Hypothesis and Beliefs

We often equivocate the words hypothesis and belief, but they are not quite the same.

If we think of reality as a relationship between perceiver and perceived then there are two possible routes.

We can take the perceived into our own hands, and this results in science. By forming hypothesis into the things we see and hear we can figure out their inner workings and use them for our own ends.

But we can also take the perceiver into our own hands, and this results in religion. By forming beliefs we can change the way we perceive the things we see and hear.

If the former seems a little more concrete than the latter, let me give you some examples:

“No Pain no Gain.”

This is basically a mantra. But what is a weightlifter doing by believing and uttering this? Essentially, he or she is changing the way they perceive pain.

Another example would be meditation. Whereby the practitioner makes deliberate efforts to focus and discipline perception.

A third example is the Eucharist, whereby Catholics believe they are drinking the blood and eating the flesh of Christ.

Now, we’re sure we can attain truth in the former process, by taking the perceived into our own hands, but can we do so with the latter.

After all, what can we gather from changing the way we interpret pain, disciplining and focusing perception, or learning to see a cup of wine as blood.

Well, in a limited sense, we can at least attain some truth as what is possible to perceive.

Now, science has a name for the latter process, the placebo effect, so it has already established some grounds to evaluate the relationship between beliefs and perception.

As it turns out, there is more complexity to the placebo effect than first meets the eye. Not only, does believing a sugar pill to be a medication have an effect, but the color of a pill also has an impact, along with the color of its container.

So its not as simple as belief itself have one predictable outcome, but that different beliefs have different outcomes on perception. So there is room for experiment.

227 thoughts on “Hypothesis and Beliefs”

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