Tribal truth

Expanding upon my last post, we’re heading ever deeper into a period of “tribal truth”. All that matters is what people I trust – my tribe – say is true.

Thing is – this is our natural state. We are built to believe this way. We believe what people we trust tell us even more than what we see with our own eyes. The pull is that strong.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Going high brow for a second, this was the revolution of the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution – that we could, through rational processes and an open mindset, reach true conclusions based on commonly accepted standards of evidence. Yes, it appeared in pockets in human history at different times, but this system of thought and truth-seeking finally took solid root only recently – and produced astounding results in expanding human well being and freedom.

But it is not natural.

And let’s be honest, the scientific process is not exempt from tribal truth. Why do you believe scientists or research results? Probably mostly because you trust scientists or researchers. And probably just your tribe’s scientists and researchers.

And we must realize how much this pull toward tribal truth is emotional – having nothing to do with reason. It simply feels better to be part of a tribe and to know that you are an upstanding member of it. Getting exiled is one of the worst feelings of all. There’s a reason it was one of the most serious punishments back in the day.

I have witnessed highly rational people change their minds, but only really comfortably accept the change once it was confirmed by a fellow tribe member.

Just to note a couple of additional influences to this process of tribal truth – First, the influence of news media silos, which I mentioned in my previous post. Those go a long way toward validating tribal truth. A second is how power – either money or political – can distort truth-seeking. But that’s a topic for a different day.

For now, the biggest danger is tribal truth. And I don’t see us getting out of that any time soon.

P.S. Just to be clear – no one is immune from this, including myself. The best you can do is try to be aware of the many biases that we can be subject to and constantly check yourself against them.

But, that said, sorry, the hottest action and deepest depths in tribal truth are on the “right” at this point. Hasn’t always been so, but it is right now.

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