In this article we’re going to talk about the different methods you can use to evaluate ideas in the process of finding truth.
I separate the methods into neat categories but really in most cases you’ll be using a combination of several at once. For instance, you could follow your intuition to find the most trustworthy person to learn from and then test what he says using the scientific method.
METHOD 1: Believe what others say
This is the method we use by default. Maybe you’re expecting me to rip on its flaws, but this method is actually quite indispensible. It’s when it’s used naïvely that it snares us.
The basis for this test for truth is to ask yourself whether your source is 1. trustworthy, and 2. accurate in their perceptions.
I’ll give an example. I’m not sure whether global warming is real. I don’t understand the science of it, so I can’t work it out for myself easily. I saw Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and couldn’t deny that he made a good argument, but I personally felt a creeping disgust at the sense of inauthenticity I got from this man. So I decided that while the man seemed intelligent (potentially accurate perceptions), I didn’t feel he was trustworthy.
Then I readSteve Pavlina write about global warming, putting forth his opinion that it IS real. Steve Pavlina is much more authentic than Al Gore and has never given me reason to doubt that he genuinely cares about people. He is also extremely intelligent. On top of all of that he works very hard, and I know that if he researches a topic and writes an article about it, he won’t have done so half-heartedly.
(Incidentally, Steve proved me right on my aversion to Al Gore by citing climate change authorities* in that the most effective way to reduce your impact is to become vegan – something which Al Gore has neither done himself nor talked about in his video. It doesn’t seem like the world’s most recognised orator on the subject would have missed a little thing like the most important means to end climate change. Something fishy is up).
* “The University of Chicago reports that going vegan is 50% more effective than switching to a hybrid car in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Sure, I haven’t done all the research Steve has. But if I know I can trust his benevolence and his intelligence, then I can be fairly safe in adopting his belief.
I did say “fairly” safe. I’d actually put my certainty that global warming is real at about 65%, having looked into relatively few sources. If I had to base an important action off my understanding, I’d research and think more. As it is, I’m already vegan, do not own an automobile, and am not interested in pursuing activism at this moment. So it’s not the best use of my energy to research more deeply. For now, if Steve says so, I (65%) agree.
In order to minimise the errors of this system, it’s best to go over many sources and seek out those who seem most trustworthy and accurate. When you have only one guru, you might fall victim to the “one-itis” syndrome (a Seduction Community term meaning the illness when you only have one girl in your life and start thinking that no other girl exists. Now substitute “girl” for “guru”). Having many sources of information reminds you that nobody’s perfect. If there are seeming differences between what two people you trust say, you might firstly have to realise that you shouldn’t have been trusting them so much in the first place. Secondly it could also mean that you don’t understand them perfectly; what they both say could be true, only expressed in different forms. If the words seem to contradict each other in this case it means you need to move past the words into the meaning.
Using the First Method consciously
The first method is basically what we use from day 1, when our mother offers us her teat and we decide to trust her that it isn’t full of poison. It’s a great mechanism. Information is passed on from one generation to the next easily, automatically and often without intervention of the conscious mind. In this way you learn things, like avoiding eating unidentified berries, whose original teacher might have been… you, twenty lives ago. But as we grow up and mature we have to start to realise that not everyone is looking out for our benefit, and even those who are could be carrying information that has been distorted by those who are not. We have to start becoming more conscious about what ideas we accept and reject.
The best way to find a good source of information is to use intuition (Method 4). Consult your gut feeling. Usually you’ll feel uncomfortable about a person if they have false motives – it’s one of the easiest things to pick up. Watch out, though, as there are people who are very charismatic and can manipulate you using emotions and dazzling arguments. Remember you don’t have to be able to win an argument to be right. If a charismatic guy wins you to his side, let him win, but in private, doubt what your mind is telling you and try to feel what you gut says. If there is a conflict, your gut is right. Run away.
Here are a few sources of information almost guaranteed to be distorted: the news, anything from big publishing corporations, school, university, the government, anything sponsored by big companies, advertising messages, the scientific world, etc. Don’t think it’s beyond the news to outright lie for the sake of money. They do, frequently. You can get a scientific study that proves whatever, but bear in mind, unless you’ve actually been down to the laboratory and evaluated the work for yourself, it could be a lie. It doesn’t even need to be though, there are thousands of ways of misleading people without technically “lying”. If you find yourself believing in a scientific study without question, go out and look for a scientific study that proves the exact opposite thing. You will find one.
On the other hand, more trustworthy sources tend to be blogs and websites, as they are subject to no censorship; individual people depending on who they are; and in general any source that doesn’t have an outside financer or a boss. It’s the sad truth that even moral people can be forced to do immoral things when their source of income could be turned off at any moment. (That’s why I chose not to take a journalism degree — in fact, why I chose not to take a degree at all. Degree = job with a boss = loss of control = doing things not in alignment with who you are). So unlike magazines and newspapers, blogs are often goldmines of authenticity, originality, humour, and value. Go look for some good ones 🙂
You’re not a sheeple any more, so you need to take consciousness of the fact that you are now a minority. In this world, anything that is made for the sheeple majority is specially built to avoid making them uncomfortable by challenging them to live free. So you’ll need to look for information sources made by and for minorities.
METHOD 2: The scientific method
The scientific method goes:
“Doubt everything. Believe only direct evidence or that which you can logically deduce from it.”
It has an unspoken second rule:
“Believe the direct evidence or logical deductions of the scientific community, but with caution.”
Really, if you learn science from other people, you are using the First Method, and need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of that. A lot of scientists are naïve and don’t expect scientific data to be manipulated. It is. For instance, there is practically no scientific credibility for psychic abilities, something which us psychics find rather amusing. The evidence is there and is clear as day, but this is a failure in the First Method.
Actually… the scientific method is all about the First Method. Direct evidence cannot lie, even if you can lie about direct evidence. One of the rules in science is that an experiment has to be repeatable, so that other scientists can tell if you’re lying or not. The more times an experiment has been successfully repeated, the more credibility it has. This is a really excellent mechanism for preventing distortions of the truth. It’s not at all foolproof, but it has worked to create a lot of good results in many areas. (In other areas, faulty experiments have been advanced as undeniable truth and nay-sayers silenced or ridiculed).
There are a lot of faults in the scientific method. For one thing, doubting everything can become a religion in its own right. A lot of people feel secure in attacking other people’s beliefs while only holding negative beliefs themselves i.e. everything is wrong. They don’t want to believe anything except the most physical, undeniable things for fear of being attacked like they attack others. Or they can refuse to consider an idea which they are uncomfortable with, saying, “I’ll believe it when you show me the ultimate proof.” There is never an ultimate, undeniable proof, of course.
The other thing is that it is a mental approach. The more you need to use your mind to work something out, the more likely you are to be distorting things with your mind (as we talked about in a previous article in the series). Scientific proofs work for simple things, but complex things like the workings of the human body have so many factors that you will never take them all into account. If you’re arrogant (I have known scientists and a lot of them are very arrogant) you’ll want to think you understand these things when you really don’t — and you should not be allowed to try and heal people. To be a good healer, you need the Third Method (see below).
And the psychologists who think that they can understand the mind from a few behaviour studies and CAT scans are just laughable.
Science split up from religion in a very conscious decision a few hundred years ago. In order to avoid the political issues involved in talking about God and the divine plan, they wanted to deal with only the most material, earthly facts. That’s cool in my opinion, but you can’t find the meaning of life in such a perspective. Many scientists (more than half), then, are atheists, and have been shown (in scientific studies no doubt… well, I’ve observed them) to be more often depressive, suicidal and solipsistic. They tend to feel like life is absolutely meaningless. That’s not a fault of the scientific method, it’s a fault of thinking that science and spirituality are mutually exclusive, and perhaps also a side effect of overusing the mind without being wary of its dangers.
Have I been very hard on the scientific method? I’m sorry, my father is a scientist and I’m pissed off at him for trying to force me to see the world the way he sees it. I’m also sick of the authoritarian way school tried to teach me. I admit, though, that science does have a certain magic to it. If you read a good textbook or talk to a guy who really knows, loves and understands science, you see how scientific discoveries formed a sort of story with one experiment leading to the other, uncovering gems of truth in such an elegant way. For a good overview on “real” science, I recommend reading stuff by Richard Feynman, this for starters.
Science and spirituality (see the Fourth Method) need to be reconciled now. They are not mutually exclusive. We would go through such a quantum leap, for instance, if we used psychics to channel information which we then tested with the scientific method and published. And scientists distance themselves from the truth by denying evidence of angelic beings, the afterlife, and God, their theories failing because of this blind spot.
Yes, there is evidence of those things. Scientific evidence.
METHOD 3: Believe what works
I was still a budding scientist when I came across NLP. The method used in it was so genius, so obvious, and so ignored by school and science that I was stunned. The idea was this:
“Don’t try to understand everything. Just find out what works.”
The brilliant thing about things that work is that you know that they work. It’s the best direct evidence there is. In some ways it’s different from the scientific method as you generally learn for practical reasons rather than for the sake of knowledge in itself. On the other hand, by finding things that work for you in your life, you generally find your belief systems being forcibly updated.
So about the time I got into NLP, I found myself getting more and more distant from the scientific world of school and my parents. I had been asking myself, “OK, I like learning and I’m good at it. But what is REALLY worth learning?” The answers that came to me were, “How to be happy,” and “How to better myself.” Hence, I found the Third Method. I realised that understanding the world for the sake of it and understanding for the sake of personal growth were two different things.
It took me a while to adapt to the Third Method. Scientists fall prey to a disease called “mental masturbation” in which, because they take quantity over quality in their thinking, they become distanced from reality. If your ego gets caught up in your thought processes, thinking becomes very addictive.
My father has had episodes of insanity because of that. I actually think he’s always insane, but his addiction to thinking sometimes becomes so out of hand that it becomes clear to even the psychiatric profession (oblivious as they are). When this happens, you see how absurd it is to live by deduction. There are so many ways to get a theory wrong. But most people don’t use a theory when they’re making friends or cooking a meal. They just do what works.
It happened to me, too. I had spent… how long, three years? almost entirely without a friend who I felt could understand me, most of the time alone because I was sick of normal people, festering with unexpressed anger at a system which I felt was evil but which I couldn’t talk about with anyone. This happened most of all because I was changing to the spiritual person I am now and had no idea who I was and what the hell was happening to me. So I was very, very alone, living in the dark energy field of my parents’ house, and had a lot of time to think. Yeah. So I went crazy, and managed to get a parodic example first-hand of why it’s important to use your mind and for your mind not to use you.
It’s a beautiful thing to become aligned with Truth, but if you do it for its own sake it will often be a case of the mind using you. If your truth has no effect on your life, consider that you are living in an ivory tower. Whether you find truth for its own beauty, for practical reasons, or both, real truth will have an impact on your life: it will shake up the way you see things, the way you do things, and your very identity, and will most likely be very, very uncomfortable. If you don’t face yourself when looking for outer truth, you’re missing the point.
Third Method techniques
Steve Pavlina writes about doingthirty day trials. The idea is to try a belief system out for thirty days and observe what effects it has on your life. He even tried out religions like this! He went so far as to join Scientology for a month to observe what it was like from the inside, reporting that it was interesting and seemed to have quite highly-conscious members, even if he wouldn’t spend his life savings on it.
For a better perspective on this, I recommend youread more from the horse’s mouth.
NLP has an interesting method called “modeling”. The idea is to look for people who already do things well and try and work out the processes they go through in order to do them. I can’t say much about NLP as I haven’t studied it in depth (it is really something you practise rather than read about, appropriately), but you could look into that. I hear from practitioners that the real way to learn NLP is to get a trainer.
In general, though, just work out what you want to do or the skill you want to learn and explore new ideas on how to do so with an open mind. Act on your new understanding, and let reality be the arbiter of truth. If this comes to challenge your belief systems, let it. Enjoy the destruction.
METHOD 4: Believe intuition
When you have come to realise the limitations of the discursive mind, intuition starts looking like a much more attractive prospect. Actually, when you develop it, intuition is an incredibly powerful tool. It’s in part because of intuition that I have expressed the conviction that you can know anything if you want to enough. A powerful intution goes beyond just mental computing and into the realms of the supernatural. It’s entirely possible to “download” information from the Universe this way – either as communication from spiritual beings or from Universal Intelligence itself.
You may want to apply the First Method to what I’m saying if it’s something new to you, by the way! Do I seem intelligent? Do I seem trustworthy? What does your gut say about me?
I’ve often used the Fourth Method in combination with the First – that is, getting readings from powerful psychics who could tell me important information about my life and communication from my spirit guides. The first time with Erin Pavlina, I was still somewhat skeptic. What she told me, though, blew me out of the water and made it impossible for me to disbelieve. Well, impossible from a logical standpoint anyway. Because of my emotional attachment to the world being a certain way, I still half-doubted it all for a long time.
However, more and more I’ve been using my own intuition in my life (something which those psychics all, without exception, advised me to do, by the way). It’s such a powerful tool that now I’d feel lost without it. The decisions I make nowadays aren’t done by weighing up the pros and cons mentally. I usually just see if it feels right. I find that many of the things I need to know… I just know.
How do you learn to be psychic? I’ll tell you in a year as I’m nowhere near my full potential yet! For now, I’ll give you some resources I’ve found very helpful:
How to believe in psychic abilities: a practical lesson
Do you need proof of psychic abilities? The best thing to do is what I did – go to a good psychic for a reading and see what they say. A good psychic reading is INCREDIBLY valuable – breaking your skepticism might be the least it does for you.
I paid Erin Pavlina 400$ for an hour-long reading and would tell anyone it was worth twenty times that. She pretty much saved my life, and I mean that literally. However, a lot of equally good psychics do readings for free or for very low prices because they haven’t made a name for themselves yet. I can recommend one of those – Chris Landry. He did me a free reading and absolutely blew me out of the water. His psychic skills are at least as good as Erin’s in my opinion (fortunately this time my life didn’t need to be saved) – what he said was dead-on correct when I could verify it, and moreover I felt it to be exactly the answers I most needed to hear at this stage. As a psychic-in-training myself I’ll put it this way: my intuition tells me that this guy is the best pychic I have ever met.
A half hour phone reading with him now costs 10€. I’m saying this in part as a favour for him, but most of all for you because I really, genuinely think that this is a laughable price for what it could do with you.
Do you remember those MasterCard adverts? Let’s do a parody.
Internet connection: 10$ a month
Buying a nice meal for you and your girlfriend in a local restaurant: 50$
Having your belief system and way of viewing the world completely and utterly revolutionised: Priceless
The things you can know when you know that psychic powers are real
When you know that someone is genuinely psychic and can recieve information out of basically nowhere, this opens up a world of possibilities. Say, first they tell you something you have thought to yourself and never told anyone. Then they tell you about your childhood wounds with such accuracy that it makes you cry, and give you good advice on how to work through them, moreover. Then, if they tell you about your past lives, have you any choice but to believe in reincarnation?
Here are a few things I believe in because I trust the perceptive abilities and good intentions of many psychics who all say the same thing:
1.Reincarnation. Absolutely no doubt about that.
3.Spirit guides (disincarnate souls, I mean souls between lives or who have never lived, who work with us in guiding us through our lives).
4.A concept that you might call God – but with caution, as it’s not really anything like what the Pope would talk about. He or It doesn’t mind you masturbating.
5.The ability to affect the world through thought alone (prayer or the Law of Attraction).
6.The meaning of life as being something like: grow, experience, enjoy, love, and learn to know yourself. Life is basically a game.
As a direct result of my reading with Erin and the others who continued to confirm my belief in psychic powers, I now feel very much at peace with life. I’m not scared of death, and trust that everything happens for a reason. I feel like my life is meaningful, even when it’s not altogether pleasant. And I experience myself as a lot stronger as a result of my beliefs. Through prayer I’ve accomplished some stunning things for myself, and I now feel that whatever I want, I can achieve. Most of all I know I can reach a state of joy and vibrant health, which is what I want so much, and that I’m supported and empowered in my search. The universe wants me to get what I want. I actually feel like it’s impossible that I won’t.
Summing it all up
Wow, I’ve been writing all morning. I’m hungry and my head is spinning. I hope you’ve enjoyed this monster post!
I’m sure there are more means of evaluating truth out there, so keep your eyes open for them. Most of all, become aware of the methods you are using already, and ask yourself if you could improve on them. Truth-finding is a skill, so learn it!
We’ve come a long way since the first article in the series where I tentatively stepped into the deep end and challenged you to admit you were wrong. It’s all about being open. Just open, open, open, and let your beliefs die again and again until your perspective is dazzlingly clear and you shine as a massively powerful person. The more you work on it, the better you’ll get – it doesn’t matter how right you think you are now, there is always room for improvement. Admit you are wrong, and get working. Look for new ways to be wrong. The more you realise you’re wrong, the more opportunities you have to become even righter.
And once you’ve become an überman, try to take it easy on the sheeple… they have fragile egoes, okay 😉
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