It turns out that our beliefs control us much more than evidence.  

In our neuroscience-oriented course of study, we learn that this is, partially, because of part of our brain: the Reticular Activating System (the "RAS").  Simply, the RAS constantly scans all information available to us (e.g. what we see, hear, smell, touch, taste, etc.) to support our beliefs (N.B. it doesn't "know" what is good, bad, right, wrong, true, false, etc.).  That is, our RAS simply looks for evidence to support our beliefs.  

A classic example is our names.  How is it we can be in a crowded room, or an airport, minding our own business, yet when our name is called loud enough for us to hear, we notice it in real time?  Ponder that for a minute, think of examples where you weren't listening for your name, but it was called and you actually heard it!  Amazing, right?

 How did that happen?  Because we've been taught to believe that our name is important. When? How?  Most of us remember our mothers saying something like, "When I call your name you respond; don't make me come looking for you!" Right? 

It also turns out that our RAS ignores things that are not important (i.e. the name of anyone else who is not important to us).  Cool!  Now we have the ability to ignore the world around us and focus on things we believe are important.  

The problem is that because our RAS doesn't discriminate on our beliefs (i.e. it only scans for our beliefs), opposing evidence does meet our consciousness; it's filtered out.  That's why there's so much polarity within our communities: people literally see and hear the same things differently.  And, we get frustrated when others don't agree with the things that seem so obvious to us.

So, what's to be done?  At Novum-U, we stress the importance of understanding how our brains actually work (Yes, the truth will set you free).  This means that we need to examine our beliefs and hold them up to the light of objective inquiry. Do the following exercise for a few minutes and see where it leads.  

  1. Why do I believe what I believe?  
  2. Where did that belief come from?
  3. What results if I discard that belief?
  4. What will my inner-circle think if I change my belief?
  5. What results if I apply the Categorical Imperative to the belief?
  6. What results if I trace the belief to it's First Principles?