Extreme beliefs

As Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

We’re doing it all over again, particularly that “epoch of belief” part. People are believing a whole lot of things. Why?

The world is a confusing place, and people want to make sense of it. As far as I can tell, some people are prone to believe the first explanation they find that seems to make sense — the very first explanation, and they stop right there, without asking if it’s a fully sensible.

It might be wiser to search for as many explanations as possible. If there are two or more sides to an issue, try to understand them all. Knowing multiple explanations might temper your belief. Can you accurately, even sympathetically, explain your opponents’ points of view? It’s easy to condemn what you do not understand.

As Mark Twain said, “If a cat sits on a hot stove, that cat won’t sit on a hot stove again. That cat won’t sit on a cold stove either.”

The cat doesn’t understand the whole situation and has an extreme belief about stoves.


My next novel, Immunity Index, goes on sale May 4.

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