In my previous article, I talked about how “Collective Belief” shapes (or distorts) our future. In this article, I will try to touch down one of the most disastrous situations associated with collective belief, a situation when the collective belief of people is fueled by misleads and lies, a situation where it’s impossible to resist the irrational, falsely produced, oversimplified or overcomplicated piece of theory, which is far from the truth. Why lies travel faster than truth? Let’s find out :)
Before we start, we need to know about our “Thinking brain” and “Surviving brain”. Taken from this amazing article written by Emma Pattee (Anxiety Is in Your Body, Not Your Mind | by Emma Pattee | Apr, 2021 | Elemental (medium.com)
the thinking brain, our neocortex, responsible for decision-making, reasoning, ethics, conscious memory, learning, and the survival brain — the limbic system, brain stem, and cerebellum — which handles our basic survival, emotions, implicit memory, and stress arousal.
The reason is both scientific and psychological. It’s strange, and you won’t believe me, but most of the modern problems, if not all, have their roots hidden somewhere in early human evolution. Humans have progressed (in terms of smartness and intelligence) very rapidly in last 100 years, but our physical bodies haven’t coped up well with this change. Our nervous system and brain still use that “Flight” and “Fight” response when faced with threatening situations. A response that helped early men encounter wildlife, animals, and fire. We all know what causes these responses and from where they originate. I will not delve into biology here. Still, for the sake of simplicity- A chemical is released when our “surviving brain” perceives a threat from the surrounding, which then causes our body to react in certain ways (sweating, increase in heartbeat, etc.) and prepares our body for further action.
But wait, although our nervous system responds to threats by releasing certain hormones for “flight” or “fight”, but do we need either “flight” or “fight”? Modern problems are not like ancient ones; we don’t need to fight a bear in jungles every day. Modern problems are very different and require a very modified approach. We are told not to worry about hate comments in Facebook/Instagram, our “thinking brain” prepares us for the same but the problem is not entirely psychological. Your survival brain would still respond to this situation by releasing chemicals that will affect your body. The more you try to suppress that physical feeling by “Thinking Brain,” the worse it gets. The chemical which helped us to increase heartbeat, lower down pain to prepare our bodies to combat threat is useless in front of a hate comment. There is no running away; we feel anxious. Our bodies still use this century-old system to combat threats; what a pity! We are quite primitive indeed!
Since we now know that not everything we think should happen always happen. Our bodily response is very different from our psychological response. Whenever you read any irrelevant or fake news, your mind tends to fit that little piece of information with the present context to make sense of the situation. If this piece of information fits well in the context and creates a lucid story, your neurons will develop a strong connection for this memory, and you will start to perceive this as reality or truth. Whenever something is fed to our minds with enough logical connections and proofs, our mind forms a structure; a structure is easy to remember and retain than an unstructured piece of information. Our primitive brain is always looking for cues and hints to find a story and lies are smartly made out of reasonings and logic, too tempting for the brain to miss out. Hence, structured lies travel faster in your brain than unstructured truth.