The History of Reality Denial
Reality denial exists all over the world. We deny realities long proven true with evidence from multiple sources. Our beliefs shield us from realities we find unpleasant or confusing. We deny global warming despite an overwhelming amount of evidence from around the world. The more time marches on, the more absurd our denial becomes. We could excuse people thousands of years ago for denying realities most people did not understand, but we are being openly ignorant if we still deny these basic realities today.
Believing in something does not make it real. Our beliefs are temporary assumptions about the world. We base them on our experiences with the world and other people. No baby has ever been born believing anything about the world. They are a blank slate. Luckily, we have other people looking after us. They keep us alive until we become conscious of the world. We gather beliefs from our parents, mentors, and teachers. Accepting reality is impossible if we only learn about other people’s beliefs and not reality.
You do not have to believe in your need for food. Your stomach feels hunger and you know to eat. Your beliefs guide you toward what you eat. If we allow our children to choose what they eat, they will probably only choose things that taste good to them. Most of these foods will be high in sugar, calories, and salt because our palates are not sophisticated when we are young. We believe what we eat only needs to taste good. When we are older, we learn about nutrition, but still eat mainly good tasting non-nutritious food. Our beliefs allow us to ignore the damage we are doing to our bodies. We believe we no longer can control what we eat.
The history of reality denial has many origins. The earliest and most influential beliefs most people had were their religious beliefs. Of all religions, Christianity in all its forms tops the list of most influential around the world. As science emerged, scientists exposed religions as denying many fundamental realities. Many religions, especially Christianity, fought to hold on to their beliefs (and their followers) using racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. All these forms of discrimination existing today can trace their roots to the religious discriminatory practices of the past.
The reality denial of the past led to many negative concepts people believed were real. The concept of good and evil led to concepts of winning and losing, simplistic this or that thinking, heroes and villains, moral and immoral behavior, us versus them thinking, and other reality denying concepts. These concepts led to most forms of discrimination we see today. We label things such as racism as the problem. The problem is our beliefs that began these racist behaviors. Race is a non-scientific concept born from racist beliefs. Eugenics was one of the worst forms of discrimination stemming from these beliefs.
The only way we can get away from these negative beliefs is to value our knowledge over our beliefs. We base all our beliefs on ignorance because, once you learn the reality of what you believe, they are no longer beliefs. They are knowledge. Most societies around the world continue to base many of their laws on beliefs rather than reality. Basing our laws on reality means we only create laws that solve actual problems for all of a society. We need to stop valuing people’s beliefs about reality. Until we do this, reality denial will continue.