Do you ignore your own perceptions if they're not convenient?

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, March 28, 2018, 10:17 PM | comments: 0

Imagine that you have to hire someone for work. A quick search online reveals all kinds of interesting things about them, none of them good. You learn that the job candidate has been sued for all kinds of things, has been accused of having affairs, made racist statements in public, and seems to have a habit of calling people names on the Internet. Presumably, you'd never hire this person, right?

I think you know where I'm going with this.

Science has been pretty clear about space for a very long time. We know the world is round, if only because we have humans floating around the world right now. You may have even seen live video of a dummy in a space suit orbiting the earth in a sports car put there by a big rocket. Decades ago, we put people on the moon, and three guys got close and nearly didn't come home. Given all of this observation and reality, what exactly would compel you to believe that the earth is actually flat?

There's a woman who posts all kinds of blatantly incorrect things about food online, and once insisted a conspiracy among airlines for pumping nitrogen into the cabin air (hint: the atmosphere is 78% nitrogen). People defended her anyway. Gwyneth Paltrow has a company that sells stuff of no scientific worth and apparently suggests putting things into your vagina for strange reasons in the name of "health." An entire group of people still insist that autism is linked to vaccines, despite there being zero science to make that link. And yet, people will believe these non-scientists, just because it reinforces what they want to be true.

Another thing that drives me nuts is the cult-like thing around people who sell stuff via multi-level marketing companies. Because of math, we can very clearly deduce that MLM product sales mostly benefit the company that sells them, and a few people at the top. John Oliver does a nice job with the math. Yet, people who go all in insist that they have a "business" (no, you're a contractor at best), they have work freedom (no, you still have to do work), there's no limit to the earning potential (no, see the aforementioned math), they're changing the world (no, you're just selling product). The reality is something totally different.

Why do people completely block out the most obvious perceptions? If self-awareness is a cornerstone of success and happiness, is it really self-serving to chuck the reality out like this?

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