“Do not believe anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
Whether the originator of this quote was actually Buddha is apparently debatable (hence the asterisk), but the truth behind each of the statements made still remains, regardless. What’s basically being discussed in this quote is logical fallacies, and I’ve been wanting to blog on some of those for a while now. (;
So, as for the first sentence – do not believe anything simply because you have heard it – it isn’t (to my knowledge) a named logical fallacy, but I would hope it’s pretty self-evident that you should not believe things simply because you heard them somewhere. That would be the definition of gullibility and would leave you believing everything, which would inevitably lead to many contradictions in your brain and probably leave you feeling pretty unhappy with yourself.
”Do not believe anything simply because it is rumored by many” is referring to the appeal of popularity, or ad populum. Believing things just because everyone else does is a fallacy because an idea being popular does not make it somehow truer. False ideas have, throughout the course of history, been very popular, like demon possession causing illnesses and mental disease, the earth being flat, and human sacrifices having some kind of measurable effect on our natural and physical environment. Clearly, somebody’s opinion can not be invalid solely because it is not the same as everybody else’s.
The next two lines in the quote are essentially talking about two very similar logical fallacies that both show an over-reliance on a perceived-as-true source. The first – believing things simply because they are in your religious books – is the fallacy of blind loyalty. It means you are overly trusting of your sources, to the point where you believe things simply because of where they came from. Right after that, you have the appeal to authority mentioned, which is claiming certain things as true simply because the person who originally claimed them is in a position of “authority.” People in positions of authority are no more likely to tell the truth than anybody else, and, in fact, they are rather notorious for using their power to tell and sell lies. The president of this country in 1998 made the statement, on-camera, that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Well, as we all know, that statement didn’t turn out to be true.
The last fallacy that thou shalt not commit according to this quote is the appeal to tradition. We should not do things simply because that’s how it’s “always been done” or because it’s “worked best so far.” On the other side of this fallacy, you have the appeal to novelty, which is saying that something is right or good simply because it is new.
So, how are we to come to believe things if not in the aforementioned ways? Well, I agree with the quote that careful observation, thorough analysis and – in my words – unbiased reason are faculties that everybody would do well to practice. What should we be striving for in doing these things? Again, I completely agree with what Buddha* said in that we should be focused on creating a society which is conducive to our common good, but without losing sight of individual rights in the process – “the benefit of One and all,” as the quote puts it.
There are, of course, many more logical fallacies out there that could not possibly all be covered in this post, so I highly recommend looking into those if you have not done so before. People believing in so many illogical untruths, as discussed in this post, is a large part of why the world has all the issues that it has today. Though I am pretty adamant about the powers of love, it is good to note that in absence of truth, love can not love at all (I think the new age movement promotes a lot of this, but that’s for another post).
So, here’s to truth! And from there on, love.
I hope you all have a wonder-full day. ❤