoted, or verifiably untrue. But hindsight’s 20/20. Imagine that you lived in 1491:
- Would you have sailed across the Atlantic even if all your friends told you that you’ll fall off the edge of the earth?
- Would you have decried slavery, segregation, racism, and white ethnocentrism even if it meant being ostracized by everyone you know and love?
- Would you have fought against the tyranny of religious dogma even if it meant imprisonment or death?
On the flip side, many ancient truths have now been replaced by modern myths. A brief reflection upon the American political, financial, educational, and health systems, for example, quickly reveals myriad fallacies, mistruths, and blatant lies that serve corporate profits and political power at the expense of our well being. Perhaps the most dangerous of these are the many falsehoods about nutrition. Consider this: we keep getting fatter and sicker despite most of us following the very advice that is supposed to keep us healthy (i.e. eat less animal fat and eat more “healthy” whole grains). Why? Well, contrary to what mainstream medicine and media keep telling us, it turns out that:
- Fat doesn’t make you fat; sugar does!
- Cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease; inflammation and oxidative stress do!
- Grains are terrible for you!
So with so much misinformation thrown at us every day from the supposed experts, how can we ever know the truth? Simple: use your own rational assessment of the facts and observed phenomena, test things out yourself (using appropriate metrics to track success or failure), and never allow yourself to succumb to intellectual peer pressure, group think, or fear-based decision making.