Updated: May 1
The other day I was chatting with a some folks that believe that the pentagram is pure evil. One or more proclaimed that they would not pull into a parking lot as there was one on a building. Seriously, they are afraid of a star.
When one observes someone being afraid of an inanimate object, one that has been around for thousands of years, it seemed the right thing to do to try to assuage that irrationality. Offer some knowledge and logic. Give them some facts on which to base their opinion. After all, knowing what you don't know is as important as knowing what you know.
Wanna guess how well it worked?
Sure, some occult use the pentagram as a symbol, but it has been around since at least 3500 BCE. As such it has many other connotations. After all, symbols can have multiple meanings as was wonderfully illustrated in the movie, the DaVinci Code's Symbol Lecture. The pentagram symbolized the virtues of knighthood To the ancient Greeks and Romans the Pentagram was a symbol of balance and health. Chinese and Japanese consider it as a symbol of the five elements of life It was also symbol of the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, representing health and knowledge
Christians use the pentagram to represent the 5 wounds of Christ
Don't forget that the pentagram is a mathematical beauty, considered the "golden ratio" as illustrated to the world by Leonardo DaVinci with his iconic Vitruvian Man Think they cared that early Christians thought that the pentagram was the opposite of evil but rather was used to ward off demons? Did it matter to them that it was a symbol of Mary's love for her son...you know...that fellow that they claim to love....Jesus Christ? Did it matter to them that an inanimate object cannot be, in and of itself, evil. Or that it is just a freaking star?
You guessed it...none of that mattered...not one little bit. Maybe they saw it in a movie or some such. Maybe they just always look to the negative. It matters not how they got there, to them it is "evil" and they are afraid to be near it. The conversation ended with "I disagree therefore I will not talk about it." Think about how sad that it. "Because I believe something I will not consider any other information and therefore I cannot have a conversation." Wow! Thinking has become all too rare. As Thomas Sowell once said, "The problem isn't that Johnny can't read. The problem isn't even that Johnny can't think. The problem is that Johnny doesn't know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling."
It is disturbing that people use feelings instead of thoughts to arrive at conclusions, but sadly it happens all too often. Because of this lack of using the grey matter, we are often wrong. But being wrong isn't bad if you learn from it. There is a better, healthier, more productive way to be and that is to think and have an open mind and embrace your mistakes.
Organizational Psychologist Adam Grant wrote an excellent book called Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. He said that the three most common modes we use to defend our beliefs: those of preachers, prosecutors or politicians. In preacher mode, we’re convinced we’re right. In prosecutor mode, we’re trying to prove that others are wrong. In politician mode, we’re trying to win the approval of others. What Grant says is a better way is to get into scientist mode
“Thinking like a scientist involves more than just reacting with an open mind. It means being actively open-minded.
It requires searching for reasons why we might be wrong—not for reasons why we must be right—and revising our views based on what we learn.”
Trust me, I am no stranger to being wrong. Just recently I had to do a couple of Mia Culpas. One was on "doodles" as my view is that it is difficult enough to breed purebred dogs. No way does a soccer mom have the expertise, training and experience to do a cross. My vet made his point, based on reality and experience. In the end, being intellectually honest, apparently the poodle is the "vodka dog" as it mixes well with anything. I was wrong and publicly admitted it. It was just a couple of weeks later that a friend pointed out that I was following the herd on the definition of "transgender." The press and the public at large are lumping, gay, transgender and drag queens all into the same category.
We discussed it and you know what, he was absolutely right and I was wrong. This was evidenced by the fact that in a piece I had previously written Gender Identity Disorder & Suicide is No laughing matter I had used a picture of a drag queen when the subject was transgender. When I told a buddy about these incidents of being wrong, he said "You are having a bad run, Loëb"
No, just the opposite. I was wrong and discovered it. That is a win.
We are all wrong. It is not bad, it is inevitable. As the late, great CEO of General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan once said "If you do it right 51 percent of the time you will end up a hero." It is important to remember, when a scientist is experimenting, they do not fail or succeed. They are simply proving or disproving a hypothesis. If their hypothesis turns out to be incorrect it is more data on what doesn't work. That data helps them form new hypotheses and run further experiments. So how do we embrace scientific thought? How do we think more critically?
Paraphrasing Adam Grant Favor humility over pride, curiosity over conviction. Know what you don’t know. Be eager to discover new things. Don’t let your ideas become your identity. Look for reasons why you might be wrong, not just reasons why you must be right.
Listen to ideas that make you think hard, not just the ones that make you feel good. Surround yourself with people who challenge you, not just people with whom you agree. After all "if you don’t get good at rethinking, then you end up being wrong more often. I think it’s one of the great paradoxes of life: The quicker you are to recognize when you’re wrong, the less wrong you become." Do these things and you will become more productive, more successful and due to intellectual well-being, you will be happier. And eventually, you can, without fear, park next to a building with a star on it.