The human has an innate drive to seek out predictable situations. The brain has a bias towards making the world appear static, solid and stable. Well, as we know that just isn’t the case. In fact just the opposite could be claimed. The world is constantly evolving, changing, and now that we can look deep into space we can witness the delicate, precarious situation we are all in rotating around a mediocre star at the edge of just another galaxy. There is very little in this life that we can attest to including the age old unanswered questions that man has always asked. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going after I die? For example, being able to admit to the fact we can’t answer any of these questions up to date is what it means to have intellectual honesty.
We humans expend a lot of energy not facing life on life’s terms. We know a whole lot more each day but at the same time we know a whole lot less about a how lot more. We don’t like not knowing and it becomes very evident when you consider all the ultimate hustles we encounter from everyone that insists they do know. Why is it so difficult for the human to admit when they simply do not know something? Human avoidance strategies take on many forms, addictions of all kinds, obsessions with our appearances or whatever, toxic relationships, and irrational devotions to mere beliefs, just to name a few.
When understanding the psychology of belief you want to always be on the lookout for epistemologically crippled thinking. It is the mechanism that we use to insulate our own beliefs from facts or evidence. Conformation bias is the most common go to when it comes to supporting things we want to be true. It’s a common fallible way of thinking that encourages us to look only for confirming evidence in support of our cherished beliefs. Being dedicated to inquiry and sufficient demonstrable evidence for getting at the truth should be our first mission. Whether our inquiries are emotionally disruptive or not, should be put on the back burner of our thinking.
Our brains are not necessarily working in our behalf towards arriving at the truth. Research has shown whenever an individual decides he is right a shot of dopamine is released from the hypothalamus. We all know that dopamine is a feel good neurotransmitter within the brain. We can choose our feel good thoughts once we recognize that first we have a thought and than a feeling follows. For the most part what that tells us is, if we want to change the way we feel we just need to change the way we think. Thinking about what you are thinking about is called meta-cognition. Meta-cognition is a mental skill that puts you in the driver’s seat of your emotional awareness.
Having intellectual honesty subjugates all thoughts to a devotion of what it means to care about what is true. Although it is a well worn axiom “the truth shall set you free,” the bars of your mental cage are wrenched apart and you are no longer a prisoner to what others want you to think or believe. You are truly free, free to be your own thinker and intellectually honest.