Perceptions, Post-Truth and Progress

“A hill appears steeper if you’ve just exercised, and a landmark appears farther away if you’re wearing a heavy backpack. You create your own reality, and you believe it.” So says Isaac Lidsky in his TED talk about how going blind can give you vision.

Well it appears we now live in a post truth society. It was the word of the year according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which they defined as “an adjective defined as relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

The idea that truth is in the eye of the beholder makes my stomach churn, and goes against everything I’ve held as sacrosanct. Experts are dismissed as irrelevant, and we are suffering a crisis of understanding. The opportunity for false prophets to profit is higher than ever.

So we certainly need to remain vigilant against that, whilst at the same time acknowledge that perhaps we’ve focussed too much on trying to understand the world and not enough time understanding each other. So we need to be just as vigilant against the rather fascinating Backfire Effect, which occurs when, in the face of contradictory evidence, established beliefs do not change but actually get stronger.

As my good friend and 100%Open associate Sean Miller says “Everyone’s logic makes perfect sense to them.” Well I guess it’s time we started explaining ourselves a bit better and making sense of each other’s perspectives with a genuinely open mind. To connect and collaborate, and build more bridges and not walls.

We may be flying blind in a post-truth world right now but perhaps, as Isaac Lidsky learned this was all just part of the process. If we can find a way to change our perceptions of each other then maybe we can change reality. And with 600 marches taking place around the world last weekend, I see some hope for a new vision emerging for the kind of world we want to create together.

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