CONTRADICTORY IDEAS

Managing contradictory or conflicting ideas can be painfully difficult for us humans.  It can be confusing, it can be depressing, and it can make us feel quite uncomfortable.

We hear it is important to challenge ourselves and our beliefs. We hear that all the world’s great innovations and discoveries have resulted from challenging the status quo – the prevailing circumstances and beliefs. Well, what could be so hard about that?

To challenge the status quo, you must be willing to examine conflicting or contradictory ideas. To even begin, you must let go of your absolute certainty that a given idea or set of ideas is correct; you must be willing to question and test things you’ve previously accepted as certain knowledge.

I should stress something here: it is possible to consider two contradictory ideas without believing that both are true. Trying to hold two contradictory ideas in mind and believing both are true is a different story. That can lead to a psychological problem called “cognitive dissonance” – a phenomenon you can see arising from exposure to political propaganda or extreme religious beliefs. The phenomenon can even be used to brainwash someone – first present conflicting ideas and insist both are true, all to make your victim uncertain and confused; then present the idea you’re pushing as the “cure” to intellectually assassinate your ”prey.”

It’s important to be able to find a balance between belief and uncertainty in life. Over-belief (if such a word exists) – which would be believing so strongly in the truth of some idea or system that one is unwilling to consider anything else – this can lead to stalled mental or educational progress or religious fixation. Too much uncertainty in one’s life can lead to all sorts of fears and phobias; it can crush your initiative and willingness to act. Good luck to anyone in such a state! But cheer up – you don’t have to be that way.

I certainly don’t think I have the answers to all your questions and problems in life. What I would like to do is help you to ask the right questions and discover valid answers by broadening your views. And yes, I will be writing about ideas that contradict and conflict; I believe any idea should be challenged, examined from different angles, and compared to contrary ideas.

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