Belief can make you stupid.
When you believe something strongly, when you firmly hold an opinion, you can end up spending your intelligence on justifying or explaining away facts that are contrary to your belief. Your intelligence and power of reasoning could be better spend on constructive efforts like fixing the flaws in your beliefs or creating something new.
We see this in politics every day – trying to justify one’s own position instead of keeping the eye on the ball, the result… a better society.
Marty Rathbun’s latest latest blog post is an excellent example of a guy justifying his beliefs. Mike Rinder’s comment inspired me to write this post here. Scientologists become experts in justifications as they are told to believe that the subject is The Only Way to salvation. When cracks become visible – they start justifying why the cracks are not there or why they are there for a greater reason. After years of studying the subject, they become extremely skillful in this. This may be the reason why Scientology is and should remain a religion. It is a belief system. It could move into the category of science, but not without inflicting severe pain in its justifiers.
Science is the practice of doing away with one’s beliefs and replacing them with knowledge.
Beliefs are healthy and important when they serve as motivation toward a goal. Beliefs are great for urging to action, but a substitute when used to explain what is.