Saturday, June 4, 2011

'Motivated Reasoning': The Opposite of A Suspension of Disbeliefs

Illus: Jonathon Rosen

Now I know what theoretical psychologists sit around and argue about over beers. So I was left to consider and reinterpret what I believe the core concept of 'A Suspension of Disbeliefs' to be in relation to how we live our lives. Essentially, I consider it a positive faculty - to suspend ones disbelief that they can be a great writer, or a rock star or a president. Maybe you don't believe you can be an NBA draft pick, because the odds are so horribly against you, but suspend that disbelief and you release energies that say "I can", not because it's mathematically possible, but simply because you have removed your greatest obstacle - your own disbelief. Removing other's disbelief is more difficult and many times, impossible. I fell on an article in Mother Jones magazine that illuminated to me what the opposite of a suspension of disbelief might be.

The theory of  'motivated reasoning'. This is held by people who do not want to believe something. They strongly want to disbelieve it. Even though it may be true and even offer good things, they choose to hold on to their old beliefs because those beliefs are so deeply ingrained. "The earth is flat". These are people who refuse to suspend disbelief because that would be too challenging, too uncomfortable.    

So if I am willing to continuously challenge my beliefs, I am employing a suspension of disbeliefs, in search of new knowledge. I am willing to consider things I don't believe in. A positive thing - as opposed to using 'motivated reasoning' and just sticking with what I already know - a not so positive thing. 

I have found there is little greater motivation than being told one can't do something. The only person I need to convince that I can is myself - and I do that by challenging my ingrained belief that I can't. I suspend my own disbelief, and then I can.

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
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D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Read my previous blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies.