SKEPTICISM AND DOUBT
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© November 2019, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Skepticism. This is doubting, or the belief that one does not quite accept as truth what one has been told or taught. However, one does believe that it is possible that it is the truth. It is a type of confusion of the mind.
There are degrees of skepticism – from slight to extreme.
Skepticism is not the same as denial or disagreement, which means one totally disagrees with what one has been told or taught.
There is also a school of philosophical thought called skepticism, in which one does not believe in anything to a great degree.
A definition of doubt. Doubt is similar to skepticism. However, it may be viewed psychologically and physiologically as a slowing of the thinking processes of the mind.
Doubting always moves one in a new or different direction. In this regard, doubting is a very important mental process. It is part of wisdom, but is can also do terrible damage to a person’s psyche.
WISDOM AND DOUBT
Wisdom can be said to be knowing when, why and whom to doubt. Wisdom also always involves a little skepticism so that one will take a closer look at everything.
This is how one learns more. If there is no skepticism at all, often one just turns into a robot or an imitator.
THE ROOTS OF DOUBT
1. Physical reasons. These might include seeing someone who followed certain advice who is now physically or mentally ill, or who died. This is enough to make people doubt certain advice, even though it may only be a single person for whom the advice did not work.
2. Emotional reasons. One may doubt because a statement or other information does not “feel” right. A common example is that the idea that a nation is much safer if people own guns does not feel good to some people, even though it is absolutely correct.
3. Ego reasons. Some information threatens the lower self or ego part of our mind. Many people doubt for this reason. For example, telling people that it is best for them not to eat their “traditional” junky diet is absolutely correct, but the ego mind may not like it because it is not as comfortable to change one’s eating habits.
4. Social reasons. Many people doubt correct information because their friends, family disagree with the information.
5. Work-related or creativity-related reasons. Doubt can occur because new information may interfere with one’s work, career or some creative endeavor in which one is engaged.
6. Ideological reasons. Many people doubt ideas that conflict with an ideology or world view that they hold.
7. Spiritual or religious reasons. Doubt can occur because new information conflicts or seems to conflict with the teaching of one’s religion. It can also occur because when one prays and asks for guidance, one receives different information.
PSYCHOLOGICAL REASONS WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE SKEPTICS AND DOUBTERS?
1. Weak-willed people. They tend to bend and defer to pressure from their family and friends, rather than do what they know is right.
2. Some very strong-willed people. These people are often caught up in their own belief systems to such as degree that they immediately doubt anything that does not fit into their belief system.
This is okay if the doubt is not too strong. However, strong-willed people are often so sure of themselves that they shut out the truth.
3. People whose brains do not work well. They have ‘brain fog’, dementia, memory problems or some other problem with thinking. As a result, they cannot comprehend well enough to form valid opinions and may be caught up in doubt and skepticism for this reason.
4. People who are ignorant. This often leads to skepticism simply because the person has not been exposed to the ideas presented to him or her before, so they sound unusual or strange.
5. Arrogant people. These are people who think they know when they do not know as much as they think. It is very common.
When someone presents information that is different from what they think they know to be the truth, they quickly become doubters or skeptics.
6. A chemical imbalance in the brain that causes or accentuates skepticism or oppositional or doubting attitudes. You may doubt this idea. However, we find that when a person’s body has excessive copper, and perhaps too much of other toxic metals such as manganese or aluminum toxicity, one may be more likely to be a doubter.
In part, this is because the brain simply does not function well. Clients report that as they eliminate toxic metals and restore vital nutrients to the body, they become much more sure of themselves and their decisions.
7. Dishonest or lazy people. These are people who do not want to change their ideas and/or do not want to face the possibility that they are or have been incorrect about some subject.
They use doubt as their excuse, one could say, to avoid looking at anything that might upset their world or their life.
8. Those who judge the messenger. An important reason some people doubt is that information is presented to them by someone or a source that they do not trust.
This is an important problem in society. People are taught, for example, to trust the television news, or their doctor, or their attorney or accountant. When someone who is not an authority figure tells them something, they quickly become skeptical. Meanwhile, when their authorities tell them something, they often do not doubt enough.
In part, this is impossible to overcome because we all have our trusted sources of information. However, a wise person will have some doubt about all information, no matter where it comes from. In addition, a wise person will not just discard information because it comes from an unlikely source.
9. Mentally ill people. Some people continuously doubt everything and everyone, including themselves. They question things so much that it paralyzes them.
DOUBT AND THE OXIDATION RATE
Doubting tends to slow down the oxidation rate of a person. This is related to the metabolic rate, but not the same. It can be a positive effect, or it can be quite harmful. For details about oxidation rates, read Fast, Slow and Mixed Oxidation.
CAUGHT IN DOUBT AND SKEPTICISM
While there is “healthy skepticism”, some people become caught up in doubt. This is a very uncomfortable and unhealthy situation.
This can impair or stop one’s ability to make decisions. It usually also leads to negative emotions such as depression, fear, confusion, anger and others.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE CAUGHT IN DOUBT
Here are several strategies to help with doubt and skepticism:
1. Learn more about the subject, keeping an open mind. This is sometimes very helpful. However, the internet also contains a lot of confusing and wrong information, so be cautious.
Go back to the person who told you something new and ask lots of questions. People often do not do this enough. Also, you can ask for other sources or information that confirm what the person has told you.
2. Sometimes you can feel or sense whether the new information has any validity. This is tricky, however, because new information that opposes what you have learned will usually feel a little strange, especially at first.
So do not just go with your first impressions. Do not judge and explore the new information a little more, provided doing this is safe for you. That is a very important warning!
3. Sleep on it. This means do not rush to judgment. Take your time.
4. Be patient and pray to God or the Holy Spirit or the Universe for help in dealing with your doubt. This is very powerful. Of course, you must remain open-minded in order to receive answers, but they are usually given in one form or another.
If you get an answer, ask again for confirmation until you feel sure of the answer.
5. A psychological strategy that can work well if you find yourself caught in doubt is to doubt your doubt. It may sound unusual, but it can work.
For example, let us say you doubt your abilities or your doubt that you are attractive or handsome. Instead of wallowing in this situation, as many people do, try doubting your insecurity, your fear, your incompetence and your lack of attractiveness.
This will set your mind moving in a new direction that is much more positive. In fact, it is part of the beginning of wisdom and self-love.