On Authority

What makes you expert enough to decide who to believe?

Authority is the almighty footnote (or now days, the link) But by what authority does one appeal to such authority? If you are using the work of another to heighten your virtue to the conversation, what expertise gives you the authority to endorse it? Authority simply means you are the author—it is a shame, really, that books now multiply by osmosis and libraries are filled with books about books—and the more footnotes the better! How on earth do you generate an original thought when inundated with opinion from all sides? How do you know the truth? By seclusion and solitude, by experience and not words from a page

Experience is not words or symbols that make them. Nor can experience by gained through the biastic process of reading what you agree with and dismissing what you don’t.

It seems that everyone is right, so everyone is also wrong, which means the amount of truth in the world could fit in a thimble. Each side vehemently believes they are right—it makes an interesting game, though not a very fun one. Is this game really worth the candle? Are things really that way, or are we all caught in the trappings of belief?

By endorsing the authority of another, it shows one must have some kind of expertise, that this person or group has a leg up on the situation and now you do too. Yet, if you have the expertise to make the judgment you are making, then you yourself are claiming some kind of authority—or that you don’t trust yourself but simply fall in line to the opinions of others based on how you were raised, which makes your opinions meaningless.

I can’t believe people can be this stupid!

If you are right and they are wrong, how can you decide they are wrong unless you are more expert on what they believe than they are?

If you believe you are right? in whose dogma are you believing that makes you more qualified to assess other beliefs of which you know less?

Bias is a funny thing—and like common sense, has been redefined by those who think they have it by some pure, determined analytical prowess (bias on steroids) versus the masses who don’t? Common sense is better defined as culture that acts in a commonly accepted behavior, but it really isn’t—only to you.

But in the end realize, the only common sense of today is this; that in spite of one’s beliefs about the other, the world is getting along just fine without them—nearly 8billion, one at a time, that can’t believe how stupid people are. We are right-on that—finally can agree.

For many millennia the world has been populated by an idiot majority—and realizing you play a part in that success should make you wonder (or sonder) and lead to a little tolerance, I would hope. Nevertheless, it’s an incredibly interesting show!

What makes you expert enough to decide who to believe? I have it on good authority (me) that by disconnecting from the grid and living in solitude for a few years, a life of living without words, not by the book or the videos (because that compels us to belief in another) that there is no monarchial boss of the universe. There is no father in heaven, nor are we separate from the whole thing.

Sonder: the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk—John Koenig—The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Your Own Beliefs, Or Submitting to Authority?

How religious authority is a catalyst against your natural kindness

For a long period of my life I submitted to authority—Religious authority. A well known study (Milgram Shock Experiment) had participants administer shocks to a learning participant. 61% of subjects were willing to eventually administer lethal shocks to a stranger, solely because the authority figure had directed it. The shocks were fake, but the participants were unaware of that fact.

One subject wrote a letter to the study’s founder during the Vietnam war. He said, “While I was a subject in 1964, though I believed that I was hurting someone, I was totally unaware of why I was doing so. Few people ever realize when they are acting according to their own beliefs and when they are meekly submitting to authority … To permit myself to be drafted with the understanding that I am submitting to authority’s demand to do something very wrong would make me frightened of myself … I am fully prepared to go to jail if I am not granted conscientious objector status. Indeed, it is the only course I could take to be faithful to what I believe. My only hope is that members of my board act equally according to their conscience ...

The religious are ripely submitting to authority. I do not believe for a moment that discrimination against gays, immigrants, women, transgenders, or any other focus of hate today is rooted in the minds of the people. It is rooted in the foundations of faith, which purported hate is the result of pulpits—and the authority we allow is a preacher behind a bible.

Eric Hoffer, one of my favorites writes, “Whenever we find a dispensation enduring beyond its span of competence, there is either an entire absence of an educated class, or an intimate relationship between those in power and the men of words (the preachers).

I’d say we have both. If you want to see what your own natural beliefs are before the preachers get to you, watch 2 young children play together before indoctrination.