The illusion of clarity and the ideas of Carl Popper


Most thought systems that give guidance to the behavior of people, like psychotherapy, eastern philosophy or religion try to search and give clear answers to people. These clear answers can seem very real.

Think about the good advice you get from self help literature or people who don’t really know or understand you – how often the other treats their advice as “certain”, as truth, and how often do you really feel helped by what you hear?

There is a certain feeling of “being right” and following that a seeming certainty. It seems honest, complete, true. The clearest description of this phenomenon I read in the first book of Carlos Castaneda: the clarity of mind gives us a false certainty. In the books it is explained as “a point before your eyes”.

Here is a link to a clear description of this principle:

I think of it as more complex than a mere illusion. A lot of truths are sold together with nonsense.

An example: People teaching in a shiatsu school often see their acquired knowledge as absolute. They can make very certain statements about the reason why a person has a certain ilness.
The teacher has noticed that his way of treating can sometimes really helped some people, but doesn’t realize the limits of his knowledge. I personally know a teacher that tells his students that every organ in the body is connected to a country in the world. This to me is a preposterous idea, but I believe he can be good at shiatsu.

The teacher in the example interprets his thinking as clear enough, but in fact his thinking is to quick. He fools himself by a false feeling of “being right” Interpretations goes to fast.

The philosopher Carl Popper held similar ideas – he made up that falsification is the only way to search for truth. Thoroughly searching for a reason why a claim is false is the only way to know wether it is true.

In the last few years I have started to notice how fundamental this problem is. This false security of knowing is a difficult trap to overcome.

One of the causes of this problem I try do describe under the next part of this series.

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