Feeling of Knowing

Research and insights from Robert Burton (“On Being Certain: Believing You are Right Even When You’re Not”) seem particularly important now.

…”the conflict between logic and a contrary feeling of knowing tends to be resolved in favor of feeling….When stumped on a multiple choice test question, we tend to choose the answer that feels most familiar. Though we have no justification, we presume that such answers are more likely to be correct than those that we don’t recognize or seem unfamiliar.”

As we respond to a fire hose of provably false information, disseminated by and through media, one reaction is anxiety which triggers an overwhelming desire to challenge as false what we know what has been offered as “truth”.  It’s the yelling-at-the-TV syndrome.

We imagine ourselves confronting the source, intending to challenge, deny, then reverse the person(s) responsible for projecting what is not so much known as felt.

A one true thing is this: We are unable to change another’s perception – a feeling of knowing – through our own efforts.  If anything, such efforts serve only to strengthen the other’s certainty of belief.

“Those who demand certitude out of life will insist on it even if it doesn’t fit  the facts.  Logic has nothing to do with it. Truth has nothing to do with it.  ‘Don’t bother me with the truth – I’ve already come to my conclusion!’ If you need certitude, you will surround yourself with conclusions.” – Richard Rohr

“But one phenomenon this police killing has illustrated plainly and dramatically is the power of self-interested reasoning — the kind of flawed, ideological thinking that shows through when people need to protect their preexisting beliefs and irrational biases.”  – Leon Neyfakh

Reasoning’s critical path requires the maturity needed to self question and adjust knowing.

Peace and Courage,




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