Beliefs Have Consequences


The terrorists who attacked the Capitol building have a lot in common with ISIS, at least from my perspective.

But that’s just the point. It really is just a matter of perspective.

If I believed as that mob does, that our democracy was being attacked, and that all elee had failed, I might be inspired to take up arms as well.

I am not so inclined simply because I see the world differently.

It’s the same with ISIS. As it turns out, if you really believe that you go to heaven and get lots of virgin olives when you die, suicide bombings become quite logical.

In both cases, it’s not the actions that are illogical. It’s the beliefs that are—in my opinion—wrong.

This is why cults and religions are dangerous. It’s because—as Harris and Hitchens have pointed out—they’re the frameworks that enable good people to do evil.

As they say, any evil person can do evil, but for a good person to do evil you need something extraordinary, like a cult or a religion.

Ultimately this is the real danger of misinformation. It’s not that you get the wrong atomic weight for Titanium in a Wikipedia article. It’s that large groups of the uneducated and angry can have an entire belief system transferred to them with the speed and virality of social media.

It’s those belief systems we need to worry about.

Many of the people who stormed the Capitol have likely been good people all their lives, or at least part of them, and are still capable of great good.

The exceptions like serial killers are rare.

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Max Tegmark was on Lex Fridman’s podcast recently and said he didn’t like using the terms good and evil to describe people because of this problem. Because if you ask the average person doing “evil”, it turns out they think they’re doing good.

So once again, we’re back to what they believe and what they think must be done because of those beliefs.

When I think about all this stuff going on, I try to keep focused on the real problem, which is millions of people believing things that aren’t true.

It’s our education, and our culture, and our fundamental beliefs around globalism, racism, and identity that are causing these problems.

Trump is an avatar, and an instigator, but he’s not the problem.

The problem is millions of people being vulnerable to a horrible set of beliefs, and fighting against one set won’t immunize against the next one because the population is still just as vulnerable.

Not just traditional education, but on the dangers of racism, scapegoating, etc.

We need to immunize our populations against dangerous beliefs through education. It’s the only path.

Anything less is addressing symptoms rather than disease.

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