Socrates once said I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing. When I first heard this quote, I dismissed Socrates as another philosophical nutjob who was wasting my time with his abstract nonsense. What was he talking about?! Of course I know things, I know I have a mother and a father and I know I’m from California. What a whack job, why is he even famous?
However, through a little college education and brain maturity, I’ve had a change of heart about Socrates. He was right and I was wrong; we can only know that we don’t know anything. Despite this, we often declare truths with 100 percent conviction and certainty. We get in heated debates over politics and religion with both sides certain they’re right. We argue with such certainty about the existence of God but neither believers nor unbelievers can know they are right. Still, both sides push their beliefs on others as if they are certain truths.
So What’s The Problem With Thinking Were Right?
When were certain were right, we don’t leave room to consider alternative possibilities. We’ll do anything to defend our egos even if it means arguing in favor of an incorrect point of view. Our defense mechanisms go up and the chances of coming together and finding solutions diminish. As a result, we have things like war, poverty and economic decline; truly tragic situations.
Thus, I wrote this article to explain to you why only at uncertainty is there a potential for understanding. Were predisposed to see a tiny part of the reality around us and we presume the rest doesn’t exist. Were not seeing a direct representation of reality but rather a version created by our eyes and mind. Thus, we need an awareness that our presumptions, judgements and opinions are not always correct. Continue reading below to find out why.
1. You Have A Blind Spot
No matter how intelligent, wise or experienced you are, you have a blind spot; all humans do. Blind spots are areas the eyes cannot see. The blind spot is in a particular area of the retina where the optical nerve connects to the brain. Since there are no light detecting cells in that area, that spot cannot detect light. This means that we miss whatever events falls into that field of view.
How To Find Your Blind Spot
To find your blind spot, look below at the picture of the red and green dot. Close your right eye and look at the GREEN dot. Gradually move your head towards the picture until the RED dot disappears. This is your blind spot and you notice that its filled in with white in your mind, like nothing’s missing from your view. Often times when we form decisions, we neglect to consider the possibility that were not considering the information missed by our blind spot. Some people live their entire lives with no knowledge of their blind spot.
What events could have occurred in your blind spot that you’re missing?
2. You Aren’t Capable Of Seeing 98 Percent Of What’s Really There
Take a look at the picture to your right. This is the light spectrum where different wavelengths of light are listed. Humans are only capable of seeing the narrow sliver of light called visible light, near the middle of the spectrum. Visible light includes all the colors of the rainbow as you can see in the picture. However, were incapable of seeing the 98 percent of the light spectrum that’s left.
This is truly incredible if you think about it. Imagine how much were not capable of perceiving. All this energy is out there, yet since we can’t see it, we presume its not there. Although it’s far-fetched, it’s possible alien life forms could exist in one of these wavelengths of light we cannot see. The possibilities are limitless.
3. Your Memories Are Often Inaccurate
“Memory is deceptive because it is colored by today’s events,” said Albert Einstein. Were often confident about our memories, declaring them with certainty. However, scientists at MIT have successfully proven that it’s possible to produce false memories in mice. These false memories are the same in strength as real memories. Lawyers and psychologists have been aware of these facts for years.
The implications of these findings are huge; eyewitness testimony was responsible for putting 75 percent of people in prison who were eventually exonerated by DNA testing and the central Dogma of molecular biology. Still, they spent years in prison due to faulty testimony and it’s likely some were even executed. It’s not even that the testimonies were lies, they were just simply wrong.
Although we can’t be certain about anything, it doesn’t mean that we should drop all rules and regulations. It means that we should have an awareness of the limits of our perception and hold off on formulating our opinions until thoroughly considering the alternatives. Instead of arguing with our emotions, we should argue logically and truly see another point of view. Next time you’re feeling certain, challenge yourself to consider you could be wrong and see the beauty that arises.