The True Cost of False Beliefs

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A friend asked, “What’s the harm in believing something that’s not true? It’s fun to believe in [particular belief snipped to avoid flames in comments].”

I certainly wouldn’t begrudge a terminally ill patient his belief in heaven. And if a friend needed to believe in The Secret to get through his job interviews, I won’t be the one to correct him.

But here’s the problem: We can’t know what the harm is. False beliefs make it harder to find true beliefs, and we can’t know the value of a true belief until we find it, live with it, and use it to solve real problems.

Imagine you’re living in the 1700s. Everyone knows illness is caused by demons, and treated with bloodletting. Someone from 2013 goes back in time, tells you that belief is false, and asks you, “What is the cost of that false belief?” Would you even be able to answer?

Sure, living today, we can immediately see the cost of that false belief: No research into vaccines or antibiotics, or efforts to prevent disease with hygiene and sanitation. But we only know that because we already know the answer, and we’ve already used the answer to solve the problems. The smartest people born in the 1700s didn’t know that, and if you or I were born in the 1700s, we wouldn’t know it either.

There’s no way of knowing the cost of adopting a false belief today. The only thing we can do is discard false beliefs, then see what we discover a year or a decade or a generation down the road.

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5 Responses to “The True Cost of False Beliefs”

  1. Seth says:

    Hey aren’t false beliefs also supposed to manifest in some form in your life?
    Sort of like Seth Speak’s books mention that beliefs propel real events into reality, have you found this with your manifesting lessons?

    Regardless, I think I agree with your friend :) I think basically beliefs can be comforting, which is why people dont ‘move on’ to true beliefs.

    However, Im not sure how demons can possibly be comforting. Maybe were just creatures of habit.

    • Well, if you believe that people find you attractive or repulsive, that will probably change your behavior. Some beliefs like that are self-fulfilling prophecies. But you can believe the earth is flat all day, and it doesn’t change the shape of the earth, it just makes you unable to navigate ships.

      And the point is: Comforting is nice, but we don’t know the cost of false beliefs. Is mental comfort worth not having antibiotics? Not to me.

  2. Seth Burleigh says:

    Yeah, but most beliefs arent about physical reality, but have more to do with self image, our abilities (mental, emotional), and other such human characteristics that are similar to your self-fulfilling prophecies. These beliefs change our life style, where we choose to go in life, what we find pleasurable, and what we find comfort in.

    They have an effect on physical reality in the sense that theres a lot out there that we can choose to participate in (rallies, science career, forex trading).

    Beliefs about physical reality are of a total different class. Yeah, our beliefs about the flatness of earth or any other piece of matter will not change it in the slightest.

    It can in lucid dreams though ;) I really need to give those a shot, I really enjoyed the last one I was in

    • I’m pretty exclusively talking about how connections, energy, and other magickal objects interact with the physical world, so this blog is really dedicated to external reality, “shape of the earth” type questions and beliefs, not “personal capability” type.

      There is good evidence that healthy people overestimate their capabilities, and that the only people with an accurate view of their capabilities are clinically depressed. But that’s for a different blog. :)

  3. seth burleigh says:

    ;) I agree. Well leave that discussion for another time

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