Humans, as we are, we crave certainty. So with the deluge of information bombarding us every waking moment, further compounded by many people passionately claiming they have the “truth” and making us question what is real, the very solid grounds we stand on gets shaken. The very thought of uncertainty makes many of us feel uncomfortable. Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen confront this very pressing topic that is becoming more relevant than ever. Is there such a thing as universal truth or reality? How do they differ from the subjective personal truth? Jason and Whitney explore these questions and the ways we can try to figure out the truth if there is one. Tapping into confirmation bias, they then talk about how our preconceived beliefs condition the notions that we already believe are true. While our nature asks us to cling on to certainty, it helps to be very critical of the things we are holding on as the truth, especially in times when the world is anything but certain. Allow Jason and Whitney to help you rethink these things in this interesting and eye-opening discussion.
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Seeking Certainty From The Truth: A Critical View On Finding What Is Real
One thing that’s been coming up in our private conversations with each other is how sometimes it feels like a struggle to navigate what’s true.
This is something that keeps coming up over and over again because there is the sheer deluge of information every single day of research and studies, updates, news flashes, conspiracy theories, recommendations, and CDC guidelines. There’s at least one point where I feel massively overwhelmed and I keep coming back to this question of, “What is true?” This came up in our conversation with Luke Storey, which was a wonderful conversation. One of the things we touched on is, “Can we know the absolute truth? Is there a difference between a universal or absolute truth, and subjective personal truth?” I feel that this concept of truth has acquiesced and fluid. It’s further compounded by many people passionately. Sometimes with a lot of fervor, anger, and vitriol claiming that they have “the truth.” When I say “THE TRUTH,” it’s like “I know what’s going on. This is what’s real. This is the truth.” Every single day, it seems more people are making that claim. I’ve got to take a deep breath with it all because it’s starting to feel overwhelming. Everyone is in their position, be it politically, scientifically, biologically or spiritually, like, “This is what’s going on.” I find myself wanting to tune out and not consume as much information. Are you feeling me on that? How are you handling all of this and this constant deluge and barrage of information? People are being, “This is the way. This is what’s going on. You need to watch this video.”
I wouldn’t say it’s that different than normal. I’m noticing the confusion a little bit more than normal than anything. I love doing research. I love reading articles, examining perspectives, and having conversations about it. I think what I have been grappling with a little bit more noticeably, I don’t know if this is anything new necessarily. It’s something I’ve been reflecting on, specifically with having conversations with people who have different points of view, who may disagree. I don’t like conflict. I don’t like debating. I don’t like arguments. I enjoy conversations with people where I feel safe and I won’t feel judged. I’ve found myself feeling a lot closer to people in my life, where I can have those conversations where I feel that they’ll listen to me without judging what I’m saying or at least I don’t perceive them as judging and it doesn’t turn into an argument. I feel like this has been happening most of my life, but I’ve been noticing that a little bit more.
I have a number of girlfriends that I’ve been speaking with more frequently, relatively. I’ll get on the phone and have an hour-long conversation with them. There’s been a handful of them that I’ve been doing this with and it’s wonderful. I find myself craving conversations with specific friends that I feel at ease with emotionally because I don’t feel like it’s going to turn into a disagreement. On the same note, there are some people that I don’t feel as comfortable with emotionally. I don’t feel as safe with whether it’s my perception of it or not. What’s coming up is a fear around talking about a lot of the COVID-related conversations, knowing that some people have completely different perspectives on this. I found myself feeling uncomfortable with certain people or avoiding posting online for example because I’m afraid that it’s going to turn into some debate. That is such an interesting experience.It's almost impossible to know what truth is if everybody is viewing something a little bit differently. Click To Tweet
Something I wanted to explore in this episode is how do we not only try to figure out the truth if there is one? I’m starting to feel like maybe there isn’t the truth and that tends to be my stance in general. It is something that comes up a lot for me during these episodes is how much I see gray areas instead of black and white, and how I find myself seeing the different perspectives. It’s not only trying to sort through true or false because maybe there isn’t a true or false. Maybe there’s always a black and white, but it’s also having conversations with people that disagree. Also, how do you navigate those moments especially for someone like me, who wants to keep things peaceful?
I have a tendency to either not speak up when I disagree or I’ll try to finesse my words a little bit so that they land on the ears of somebody who disagrees with me in a soft way. Maybe I’ll let them know that I may disagree, but I can do it in a kind and compassionate way because I hate that feeling of arguing. I feel uncomfortable when I feel misunderstood and that comes down to this core desire or core fear of being rejected. I don’t want my friend or this person, whoever it is to reject me because we have different viewpoints.
That’s more of a core thing. That’s not just isolated to differences of opinion or in particular the COVID-19 crisis that worldwide we’ve all been wrestling with. It’s interesting because, in the personal development space and the spiritual development space, the wellness world, the playground we plan often on a personal and professional level is this idea of stand up and speak your truth. To paraphrase it is that in an open your throat chakra, to move stuck energy or to make sure that you’re moving emotions properly, like passionately stand up and speak your truth. I think that the nature of truth is a very acquiesce and ever-evolving thing as is the nature and understanding of reality. When we bring up the truth, where I go to is this idea of how do we know what’s real in terms of our reality. I think about a lot of the lessons in our understanding because there’s no finite understanding, especially when it comes to something like Quantum mechanics or Quantum Field Theory.
In all of these experiments of Quantum mechanics, they found that there was an observer effect. As someone observes the effect of particle collisions on a subatomic level, all these experiments they’ve done in Quantum Theory, the observer influences the result of the experiment. When we’re talking about truth, especially when there is so much information, research, videos, information suppression, and conspiracy theories, all the things we’re talking about. I always return to how much does confirmation bias or expectation shapes and mold a person’s perception of what they think is true. If someone already has a political leaning or an embedded belief system that the government’s corrupt, the CDC or the WHO, these governing bodies want to vaccinate and microchip us and turn us into robots. What I keep seeing is its versions of some science fiction dystopian future.
If one has a predisposition to believe those things, then any information, videos, research, studies, or cover-ups come out, “I told you. They are out to get us.” It’s almost as if as one example, anything to the contrary, that maybe there is good progress or there are people in the government, CDC or WHO, whatever governing body may be working for good. It’s almost as if the compelling narrative or the preconditioned response is, “They’re bad. Everything they do is bad.” On the other side too, we can take many different perspectives here. My point is if we look at it in terms of the nature of truth and reality, how are our preconceived beliefs or belief systems conditioning that reality to fit those notions we already believe are true? That’s a powerful effect that confirmation bias.
Part of what you were saying reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend who’s a therapist. She has been observing through some research in her own experiences in therapy that there’s a possible link between mental illness and believing conspiracy theories. I thought it was super fascinating. I haven’t done any research on this yet, but I’ve been reflecting on that possibility. It’s important because there’s so much that shapes what we believe and that could be our backgrounds, education, culture, the people in our lives, and brain chemistry. It could be straight up how your brain works I’m incredibly fascinated by that and how we know what any truth is when our brains are always interpreting information. Even when we can look at the exact same thing as somebody else, we may be thinking about it and perceive it completely differently. It’s almost as if it’s impossible to know what truth is if everybody is viewing something a little bit differently.
Also the nature of, “I go back to reality and truth.” I was watching an incredible documentary. It is hilarious and also well-done and well-researched on Netflix about psychedelic plant medicines called Have a Good Trip. There are many interesting guests about their experiences with psychedelics and detailed experiences of the trips and the journeys that they’ve been on. As you’re talking about brain chemistry, we think about things like psychedelic medicines such as silicide, DMT and ayahuasca. We’ve talked about these pretty in-depth here in previous episodes. I also think about something like going to a cacao ceremony, drinking alcohol, having cannabis, great coffee, or chocolate. There are many things that alter our chemistry in our human body and that therefore alter our reality. It went into this documentary about questioning what is real and what is the nature of reality. For me, when I’ve had these experiences in these lessons on psychedelics, it felt like I was in a completely different reality. The visuals, the smells, the sounds, the things I was experiencing, it makes you question, “What is reality?” We have a bias that here on Earth in this third-dimensional reality as we call it, that this is the ultimate truth. This is the only reality there is.
That’s a misnomer because we have things like intuition. We have things like love. You can’t taste and smell love. You can’t have it tangibly in your hands like a physical thing but we believe love is real. It’s not a tangible physical thing, then it’s not a third-dimensional concrete thing, love, emotions, fear and hatred, but we experienced them nonetheless. It goes back to what we think is “real” or the highest level of experience in reality. There are things after our death, people talking about near-death experiences. I think that what we perceive with our five senses in day-to-day life is barely a sliver of what we’re able to experience. That fascinates me.
I was reading an article that inspired me to talk about this. I had sent it to you, Jason. I don’t know if you ended up reading it. It was a Forbes article entitled Why It’s Important To Push Back On ‘Plandemic’and How To Do It. I think it was from that article. I’m usually reading a few different articles at once. I hope that’s the right source for this because I was copying and pasting some of the words and phrases that were resonating with me. I wanted to read some and it said, “We are all trying to make sense of what this means and what to do. This means COVID. Uncertainty is uncomfortable. People want answers. Conspiracy theories can be comforting claims that sound reasonable because they’re familiar. They make us long for certainty and no one can be blamed for wanting to seek out clear messages. We crave certainty. We may prefer to hear facts that confirm our biases or things that make us feel we have control over what’s going on in the world. We’re hungry for anything that can make this moment in our lives feel a little bit less weird. Remember, if you want to believe what you’re hearing, you should put your guard up a little bit more. “No one can be blamed for wanting to seek out clear messages because we crave certainty. Click To Tweet
I think that’s well-said. It applies to everything though. What I’m seeing is a lot of my friends and colleagues and people that we both know who is incredibly intelligent, well-researched, well-intentioned people, producing content that is bringing in experts, virologists, PhDs and people that are clearly well-researched and well-respected in their fields. You then immediately see rebuttal articles in Forbes Magazine and the New York Times. It started to feel like a war of intellect like, “We have these statistics over here. We have this person who used to work with Anthony Fauci at the CDC, but here’s Anthony Fauci’s credentials, also Judy Mikovits, Rashid Buttar, and David Icke.” It seems like there is a war between a faction of people who believe that the world governments are corrupt and there was a plan to vaccinate, microchip, and steal everyone’s privacy and autonomy over their own bodies. There’s another camp that’s like, “Everyone’s doing their best. We don’t think that the government and people think critically.”
It’s interesting that section you brought up, Whitney, because I feel like on the truth-teller, conspiracy theorist side, they’re saying “Think critically, open your mind, take the right pill in the matrix.” In this Forbes article, it has also its own way of saying, “Think critically, be open-minded, don’t believe everything you read.” They’re almost saying the thing, but they’re also trying to debunk each other at the same time, which is if we all zoom out, even you, dear reader, and try not to get too attached to anyone position. It’s fascinating because there’s a mixture of ego in trying to “prove” each other wrong. I also believe that the undercurrent is, “Keep an open mind. Don’t believe everything you read or see. This is going to play out how it plays out.” There are well-intentioned journalists, video makers, and filmmakers, some of which we know personally that their heart and their intention are in the right place but it seems to be a war of intellect and a war of facts and data points. At a certain point, I start to get exhausted by it and have to retreat for a few days or even a week. I’m being more accurate with my speech.
I’ve watched, Plandemic. It’s not the full movie, but the first interview that came out with Judy Mikovits and talking about the Anthony Fauci and the CDC and that whole saga. I read the rebuttal article you sent through Forbes. I’ve seen other people trying to refute who Judy is and the facts and the things that we’re stating, Mikki Willis, our friend, Nathaniel, and some of the people working on the Plandemic project came back with their own set of facts. At a certain point, you’re like ”Clearly, everyone’s doing their research, but you’re saying you have these facts and you have these facts. What’s real?” It goes back to the core argument of what we’re talking about in this episode with what is the truth? It’s hard because you see people that are doing research and that are bringing up facts that you can look on the internet and go, “That’s from that research project.” It leaves me with the emoji I sent you earlier, which is there’s that emoji of shrugging and putting your hands up, which is like, “I don’t know what the truth is.”
It’s interesting though because maybe we’ll never know what the truth is and that’s the hardest part to let go of. My perspective is that usual thing where I’m somewhere in between because I saw Plandemic. I originally felt like I could trust it because I’ve trusted Mikki for many years. I can’t recall if I’ve ever met him but as Jason mentioned, I’m only like one degree of separation away from him through many acquaintances, friends. Have you ever met him, Jason?
I’ve met him up in Ohio several times at the old Elevate Films house. I’ve been to several of the previous films he made when the loft that they had was in Downtown LA before they moved the business to Ohio. I know Mikki personally and that’s the thing is knowing his integrity as a human being.
If we take it outside of the COVID context, you sent me this article about someone else. I won’t name for now but maybe it will come up in another episode. Somebody else that Jason and I have known for years was in an LA Times article. We’re not trying to be a tease, but there was an article that came out about someone that we know. I immediately assumed that it was a positive piece and I kept reading and I was like, “This is also another one of those articles shedding light on sides of this person that I don’t know is true or not.” I found myself having to not jump to any conclusions. I was trying to keep this balanced perspective. I found myself at moments wanting to defend him even though I don’t know him super well. Unlike Mikki, I know for sure that I’ve met this other person. I certainly feel a similar feeling towards both of them like, “I think these people are cool. They’re doing great work. They seem intense well-intentioned. I trust them and it seems like other people trust them.”
You go in with this perception of trust for somebody and then some well-established, credible platforms come out sharing information about each of them that has me questioned like, “Do I know the truth of who they are?” There is this fear that I have which is, “What if my truth of this person is no other people’s truth?” It also reminds me of the #MeToo Movement in some ways, or anytime that somebody has gotten in trouble for something or been accused of something. You think, “This is blowing my mind open. If all these people are sharing evidence that goes with this narrative that is completely against my personal experience, how do I know what to believe anymore?”
This is important. First of all, what comes up for me is that even if we know someone intimately, how many times have we been in a romantic partnership or a family situation where perhaps we learn something about someone we deeply care about that we’ve known for years, and something gets revealed or they tell us something or something comes to the forefront where we think, “I had no idea that you felt this way or you were doing this thing or this side of you existed.” There’s an innumerable number of examples from my own life where it’s like, “I had no idea that you had this thing you were doing or this side to your personality.” There’s almost this element of we can never fully know all of the layers to another person’s personality, persona or psyche. There are layers that are probably never going to get revealed to us fully.
The other side of it and this is the touchstone that I keep going back to, for better or for worse, with this constant deluge of conflicting articles, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram pulling videos off of the platform. That’s a whole other thing of censorship. Maybe we can get into in this episode, which is very troubling to me. I still have to go back to the one thing that I can count on, which is my intuition. It doesn’t mean that the intuition is the arbiter of truth like, “You should trust your gut on whether or not this piece on this person is the absolute truth.” Knowing Mikki and this other person that this article came out with, if I check in with my gut, my gut has to go with all of the personal interactions I’ve had over the years with these two people that have been overwhelmingly positive and heartfelt. I felt that there was a level of soulfulness, commitment, honesty, and love emanating from these two people. That’s the only thing I know for sure is in my personal interactions with these people, which are multiple.
If I trust that energy that I felt with them and I can somehow feel that their energy is going to automatically go into the integrity of their business and what they do in the world, I have to trust that. If I examine Forbes Magazine, the LA Times, or mass media, I personally do have a distrust of mass media. I want to talk about that because a platform like Forbes Magazine and the LA Times, much like TV, a lot of our media is driven by advertising revenue. If they do something, and my experience with TV is if there are corporate revenue streams that are putting advertising on your media platform that disagree with the editorialism that you’re putting out there, most media outlets are not going to risk losing out on major advertising revenue by putting out content that disagrees with the perspectives of the advertisers. I have an automatic inherent distrust of big media outlets for that reason because the majority of them are beholden to their ad revenue. That’s how they make their money.
That’s a fair thing, but one point in that LA Times article that hit home for me, and I was trying to pull it up but unfortunately, I’m not a subscriber. I am reading the article for free.Attention leads to all of these opportunities because that is the currency right now. Click To Tweet
You have to clear your cache and restart your browser. It will allow you to access it for free again.
Sometimes I feel guilty about doing things like that because I’m like, “They deserve to be paid for their media,” but when you’re trying to find some little thing in it, it’s frustrating if you’ve already read the article. There was this one line and maybe if you have it, Jason, pulled up. It was towards the bottom of the end of the article. It was saying that this person that they wrote this article about may have acted in a way to save himself and keep his power. Sometimes when we get a taste of power and we get all this attention, we have all these people praising, loving, following and telling us that we’re the best. We are clinging onto that.
Once people are like, “You’re amazing. We love what you’re doing. Keep going. You’re a hero,” you get addicted to that.
That might even happen with some of these publications. They’re trying to prove that they’re the credible source and they’re the experts. Maybe it isn’t just about advertisers, but it’s trying to keep the attention on you. You see this with content creators all the time. It’s creating their thumbnails so that people will clickbait basically. Writing the right title so people will click on what you’re doing to check it out. It’s like, “How do we get attention? How do we get people keeping with us? If our numbers are high, then we’ll make more money.” To your point, it’s not just about the exact advertisers, but it’s about getting people stirred up enough. This happened to me. I found myself going down this bizarre rabbit hole. I was super fascinated by the psychology of Khloé Kardashian. She posted a photo of herself that sent the internet into this storm of opinions. It was very controversial because the picture that she posted on Instagram looks nothing like her. Many people have been posting all their opinions like, “Did she get surgery? Did she use an editing app? What did she do?” Part of me is thinking, “She probably knew that it didn’t look like her. If she posted it, it would get all these people talking about her.” I can’t stop thinking about Khloé Kardashian. I’m super fascinated by this. If she planned that, it’s manipulative because it gets people like me who don’t normally care about her to pay attention to her.
What you’ve landed on is what I perceive in our media economy is the most valuable asset, which is attention. Those who can create controversy, create attention. It is very manipulative. I’m not saying she did it on purpose, but if I had to hedge your bet, she probably did. We know that eyeballs, click-throughs, views, viewing time, and the number of hits, attention is the currency. Attention leads to endorsement deals, ad revenue, brand deals, and all of these opportunities because that is the currency. That, in terms of a media and social media sense, is at the top of the pyramid. If you command the most attention and the Kardashians are fantastic at it. They’ve mastered it. That’s the thing, it is like we’ve seen a corollary for most people. It’s not an exact corollary, but if you command sustained attention over a long period of time, that’s rewarded in our society. Since people know that, they’re going to try that to get that attention sometimes by any means necessary.
That’s what I’m wondering too, even though this article about this person we’re referencing doesn’t necessarily paint them in the best light, it does leave more of a question mark. The article wasn’t very conclusive there like, “Here are some things that we discovered that may go against the narrative he’s been painting for us.” It makes you wonder what’s true or not. If I didn’t know him, I would probably come away with a bad impression of him, to be honest. Maybe the fact that I know him makes me feel like, “I’m hoping that it isn’t true.” I don’t know if that’s how you felt, Jason.
It’s complicated because when you know someone personally, there’s this automatic reactivity I’ve noticed within me of, “I don’t want to believe this is true because here’s a person who has been a champion for animals and animal protection and rescue and all of these things.” Hearing about some of the accused methodologies in which to rescue these animals or gain more attention for the operation becomes concerning. If I default to my intuition and what I have known of this person in many physical interactions, it makes me scratch my head and go, “This doesn’t seem right.” Also, there’s that point of doubt where you’re like, “How well do you know someone?” I don’t want to believe it’s true. I can’t confirm whether it’s true or not and I have to go back to, “I feel like this person has a good heart. I feel like they’ve done a lot of great things,” but also you don’t know all the sides of this person. It leaves me like, “I don’t know what’s true.” I want to default again to the impression I have of this person that I’ve known for years but it’s weird, Whitney. It goes back to the thing you said at the beginning of like, “I think people are craving certainty and safety.” It’s like, “I know the truth about this person. I know the truth about the COVID situation. I know the truth about what the government’s doing.” It makes someone feel safer and more certain about what’s going on. To me, that kind of article is more of the same as, “Do I know this guy who I know personally? Maybe I don’t.”
You then wonder, “Is it doing this person a disservice or a service?” In the case of the Plandemic movie, how many people beyond our circle of friends, acquaintances, and people in the local area knew who Mikki Willis was before all of this? He is a public figure in a bigger way than I think he’s ever had before. He had a viral video before and some documentaries. I’m sure a good number of people knew who he was, but I’ve been talking to friends that didn’t know who he was before all of this. I wonder in a way like, “Who cares if it’s controversial? Everybody knows who I am.” I don’t think that he necessarily would want that, but maybe that woman that he featured in the movie, I didn’t know who she was. In a way, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. It’s all bringing attention to it and getting people to talk about it and fire it up.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what people think anyway. All of this is something to talk about I suppose. I had a few other things I wanted to bring up from other articles I read. One was from the Atlantic and it was How to Talk about Coronavirus. It said, “People are cognitive misers. We all tend not to expend mental energy when possible. We are subject to profound cognitive biases. We rely on heuristics to help us make decisions quickly by offering us patterns, chaos, meaning, and randomness. Biases and heuristics reduce the complexity of our judgments. They almost always do so and align with their existing beliefs, values, and identities without our conscious awareness. Humans will go to tremendous lengths to preserve our dignity and social status.”
That’s powerful and it goes back to me wanting to encourage the readers and whoever’s consuming this episode to stay open because whether it’s the Atlantic, Forbes, LA Times, Plandemic, or YouTube videos, it’s important to stay open. That’s what I’m trying to do. On either side of the coin, you have people that are firmly entrenched this heuristic nature of, “The hippies who don’t believe in vaccinating their children are the crazy ones. They’re nuts. Fuck them.” The people that are creating some of the other content are like, “You shouldn’t trust any of these people because they’re funded by the Gates Foundation and the CDC.” I’m firmly in a position where I don’t have absolute truth. I want to try and get as much data as possible, but not be so entrenched in one position that it starts to close my mind in my heart. If I started to feel my heart and my mind are closing and if I start to feel myself getting angry, that’s when red flags go off.
I remember in the beginning, I started to feel this way about the stuff that was coming out about Bill Gates. There is a lot of concerning shit about Bill Gates. I will say that off the bat, there’s incredibly concerning stuff about his track record. When I started to feel myself go into this mode of, “He’s the enemy, devil, and antichrist.” I am buying into that whole thing and I’m like, “Why am I doing this?” It makes me more comfortable to assign my anger, my vitriol, and my hatred to a single person. If we make someone the enemy or something the enemy, whether it’s Trump, Fauci, Gates, or Mikki Willis or Mark Ching or whoever, “That person’s evil. They’re bad. Let’s hate them.” It gives us a place to funnel our anxiety, stress, and fear. That’s why people are quick to do it because it gives us an opportunity to funnel that uncertainty, terror, and fear into a single place and blaming someone else. I’m mindful of not doing that because I don’t think it’s healthy on a psychological level to do that, “That person’s evil. Let’s direct our vitriol and our hatred toward them.” It doesn’t mean that there are no suspect things about them perhaps, I’m using those people as examples of what’s in the media but to label someone as 100% evil or bad, that’s dangerous territory.
This brings up something that we’ve discussed before expertise. It was in a Facebook post that I read that was linked to at least one of the other articles. I might be sharing some things that were scattered throughout a number of different articles, but when I combine my notes, here are some of the points that I thought were interesting. “How do you vet experts for having expertise in a particular area? No one human can know it all. Nobody alive can have 100% of the answers. We should remain skeptical of anybody who says they can explain it all.” This has certainly come up for us, Jason. It seems like there are some people that we’ve come across or friends of ours, who positioned themselves online as experts. That was part of the reason why we recorded that episode, which feels like an eternity ago. It was us discussing whether or not we believed anyone could be a true expert. That’s why this post is interesting in some of these articles I was reading, which a few other lines I came up across, “Some people with advanced degrees are perfectly willing to lead their expertise or overreach on their claims to get attention. Yet, because of alarmist and outrageous tweets and claims, people are flocking to each other’s feeds. These people are gaining a high enough profile that even some in the news media and the governor, at least one state have come to view certain people as an expert.”
They were giving a specific example in this case where people are sharing their views, they’re outrageous. They’re getting all of this attention. The news media and even governors of states are starting to view certain people as experts. Despite the fact that they had no training and no understanding of what they were talking about, it was simply because they were gaining all that attention as we’ve been talking about. Some of the articles that I’ve been reading have warned us against not being dazzled by credentials. “Even if somebody has a PhD or an MD, we should still be skeptical. We should seek out and respect the expertise of those with domain-specific knowledge and revising our positions as new information accumulates. We should accept and acknowledge the limits of our own knowledge even as we work to expand it, allowing ourselves to step away when it becomes too much so that you can step back in when you are needed the most. You want to read reporting and analysis from people with a lot of experience in the trenches with health and scientific journalism. That means no random YouTube videos, explicitly political websites or the forwarded emails from the MD in Ireland, no one can find her name.” It must be a specific person. I don’t know who they’re referring to.Biases and heuristics reduce the complexity of our judgments. Click To Tweet
“Legacy media outlets are still imposing processes of fact-checking and layers of editing along with the standard requirements of basic science journalism, which includes having insights from people not involved in the study being covered.” That’s one reason that we see certain outlets as being credible is that they have to go through processes of this fact-checking and editing. Multiple people are looking at things versus anybody can go on YouTube and make a video. Even in one of the pieces that I read about Mikki Willis, he self-funded that project. He also said and don’t quote me on this, it might have been an LA Times article. I’m fairly certain that they discovered that he hadn’t even fully vetted or shared his full opinion on Dr. Judy Mikovits. He was saying he hadn’t even brought out all the information about her yet. I got the impression that it was a snippet of this project that he’s been working on and self-funding. There’s a lot more to come. Part of me wonders like, “Why was that released if that wasn’t all of what he was working on?” People are assuming that’s his full opinion.
I start to wonder “Did he mean to release it? Did he release it just to get attention?” If this is him creating this on his own and maybe he’s hiring people to work on this project that all have that confirmation bias and not being fact-checked and not having layers of editing from people that are not involved. That’s part of the issue here is vetting these experts, knowing that not everybody is going to have the answers. That information is constantly changing and being aware of, “Is this something that’s getting a lot of attention? Is somebody getting a high profile because many eyeballs are on it and it’s being shared so much? Does this person or the group that’s creating this, do they have domain-specific knowledge?”
This goes back to what I think how can we separate our preexisting beliefs or pre-existing expectations or any forms of confirmation bias from the content we put out in the world? It’s incredibly difficult to do and it begs the question in this era of news being released around the world in a matter of seconds when something happens via all of these social media channels combined with fake news. Anybody can put out a YouTube video combined with the rampant censorship that’s already happening. My question goes back to, “Is anyone and can anyone is fully committed to the Truth?” In order to do that, you would have to remove your pre=existing belief systems. You would have to remove any levels of confirmation, bias, and psychological. You would have to remove any egoic motivation of getting big, getting attention, and getting significance. I don’t know that it’s possible for any journalist, filmmaker, videographer, reporter, talent or anybody who’s commenting on this particular situation, any situation to be fully vested in removing the ego and anything else going on and saying, “I’m going to bring you the truth no matter what.” I don’t think that’s going on at all with anyone because I don’t know that it’s possible as a human being in this day and age to do that. Removing all of those layers to be like, “No matter what, I’m going to hunt for the truth and find the truth.”
In fact, there’s some ego in that like, “I’m the one who’s fully committed to the truth. I have no ego in this.” There’s ego in that too. Regardless of the source, it’s important to remember that people are invested in some level of their version of the truth. Everyone is, including you and I. I don’t know that it’s possible to separate that from the absolute truth or universal truth if there even is one. We go back to our perspective as the observer in quantum reality influencing the outcome of events on this planet. This is the existential conundrum of being a human here in this reality. It is like, “Is there anything we can know for sure? Is there an absolute universal truth? Can we remove ourselves from our biases?” I don’t know.
It’s an especially challenging time and people are vulnerable. One thing I came across that I didn’t find familiar, it sounds vaguely familiar. Maybe I’ve read about this once, but it’s called Gish Gallop. Have you heard of this, Jason?
I don’t know. Tell me about it.
It’s a technique used during debating that focuses on overwhelming an opponent with as many arguments as possible without regard for accuracy or strength of the arguments.
That sounds like most of our entire political system on all sides.
It’s tough because many people don’t have the energy to push back. We’re all strung out, burnt out, stressed, and tired. We have to be very strategic about what we can tolerate. Sometimes, it is what it seemed like you were facing, Jason. I wanted to talk about this on a personal level. You seem like, “I can’t take it. I can’t read any more about this. It’s way too much.” That makes us incredibly vulnerable because when we feel overwhelmed and we’re already feeling strung out, burnt out, stressed, and tired, it gives somebody an opportunity to feel like they’re winning the argument. They have more strength in that. Another line that I came across that I thought was important is that “Science communication should be about service, not self-importance.” That’s true of any communication. We live in a time that’s so focused on self-importance. Maybe this has been true for a long time, but it feels incredibly true with social media and how media be distributed. Anybody can post a blog post, on YouTube, or send a tweet. We have so much power in that sense. If we come from a place of being self-important before we come from a place of being in service, then our self-importance is tied to us constantly defending and proving ourselves and being powerful so whatever we can do to overwhelm anybody who disagrees with us. We’re also vulnerable to that. It’s hard to decipher when somebody is doing something simply because they want to be validated.
It is hard to discern that. I want to clarify too when you sent me that Forbes article, Whitney, I have noticed that I need to be mindful of the level of my overwhelming because that’s tied to my mental health. In terms of how it’s tied to my mental health, not specifically the article you sent me, but many people sending me articles between family members and colleagues that we know who are having a specific position about this too. You and I being best friends, there have been specific days during the course of this pandemic. When do I say bombarded, not because anyone’s intending on bombarding me, but it’s like, “Have you seen this? I would like your opinion on this.” The overwhelm button gets pressed and I feel vulnerable. Someday I am fragile in terms of my sanity and my mental health, that reading one more thing or taking in one more point of view is like, “Don’t do it.” I know that for me when I have done that, I’m already feeling overwhelmed on keep reading articles, watching YouTube videos, and listening to podcasts.
My level of anxiety starts to spiral and reach a level that it’s very hard for me to center myself and feel balanced again. I’m trying to do a good job of, “Let me put a pin in this and come back to reading this article.” I did it but at this moment, I know if I open up that bucket and take even more contrasting information, studies, research or anything around this, my brain goes into, “I don’t know what is real anymore.” Maybe we don’t know what’s real, but it’s almost as if the existential anxiety of all that becomes great that I throw my hands up. I’m like, “What the fuck is the point of all this?”
If we don’t know what’s true, then that spirals into maybe we never know what’s true and real. The only thing we can do is live in the moment and do the best we can with the information we have knowing that the information, the research, the science are going to change. What we hold to be personally true, subjectively is going to change. It goes back to the Wabi-Sabi nature of life. That Japanese philosophy that we’ve mentioned here, “Everything is ever-changing. Everything is imperfect. Nothing is ever finished. Everything is in a constant state of flux.” Maybe that’s the gift of this pandemic is on a spiritual level or a level of mind and soul, it’s showing us that things are changing fast and rapidly and everything is in a state of flux. We don’t have the proverbial ground of certainty to stand on anymore. Every single day, I feel like I’m getting that lesson over and over again of, “You don’t know what’s real.” There is no certainty. Everything’s changing so fast that you can’t even keep your head out of your own ass. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe that’s the lesson spiritually we need as human beings on this planet are to go like, “Maybe the highest or most evolved spiritual position is, I don’t know.” I feel like every single day I’m repeating that to myself.
That is an incredible and appealing quality to have because, over the years, I found myself being repelled by people who position themselves as having it all figured out like, “I know the truth and if you don’t believe this.” Those extreme perspectives have triggered me. I much prefer people who are encouraging us to figure it out on our own. It goes back to a traditional form of therapy where you’re not giving advice to somebody, you’re helping them find their own answers. Curiosity is the big key instead of saying, “I don’t know. I don’t need to know.” At other times you might say, “I don’t know, let’s find out. Let’s see what we can come across.” Maybe you don’t find out. Maybe you allow yourself to be curious but have no attachment to the outcome, whether you find anything. That’s where things like this trigger me is when it feels like somebody is trying to prove themselves as right. Ultimately, to me, that’s a form of getting validation, trying to get power and trying to be greater than. That’s a bit of a toxic way of operating if you’re trying to manipulate people to believe you and go with you.
Some of the worst times in history have stemmed from that mentality of, “I know what’s well and if you don’t follow me, you’re against me.” That happens a lot. As human beings, we are drawn to people who seem to have it all figured out because uncertainty is uncomfortable, we then realized that might not be true. It comes back to what we were saying about individuals that we know. If we trust them and then somebody gives us a reason not to trust them, it’s incredibly uncomfortable. It is that vulnerable feeling of the rug being taken out as, “Something I thought was true is not true. Who can I trust?”
That’s a scary place to be for a lot of people because your frame on reality gets shattered of, “I thought I could trust this person, this source, this government, this outlet, whatever it is.” When that rug gets pulled out from under us, that’s a scary, confusing and disorienting place to be. There’s an element too of all this. There’s almost a fantastical aspect to all of this. My mind goes in all of this of the theoretical aspects or the massive amount of research that some people dig into. I say this to you because I’m curious about your research during all of this. I know what a well-researched, logical person you are. In our circle of friends, colleagues, and business people we do business with, your research and organization skills are legendary. To put a pin in that quickly, there’s a fine line between people wanting to research to find the “truth” and indulging in fantastical aspects because it’s like, “I know that the CIA killed JFK. I have proof. Jimmy Hoffa was killed by the mob. He’s buried under the Giant Stadium. There are aliens because I’ve been outside the Roswell. I was abducted. They’re real.”
We could keep going down a million different roads on this subject, but there is a deep desire in the human psyche to be sure about the truth of something. It is because the unknown on a very primal, fundamental level of going down the dark path in the forest, venturing into the cave and not knowing what’s there. The proverbial monster in the closet or under the bed is still a figment of the human psyche that if we know the monster, we can identify the monster and are convinced and ensure that we have proof that the monster is in the closet, we can sleep better at night. I remember this as a kid trying to prove to my mom that there was a monster in my closet. I was convinced. I was scared as hell that there was this pasty, white, vampiric, googly-eyed, tiny, little creature living in my closet. As a kid, there were sleepless nights. I remember trying to show my mom, “He’s under this specific floorboard. We need to open the floorboard because he’s down there. We can get him and kill him.”
How old were you?
Maybe 5 or 6 years old. From what I remember, she was trying to reassure me like, “There’s no monster under there. It’s okay. It’s fine.” I was convinced there was this monster that would come out of my closet every night and wait under my bed to suck my blood. In all seriousness, I’m bringing this up because I feel like there is a fantastical element of the human psyche that wants to believe. I am not on either side of this that aliens, Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot are real. JFK got killed by the CIA. Bill Gates wants to microchip us and vaccinate everyone or whatever the hell is. There was an element of the highest position of, “I don’t know.” “Do the Loch Ness Monster and aliens exist?” “I don’t know.” It’s fun to fantasize about it. There’s this element of if we can identify and confirm that the threat is real, the monster, the Gates, the vaccine, the chip, the one-world government, the reptilians, whatever the fuck it is, there’s a feeling of safety because “The monster is real and we’re going to prove to you the monster is real. We can fight the monster.” I’m not saying it’s unevolved. I’m not saying it’s childlike. I’m saying it’s a part of our human psyche to want to feel safe by being able to identify the “monster” so we can fight it and defeat it.
There’s nothing wrong with that. The key is not to judge other people if they feel that way. As I was reading about this, a lot of the authors of these articles were talking about why it’s important to confront somebody if you feel like their ideas haven’t been well-thought through like they’re not fact-checked. It was like, “Why should I even bother saying anything?” You don’t push back on them though. Even to those that you love or don’t want to upset, you’re in a way enabling them. If we can encourage them to have a healthy skepticism and start a conversation from a place of humility and genuine curiosity, that can be helpful to others. When we speak up on things that we disagree with, we erode the bystander effect, which is typically used to explain why people are less likely to help in an emergency if other people are around. If someone comments, for example, and no one speaks up, other people don’t want to be the first one to say something. If you’re the first one to say to someone, it’s inspiring and emboldening other people to push back on their walls too. If we speak up against misinformation, it’s contagious in a good way. If you do it, then you’re encouraging other people and helping them realize that they can not only do that but maybe they should. Sometimes you’re giving people the actual language that they can use to say these things.It's important to remember that people are invested in some level of their version of the truth. Click To Tweet
I felt like that was a great perspective but the trick is if none of us know the truth and the answers, then what do you say to someone that you don’t agree with? I found myself reading that and going, “I feel encouraged.” Through this conversation we’re having, I’m starting to feel like, “Who am I to say anything?” It’s not that I don’t have confidence in myself and my beliefs. It’s more that if none of us have the answers, then what’s the point of disagreeing with somebody?
It gets complicated.
In the case of racism, that seems more cut and dried to me because I’m strongly against lack of equality. I stand for equality. I feel like nobody should be bullied. Nobody should be treated poorly because of who they are and what they look like. I feel like I could stand up on easily, but when it comes to something like COVID, it’s tricky. Part of it is understanding that I don’t have all the answers, but the other part of it is I want to be careful because I don’t want to de-validate or go against somebody’s feelings. To me, it’s at the core. As I’ve reflected a lot on some of my own friends’ reactions that seem different than mine in terms of COVID, I thought to myself, “I bet you that this person is expressing those feelings or that belief system or performing these actions simply because they’re afraid.” If I get to the core of a lot of reactions, it’s like, “Maybe this person is doing or saying this because they’re afraid,” as you did. It’s like, “If I can prove this conspiracy, then I’ll be able to protect myself from it.” It’s been fascinating because, for the most part, I’m happy to comply with what the government is asking us to do. I’m happy to wear my mask and stay inside and not socialize. I’m an introvert, so that’s easy. I’ll be careful when I go to the grocery store. I’ll wait in line and I’ll follow the path they put on the floor and whatever those rules are.
I’m what they call a questioner. I’ll question the rules first, but once it makes sense to me, I’ll go through with it. If it doesn’t make sense, I’ll try to make sense of it. That’s part of the reason that I research things. It’s interesting to me that people are rebellious though because sometimes I can have this judgment that maybe they’re rebelling to be a jerk like, “You want to be in control or whatever.” If we break down some of this, maybe it is a control thing. They want control because they’re scared. They don’t want to be told what to do because they don’t agree with what they’re being told to do. That’s healthy too that we should have skepticism. We shouldn’t believe in anything until we examine it enough to figure out if it works for us. That is healthy but where it gets tricky is when people take sides. That can be turned into a form of bullying. As we’ve said, “You’re wrong and I’m right,” I don’t agree with that personally. That’s something that I’ll stand up and be like, “Everybody’s perspective should be taken into consideration. If nobody has any answers, we should respect somebody for what they believe at this moment because our opinions could change at some point.”
Somebody that has political views, I know people that voted for Trump and regretted voting for him. They voted for him because of how they felt at the time. Now, they feel differently about him. That could change. Just because somebody did something in the past or is doing something in the present, doesn’t mean that’s exactly what they’ll be doing in the future. We’ve talked about this with veganism. I’ve said, “I’ve been vegan since 2003. I feel strongly about it, but that doesn’t guarantee I’m always going to be vegan. What if something changes that I could never possibly predict?” This idea of like, “I’m vegan forever,” how could I predict anything that’s going to be forever? It’s not that I don’t feel strongly about being vegan now, but I’m willing to express the fact that I don’t know. I can’t say that I’ll be doing anything forever.
It brings up a couple of things. Number one is that you harken back to the ever-changing nature of reality that people’s opinions, feelings, and perspectives change. I also think it brings up a threshold of how much of people’s personal autonomy or rights they’re willing to yield or give up. You talked about going to the grocery store and keeping a 6-foot distance and wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer. You’re still able to get your groceries. You might have to stand in a little bit of a line. We’ve done that and that doesn’t seem to be a big deal for either us or certain businesses being closed, things like that. For someone who is a rebellious person, I haven’t felt flagrantly rebellious throughout this whole quarantine and shutdown. Where I start to feel myself getting very rebellious is when there is talk of my personal health, the health of my loved ones, and the autonomy of our own bodies and freedoms being greatly and drastically compromised. That’s my line where I get into like, “Grocery store, masks, hand sanitizers, whatever, it’s fine.” When they start to talk about the idea of in order to resume international air travel or to give access to our currency or our medical records, these things that you will be required to receive a vaccination or receive a tracking chip or upgrade your phone so that your interactions are trackable.
We talked a little bit about this with Paul Jarvis on the data privacy and social media episode. That’s my level of concern with is when we get into higher levels of privacy, security, and the physical agency on the autonomy of my body. If it were to come to, “If you want to fly and travel, you’re going to need to get this chip implanted in your body or get a forcible vaccination.” That’s a hard line for me. That’s when it’s like, “You’re threatening my personal agency.” “You have to put this thing in your body or else you can’t do X, Y, and Z.” That’s my line. That’s when I start to be like, “I might need to think about if I ever want to travel again.”
Traveling again means that you don’t get to see your mom.
It’s a questioner element. I don’t want to put that in my body unless I understand what’s going to happen and what the reality is. Also, what are the pros and cons? I feel close enough to my family that I probably would go to a lot of extremes to see them. I don’t live near them. I don’t need to fly to them unless I have to. I would drive to them. That was the thing and I’m like, “I would be willing to do a five-day road trip to go see my family if that’s what it came to.” If I had an option, I agree with you but what about going across to Europe, Hawaii or something? It’s not something I do very often. Let’s talk about that. We talked about going to Hawaii all the time to visit friends. If you have to fly somewhere, are you never going to fly again because you have to get a chip? It’s terrifying because I don’t want a chip in my body, but at what cost do we resist something?Everything is imperfect. Nothing is ever finished, and everything is in a constant state of flux. Click To Tweet
I don’t know. It’s complicated. That’s the line for me when it comes down to giving up potentially my health or the agency of my own physical body in exchange for certain freedoms and conveniences that we’ve set up in our society. It’s a conundrum because then it’s like, “Am I going to take trains, cars, and boats everywhere and never fly again?” I don’t know. This is an extreme example of air travel and international access to the nth degree. A cryptocurrency and living in a cashless society and this microchip allowing you access to your funds. My point in all this is that’s not the reality we’re living in. We’re not at a point where I’m like, “We need to rise up and protest.” If it were to come down to the proposal of those kinds of things being implemented in the world, I would go protest.
Part of the reason people are upset is that they think that’s going to happen. They’re trying to protect that from happening. The different extremes, part of me is like, “Let’s wait and see what happens.” We don’t know what the future holds for us. However, if we look at it from an environmental perspective, we can’t wait and see. We have to be proactive. The same thing with our health, we can’t wait and see what’s going to happen with certain foods. We have to do things that give us the best long-term shot that we have. It’s tricky because a lot of us humans work in the present moment. It’s easier to focus on the short-term, but some things require us to focus on the long-term. The challenge is how much of the long-term is affecting your mental health? That’s where I get stressed out when it comes to making decisions and weighing out the pros and cons all the time. It’s exhausting. Going down these rabbit holes and trying to stay on top of what’s happening and the trick is that there’s conflicting information out there, it’s tough to know. Two of the main points that we’ve made during this discussion is to follow your intuition and to keep tuning in to your personal awareness and allowing that to grow. Your intuition may expand over time, being patient, curious, and staying aware when you have the energy to be aware.
A big concern is we’re so vulnerable. Many of us are feeling burnt out. There could be a lot of things happening that we’re not even aware of because we don’t even have the energy to pay attention to them. That’s where it gets dangerous. We have to push ourselves to find ways to stay informed as much as possible. One of the big reasons that we started this show is to share our perspectives with likeminded people. That was something that a lot of the articles I was reading concluded is that the place to affect change isn’t from a pedestal. It’s within the social networks of communities with shared values and ideas. Even though we can find ourselves in that confirmation bias, we can become part of a bubble.
There are a lot of benefits to finding a community of likeminded people. Also, have a diverse community of people within that likeminded perspective. Maybe you have somebody that loves to research as I do, that’s a valuable thing, but you should also have somebody that’s rebellious so they can question things. Having a questioner and a rebel, there are four tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. Obliger is one of them and there’s one more. People that operate differently and bringing all the different strengths. That comes down to some of the old ways of living in communities where people brought their individual skills to the table to support one another. We could benefit from more of that. It’s also how family units work. A strong family unit supports one another. When one person either doesn’t have the skill or doesn’t have the energy physically or mentally to do something, somebody else can step in and do it. That’s where we work well with complementary skills. My encouragement to you, the readers, and to us, is to create a community of likeminded people, to share ideas and research, and find people that complement the gaps in your knowledge, skills, energy, awareness, and your culture. If you bring that diverse community together, a lot of positivity can come out of it and will ultimately feel less alone.
I love that you brought this up because our dear friend, Adam Yasmin’s podcast, also called the Wabi Sabi. I saw a little bit of it where he was talking about the neo-future tribalism that he envisions returning to human society. If I zoom out a little bit, you are talking about communities of people with complementary skills and knowledge coming together to support one another. An inevitable offshoot of the increasingly technocratic society and perhaps the splintering of a lot of the foundations of the 20th and 21st-century society that we’re in. Seeing a lot of the systems evolve and break down is people getting together in community, the actual physical community of getting land together, and putting up tiny houses. They are having a community space where they can physically gather and grow food together, have medicinal herbs and someone who has medical training, culinary training, who’s an entertainer, who’s good with childcare, and who’s good with creating actual physical housing structures. I see an inevitable offshoot of where humanity is going back to a tribalist state. When I say the tribal state, I do say neo-futurist because of the knowledge and skills that we have in the variety of different personalities. I love the idea of getting a small to medium group of people together, getting land somewhere, putting up structures, and sharing those resources, knowledge, and wisdom.
If we do see a surveillance culture, getting microchip or a technocratic state trying to control people, there will be large groups of people who like peace. We’re going to go out into the countryside, away from the cities, live a simpler life, live off the land. I’m excited about the possibilities for all of the confusion, doom and gloom, conspiracies, or conflicting information. I’m also excited about the number of friends that I’ve talked to that we know who are brewing their own home remedies, planting gardens, and baking their own bread. They are learning new skills. I personally resonate with this idea that people are going to physically get together, share those skills, and simplify life. That’s a lot of the positives that I see, coming out of this strange, wonderful, confusing, and psychedelic situation. That being said, we are here on this show to communicate with you. We don’t have all the answers but we are exploring, looking, curious, researching, and staying as open-minded and open-hearted as possible to look for those things with you. If you want to get access to all of the resources, the books, the articles, the movies, the things that we mentioned during this episode, please visit Wellevatr.com. We also have some great free eBooks there including You Are Enough and also Take Charge!, which is a great interview series that we have all about motivation and positivity and our courses, Wellness Warrior Training and The Consistency Code.
Our mission here is to share this human experience with you as we grow and evolve and go through life together. You can find us on social media. We always love to hear from you. Either email us at [email protected] or shoot us a direct message on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. We love hearing from you. We always love receiving your feedback on these episodes and ideas for future ones. We want this to be a conversation with you that continues to evolve and grow as we do. With that, dear readers, thank you for being here from my heart and Whitney’s heart to yours. We will see you again soon and connect with you on another episode.
- Luke Storey – Previous episode
- Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics – Netflix documentary
- Why It’s Important To Push Back On ‘Plandemic’ and How To Do It
- LA Times’ Investigation – Abuse in the Dog Meat Trade
- How to Talk about Coronavirus
- Facebook – link of an article
- Previous episode
- Paul Jarvis – Previous episode
- The Four Tendencies
- Adam Yasmin – Previous Episode
- Wabi Sabi
- You Are Enough
- Take Charge!
- Wellness Warrior Training
- The Consistency Code
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