19/08/2008

Do you want to Believe?

I was reading this news article about famous hoaxes, it got me thinking about people and the desire to believe in things when logic tell us otherwise. One of my colleague's commented that "some people will believe anything" rolled her eyes and left. But to me I think anyone can believe anything, it just depends on prospective.

Now I believe in all sort of things I have no evidence for - many of which don't need hard proof.

But lets take something ordinary like emotions. We trust people have emotions and people trust us to be honest with how we feel. Anyone can say "I love you" and mean it - but how do you know?

Can we have proof of things like love or hate or fear? Yet we as people believe in other peoples emotions when the only ones we can know for sure are our own feelings. Yet we still react accordingly when someone else is sad or happy - with no proof one way or another - its just people can't help but be empathetic. In fact their is a whole profession based on simulating emotions and we pay millions of pounds to see it.

Would cinema, theatre, television and fiction exist if humans weren't able to suspend reality and for 2 hours or 5 minuets believe in the impossible... How many people don't like a good movie or drama, with no basis in fact whatsoever. Humanity has a culture of story telling that goes back as far as we do. The Iliad and the Mahābhārata for example are traced back as far as the 9th century B.C and are still read and discussed today.

You could argue that we know all that stuff is made up and even though we watch and read we never really buy in and that is true to an extent. But I'm sure anyone who's cried after watching a film, felt that pang of tension as the protagonist closes in on the killer or regretted finishing book too quickly can see my point. Its not that we do believe its that we want to.

Where is all my babbling going? You see my colleges comment annoyed me. Its easy to look down from our lofty perches on those who have been duped by one thing or another. We all think that we would not ahve been taken in but aren't we all guilty of falling for something at some point. Perhaps people are taken in by hoaxes not because they are gullible but because we as human being have a desire to believe in all the possibilities the universe has to offer, rather then straight forward facts, even its its just for a moment. Prehaps we should believe nothing but I for one would find life rahter boring that way...