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Reading and belief, critical observation

JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matterNetherlands Veteran

Have you noticed that it is very easy to believe what you read, easier than when you listen? Marshall McLuhan in his books talked a lot about the linear nature of print, about how man’s brain was becoming conditioned to accept the linear stream of information from reading. I’ve found myself that belief, faith, is easier to come by when you read… it’s like I become convinced.

To stay critical, observant, testing the knowledge that is presented, while reading a book, requires considerable alertness. I find that when I deploy skepticism I very quickly become inwardly derogatory and cynical, which is a state of mind I prefer to avoid because it feeds negativity. I have been experimenting with critical observation instead, but I find it quite tiring.

Do you ever find yourself slipping into “default belief” while reading?



  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    No. If I see something that requires me to hear a 'truth', I tend to investigate further. Call me a geriatric old cynic, but I've lived a long life where people have (consciously or otherwise) tried to 'pull the wool over my eyes.' I'm getting too old to be gullible.

    For example, when people post warnings about dog poisonings, cruelty to animals or fantastic feats of humanity and strength - I look up the source, and the origin. Occasionally, I'm satisfied to learn it's true. More often than not it's "fake news" and camera angles and pure fantasy.

    I tend to question everything.
    Kalama sutta.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    That’s very admirable @Federica … I have to make a conscious effort to keep my wits about me, it’s all too easy to slip into a “everything is wonderful” mode of thinking for me.

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    Yes, I've certainly noticed this - the tendency seems to be proportionate to the skill of the writer. I think I most often just let it go, let myself slip into 'default belief' rather than struggling against it, but maintain the awareness that it has occurred, and analyze it later for its validity or lack thereof. If the writer isn't very adept, I'll probably only read a few paragraphs anyway.

  • Tee hee!

    I will believe anything, even if it is untrue, contradictory or even defies all known arguments in this multiverse …

    wot a fool i iz!
    It can be useful BUT is dangerous and very close to madness, one of my hobbies.

    Perhaps if I describe it like this:

    Most of us are aware of 'attention' from our minds, heart, genitalia, empty belly, focussed reading/attention, fantasy media, overwhelming media etc

    Now the prevailing wisdom is the mind is singular and can not multitask … however the being of us still has an acting subconscious, superconscious and many of these click in and out as required or swamped by …

    Bye 🦞

  • Some people learn better by reading, some by listening. It's apparently pre-wired and you are the way you are. I think I'm both; I don't discern a significant difference.

    I do find written material more thorough but I think that's a function of the presenter, not of the receiver (me). If I research a technical topic, a well written expository is likely to have had review and revision by the author; someone randomly talking in a video is generally more extemporaneous and less scholarly.

    But again, I think this is due to a difference in the material itself, specifically the diligence with which it was prepared, more than the medium through which it is presented.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited January 2023

    For myself I find it's not so much easier to believe as easier to digest/understand. I have constant tinnitus and am deaf in my left ear so that doesn't help matters either.

    @Jeroen said: Do you ever find yourself slipping into “default belief” while reading?

    The closest I get to this is a suspension of disbelief which I use to be able to enjoy and get the moral out of an otherwise flight of fancy.

    When it comes to learning about something I like a combination of listening, reading and watching.

  • marcitkomarcitko Veteran
    edited January 2023

    @Jeroen said:
    Have you noticed that it is very easy to believe what you read?

    I am reminded of my first year of studying political science at University. We were given two books to read on the theory of general societal organization. I first read Nozick and thought: "This sounds quite convincing". I then read the second book, Rawls, and thought: "This sounds quite convincing". Then one day soon thereafter I realized: "oh shit, Nozick and Rawls are totally contradictory, they cannot both be right".

    And since I never resolved this issue, how to wade through contradictory arguments intellectually and come to a true perspective with certainty or at least great conviction, so my hoped-for and later offered academic career went down the drain :)

    I am trying to resolve this issue now, no more postponing.

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