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Thought Filters

Fact, fiction, misinformation, lies, truths, guesses, estimates, opinions…..every day we are subjected to an extreme volume of data streams both written and spoken. Conventionally we watch TV, read the paper, watch the news, and listen to the radio.

More mainstream there’s Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube, Facebook, and thousands more data streams all force feeding us their information. With no empirical data to support me, I have to guess that 50% of the information I receive in a day is incorrect. Certainly not all of that is intentionally wrong; although a small amount is purposefully deceitful. Some is meant to deceive us purely to that end; YouTube is famous for “shopped” videos with no other purpose than to see if they are good enough at their art to get people to believe what they’re seeing.

But most of what’s inaccurate or incorrect is unintentional because it is opinion with no basis in factual data. Go search for the “best” anything; I dare you to find a site that offers truly empirical fact and data based rankings It’s rare. More often than not it is a compilation of opinions of others, biased by whatever the website creator either prefers, or is paid to endorse.

My point is that daily we are inundated with all these data feeds. How do we makes sense of it? What to believe and not believe? As just stated there is little information that is pure and completely objective; even the news is heavily biased now. So how do we do it?

Sadly we begin with what we want to believe. Hate Trump? There is an abundance of data streams on TV, in print, and on the internet to feed your hate. Love Trump? Same story. Want gun control? Advocate of 2nd amendment? Both cases are equally supported everywhere. Likewise with just about everything else I can think of. Even blogs J

But we also filter; ignore what we don’t wish to examine by means of our own beliefs, principles, morals, and ideas. Grab a handful of gravel and drop it in a sieve with .5” openings. What will pass through? Certainly most all of it barring a really big stone or two. Then repeat with .25” then .125” and so on. With each pass, each filter, less and less will get through. Conceivably with fine enough filters what manages to pass through will be so small as to be unnoticeable; essentially invisible.

That filter works on size; imagine one that works on beliefs now. Any information that come your way that holds or pertains to something you do not agree with or find objectionable will be discarded. Those thoughts heavily laden with that concept you find distasteful are quickly eliminated; those with some will get through and be considered for a longer period of time, etc.

There’s nothing really wrong with that practice. Everyone is permitted to hold their own belief system and to embrace their own ideas. The only down side to it is that you close yourself to different or uncomfortable concepts. You end up missing out on thoughts and ideas with which you may expand and grow your spirit and your humanity.

But unfortunately that isn’t our only means of discrimination. Sometimes, oftimes, we will disregard the thought because of who said it. You see dear reader, our filters are not just belief based; they are also perspective based. Someone who we consider to be…..pick your adjective: conceited, arrogant, unpleasant, etc. tosses out an idea and without a thought (note the irony in that…..) we dismiss it. We dismiss it not because we disagree, not because it offends our morals, not because it defies our thought or logic in the situation. We dismiss it because we simply don’t like the person offering it. We perceive them to be – again, pick your adjective – so therefore we assume the thought they are proffering is equally distasteful.

It is hard enough to grow intellectually and spiritually without opening ourselves to new thoughts and ideas with which to challenge and expand ourselves. That is limiting enough. But to limit ourselves because of our perception of an individual is just self-harmful.

My point, dear reader, is that you will be faced with this very conundrum every day of your life. It is so easy to turn off your brain, to close your mind. But don’t compound that by doing so not because of what is being said, but because of who is saying it. Don’t let your perception limit you. Easy to say, hard to employ. But is begins with awareness; recognize that good ideas can come from anywhere and form anyone…..even from people that we don’t care for or get along with. You need to at listen and hear their words. Open up those initial filters and let your personal beliefs and principles do your filtering based on the content. You just might find some new perspective!

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