The biggest problem we humans face is that we don't know what we don't know.

We have only 10 billion neurons in our brain which might store memory. How does that compare to computer capacity, that is measured in billions of bytes? We don't know, but suffice it to say that one brain cannot know everything.

A person may acquire a belief sometime during their life, but they don't necessarily remember the evidence in support of that belief. Worse yet, maybe there was no evidence. They might have accepted the belief because an authority figure told them (mommy or daddy) or because "everyone believes it."

Most beliefs are accepted without proof. If you want to test that assertion, take a random survey of 100 people and ask them if they believe that matter is made of atoms. Of those who answer "yes" (which will be most), ask them if they have personally conducted an experiment to verify that fact. I'd be surprised if you get a single respondent who can even describe such an experiment, not to mention actually conducting it!

Have you every listened to an argument between people where either or both of the individuals repeat things they have already said? Each person assumes they are right, and if the other person disagrees he must not have heard correctly. Neither considers that they might be wrong.

Perhaps that is the very most important lesson of all to learn--that we don't know everything! A little bit of humility and open-mindedness would go a long way to solving the world's problems.

From Pathways daily ideas file, copyright Arthur de Leyssac, 2009; all rights reserved.