Conventional Wisdom & the Paleo Approach
I want to talk a little bit about Conventional Wisdom.
Now, conventional wisdom comes into play a lot in Paleo circles, because often time the Paleolithic prescription is at odds with conventional wisdom.
But look we’ve all heard the quotes, the cliches…we all know that a lie can get half way around the world before the truth gets a chance to put its pants on. We all know that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, eventually people will believe it.
Those truths are the basis of the art and science of propaganda and marketing.
It’s kind of interesting. Does something become conventional wisdom when a sufficient number of people believe it? Or do people believe things because they are conventional wisdom?
That’s probably a false dilemma, because it surely goes both ways.
You know, I think it bears mentioning that every leap forward in human knowledge has come from people who were free from conventional-wisdom thinking.
Maybe that’s it.
Conventional Wisdom is sometimes correct, sometimes incorrect…but what’s important is coming at questions with a mentality that isn’t concerned with lining up with conventional wisdom. So many of my favorite people have had a little bit of an anti-conventional wisdom streak running through them. People like Alan Watts who you’ll hear after the show. But how about Carl Sagan, Steve Jobs, or just about every great thinker of our time?
Is conventional wisdom just lazy thinking?
Maybe it’s a cop out. Everyone knows saturated fat is bad for you so it must be bad. Well, thank goodness not everyone thinks like that.
And I suppose that eventually the conventional wisdom gets closer to the truth. After all, most people today at least do believe the earth is round. That the earth revolves around the sun.
Of course, some people were killed and imprisoned for being early adopters of those theories…just saying.
But guess what? At any given time there is going to be a huge set of conventional wisdom that’s wrong. The wool is pulled over our eyes, all of us. There are things all of us accept as true, which are wrong.
But there is maybe a state of mind or a way of thinking that can keep us from being so wrong. And its not just an open mind. I think it has to do with acknowledging that some levels of complexity are incomprehensible. That even though a representative model may be damn good at giving us predictable results that match up with the real world…that model is nearly always going to be too simplistic.
When we leave a little room for doubt in all of our positions, we leave a little room for break-throughs, too. For advancing to new levels ever closer to an elusive truth, even if we never quite get all the way there.