Belief is deception


Last week I posted an article on my Italian blog. The article is a reaction on a slideshow that was sent to me by an acquaintance. I was one of he many receivers of this mail. After having viewed the slideshow I understood why it was forwarded to a whole bunch of people. Besides the fact the recipients could be found in the “To:” field of the mail instead of the “Bcc:” compromising the privacy of other people’s mail address, I wanted to analyze the message in the slideshow in common sense working out the real motivations and consequences.

The slideshow is about the benefits of fruit and about how fruit should be eaten. The point of view is very Italian and the storyline reminds me the average early morning television show where every day a different topic is chosen to be promoted. The first slide supposes you haven’t a clue about eating fruit stating: “To learn how to eat fruit is very important” and “Fruit is a very important nutrient” and goes on stating that it takes very little energy to digest and gives a high return to the body. The second slide states that glucose is the the only nutrient that is making you brains work properly and that the fructose can be transformed easily into glucose and that the high water content takes care of rinsing the body. The next slides tells the reader that the majority of people does not know how to eat fruit and that it is digested by the small intestine and should be eaten before anything else. If eaten later it might start fermenting. At a certain point there is a quote from a Cardiologist stating that fruit is the best food we can eat to protect the body against heart diseases and jumps to the Chinese and Japanese who use to drink hot drinks with their meals concluding you never should drink ice cold drinks since the cold is slowing down digestion. Hot drinks improve digestion and can even help us to loose some weight! Then there is a sudden end to the story with a last slide quoting a cardiologist (no name this time) who says: “If everybody receiving this message is sending it to 10 other people we can be sure to save at least 1 life” and closes with: “I did my part”. If I read this message again I read that you might save at least one life even if we send it to hundreds or even thousands of people… It is a statement with an “if” and a “might”, so it has no real value.

It is not the first time I receive a message like this one but I never took a moment to look at it thoroughly to study the message and to figure out the consequences and/or impact on others. To me this slideshow is a collection of quotes and statements that seems to be carefully chosen because of the trigger points they use. It is not clear where the slideshow originates from, the fascinating part is to see that the message on the last slide motivates the reader to take a chance and get a feeling of “I’ve done something good today, I’ve contributed in saving a life” without seeing it is most unlikely they will by sending around this message, not seeing all the other consequences of sending around emails to lots of people. The good feeling thus prevails over taking responsibility for an action.

By commenting on that mail and writing a blog about it I took my responsibility and deal with the reactions I had when reading the mail and the slideshow, providing a different point of view and showing how I deal with this kind of messages. I realize I can only be an example to others and have to be patient regarding to others opening themselves to a more conscious way of dealing with information.

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One thought on “Belief is deception”

  1. Agreed.

    Also reminds me of a conversation I had with a co-student in days gone by about donating to charity randomly – she didn’t care if the money or how much money actually went to cause or even really what the cause was (so many well known charities are guilty or hiding what they really do and don’t do, how much they give, who they’re created by and what for) as long as she gave ‘in the spirit of giving’ then that’s her personal karma sorted. So it doesn’t matter if it’s lining the pockets of criminals, being spent in administration or anything else – as long as she looks/feels good for doing it. I’ve found that sentiment echoed in the majority of people I’ve spoken to, they don’t even try to think about what they’re doing or even care to try and research the company/charity or propaganda some of them give. They also think that giving a pound or so here or there helps their karma but will spent effortlessly on things they don’t need and rubbish. They also don’t really care where their money comes from either which is why so many people can work for literally evil companies/institutions, unless of course they become subject to them and then they can’t fathom why others would work for such people or do such things and why won’t anyone help them. Since when was charity about making yourself feel good and not or less about helping.

    To be somewhat lighthearted, well pretending to be lighthearted – I had a discussion in Philosophy once about the nature of giving or helping others and literally the students agreed with Phoebe from the tv show Friends where she made the others believe that can’t do something good/helpful without feeling good, you can’t do something/give without getting back, like it’s an exchange created out of the selfish want/need to feel good/better. I answered – you can give and help and try to because of duty and obligation, because of responsibility as well as for the sake of it and in addition to wanting to feel good but not all giving/helping is selfish and that helping doesn’t always make you feel good/better. That confused them, they hadn’t thought about duty and obligation before when it came to helping others/charity, and charity for some reason was segregated in their minds to helping those in their immediate circle. I’ve also talked about one of the older aspects of Hinduism that is barely given attention nowadays to others i.e. where one’s wages are split into quatres. 1/4 to tax, 1/4 to family, 1/4 charity and 1/4 for use/saving. Most people look at me blankly when I talk about that method and that I’ve actually used it, but as with most ethical talk………….. Oh look, the ‘random sport’ is on.

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