I think it's safe to say that most rational beings agree that facts and beliefs are not the same thing. Facts are statements of verified information, truths that are proven. Belief is choosing to decide that something is true in the absence of proof. Beliefs are not facts.
No matter how strongly or widely beliefs are held, a non fact will not become a fact. Intensity of belief also has no effect on facts. Nor does it matter that a majority holds those beliefs, and even holds them with great intensity. Consensus, majority agreement, even intense agreement does not make reality, it just makes agreement.
If we are in agreement on those facts, then let's dive into the reality of non-reality theories.
I've noticed that there is often a direct relationship between the number of people who share a belief and their aggregate inability to perceive the difference between fact and non fact. The higher the number or more powerful the group is, the less likely they are to remember or care that there is a difference. For these it seems a 'majority rules' mindset is in place, resulting in the attitude that because they outnumber you or have more power than you, their non-facts are elevated to facts. That's not possible of course. Their non-facts will remain non-facts because they are non-facts, regardless of taking a vote. It's called reality and it may be inconvenient, but there it is anyway. As simple a fact as that is to grasp, as obvious and clear as it may be, it's astonishing how regularly it is ignored.
Sometimes facts are too contrary to our existing beliefs for us to be able to accept them. They may be facts we just don't like, but unfortunately, even if we hate them it won't make them go away. Opinions, feelings and beliefs have no effect on facts. Reality is just not optional, even when large numbers of people choose to believe that it is.
Situations like that can quickly become scary and destructive because the fact is, you've got a whole group of people being dishonest with themselves who dislike the truth almost as much as those who speak it. The last thing they will tolerate hearing is any pesky evidence against their unprovable beliefs.
People swept away in self-deception have disconnected from the rules of fair and basic moral conduct. They will resist attempts to correct their disconnect and no amount of facts or hard evidence will bring on correction. I think it's true to say that they have lost touch with reality because very often they truly believe their disconnection from reality is the definition of reality.
When this situation exists in a large or powerful group it will lead to harm. That is a given. When people stop acting based on facts and reality they will not achieve their desired outcomes, not ethically and not without extraordinary force, it's impossible. In order to achieve a desired outcome we all have to work with the specific facts of the situation and stay in reality to get there.
It's a lot like baking a cake or building a motor. You need the correct ingredients or parts combined and constructed in the required order or you won't get a cake or a running motor. There's really no way around this and for those who insist there is, a long string of clashes, failures, and harm is all that will ever come of their effort. What's amazing is that they'll never concede that their failure to work with facts and reality is what's keeping them from getting what they want so badly.
INTELLIGENCE IS NOT A FACTOR
When, for whatever reason individuals or groups take the leap out of known facts and reality, they embrace an alternate theory either of their own design or of pre-constructed design by others and then simply assert that their theory will work. These can be highly intelligent people and still fall victim to believing all kinds of unrealistic theories and I think this is largely due to two things. One is that theories that are not reality based can assert things as facts that are not facts, and do so in a manner that seems to be reasonable. But reasonable is not factual, if they were the same thing we wouldn't have two different words for them in the dictionary. Something may seem reasonable but that doesn't make it factual. Not being able to tell what sounds good from what is real is an excellent way to screw yourself up.
The other thing at play boils down to fear. It's about wanting something that you can't get in reality, and often that's because what you want doesn't exist. But as much as we don't like to admit it, we humans are driven by our emotions and desires and when we desire something badly enough, we are often willing to do almost anything to get it. That includes lying, cheating, stealing, killing and buying into non-reality theories and pretending they are better than reality. And the more we desire something, the less willing we are to release whatever theory it is that we perceive to be our only route to getting what we desire.
Our desire to believe is very strong, especially if what we are being given to believe speaks to our fears and promises to relieve them. We hate being uncertain and insecure, sometimes to the point of hysterics. I'm not sure why folks don't understand that life is very uncertain and insecure and there's really only so much we can do about that. If we take common sense precautions and don't do stupid things we'll be as safe as you can possibly make yourself. But that fact is so unpleasant for many people that they want more than that, so they flock to the experts for advice. They've rarely if ever considered certain realities about experts that are rather obvious and very important.
Experts are the single most demonstrated group throughout history to be consistently proven dead wrong.
Experts are wrong about almost everything if you think about it. All it takes is for a little time to pass and the things popular experts were absolutely certain about 10 years ago or a hundred years ago are not what they're saying today. The expert advice from yesterday never lives very long and is always, always changed to something else and forgotten about a little way down the road. Do you believe that in fifty years from now experts will be saying the same things they are saying today about medicine or science or any other field that has experts? It just won't happen. In fifty years from now they'll be talking about things we've never even heard of today.
In the first half of the 20th century medical experts got on television and told Americans that smoking cigarettes was good for you. In the last half of the century they were going on television saying that smoking cigarettes is bad for you. Around the time of the Civil War experts scoffed at the idea that surgeons should clean their instruments or even wash their hands between patients. They found it ridiculous to think there were tiny little invisible things crawling around on their knives and fingers. The fact that some 90% of patients survived surgery but then went downhill and died within a few days was a mystery they could not explain, but they were experts and they said it was nonsense that cleaning anything had a thing to do with it.
Experts and officials told us after dropping the bomb on Japan that there was no radiation and it was safe. Today experts are telling us that eating chemicals in our food is safe, and that vaccines are safe, and that GMO's are safe and they aren't even providing data to back those things up. But people are so conditioned and so convinced that experts know everything, that many are suffering the consequences all around us and nobody can put two and two together. It's just not that hard to do if you step back and look at the facts. It is very hard to do if you simply choose to believe.
No matter what experts say they can tell you about test results and data and charts and graphs and it may sound very compelling and believable but that doesn't make it true.
Experts are not necessarily people who know the truth. They are people who absorb and accept mass quantities of the current prevailing opinions and beliefs and mix them in with truths. Since opinions and beliefs are not facts, and consensus on beliefs does not make them facts, then frankly, anyone who goes to experts to make their decisions for them risks making themselves into guinea pigs. They will become the basis for the data on the next new thing that experts believe in and present their data for.
Experts can also be liars. For the right amount of money or to achieve a little fame and prestige, you might really be surprised to find out how many times experts have looked you right in the eye and lied their asses off. And that's not a theory, that's a fact.
Statistics are definitely not facts and if you've ever done the slightest bit of data gathering and crunching you'll quickly see that results of any kind can be achieved by using whatever numbers you want to use. Unless you're willing to ask for the data used for any given statistics and then analyze them yourself you have no idea what you're being given. It is virtually guaranteed if an unrelated group were to gather statistics on the very same data that the results would be different, sometimes profoundly different.
Being quick to believe non facts in the real world is how we become victims time and again.
HARMING OTHERS IS BAD
There is a time when allowing people with non-reality theories to proceed as desired is absolutely the wrong thing to do, and that is when the harm being caused is being done to others who want nothing to do with these people or their theories. When that's happening I think it prevails on all of us to speak up, even when we're outnumbered by non-reality theorists, and it's important that as many of us speak up as possible. Because at times like these there is often no stopping these folks from perpetrating great harm on a great many people unless we can surround them and outnumber them ourselves, and force them to cease and desist. Hopefully peacefully.
Once major non-reality theories are underway, the folks behind it will have theorized every step they will take and every outcome of every action, and to whatever extent they have ignored facts and reality in any of those steps, they will fail. That failure will always surprise them too, but it will rarely illuminate them. They will simply dig in harder with even more non-reality based theories until they are literally winging it and making it up as they go, often leaving a trail of destruction and serious harm in their wake.
These are people operating on belief, not on facts, and to say they are dangerous at this point would be an understatement.
I don't know why groups who share non-reality theories do this so very often, but they do. They do it in science, in medicine, in religious organizations, in law, pop culture, media, love and politics and they hurt people every single time. Then to add insult to those they've injured, they blame their victims and indeed are often unwilling to admit that victims exist because victims are proof that their theories are wrong.
I guess when you're not dealing in facts then you can make up the rules as you go, and you can even believe them. It's absolutely amazing how intricate these theories can become, and this is inevitable over time because for every failure or unexpected bad result they must use more reasonable sounding non-reality theory to explain away those failures. They will seem to have a fast answer for everything, a quick dismissal of every presented fact, and an absolute disinterest in hearing anything that overwhelmingly proves that they are wrong.
Again, this will not replace reality by even a single atom. This is true even when the stated goals are noble, or beautiful or they have their hearts in the right places. That is all irrelevant. It is also irrelevant that they believe strongly, even with all of their being that they can get what they so badly want through a non-reality theory. They will not be able to achieve it. It's so simple it's almost confusing.
Something else I've noticed as I've watched these sorts of things play out on the world stage, is that the more unreal the theories get the more dangerous these people tend to become. They often don't recognize that they are endangering others, and when others are hurt by their direct actions, they will deny it. When it can no longer be denied that others are being harmed by their actions they will simply say outright that others being hurt is a price that must be paid in the glorious work they are doing for their good cause. This is the single most blatant evidence that they are working through non-reality theories. It's really up to those others getting hurt whether or not they are willing to sacrifice themselves in the name of any cause and generally speaking, they aren't.
Instant self-excusing of any heinous or callous act is an inevitable part of this non-reality process and at that point not taking a stand against it is helping them to perpetrate destruction and harm on others. Remember the harm is all for nothing because they cannot get where they want to go. It's all for nothing. They will wreak such profound damage and suffering on others that the carnage is beyond comprehension. Their disconnection from reality allows them to see that incomprehensible carnage as acceptable and justified in order to get what they want. If that's not the definition of insanity then give me a better one.
FORCE AND HEAD GAMES
Another tier of this non-reality theory system is that it will evolve into a situation where the believers begin to encounter so much dissent and disgust that the only way they can ensure they are able to continue doing things their unrealistic way, is to use force. They must bludgeon their way forward after a certain point, and ironically when this point comes they will begin to cry foul. They will begin to assert their 'right' to have their unreality theory and will assert their 'right' to harm as many others as they see fit in order to keep trying to alchemize non-reality into reality.
They have become so immersed in their belief system that to them reality is literally their enemy. Approaching them with facts and proof and evidence enrages them and they will say that they are being persecuted for their beliefs, or that they are being unfairly denied their right to live their lives as they see fit. They will also completely miss the obvious fact that those they are harming also have rights. Usually, to them others do not have rights, only they do, and that's 100% wrong. Everybody has the same human rights at all times and saying others don't is a hypocritical lie.
In official structures of this kind authorities will arrogantly assert as fact the obvious non fact that because they are self-proclaimed experts or authorities they are right. As illogical as that is, they use it every day and it works on the vast majority of people. In essence they are demanding that entire subjects belong to them and only they may offer opinions on it and outside opinions by definition can be rejected out of hand.
Outside opinions and disagreement from within or without are perceived as a form of attack that hurls them into vindictive self-defensive arrogance, and anything remotely resembling a fact or reality will be long out of the picture. Regardless of the group or individual, they will claim a great many things that will accuse everyone else of working against them and seeking to destroy them.
They would be right about that in a way. If they've managed to enrage and offend enough outsiders to their group, it may very well be that those outsiders want to take revenge. But by and large that's not the goal. The goal is only to force them to stop because what they're doing is invalid and causing irreversible and serious damage to innocent people or property or the environment or to society.
At this stage specific non-reality mind games ramp up, and the poison of determined non-reality believers is nothing if not sticky. When they've realized that they no longer have support from outside they will understand that their theory is under threat, and when that's apparent they will use it as an excuse to defend themselves.
This is a critical moment that we have to understand exists and we must be prepared for it. If we're unaware of this mind flip, this turning inside out of reality, we can easily be sucked into unreality and suddenly find ourselves unable to stand up to these people. What happens here is subtle but monstrous, it's clever but it's a false argument that goes like this.
We say: "Your beliefs are not reality and your actions are hurting people. You may not continue doing those things. You must stop now."
They respond: "You are being disrespectful of our beliefs. You hate us. You want to kill us. We have the right to exist. We will not stop working toward our desired outcome. You are evil for attacking us."
Or: "We are experts (or officials or authorities) who know everything and you are ignorant and know nothing. We have consensus and that makes us right and you wrong. We can force you to accept our assertions and your refusal to comply makes you an enemy (or a threat, or an incompetent, etc.).
They are turning non-facts around and doing what got them there in the first place, which is to use reasonable sounding assertions to justify their refusal to stop harming others. They are trying to turn attention back to us and put us on the defensive by asserting lies as facts and making some very serious but very false accusations. Next they will claim they are forced to harm others in order to do the right thing, and if we try to stop them it will prove them right.
It's easy to get hung up here because it twists reason into a balloon animal that floats away before you can get a hold of it.
If we get trapped by reasonable sounding assertions instead of staying firmly in facts, then they will prevail. As many people are quite reasonable, this trap is possibly one of the most dangerous and most difficult to expose. Worse, once people are trapped they will also find it difficult to turn back. We need to recognize the ploy and call it for what it is.
In the above argument we stated facts and told them they are not justified to continue pursuing their goals in the present manner because they are hurting innocent people. Their responses completely ignore the facts we just stated. They took off in completely unrelated directions that are of no interest to us, have no bearing on the situation, or no basis in fact. They're attempting to turn blame away from themselves and onto us hoping to escape responsibility for their actions. They've sidestepped the subject, and we should have expected that. After all it's the very reason we're all here in the first place. They are not functioning in reality and it's hurting people.
We need to respond with facts. Whether or not we respect anyone's beliefs is irrelevant. Our private feelings for others are also irrelevant. Accusations that we want to kill anyone had best be made with solid proof to back them up and proof should be immediately demanded. If they cannot supply it now then they cannot make unsupported accusations now, and we must force that point to the top of the argument. Of course proof never exists because they are lying and we can then say we recognize the ploy and insist that they face the charges and evidence against them. And last but not least, opinions are not facts.
Our response to their statements of non-reality should be: "What we are saying has nothing to do with your beliefs or anyone's feelings. What we are saying is that regardless of intent or beliefs or feelings, and regardless of your authority status, your actions are hurting others and they must stop now."
"Your actions are hurting others and they must stop now". That is what must be repeated and all of their assertions that do not directly and factually respond to that statement MUST BE IGNORED. This is the only field we came to play on, and we can't allow ourselves to be dragged off of it.
An example of asserting non facts as if they were a given is in the infamous question, "So, how long have you been beating your wife Mr. Jones?" The question asserts as fact that Mr. Jones beats his wife. The thing is Mr. Jones does not beat his wife and never has. But once this false assertion is made, it's a form of attack so underhanded and damaging that it can literally ruin Mr. Jones' life.
The nature of the accusation even though it's completely unfounded, stated as fact without any supporting evidence, is specifically intended to arouse strong emotions from anyone listening; which will result in people not caring about supporting facts or evidence. They will simply hate Mr. Jones.
This is the same strategy used by major media to strongly sway public opinion away from a true guilty party like a huge corporation or even the government and actually turn the victims into something so scary sounding and ugly that people emotionally react with fear and loathing. No one offers or asks for evidence to support assertions that the accused really are in a cult, or really is a child molester, or is a terrorist mastermind, or any other ugly accusation. It works too. It works every time.
It's truly that easy to get people sucked into non-reality theories by the millions. It happens every single day and very few people are aware that the game even exists. We usually have no idea to what extent we're operating on a set of completely false beliefs and we would deny that to be the case. Of course we will deny it without checking any facts because we've fully bought in to the knee jerk emotional reaction, so you can see how insidious and difficult to solve this problem can be.
I can't help but wonder about the fact that most of us know very little about the most common types of lies and deceptions. Why don't we? Could it be that those in powerful places use lies so often and to such great advantage that the subject of lies is purposely never brought up in public discourse? If we were all quick to recognize typical kinds of big fat lies, it would be very difficult for others to manipulate us into beliefs that are absolutely wrong yet quickly become unshakable. It would be a great advantage to those who understand the game, but for those who do not even know the game exists, there would be little to keep them from being driven to the desired responses like sheep.
These and many other similar scenarios are based on the same thing, non-reality theories that are perpetrated due to the fact that as a society we have the unfortunate habit of allowing groups with harmful beliefs to act in unreasonable ways. Unfortunately, once any non-reality theory becomes systemic, it is incredibly difficult to clean it up. It can take a century of dedicated effort by many people who don't even know each other who are willing to go against the status quo and keep repeating the facts which can be a very dangerous thing to do.
Many who have done so throughout history and today ended up deprived of justice, freedom, life or limb because non-reality theorists usually become quite brutal in the face of dissent.
Recognizing the many kinds of non-reality theories around us today is a good skill to develop, if we are at all interested in knowing the truth about our world and our lives and if the idea of being manipulated by unknown others bothers us. We can't hope to know the score if we don't even realize there's a game going on. And there always is a game going on.
I believe that everyone deserves to be treated respectfully unless they prove otherwise, so learning to be diplomatic and allowing others to have their take on things, even if they are clearly non-reality based is something we are obligated to do for one another. After all, to them, reality is non-reality and we don't want to be incendiary, hopefully. If their non-reality theory does not involve us or affect us then there is no basis in claiming it's any of our business what they believe. Using humor is also a good tool, and if push comes to shove and you are over ruled and outnumbered, I personally couldn't blame you for saying whatever they want to hear if it means getting out of that situation in one piece. That's not dishonesty, it's playing by the same rules they are. When in Rome, you know what I mean?
We have our work cut out for us along these lines today, I'm afraid, because non-reality theory has taken hold of the steering wheel on all of the biggest buses. We're being driven to the edge by people who think they're gracing us with their disconnection from the truth, and that's about as dangerous as it gets. I don't know what can be done to change it, usually all we can change is ourselves. Surviving it may be the best we can hope for as this growing storm continues to darken the skies above us.
There are some times we cannot do anything but take cover, and that's a survival skill also worth having. Just gaining the ability to recognize the difference between facts and beliefs will be of very good use in any case and will help us decide how to best handle the serious challenges we're facing now and will continue to face, no doubt for the rest of our days. And that's a fact.