Hey, what’s up guys?
Stan, here. And this is week seven, book seven.
And this week’s book is “The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe” by Steven Novella.
Now, a key takeaway from this week was to question everything, not jump to conclusions, and to help others find understanding by asking them questions instead of providing them with answers.
In today’s world of social media and Google curating all our news feeds to populate it with content that is relevant to our particular worldview, instead of giving us unbiased, critical analysis of the topics at hand. We are now in a world where, although we have the entirety of human knowledge in the palm of our hand, we have this ever-growing divide between the two sides of every argument.
Usually a lot of these divides can be divided down the political, with right-wing conservative old worldviews on one side and the left-wing, progressive, new worldview on the other.
However, this isn’t always the case and it’s not even always the case with left and right-wing politics. Just because you’re right-wing doesn’t mean you’re always conservative. And the lines that divide us are becoming so convoluted that you can’t even decide who’s on which side of the line.
Sometimes these views conflict and contradict with each other. Someone can argue one thing yet argue another one that is a complete contradiction to what they’ve just said.
Everyone falls into this statement.
Not just certain people.
I do, we all do.
What’s bad about this is that it doesn’t give us much to agree on. And it makes it really difficult to find a way that’s more helpful to solve the current situation that we have at hand, or to put the argument to rest.
Yet with this book, they don’t hold back at all. No one’s safe in it. They absolutely destroy all these falsehoods around the world. There are things in there that are obvious. There are things in there that tripped me up that I didn’t even realize.
But, I guess what was good about it was they told you not to just take their opinion for it. You definitely need to do your own research through the facts that they said and make sure that you’re checking what they are, and checking that they’re truthful and finding other studies that try to disprove what they say, and come to your own conclusion. Don’t just take what you’re given from one person and accept it to be true.
As I said earlier, in this book, nobody’s safe. Not even Oprah. They absolutely destroy everybody and every crazy thing that everyone’s ever come up with.
However, what they are actually trying to do is that with anyone who makes a claim, they want them to be held accountable. They want them to prove their claim through scientific evidence rather than their anecdotal account that they’ve come up with. Or at the very least, they want their argument to be falsifiable.
I guess what I took out of that is that I need to make sure that I’m always doing my own research. I’m always fact-checking the things that I read. Not just taking the headline or the body of that text to be completely true.
Because there were things inside this book that, after doing my own research, caught me by surprise and I realized I was wrong. Just because I read all these books doesn’t mean that they’re all true. It doesn’t mean that you can just follow all of them blindly. In fact, many of the books that I read are in conflict with each other. Yet, I believe in what both the authors have written. Even with the contradictions.
This is obviously very silly of me. But until you start really questioning everything, you would miss this because you’re caught up inside of the book at the time, and you forget all the other books that you’ve read and you aren’t actually looking at them side-by-side and comparing the content. So you’re not realizing how they contradict each other.
In saying the above, for the most part, I do have a pretty sound grip on reality. You know, I obviously understand that things like evolution, the Big Bang, gravity, vaccines. They all have pretty good, sound, scientific theories behind them that probably won’t be radically changed anytime soon, if at all. You know, there’s obviously gonna be tweaks to them and improvements. That’s what a scientific theory is. But, they probably won’t completely, radically change anytime soon, if at all.
I also realized the fact that since you can’t falsify things like God, religion, supernatural phenomena, or Ghosts. That these are basically non-issues. The fact that you can’t falsify them means that they don’t help with scientific knowledge. They don’t help progressing our understanding of the world. And every attempt to falsify these particular topics, comes up against people who do believe in them who just change the topic and make it work around the new evidence that has been presented.
Moving forward and learning from this book, I guess where I’m falling down in my life is through little things that I don’t think really make a big difference. Like for instance, let’s say tumeric, having anti-inflammatory properties. Or like the placebo affect not being anything like I thought it was. I guess in these instances, I’ve read an article or friends told me something and then as time’s gone on I’ve seen more and more articles and heard more friends stories. I’ve then started to create a story inside my head from little pieces of all that information. I’ve told that story to someone else and then someone else and that memory of the story becomes truth.
Once that becomes truth inside my head it’s obviously quite hard for me to then walk away from that because I’m invested into that truth already. I’ve already told all these other people that this is truth.
But that is silly. I mean, where did I actually get that truth from?
I just made most of it up or I read it in article headline or some random person told me off the street. And something I’ve always taken as a positive about my brain in the way it works is that I can get a tiny little sliver of information, extrapolate it out, and create a whole analysis of this worldview. I do it all the time. It helps me a lot with business. It helps me a lot in life. To be able to take the tiny little bits of information from all sorts of areas and extrapolate these full, working, views of the world that I can apply to given situations.
In these particular instances I mentioned above, I’ve done that. And that’s actually led me to create a worldview that is completely wrong. That is built on a premise of lies or misinformation. Thats important for me to understand that I can do this and that my brain does it without me even realizing.
I need to understand this.
I need to question that,
I need to question everything.
The moment I say something that is fact or that I think is fact, I need to go and check it.
I need to make sure that what I’ve said is correct. That there’s scientific evidence to back up what I’ve said. Because yeah, I used to think tumeric had anti-inflammatory properties. I didn’t go around taking intravenous tumeric like some people do. Instead, I just would, you know. You have curries or you put it in your food. Or I used to put it on my broccoli when I cooked it. It was a way of, you know, harnessing that anti-inflammatory property. We just talked about it when we were in India about how it has that because there’s tumeric everywhere and the conversation just started. But, after doing research from reading this book, it’s just not true. It just doesn’t have a significant anti-inflammatory property that you can count on. Just go take some ibuprofen. It works, there’s proof. There’s scientific knowledge behind those pills.
So obviously, moving forward, I’m gonna question everything.
Any claim, any story claimed by anyone, I’m gonna question it.
I’m gonna take a critical analysis of the topic and I’m going to try my hardest to disprove it.
And if I do that and I still can’t disprove it, and everything I can find supports it. Then I’m going to take that as the best knowledge I could possibly have on that topic right now.
In doing so, I hope that I will at least stop myself from every being taken advantage from. And that I’ll help myself or a loved one from ever being harmed from any such scam or any such ill advice.
And finally, the last skill I think I took away from this book is to not try and convince people of my agenda or my view of the world by forcing it down their throat.
You know, so many times in my life I’ve had arguments with people trying to convince them of my way of the world. Trying to convince them of my way of thinking. But all I’ve done is make them double-down on their beliefs and create a further divide between us.
So instead, I think moving forward when someone comes to me with a worldview that I oppose or don’t believe in or I downright know is to be wrong. Instead of trying to school them on it, I’m just gonna ask them questions that helps them identify their gaps in their knowledge themselves. It makes them walk away going, maybe I should check that out. Maybe I should find out what that is that Stan was asking. Or maybe I should question it myself and read some more articles.
I don’t exactly know the perfect way to do that. But I’m gonna try my best in life to find questions that can help people just question they are doing and what they believe in.
In doing that, I hope that I can help convince some people to just take a better and more critical view of the world.
In summary, I think my key takeaways are to question everything, stop jumping to conclusions, and to help people by asking them questions. Stop trying to ram my thoughts down their throat. Ask them questions, get them thinking critically and allow them to find their own ways through life.
So, that’s my wrap-up guys. Hope you enjoyed it.
Throw your comments down below. Let me know what you thought of the book as well or what you thought about my takeaway
We’ll see you next week,