Thursday, January 17, 2013

Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

“Believing everyone is dangerous, but believing nobody is more dangerous.” ― Abraham Lincoln

There are really only 3 types of people in the world.  It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you look like, or what you had for breakfast.  We run into these people every day, because people are, you know… everywhere.

The first type of person is the Gullible one.  These people are easily duped.  They’re the ones who are easiest to prank on April Fool’s Day.  They’re the ones who believe whatever you tell them no matter how outrageous.  A classic example of this comes from the story The Emperor’s New Clothes, in which the Emperor believes the claims of a couple of con-men and ends up wearing the finest set of non-existent clothes ever not made.  Unfortunately, this type of person is also easily parted from their money.  They fall for every get rich quick scheme that comes along and are easy prey to con-artists.

The second type of person is the Cynic.  These people don’t believe anything that they hear.  These people are often condescendingly distrustful of human nature and motives.  They believe that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest and that people are out to get their money, their belongings and their reputations.  Cynicism is really just a self-constructed cage which causes a person to reject the world around them, and in many cases, the good that is there as well.  A cynic is the person who’s mind is like concrete; all mixed up and permanently set.  They are the people who reject ideas and opportunities, no matter how good, because their mistrust causes them to be blind to the possibilities.  Some of these people will be so cynical that they might even believe that they are members of the third and final type of person.

The third type of person is the Skeptic.  This person is willing to suspend their doubts because they know that they don’t have all the answers.  This person will approach life in a way which allows them to look at new ideas and new opportunities and learn what they don’t know they don’t know.  They are willing to take in new facts and ideas.  Process them.  Weigh the pros and cons and make a decision based on what they have learned.  Not on previously held beliefs of what they think they know about something.  These people are wary but not afraid.

It seems that every day there are more and more cynics and gullible people out there.  Perhaps it comes from watching a world which seems to be sinking into a well of distrust and lies (credit fraud, banking schemes, Ponzi schemes and rip-offs), that people just don’t trust themselves enough to make good decisions.  Being with people who are forever falling for the joke, or being taken to the cleaners by every con gets tiring.  By the same token, it can be extremely frustrating to be subjected to someone’s constant cynicism.  Especially when you just know that they are missing out on some great opportunities and experiences because of their mistrust.

I would rather spend time with a skeptical person any day of the week.  You can have fantastic conversations with them and even if you don’t agree with what they have to say you might just learn something.  Whatever the case, I’m just glad that I tend to be a skeptic -- at least I’m willing to learn.

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