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The Power of a Worldview

world·view
wərldˈvyo͞o/
noun
 a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.


In recent years, I've seen the word 'worldview' pop up a lot in books that I've read.  I thought that I understood the word and its definition, but now I'm certain that I didn't fully get it.  To be fair, short and sweet definitions like the one above didn't help me to grasp the importance or power of a worldview.

Think about it this way.  When you are presented new information, whatever it be, your brain quickly references other information previously stored that pertains to the new and crosschecks it to make sure that the new information makes sense and is true.  The more applicable previously stored information you have available to reference, the quicker your brain can let you know whether the new information you are receiving is worth considering or if you should put up your intellectual guard.  This is all done in a flash.  For example, if your coworker passively mentioned to you that the Big Mac he was eating for lunch cost him $104, you would immediately know that that cannot be true based off of all your personal experience.  He would see the look on your face change almost as quickly (our facial muscles aren't quite as fast as our gray matter) and then he would clarify that he got a $100 speeding ticket on the way back from McDonald's.  You would then release the facial expression you were holding throughout your coworker's explanation and probably say something like, "Oh, now I see."

What happened in my example was that your brain would not accept your coworker's statement as being true.  You knew that Big Macs cost somewhere around $4 or less and you knew that your coworker wasn't a complete fool to have paid McDonald's $104 for one.  Your brain rightly alerted you that something wasn't right with the new information that was being given to you.

We all do the exact same thing all the time with all new information given to us.  We can't help it.  It's how we are made.  We are logical beings.  And, because we all have a different set of experiences, we all react differently to different information.  Similar experiences likely draw similar reactions.

Now, where it gets interesting is that most of us have been led to believe by our homogenized public education that we can be objective observers if we choose to be.  We think that to look at something scientifically is to look at it objectively.  I would wholly disagree with that based off of what I have already discussed here so far.  There is no such thing as a human being being objective while taking in new information.  Our brains simply do not operate that way.  We can no more choose to be objective than we can choose to refrain from digesting our eaten lunch.

Our worldview is our collective experience boiled down to our decided beliefs.  All new information is crosschecked by our worldview.  It may be better thought of as a set of filters on our mind.  Our worldview is strengthened and made more mentally valid the more experiences we have that validate it.  Right or wrong, our worldview dictates to us what information may be considered and processed and what information isn't worth considering or processing.

A definition for 'worldview' is probably better understood when given the synonym 'bias'.  Interestingly enough, thesaurus.com doesn't agree with me that bias is a synonym for worldview.  They have similar, and somewhat overlapping, synonym lists but they aren't given as synonyms for each other.  However, I feel they should be.  Our worldviews are not at all easily changed or adapted.  People may change their minds on fringe issues, but a change of worldview is totally life-altering.  Because, it's the foundation of all our other beliefs.  It's the filter to everything we have allowed ourselves to consider.  It's the core beliefs that we hold that are the cornerstone to our intellectual identities.

Even when we force ourselves to consider something that our worldview does not allow, all of our considerations are bent by our worldview.  Our worldview becomes a master over our mind and we are its slave.  That's not to say that we can't revolt.  We can.  But, it's nothing short of momentous when that happens.  It's most certainly not an often occurrence.  Quite the opposite, we rely on our worldview to help us understand our lives and the world around us.  It can be a good relationship between your worldview and yourself, but all too often it resembles more of an unhealthy codependency.  You need the reassurance of your worldview that simultaneously requires you to be its crutch supporting it with newly found evidences that support its decided truths.  Of course, when you're out to find evidence to support what you've already decided to be true, you will find evidence.  But, evidence doesn't make something true.  Evidence in itself requires interpretation.  Interpretation is done by individuals.  And, as we've discussed at length so far, individuals are flawed and have deeply ingrained set limitations on where they will allow the evidence to take them.  Their worldview is that hall monitor with tyrannical power.

All that said, I plan on writing a blog this week for which I know most people's worldview will discard it to the spam folder.  I know that you cannot read this blog objectively.  Your brain will make judgements throughout the text.  But, I challenge you to keep reading it anyway.  I challenge you to consider the information against the advice of your worldview.  You may be asking why I would want you to read it or why there would be any benefit to you to read it.  It's because I think we were all lied to.  I think that we were all fed information throughout our entire formative years that was specifically designed to create a worldview in us that would filter out the truth.  I believe that correcting this implanted aspect of our worldview is crucial to being able to accept and retain the truth of this world.  But, I'll warn you.  It's not for the faint of mind.  Having your worldview challenged isn't exactly a picnic, unless you go the route of intellectual self-protection and dismiss the challenge.  If, on the other hand, you resist the urge to dismiss and you instead step into the rabbit hole to see how deep it goes, I believe that you will find a new ability to step free of the binds with which your worldview has held you captive.  I believe that freedom will lead you to finding a much more satisfying worldview, one that allows for hope and a greater logical understanding of our world.

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