Facts versus Meaning

There are two main types of thinking in this world. Fact based and meaning based. The fact based people look for evidence to ideas. If they find that evidence they now have support for those ideas. If not, they reformulate the idea. Hypothesis if you will. They could also find evidence that leads them in a direction wholly different than their idea.

These people see the world around them and they enjoy the splender of what is. They may enjoy the idea of deeper meaning. But they don’t need deeper meaning to enjoy what is plainly on the surface for all to see.

The other group of people are meaning based people. Evidence is more subject to these people. They will find evidence in whatever supports their claims for meaning. This thought process is probably the same process that is used for all kinds of things from religious or spiritual experiences to alien abduction stories, ghost stories, witch hunts, government or secret society or corporate conspiracies. Not to mention urban legends and hunts for big foot or whatever. For these people it all starts with trying to find meaning. Usually it goes something like this:

“Wow look at these foot prints, they’re huge.”

“Yeah I wonder what made these?”

“Have you ever heard of that half-man half-ape-like creature that is supposed to live in the woods? ”

… and it goes on from there. They will come to whatever conclusions they come to in order to bring meaning to their discovery. Much like a fact based person might do. The difference is usually that the fact based person will not jump to conclusions based purely on imaginative ideas drummed up in a conversation.

We’ve all been meaning type people. When we were kids especially. A way of flexing our imagination. Hey it’s fun. It’s also usually harmless, except when it’s extreme and forms unhealthy beliefs and fuels harmful actions.

Examples of the extreme are everywhere throughout history. From witch hunts to human sacrifice to appease the gods. Even in the modern era we have people that would stop certain legislation simply because of their beliefs that are based purely on meaning and not fact. Idea that may not even be their own, but ideas passed down to them generation to generation.

For a lot fo these people, the older it is the more meaningfull it must be. They don’t often stop to question it. Instead they march on and often look for whatever they can find to back up their already set bias while dismissing whatever may conflict with it.

To me that is what is most interesting about the meaning based people. The fact that they have a bias and will even dismiss other meaning based claims that do not support or conflict with their bias. Sometimes they will dismiss another claim until at a later point they can be convinced that it does not conflict with their bias and maybe even supports it. At which point they may adopt that claim themselves. They same is true for facts with these people. If a fact conflicts with their bias they won’t support it and may even go so far as to look for ways to dismiss the fact as unfactual entirely.

An example of this may very well be the theory of evolution. So many religious people dismised evolution because they felt it conflicted with their bias. It’s only when some figured out a way to make it work and not conflict that they accepted it. Yet there are many who will still dismiss it because they are not convinced that it doesn’t conflict.

Another example is alien life. While unlike evolution there is no evidence of alien life visiting our planet this is an example of one claim either conflicting or not conflicting with another. if their religious persons bias allows for alien life they may also then adopt a belief that aliens have been visiting our planet. However if it does conflict they will pass that off and make the truthful claim that there is no evidence while still holding another claim without evidence as being true.

How fluid we are as people that we can do such things. Hold one unsupported claim in high regard and another as completely false. What deception we must lead ourselves into.

Deeper meaning is often what we bring into something that is otherwise plainly plain. It’s not that it has deeper meaning in and of itself. More often it just is what it is. We make more of it than it really is. Like listening to a song that was written to really mean one thing, but to us it means something else entirely. Most likely because the artist themselves never disclosed their meaning and left us to figure it out on our own. What the artist really did was masterful. They figured out how to sell us mystery. They gave us a start and let us build on it ourselves. Either alone or as a sommunity shooting ideas back and forth between us. People love mystery because it sparks our natural urge to find meaning it in.

We’re all in a sense detectives when it comes to mystery. Most of us are bad detectives who have no training in detective work. We don’t follower proper proceedure. Instead we jump to conclusions hoping to get lucky. We’ve all seen too many movies where the hero going on gut instinct alone is rewarded by a payoff. But in reality that doesn’t usually work. Sometimes we do get lucky but it depends on what the odds are to begin with. If you’re looking to land on red or black you’ve got a 50/50 shot and your gut instict might pay off. But when it comes to most things in life it’s not a 50/50 shot. There are way too many factors at play. Many of which we aren’t even aware of. In which case it’s better to follow proven proceedure and hunt down the facts.

What doesn’t help when hunting down facts is bias. It tends to get in our way and cloud our thinking.

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