It’s interesting when I meet random people over coffee at a cafe, strike up a conversation about a mutual point of agreement, but then the conversation strays into territory where it’s obvious they’re out of their depth, and yet still hold fervent beliefs despite their clear lack of ever having really contemplated the issues with any great depth beyond that which they were raised to believe — and which seems sensible to them, because it is a narrative told, usually when they were young, by those they trust ( parents, friends, relatives etc. ).

As you all know, I’m always ready for a debate, and I argue my case passionately … and yet, I’m actually keen to be proven wrong, because I don’t want to believe anything that is false, for a second longer than I have to … hence the reason I’ve been working towards believing nothing at all.

But here’s the thing: the arguments on their side almost never surprise me, and pretty much universally follow a set pattern of possibilities:

— “someone said so”

— “everybody knows”

— “that’s not practical”

— … etc.

In other words, they make an assertion, assumption, or other claim, without ever questioning its veracity, and without realising that even if true, it still isn’t irrefutable evidence for the conclusions they’ve drawn.

In 3-4 decades of my life that I can remember, including memories from the time prior to gaining wisdom ( which I can retrospectively analyse ), the people that I respect the most in this world ARE ALL capable of going past this kind of programming … that’s why I respect them, and it’s my minimum criteria for considering a person to be a true thinker.

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