Do beliefs shape reality?

What would you think if you discovered that the local school was teaching your child that 4 + 4 equals not 8, but rather 5?  To damage a child in this manner would border on child abuse.

Luckily, we have no such thing.  Schools teach students arithmetic as it truly is.  They also do so in many other subjects, imparting the facts as discovered over millennia.  No one is asked his opinion, nor is any weight given to one's feelings when learning about the world around us.

This way of thinking is progeny of the scientific revolution.  Science replaced the childish belief-based paradigm – i.e., my beliefs actually matter in relation to reality – with a fact-based paradigm – i.e., only provable, testable facts matter.

Bertrand Russell explained it as follows: "minds do not create truth or falsehood. They create beliefs, but when once the beliefs are created, the mind cannot make them true or false[.] ... What makes a belief true is a fact, and this fact does not ... in any way involve the mind of the person who has the belief."

This paradigm shift to a fact-based worldview has transformed the world to the betterment of all.  Yet one area that has shown amazing resistance to scientific thinking is political systems and their handmaiden, economics.

It shouldn't really surprise us, since, in these areas, unlike the hard sciences and mathematics, schools teach students that they can pick and choose which systems to believe, as if their opinions could affect the very nature of reality.  Worse yet, the students are taught that their individual beliefs don't even have to be part of an overarching, coherent, and cohesive fabric of reality – just one belief here and another, perhaps contradicting, one there.

I'm not blaming the schools.  They are simply teaching from the accepted viewpoint regarding these areas – the present paradigm.  But in what is truly a frightening development, rather than moving forward to a fact-based paradigm in all things, the childish belief-based paradigm is actually expanding in schools and colleges across the land.

Among other things, not only are students being taught they can pick and choose whatever political system they like, but they are now being taught they can pick and choose their own biology.  This does not just border on child abuse; it clearly crosses the line.

The facts about political systems and economics should have been settled a long time ago; individual freedom and limited government are the only self-sustaining system supported by natural facts and real-world observation.  These truths also fit nicely in their part of a coherent and cohesive natural reality, just like all the hard sciences.

This makes perfect sense, since we are part of the natural world, and thus nothing we can construct can operate outside of this natural world.  And in the natural world, all mammals, humans included, are made up of individuals who are either male or female.

The science on this has been settled for millennia in addition to being rather apparent to any sentient human.  And as Bertrand Russell rightly notes, a person's mind and what he may or may not feel have absolutely no effect on whether a belief is true or not.

Most people who believe foolish things do so because they were taught them.  Our public schools should not be willing participants in this charade, whether we are discussing political systems, biology, or any other area of existence.  It is past time to demand an end to this school-sanctioned child abuse for both the individual's and society's sake.  As science has taught us, ignoring reality never works out well.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He also holds a B.S. in Earth sciences and an MBA and is the founder and president of E.I.C. Enterprises (, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world, primarily through K-12 education.

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