Around 21:30 mins in, Prof Krauss gives a superb lecture on why God is absurd, why the Bible and all religious texts are nonsense and why as humans we need to bury such dishonest belief systems. No doubt many believers will dig their heels in because, in their own minds, it is simply inconceivable that they could be wrong. If the prophet said so, it must be so. But we all can be wrong and that’s an indisputable and incontestable fact and the very reason why the scientific method (open questioning, honesty, reliance on evidence, peer review etc) is not just superior to ALL religious dogmas but it’s the only rational sensible path to truth and to knowledge. Some believers are probably open to re-evaluating what they believe and from my experience the one probable thing holding them back is fear: (i) of discovering that what they have believed all their lives is myth and (ii) of the reaction of family, friends and community. That’s understandable but it is by living in truth that we find freedom and our inner power.
All great deceivers proceed in a way that is worth noting, for to this they owe their power. In the actual act of deceit, among all the preparations, the awe-inspiring features of their voice, expression, gestures, amid scenery contrived for effect, the belief in themselves comes over them: this is the one who then speaks so wondrously and so authoritatively to the surrounding people.
The founders of religions differ from those great deceivers in that they do not emerge from this state of self-delusion: or they have only on very rare occasions those clearer moments when doubt overpowers them; but they generally comfort themselves by imputing these clearer moments to the evil antagonist. Self-deception must be present for these individuals, as well as those, to bring to about their great effects. For human beings believe in the truth of what is quite manifestly strongly believed. – from Frederich Nietzsche’s Human, All Too Human I (40, 52)
“The notion that truths external to the mind may be known by intuition or consciousness, independently of observation and experience, is, I am persuaded, in these times, the great intellectual support of false doctrines and bad institutions. By the aid of this theory, every inveterate belief and every intense feeling, of which the origin is not remembered, is enabled to dispense with the obligation of justifying itself by reason, and is erected into its own all-sufficient voucher and justification. There never was such an instrument devised for consecrating all deep seated prejudices.”
Autobiography, John Stuart Mill
Bullshit has never been my strongest suit and that has been a spectacular failing. I can only surmise from the actions of some people I have met on my journey through time that there is an LSD kind of trip that comes with knowingly stringing people along pretending to expert views on things one can not possibly be assured of.
If I don’t know something pretty well it’s pretty clear soon enough that I don’t. I hedge, I “er” and I “hmm”. To my frustration, I’ve found that this does not work very well in the traditional corporate environment. Actually it doesn’t work at all! People, it seems, demand rock solid assurance and the type of conviction that only comes from hallucinogenic and spiritual omniscience.
So when I have found myself listening to an economist or an analyst it’s obvious as mud that they are good, not at forecasting or guesstimating the future, but at telling stories. They are usually so convincing that the content in their message becomes irrelevant. Listeners are easily impressed by presentation skills (ah, that’s why oratory was such a core part of Ancient Greek and Roman curriculum) and I have often heard colleagues say things like “I liked him. He presented very well.” Not what he presented but how.
As I reflect on my working life I see that it’s colleagues who suck up, fit in, palm off other people’s ideas as theirs, fold into the consensus and who speak volubly of views in a cock “sure 100%” manner who do way better than the practical logical guy who won’t factually state an opinion except it can be backed up by a QED.
Walter Isaacson relates in his bio of Steve Jobs a piece of advice given to young Steve by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell: “Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.” Now without that sleeve of wisdom being imbibed and executed to perfection I may not have been typing this blog today on a MacBook Pro or any computer at all. The wonders of faking it never ceases to amaze and I sure do have a lot to learn about the peculiar earth-born genus called homo.