What have our feelings got to do with what we believe? Short answer: everything. In fact, when you think you’re having a rational debate, you’re probably not engaging with the other person’s brain, but their emotions. And the stronger the beliefs are held, the greater is the underlying emotion.
Our emotions are the residues from any experience we had that may have caused upset, pain or even trauma. More exactly, they are experiences that we only partially understood in the first place because they were witnessed entirely from our own personal viewpoint.
These emotions colour our world, and they form the lens through which we see everything. Anything that reinforces that view is immediately acknowledged; the thousands of things that happen every week that challenge our world view are discarded, or not even seen in the first place.
That’s why we almost never change anyone through debate or argument. You’re talking to a throbbing, hurting heart, not an analytical mind. Of course, the more thoughtful or intellectual we are, the more we filter these emotions and fool ourselves we are rational and reasonable.
Right now, those of you living in the States are seeing this every day as debates rage about who will be the next president. In the UK, the atheists and the believers are always arguing.
And in the past week we’ve experienced it ourselves first hand after we recently launched our magazine, What Doctors Don’t Tell You, in UK shops. The pro-medicine/pharmaceutical lobby has taken such a dislike to it that it has been trying to get it banned, while their vitriol against Lynne (my wife and editor of the magazine) has been vindictive and nasty.
But why are these people so angry, I asked someone who has far more experience in engaging with these people. Interestingly, many of the more active ‘trolls’ and bloggers had a bad personal experience with alternative medicine. Sometimes, someone close to them had chosen alternative medicine over conventional treatment, and had died or not been helped. Sometimes it was a more mundane reason, and they felt they had been ‘ripped off’ by an alternative practitioner.
These experiences form the aching heart that drives us and tells us how the world really is. We dress it up and pretend we have come to this view from rational argument, debate and deep thinking.
But it’s all hurt.