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And We Will Probably Still Believe Them

Logic, sense, and facts are nice things as long as they don’t step on the toes of who we think we are. 

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ASTORIA, NYC- The “pandemic” taught me a vital lesson: that I greatly overestimated the intelligence of the human species. It showed me the power that people have to choose what they believe and what they deem to be be true — kind of like selecting a favorite sports team or flavor of muffin. It was always may impression that intelligence was something that would automatically cut through the nonsense of incorrect pre-held notions when presented with information to the contrary; that you couldn’t control critical thinking, that it was something that just happened whether you wanted it to or not.

But I was wrong. We’re remarkably able to just believe whatever they are told, whatever the people who vote like them say we should believe, whatever allows us to not have to spend time thinking and doing research for themselves. In an odd way, I understand: critical thinking is conflict. It’s far easier to just believe. Tribe trumps truth, every time.

Watch this video:

You can fact check the headlines if you wish. They’re real.

When it became clear that it was neither safe nor effective I thought there would be a critical mass-like reaction against it. But there wasn’t. They just kowtowed before whatever new strawman explanation they set up next … and rolled up their sleeves again and again. Hey, it’s what our people do. 

The power that people have when they want to believe something is insurmountable. Logic, sense, and facts are nice things as long as they don’t step on the toes of who we think we are.

The truth may set us free but that isn’t really what we want, is it?

Filed under: Health, Politics

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3656 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Astoria, New York

6 comments… add one

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  • Bob L December 4, 2022, 7:26 pm

    Don’t forget that the Media we choose to listen to pretty much assigns us our opinions. Everyone is susceptible. We all think that we came to our conclusions due to fact and logic, but we do not. Sometimes our conclusions are correct, sometimes not. Usually we will never know, because we will only believe proofs that prove the “facts” that were assigned to us.

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    • VBJ December 7, 2022, 11:24 am

      That is true. We believe what our team says because they say what we want to hear. We tend to look at the news media as a source of information when it’s actually a filter that colors reality into the shade that we want it to be.

      However, I still maintain a belief that there are systems, such as science and journalism, that are still effective to determine truth. Although they both are easily corruptible the systems themselves are solid … it just takes longer than it should for the truth to come out sometimes. For example, nobody doubts the Hunter Biden laptop story, Russiagate was proven to be a hoax, and all of that Covid nonsense has been thoroughly disproven to the point that many Western countries are legislating against it (we’re a little slow in the US these days). The problem is that these systems generally are not allowed to function until what it is that they’re proving / disproving is basically irrelevant. Who cares that we now know that the snake oil is neither safe nor effective because everyone was already coerced into taking it …

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      • Stuck In Melbourne December 8, 2022, 4:12 am

        >>> I still maintain a belief that there are systems, such as science and journalism, that are still effective to determine truth

        I’ve been mulling over this quite a bit recently, and I’m not sure if it’s that simple. For example, America and Australia have similar founding stories – people left England and bravely travelled great distances to discover a new land, and forge a new life there. Fair enough, but others would say that the whitefellas came here, killed off as many of the locals as they could, then stole their land. Which is “truth”, which “fake news”? It’s not that clear-cut, it’s just one messy spectrum of grey :-/

        You’d think that history (i.e. what happened in the past) would be clear-cut and unambiguous, but it’s actually very much subject to interpretation, and it’s the victors who get to write it. In the same way, truth is what you make it to be, and with respect, I suspect you’re doing a bit of that e.g. “nobody doubts”, “was proven to be”, “has been thoroughly disproven”. We point a finger at others and say “How can you not see the truth? I do. You must be stupid!”, but they do exactly the same thing to us :shrug: Who’s right? Well, me, obviously 🙂 And so “the truth” becomes “whatever I think.”

        Similarly for science, once upon a time, everyone *knew* that the sun revolved around the earth, *knew* that leeches were an effective medical treatment, *knew* that the way to the way to prevent earthquakes was to sacrifice 4 goats and a virgin 🙂 But what was known to be true actually wasn’t.

        I suspect that a big part of the problem today is ubiquitous access to things like the internet and Google, and everyone is now an instant expert on everything. There’s no consideration that you might be wrong, even in the slightest, no ability to analyze things, or handle any sort of nuance. We have this massive firehose of information coming in (often conflicting), and in the face of such complexity, the natural reaction is to simplify, to the point where the analysis becomes “you’re either with us or you’re against us.” I don’t have much hope for us being able to handle any kind of situation in the future. As you’ve pointed out elsewhere, the clusterfuck that was the response to COVID is a good indicator how things will play out 🙁

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        • VBJ December 15, 2022, 11:36 am

          Hey man, Thanks for this excellent comment. I’m elevating this to a new post. Should be published sometime today.

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          • Stuck In Melbourne December 15, 2022, 4:55 pm

            No worries. Writing that comment was quite a useful exercise, since it forced me to tighten up a bunch of ideas that have been sloshing around inside my head for a long time 🙂

            I think we have “facts”, which are generally unassailably binary, they’re true or they’re not e.g. on 6th January 2021, a group of people entered the Capitol building. Although it’s not always even that simple e.g. flat earthers, or the moon landing 🙂

            Then we have how those facts are reported. I used the word “entered” since it’s fairly neutral, but others might say “invaded” or “stormed”, which are stronger, more emotive words. Some might even insist. So, unless you were there, how the event is reported is coloring your view of what happened.

            And then we have how those facts are interpreted. Were these people patriots trying to preserve democracy? Trump-loving morons trying to steal an election? A bunch of thugs who just wanted to smash up the place? It’s completely subjective, but because we conflate truth with facts, people think that there is a such a thing as The Truth, and it’s black and white, and of course, they know it, and anyone who thinks differently is Wrong.

            The world is getting too complicated, there’s too much information (of very questionable quality), and people are just getting overloaded and have to simplify things down to Right or Wrong. And that’s how we end up with the situation we have now, where people are screaming and flinging shit at each other from opposite sides of the aisle 🙁

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            • VBJ December 20, 2022, 9:17 am

              Hey man, I published my response. It was probably a little overkill but all in fun 🤣

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