This is an old topic revisited. I have blogged (or through Facebook Notes – those were the days!) some dinosaur years ago about how we instinctively choose so-called “scientific” claims over the words of people who have spent years investing time, emotions, and love in us.
Mothers Who Used to Know-It-All
The pivotal character in my previous post was about our mothers. When we were children, we trusted their words unquestioned and uncontested, then we learn about this thing called “critical thinking” in school, then we think we are some kind of smart-a** and started to question our mothers’ knowledge. They just need to falter once, fail once, and we smugly assume a more superior position and smack them down with our “scientific” evidences. When they tried to give us knowledge, it was out of love; when we tried to fail them, it was out of senselessness.
We Think We Knew Better
I remembered vividly that this thought trail arose from my mother’s complaint about the computer that broke down frequently. My first assumption was that she must have done something to the computer. Then, I held back on that thought for a bit. I wondered why did I trust an emotionless machine over my mother’s words? On what grounds did I base on, that the machine must be more trustworthy? There were other possibilities that the machine broke down, even without her participation, yet, I easily assigned her the blame instead.
Displacement and Projection
We often base our judgements on past experiences with not just this particular person, but also with other people of similar group. For example, we have known that many elderly people who are inconfident in handling computers and they often make some mistakes on the machine causing it to malfunction. My mother belongs to that similar group of people. The modern technology is setting them up to fail really, especially with some operating systems that constantly need updating on the foreground. Pop-up windows are scarily alarming for people who are not versed in computer or the (techie) language. We think computer is smarter than people, particularly smarter than our parents who aren’t tech-savvy.
Often times, when our mothers tell us what food to eat for whatever purposes, they all sounded like some sort of mambo-jumbo – to be fair, my mother really gives baseless claims as she deems fit as long as we finish the food that she prepared. We think the “scientific” claims are certainly more reliable than our mothers’ untraceable and unproven claims. (In some occasions, it is very true! Especially if the parents had been deprived of education that led to limited access to broader knowledge.) Today, we know there is such a thing called “confirmation bias”.
The Light Bulb Moment
Sometimes being right is not the right thing to do. So what if she screwed up the computer? She did not lie because she did not know what she had done to begin with. So what if her version of “truth” seems misaligned with the “scientific” claims? Know that modern sciences and researches are often bearing conflicting and disputing findings, so, how can we decide which sources are more reliable? Then perhaps, our mothers’ mambo-jumbo is equally reliable, they have not really killed us with all those claims, have they?
So, why would I defend a machine that I had no real relationship with – although, as a professional nerd, I do like to imagine that I have some sort of (un-kinky) relationship with all my machines – instead of taking my mother’s words? Even if I could prove that she had made some kind of tech-blunders, so what? If the machine was really as smart as I was expecting, perhaps it should not be so easily broken. Even if she really broke the machine, so what? Is the machine worth destroying my mother’s pride and self-confidence?
I learnt to accept her truth as truth, even if the scientific studies said there is only 1% chance of error. She gave me 100% all the time, I am sure she deserves to squeeze into that 1% chance of error.
Confronting Truth and Fact
Truth relies on trust; fact relies on knowledge which sometimes can be a make-belief.
Coffee is bad for us; Some coffee is good for us; Some kind of coffee are better for us… We are made to believe what the beneficiary of the researches want us to believe, and we use it as a sword to wound people because they must be lying if they don’t fit the square of the “scientific facts”.
Recently, I have been placed in an impossible position that it’s my words against the label that shouts “scientific evidences”. It is almost like gambling with the filthy rich players who seem to have endless funds to pour into the bottomless pit; I only have a penny worth capital – my words. There is nothing more I can afford than just my words. I am not desperate anymore to prove myself; I trust this thing known as “time”.
Timing is a funny thing. With everything that is happening, I exhale a light breath of sigh and I stop fighting it. At some point, I have to stop being afraid and let things be. So what if I have been misunderstood? That has been the most unwavering “plugin” in my life. So what if I have to take the fiercest battle single handedly? That has been the way for me since most people choose to take the easier way out – and I think it’s ok, life is already hard, we should be allowed to take an easier route.
Timing, stemming from “time” also means that it’s highly malleable. If you knew just 20% of my story, I guarantee you a dose of flabbergasted-ness. For people who know me long enough, will not be surprised of my insanely sanity that even holds things together for so long. It is not a matter of being appreciated or under-appreciated. It is just that, timing. It happened to me all my life. I just sat there and behaved as well as I could possibly manage, and then suddenly people started fighting and I was the apparent (clearly unapparent to me!) cause. I just sat there!
We could be exactly the same person as we were yesterday, last week, last year, or last decade, it doesn’t matter. When coincided with the oddest timing, what we “normally” do can be perceived as “unusually provoking”.
Timing, it has the ability to gather all the destructive powers and blow the world up; or it provides opportunities for review. More than often, the earlier makes a deafening thud, while the latter is a narrower window before our exit from this world.
The next time you choose to believe the “faultless” machine over your folks’ claims, think again. There is nothing more than their words that they can provide as proof to testament to their claims. When we choose to distrust people who have invested in emotions in us, we are really telling them that they are despicable and cowardly liars only because the scientific researches and technology testing says otherwise. Scientific researches and technology tests have their own agendas, they don’t even know you.
I feel completely powerless in my own situation, and the only silver lining is the faith in time. We don’t always get to enjoy the harvest, sometimes, we are just the fertilizer.
We can spend our life proving our worth, but perhaps we should never have to. Reciprocation is a luxury, truly. You could endure all the hardships for years, and you will still be deemed a traitor because the environment has changed, and you have stupidly stayed put.
The Blamer – Perhaps We Do Have the Propensity for Aggression
We blame easily, it relieves us of fault and while someone takes the fall. Why not blame the machines or sciences? They are not going to have their heart broken and cry. Yet, we choose to blame a person, often times, our closest loved ones. This should be baffling, no? Instead of just saying, “oh, stupid machine”, we say, “oh, you irresponsible liar” or something more hurtful. Perhaps we do have the tendencies to be aggressive and hurtful.