We’ve all done it.
We should’ve known better.
We might have known at the time it was a lie. So why did we believe it?
In the last post, we discussed how we can determine if something is true. In this post, we look at why we believe lies when we should know better.
Those that follow me have seen my resent pivot from Murfield International, Inc. to my collaboration with real estate broker Patrick Lynch. Together we work to help leaders in business, real estate, and sales achieve their TOTAL Career Growth. TOTAL stands for Taking Others To Audacious Levels. To reach astounding levels we help them to think bigger, reach higher, and be willing to do what others think is impossible. That success comes when we boldly search for the truth and are honest why we are so willing to believe the lies. We utilize online and in-person coaching, training, and speaking, and podcasts to help our clients.
In my previous book, Stop Being Stupid In Times of Opportunity, I defined stupid as Stagnant Thinking Undermining Potentially Incredible Decisions. We do stupid things and become stupid when we believe things that are not true and ruin great opportunities.
The problem is the stagnant thinking.
Like a pond in late summer when the rains have dried up, the water stagnates and the disease grows. Our thinking instead must be S.M.A.R.T., Sparkling Minds Articulating Revolutionary Transformation.
We are all stupid at some time or another, not that we want to be called stupid.
When it comes to those delicious conspiracy theories, we suspend our critical thinking for a variety of reason.s
So why do we Believe the Lies?
Simon Sinek asks us to consider our why so we can find the what and the how. In the following section, look to find which one of these reasons you use most often to believe a lie.
Pamela Meyer, in another TED Talk, explains that often we believe a lie because it provides us with something that we want.
Listen to those two wise leaders. Know your why. What do you want so much that you are willing to believe what is not true?
The person who quickly believes conspiracy theories is looking for certainty in uncertain times. They want a quick and easy answer.
Who doesn’t want some certainty?
I know this last year has been difficult due to not knowing what was going to happen and when. In many cases, the worst scenario has happened and we have lost loved ones. Others have lost jobs and do not know when or if they will be rehired. Some caught covid and wonder what the long-term consequences will be. On a lesser note but still significant, high school seniors have missed their final year in high school and endured a virtual graduation. We have all sacrificed vacations and time with family.
That desire for certainty helps us to put aside the difficult truths.
How can you be more certain?
The person feels unsafe and a bit of certainty provides a sense of safety. They distrust the government, media, and scientists. Being confident in your own interpretation of the difficult situation provides a sense of order and safety even though your interpretation is not grounded in reality.
Are you safer believing the lie?
We often like to delude ourselves by hiding in our own little world and temporarily declaring a snow day where we hunker down and shut out reality. that feels good, but is it really safe? Does it lead to audacious success? I think we know which one is the lie.
This may be the most important, these nontraditional answers help the individual feel smarter and more superior than authorities.
Imagine being the individual who believes the virus was spread by 5G technology. Consider how confident, if not arrogant, that would feel. You think you know the answer when experts admit they don’t know.
But if you are honest with yourself, do you really know? Are the experts as S.T.U.P.I.D. as critics claim? Does that make you smarter? Remember, having an opinion doesn’t make you right. Often, holding to our opinions actually makes us stagnant, refusing to listen to information that can help us seize those incredible opportunities.
It’s easier to believe a simple, contrarian answer than work to find the complex answer in a very diverse and complicated situation. Critical thinking takes considerable effort and tolerance. It takes setting aside ego and opinions, appreciating the ideological extremes for their values and weaknesses.
This one may be the dumbest reason why we, yes, me too, become stagnant in our thinking. Think about this for just a minute. Too often we believe something that is not true simply because we are too lazy to look it up. How tough is it to Google or search for something on our phones? How difficult is it to ask someone who has credibility? I know we are busy but isn’t it worth the extra effort?
I must also mention the energy it takes to go against popular opinion. One of the reasons we believe conspiracy theories is that is what our friends or family believe. We don’t want to counter them. In other words, we don’t want to spend the energy fighting them. I get it. I don’t want to either. But what are the consequences? Believing a lie leads to stagnant thinking and lost opportunities.
Stagnant thinking is confident in the answers even though they violate the principles of critical thinking. Conspiracy theories foster a false sense of security based on hunches and opinion rather than sound reasoning, objective research, weighing the evidence carefully, and analyzing the sources. Conspiracy Theories might be fun and feel good but most of the time they are S.T.U.P.I.D.
DO THE IMPOSSIBLE
Loren Murfield, PhD
I work with leaders and entrepreneurs in small business, sales and Real Estate to think bigger and reach higher to find their breakthrough success. Contact me to begin thinking bigger.