As a gateway to truth and empathy, we need to shift towards learning from a wider range of perspectives.
It Signifies a Reliable Source
You’re not stupid. Your interests are complex and multifaceted. If there existed a simple answer or solution, you’d probably already know about it. For instance, there’s a reason why you are interested in optimizing learning rather than whether learning is valuable at all — we already agree that learning is positive, but the best way to do it is still open for discussion.
It shouldn’t then come as a surprise that, when identifying a reliable source on cutting edge topics, American neuroscientist Dr.Andrew Huberman simply looks for multidimensional understanding. He responds to the question of how to identify a credible source:
When you see people talk in absolutes about anything with very strong statements about anything, that’s somewhere where you might need to pause and reflect. So, does someone have [something] that they promise fixes everything? Similarly, do they demonize [something] as the cause of all chronic disease, and if we take care of this one particular issue, then everything is fixed? Does the answer seem overly simplistic in how to tackle it?
When assessing credibility amongst the seemingly unnavigable sea of fake news, he looks for multidimensional understanding over certifications.
Can’t Experts do the Heavy Lifting for Me?
You may now be wondering, do I really need to learn directly from many perspectives? Isn’t that what experts do for me when they present their overarching conclusions in common mediums like books or articles? In his greatest work The Denial of Death, American Anthropologist Ernest Becker reasons why even the works of geniuses like Freud should be taken as single perspectives to ponder amongst the rest.
The problem of man’s knowledge is not to oppose and to demolish opposing views but to include them in a larger theoretical structure…
Usually in order to turn out a piece of work, the author has to exaggerate the emphasis of it, to oppose it in a forcefully competitive way against other versions of truth, and he gets carried away with his own exaggeration, as his distinctive image is built on it. But each honest thinker who is an empiricist has to have some truth in his position, no matter how extremely he has formulated it.
Works are responses to ongoing historical context. They argue their points too strongly in order to balance the scales against other works. We must treat them as such and explore their fields of context before extracting truth.
It Increases Empathy
Becker further argued that acknowledging the limited but existing merit of individual perspectives connects us to the lives of others through shared mortality and human experience. This no doubt leads to empathy and a long road of love and kindness.
It Provides a More Objective View of our Beliefs
Host of podcast Philosophize This! Steven West understands yet another powerful conclusion from Becker’s work. The discovered shared mortality and human experience allows for a more objective view of our held beliefs.
Maybe that can help us recognize where the desire to dehumanise or silence another groups is actually coming from. And maybe if we can get there, maybe we can learn to differentiate which of these illusions we cling to are life affirming, which ones serve others, which ones are not in fact a direct threat to our existence, which of those promote the freedom, dignity, and hope of other people. And then on the other hand, which of these illusions are just about us being immoral? A desperate attempt to calm a scared monkey that doesn’t like the idea of not being the most important monkey in the world.
Understanding our beliefs for what they are and their worldly consequences sets the stage for their manipulation for a better world.
These two takeaways should not be taken lightly from Becker. He is known as a pessimist as his philosophy asserts that our greatest motivator is fear of death.
Learning from a range of perspectives offers more reliable information, holistic understanding, increased empathy, a more objective and pragmatic understanding of our beliefs, and a better world.
Where to Start
While experts don’t do a very good job fairly representing these perspectives, Hunome does.
Hunome is a platform for multidimensional understanding. It is a space where all perspectives can be heard regardless of the popularity of their authors. Your unique view point is in good company. Join us to learn from and contribute to holistic understanding.
Becker, Ernest. The Denial of Death. Free Press. 31 December 1973.
Ferriss, Tim. “#521: Dr.Andrew Huberman — A Neurobiologist on Optimising Sleep, Enhancing Performance, Reducing Anxiety, Increasing Testosterone, and Using the Body to Control the Mind” The Tim Ferriss Show, Dr.Andrew Huberman, 7 July 2021. Spotify
West, Steven. “Episode #163 … The Creation of Meaning — Escape From Evil” Philosophise This!, 2 March 2022. Spotify