Welcome to the latest issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. The newsletter exploring what it means to be free in an increasingly not-so-free world.
Whether you're looking to locate your authentic self or investigate sovereignty, you're in the right place! In each post, with just a few minutes of reading, I aim to expand your awareness through a quote and a piece of content that made me go hmm...
Sounds intriguing? Start learning with issues sent directly to your inbox:
Have you noticed our world's unhealthy relationship with "facts?"
Or are you wracking your brain, wondering what on earth Seb is on about?
Hopefully, you resonate with the former, but if not, let me explain.
Have you ever found yourself going along with the crowd even when you knew it wasn't right? If so, you're not alone. In fact, a groundbreaking study from 1957 by psychologist Solomon Asch sheds light on our innate desire to conform to those around us.
In this study, participants were asked to judge the length of lines compared to a reference line (example below), but here's the catch: seven out of the eight participants were in on the experiment and deliberately gave the wrong answer. As you might expect, the eighth participant, the only real participant, felt the pressure to conform and ended up giving the wrong answer 33% of the time.
What's particularly intriguing about this study is how it reveals our tendency to rely on social cues and group dynamics to shape our beliefs and behaviours.
But where did this conformity come from, you might ask?
First, from an evolutionary standpoint, to maximize survival, humans will usually look to expend the least amount of energy to achieve a given task.
In the case of learning, the least energy-intensive path is to be given the answer rather than taking on the long and arduous path of self-exploration. This tactic worked well in hunter-gather times when life was simple, but this can quickly lead us astray in our chaotic and complex modern world.
And second, we have a biological tendency to fear rejection and seek acceptance from others. In other words, we like to conform.
When stating a "fact," there is typically limited confrontation or debate as we have this belief around facts that "it is what it is. There's no point in debating a fact."
However, by constantly searching for the path of least resistance, we rely on external sources for our information. Over time this over-reliance creates a centralization of power to those who can think for themselves.
To put it differently, "facts" create conformity as you rely on the crowd instead of your internal ability to deconstruct the information provided to you.
With this in mind, we should seek truth, even if it is at the expense of a little more energy or a confrontational engagement.
Insightful content which made me go, hmm...
The book is essentially a journey into our evolutionary past and how it impacts us modern-day humans. And it was through this book that I first stumbled upon the idea that:
Tools > Facts
Do you ever feel like you're at the mercy of the so-called "facts" constantly thrown your way? To summarize Heather and Bret, the key to taking back control is to develop the skills and knowledge needed to determine the truth for ourselves.
Despite the emphasis on memorizing and regurgitating facts we've all experienced through our schooling and arguably our evolutionary background, it's becoming increasingly clear that this approach isn't enough to help humanity flourish. Instead, we need to focus on honing our ability to learn effectively, mastering first principles thinking, and figuring out how to analyze information objectively.
And let's not forget the importance of critical thinking! Knowing when to put on our skeptical hats and question the information we're given is essential if we want to be truly empowered as individuals. Only then can we become masters of our own truth.
By honing these mental tools, we no longer have to take these "facts" presented to us at face value and can instead decipher whether or not what is being said holds water ourselves.
Here are a two tools to get you started:
First, embrace your inner skeptic! When you hear a "fact," don't just take it at face value. Instead, take a moment to question why it's believed to be true. Better yet, play devil's advocate and ask why it could be false. By doing this, you'll start to develop a more nuanced understanding of the information you're being given and become better equipped to distinguish fact from fiction.
And second, resist the temptation to jump straight to Google when trying to answer a question. While search engines can be a useful tool, they can also create a dangerous reliance on external sources of information.
With this in mind, put on your critical thinking hat and go back to first principles. Try to decipher the question and come up with your own answer.
If you were way off, why were you way off? Go back to the drawing board and expand your knowledge. If you were spot on, you have just created a positive feedback loop of discovery as you have just practiced critical thinking without reliance on an external entity.
By developing these skills, you'll be better equipped to think for yourself and make informed decisions based on a deep understanding of the world around you.
Humanity seems to have forgotten that "facts" do not promote an innovative environment, let alone prosperity. But tools that allow people to be creative and think for themselves do.
Wrapping things up...
In a world that's growing ever more complex, it's becoming increasingly clear that blindly accepting "facts" and relying on others for information simply won't cut it. If we want to truly flourish and become more self-sovereign, we need to focus on deciphering our multifaceted world for ourselves.
So, the next time you feel the urge to regurgitate something you heard on the news or a fact someone shared with you, stop! And then put on your critical thinking hat. By questioning the information you're given and taking control of your own understanding of the world, you'll be better equipped to make informed decisions and become a true master of your own fate.
So go forth and embrace the power of critical thinking - your brain (and the world) will thank you for it!
Thanks for taking the time to read this issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. I hope you found it insightful.
I always welcome feedback and thoughts. So, do not hesitate to respond to the newsletter email, comment on the article or reach out via Twitter.
The future is bright!