Travel To Grow

Understanding The World Through Travel

Polaroid Photo
Dec '09

Be Open Minded, but Question Everything

george carlin

“It’s all bullshit folks, and it’s bad for you” – George Carlin

I’ve been watching a lot of the late George Carlin recently. He was one of the world’s most famous comedians, but on stage rather than just telling jokes he brought up a lot of intelligent real world issues. One theme throughout his comedy is so emphasized and I think it’s so important that I wanted to write about it.

In one program the main point he was driving at was… as he put it so artistically… The world’s full of bullshit, and it’s bad for you, so question everything.

Basically, don’t believe anything you read(including this website), anything you hear or anything you watch until you question it and see if it makes sense for you, and even after that you shouldn’t decide something is definitely true unless you have experienced it for yourself.

A lot of people however, take this idea of being a skeptic and questioning things the wrong way. Instead of being open minded about everything, they put all their effort into shooting down anything that doesn’t fit in their current reality. If I told you for example, that psychic abilities were real, and you decided immediately that you know they aren’t real and then told me all the reasons it was bullshit, your being a bad skeptic because you aren’t questioning everything your merely deciding its false and backing it up. A good skeptic will remain open to the idea it may be true and then look into the logic or evidence for both possibilities. Because of how our brains work, when we fail to remain open minded about things we tend to shut ourselves off from any evidence that would support their validity. Remaining open minded while questioning what you see is the only safe way to ensure you aren’t fooling yourself.

Question what you think you already know

When you travel it’s easy to see how we get a lot of ideas and impressions about something and forget to question it. I know before I came to china I had different expectations of what I would find. I expected to see a lot more of the eastern things I had been told China was full of. I expected a much higher percentage of people to be into kung fu or tai chi, I expected to encounter lots of interesting Chinese remedies and medicines, I thought the food would be quite different, I thought the locals would act different, I expected people would talk more about karma or yin and yang and I’ve been very surprised to not see a single person try out the local Dance Dance Revolution game! 😀

To someone who’s lived here my preconceived ideas of china might have been a little ignorant, but the truth is that’s all I’ve ever been shown of the country, that’s all the media focuses on, the rare things that make china so unique. I’ve also learned that the Chinese people have a lot of incorrect preconceived notions about North America too. My friend Matt and I had to argue a few times with the locals telling them that not everyone in America and Canada is rich, that not everyone owned cars, and that there were in fact homeless people in these countries. They had a really hard time believing us because their preconceived ideas were so strong. All they knew was what they had seen on TV or in magazines about our countries and they accepted these images as fact and forgot to question their validity.

The most accepted things need to be questioned the most

The things we need to question the strongest are the things that the most people in the world believe. We think if everyone else believes it then it must be true right? Anytime the majority of the population believes something it’s extremely easy to take it as the obvious truth without looking deep into it. The worlds of religion, politics, and government are full of things that are accepted as true or normal without being questioned. Throughout history there have been countless times that an individual questioned and then challenged what the majority of the population believed, and the new truths they purposed ended up changing the course of human history. It is said that any new truth will pass through 3 stages. First it will be ridiculed, then it will be violently opposed, and finally it will be accepted as self evident. Ensure you question the current world to find your own truths, but ensure you remain open minded so that you aren’t the one ridiculing or violently opposing other emerging truths.

Being open minded can open up your life to a world of valuable insights and realizations, but ensure while remaining open minded that you questions everything with a healthy dose of skepticism to keep yourself on the right track.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

1 Comment »

  • lol