The way humans consume and share information has changed tremendously.
We no longer wait for the evening news or morning newspapers. Instead, we instinctively seek out information on free platforms with our smartphones and other digital devices.
Greater freedom of information and connectivity through the internet and social media is a good thing, but it has also set the framework for people to confuse popularity with truth.
When a popular opinion get amplified on the internet, many people mistake it for truth.
Instead of what it is, a popular opinion with-in a certain context.
Truth is a fact or belief that’s verifiable. It can be tested from all perspectives and scientifically proven and accepted as true.
Truth has no other version of it; it is singular and anything else is opinions and perceptions based on popularity.
On the other hand, popularity is an opinion, belief, points of view, singular perspective, or value which has not been proven to be true or false.
Of course, what’s popular can be true.
But what’s true can also be unpopular.
What’s Popular Isn’t Always True.
We live in a world of social media that has become as much of a conduit for news as it is a publisher.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter normally insert algorithms into the items people post on them.
This makes the public feel like the popular news sources are the most reliable ones. This is not always the case.
Unfortunately, the most outlandish news stories have a way of quickly attracting an audience and sticking around longer than the truth.
This happens so frequently, that many sensationalistic stories become entrenched as tradition or as an “urban myth.” that gets mistaken as a fact.
And when the myths become popular, people’s degree of investment (believability) in them increases.
Top 3 Examples of “”True Facts“” That Millions Of People Believe Only Because They Are Popular
1. The Earth Is Flat
The “Flat Earth Society” was started in 1956 by Samuel Shenton. When Sam died in 1968 the Flat Earth Society” had 100 members worldwide.
However, in 2015 Youtube and Facebook algorithms were in full effect. Currently there are flat earth youtube videos, channels, and influencers with millions upon millions of views and followers.
The flat earth theory has “no legs” and has been debunked by every scientist on the planet.
Yet, there are still millions of people on the internet sharing flat earth theories with each other. All of them are confusing popularity with truth.
This is also a classic case of confirmation bias, where you only look at evidence that supports your opinion, and ignore all the evidence that opposes your opinion.
2. Climate Change Is A Hoax
Some of the commonly-held beliefs are that global warming is a hoax or that climate change is “just a natural occurrence”.
This is a popular opinion, but also a false one.
The human population is 7.7 billion strong and all of us are using and consuming energy everyday.
This energy use puts carbon into our atmosphere and we now know that carbon levels in our atmosphere are way outside “normal” levels.
In fact carbon levels are the highest they’ve been in over 800,000 years.
This excess carbon slowly traps heat from the sun, which slowly raises the temperature of our oceans, which slowly melts the ice caps, which slowly leads to climate changes.
There is no longer any doubt that climate change is a man made result of the burning of carbon ever since the industrial revolution.
3. Marijuana Is An Evil Drug
This was a myth that was started in 1937 by Harry Anslinger and spread by William Hurst who controlled the newspapers.
Harry Anslinger was a notorious racist and was even quoted saying
“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
As a result of the two men’s racism, night after night, marijuana was demonized in the paper as the american people were continuously lied.
These lies lead to more lies in the 70’s and 80’s as the cannabis plant was marketed as evil.
It wasn’t until the early 2000’s, that people started to figure out that marijuana was essentially harmless. Not only that but it also has dozens of medical benefits.
The demonizing of marijuana is a prime example of the masses confusing popularity with truth.
What’s True Isn’t Always Popular.
Myths spread much farther, more rapidly, and deeper than the truth. This is true in all categories of information and by a notable margin.
For instance, people are also more likely to share about how the covid 19 vaccine is unsafe than why it might be safe.
Stephen Hawking’s ‘black hole theory‘ was just proven true, but more people are sharing the story on social media some plastic surgery that one of the Kardashians got.
If Kim Kardashian came out and started a movement that black holes are myths then millions of people would believe her over scientists because of sheer popularity.
This just goes to show that what’s true isn’t always popular. And often what’s true gets overshadowed, by what’s popular.
This is because on social media algorithms, what’s popular is more engaging, and what’s more engaging makes more money.
Top 3 Benefits Of Independent Thinking: Understand Popularity From Truth
In a world that tells an individual to believe something just because everyone else believes it, be that person that pauses to weigh the good or evil in that belief.
Understand all perspectives. understand the counter argument and weigh whether it is a good argument or not.
Here’s what you stand to gain.
1. Guaranteed Wealth of Potential Knowledge
By being an independent thinker, it allows you to continuously sort out truth. And not rely on what other people perceive or tell you is true.
Embrace independent thinking and finding out what’s right from what’s wrong about what you see, hear, or believe.
The reason is that truth is held within humanity and not public perception.
Truth is only continuously accessed only by those with firm independent thinking and ethical beliefs.
So, figure out what you believe and then questioning every value and assumption to find out if it’s true, or not true.
Most important to note is that you risk believing in falsehoods if you choose to have blind faith without being grounded in anything.
2. Hones Your Skills in Various Levels
Independent thinkers are visionaries.
An independent thinker will always bring persistence, determination, and creative awareness to the table.
By thinking independently it will force you to ask questions until you have enough information to make a solid conclusion.
This process of questioning will undoubtedly increase your level of deep understanding, self-awareness, and consciousness.
Think of great minds like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. These creative individuals were or are visionaries and ambitious innovators who think independently.
3. Encourages Self-Confidence
People will always spread their ideas as far as possible and convince everyone to follow.
But unknown to most of us, these ideas are often hindsight biases and results of people’s egos.
Most people would rather be popular than right.
But knowing your right by questioning, thinking independently, and understanding all perspectives encourages confidence that topples popularity.
The truth always comes to the surface. have confidence that yo’re on the right side of it.
Going along with what’s popular prevents your ability to develop your conviction, confidence, and independent self-esteem.
Thinking for yourself and standing up for your beliefs helps you get to anything you are optimizing for.
Top 5 Dangers of Falling Victim to “Group Think”
(Understanding Popularity vs. Truth)
1. You Conform!
It’s true to say that we like other people to see us as unique individuals with varying values and talents.
But, the main risk of “groupthink” is that it’s so easy to get caught up in popular data and conform to what’s “trending” or normal.
This includes trending hobbies, exercise routines, fashion trends, food, and medicine.
When you confirm, you lose your uniqueness!
2. ‘Group Think’ Erodes Your Self-Esteem
If you fall victim to group thinking, you can compromise your beliefs, morals, and ethics, sometimes slowly with-out even knowing it.
And when you set your views to just reflect a group’s perspective, you sign up for long-term unhappiness, and the potential to believe in something that’s completely false.
This means that you’ll always fear, second-guess, and doubt your beliefs.
Over time, groupthink impacts your psychological health, leaving you frustrated and miserable.
The Jonestown cult in the 70’s is a prime example of the dangers of ‘group think.’
Jonestown is where cult leader Jim Jones had 918 people drink cool-aid to commit mass suicide.
Nazi Germany is another prime example of the dangers to group think.
3. Groupthink Causes the “Us vs. Them” Mentality
One truth about humanity is our tendency to create an “us vs. them” mentality.
We’re all humans with the same wants and desires, but we like to split ourselves into smaller groups.
Sports team vs. sports team.
Country vs. country.
Political party vs. political party.
Unfortunately, groupthink enables the notion of marginalizing individuals who disagree with the dominant interests.
This causes people who doubt or question ideas to hide their fears and remain quiet, assuming that what’s popular must be the absolute truth.
But, by denying different ideas and thoughts, we loose sight of what’s really true and replace it with what’s popular.
4. Group Think Causes Cohesive Blindness
Unchecked groupthink makes group members accept the status quo of an organization or government (such as elitism or superiority).
We can also get too comfortable to challenge authority, media, leaders, values, trends, or teachings and become obedient to authority without question.
Unfortunately, by ignoring the existing state of affairs, we quash and make our ideals disposable.
In short, by failing to think independently and only listening to one perspective we can fall victim to becoming blind to truth.
5. Group Think Leads To Inefficient Problem-Solving
Pressure from a team, family, or friends can suppress independent opinions and creative thoughts.
This may cause independent thinkers to refrain from critiquing issues in a team meeting.
Most do so because they don’t want to interfere with the group’s decision or avoid being the only unsupportive group member.
Sadly, our inability to raise concerns and objections is more likely to breed poor decisions and lead away from what is true.
How Do You Know the Difference Between What’s True and What’s Popular?
Technology has made us believe that we can all have fast-hand access to “real” information.
But then, popularity doesn’t always equal truth.
This is because, sometimes, the longer the popular ideas go on, even if they are untrue, the more people they reach.
Here’s how to distinguish what’s true from what’s popular.
1. Determine If The Sources Of Information Are Believable
The truth will always be backed reliable sources and transparent methods to reach them.
This means you can verify and make your own assessment.
On the other hand, popular ‘beliefs’ do not necessarily have any reliable source of information.
Or only vague sources or anonymous secret sources.
When you question the popular information you’re likely to get pushback. but understanding the source of your information is critical to sorting our fact from fiction.
2. Popular Data Preys on Some of Our Most Proud Human Instincts
Popular information seems to take advantage of man’s preference for comfort and convenience.
Our cognitive processes are biased towards believing items that conform with our worldview.
For this reason, we are pre-wired to believe unsavory “rumors” as long as they make us comfortable.
We are more likely to fall prey to misinformation as long as the news item is popular because of lazy thinking.
Also, popular news relies on the trust we have in our political icons, friends, and family. It always gets us to set aside our doubts, avoid scrutinizing too closely, and not criticize information as long as it reinforces our identity and ideology.
3. Popularity vs Truth: How Information Spreads
Truth often spreads when there’s a physical connection to the source, whether another person or a book. You can always go back to question, ask for clarity, and verify the news item.
On the other hand, the most common vector for popularity is social media.
This form of transmission, which is still person-to-person (although virtually), is notably fast.
We also connect with the people we like and trust on social media. For this reason, we are inclined to trust and believe any information shared on the platform without judgment.
Without a doubt, disregarding what’s popular and holding onto what’s true can leave you vulnerable to judgment from other group thinkers.
But, wouldn’t it be best to cling to the concept of truth since it thrives within your deepest consciousness?
After all, nothing is more fulfilling than reaching a place of realization for yourself rather than simply following the masses’ ideas.
So, seek and say your truth, popular or not.
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