In our search for truth, we might fall into the trap that says “Well since I can’t be sure something is true, there’s no point in trying.” Or that “there’s no value in exploring untrue or wrong ideas.” But this isn’t actually the case. The fact is, the more information we review at a personal level, the greater our discernment skills become. The more wrong information we consider, the better we know the right information we’ve gained throughout life—the better we’ll know thyself.
For instance, we might say, “Well since flat earth theories sound incredible, or invalid, there’s nothing to be gained by studying the topic.”
(To be clear, I’m not advocating the earth is flat. I’m saying to review this theory strengthens our knowledge when we properly discern.)
Of course, we have to be wise about what we expose ourselves to because there’s a limited amount of time and space in one life. If we aren’t careful, we’ll fall off the path we’ve chosen for ourselves.
But generally speaking, exposing ourselves to information, especially things that seem untrue to you, is an excellent idea.
Consider this example. A friend tells you that there’s an elephant in your living room. Now, this idea sounds preposterous, and it likely is. But we can’t know for certain if our friend is wrong, without investigating ourselves. Incredulity or absurdity alone isn’t enough to produce a verified conclusion. By looking in your living room, you gain two things. 1. You know that there isn’t an elephant in your living room, by 2. understanding what is in your living room.
Thus, to prove a negative—which some people claim is impossible—you have to know what something is, in order to determine what it is not.
You now have a better comprehension of what is in your living room because you know your living room with greater detail, acuity, and wisdom.
Thus, by studying wrong information properly, you can develop an intrinsic and highly detailed understanding of why something is wrong, which simultaneously highlights the right information in your knowledge base.
Your knowledge, in this sense, is more useful when it has been tested.
A belief that we should be kind and compassionate with others appears more correct when we experience or observe unkindness, whether from others or ourselves.
The truth, for us as finite creatures, is a razor’s edge path. The more knowledge of truth we gain, the more we become aware of all the wrong ideas and beliefs that exist in the world. In this sense, the more ideas you determined to be wrong, the more clearly you know what you’ve determined to be right.
Contemplating truth, or falsehood is a holistic activity because we become more keenly aware of both when thinking of the other. We know more precisely that something is false, by understanding what is right. We more vividly know when something is right, by studying what is false.
Whenever possible, be sure to verify the rightness and wrongness of things personally.
This exercise enhances your truth detecting faculties, strengthens your knowledge, and enhances your ability to share information. The more you dynamically assess information, not resting on blind belief or rejection alone, the easier it is to speak about a topic to another person. You become an expert unto yourself, hopefully, wielding this authority with compassion and grace.
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