We all suffer from the brain’s ability to trick us into believing things that aren’t true. Our own eyesight, the sense that guides us as we move about the world and allows us to gather information, can’t even be trusted. To rely on your senses alone is a costly mistake.
Now more than ever, seeing should not be the only requirement for believing. In a world of fake news, retouched images, digital special effects and powerful people pulling hidden strings, we owe it to ourselves to let reason dominate our thoughts and beliefs instead of our senses.
After all, seeing water in the distance doesn’t mean it’s not a mirage, hearing voices in an attic doesn’t mean it’s haunted by ghosts, and watching a performer levitate a playing card doesn’t mean magic is real.
This isn’t to say you should never trust your senses — they’re well suited for helping you avoid danger — it just means we shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on what we see or hear.
Give yourself time to process new information, be aware of the mental biases that alter your perception on a daily basis, do your own research and construct beliefs that fit within the constraints of known reality. Self-deception is an enemy of knowledge.
This article has been updated since its original publication.