What do you fear to be wrong about most?

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I was reading a post over at apophenia a couple of days ago where she posted on the thought provoking idea of “what do you fear to be wrong about most?”

Late one night at Etech, Matt Webb asked a bunch of us what we would be most afraid to be wrong about. In other words, what are we most invested in and would have our realities shattered if we were wrong. This question blew me away and got me thinking.

Many of the comment threads here on “Our Thoughts” continually rehash the same ideas over and over and as far as I can tell a lot of the beliefs held here aren’t really based on anything more solid than feelings. (Don’t get me wrong, if that floats your boat then I wish you the happiest of sailing). However I wonder if having such a rigid viewpoint of the world might set some up for great disillusionment.

My real point is, though, considering which of your beliefs you are most invested in, how would you react to hypothetical but 100% concrete evidence that your beliefs were wrong. I would hope that everyone would say, “ok, while this may be life changing news, I suppose I have no choice but to change my beliefs. I think I can do it.” Would you change your beliefs if you had 100% correct scientific information that they were wrong?

What if the hypothetical evidence was 99.9% probable in its accuracy leaving only a .1% chance that your beliefs are correct, what would you do?

26 thoughts on “What do you fear to be wrong about most?

  1. well, it depends on the scientific evidence. i mean have you seen what’s come out about medical journal research lately? all the falsified research? whew.

    if i was wrong, well i was wrong.

  2. I would not change, I trust in my gut instincts and feelings way more then scientific facts. Even if something was given/shown to me with concrete evidence that something I believed in was false I would think about it pray about it and if my gut still told me I was right I would not do a thing. The things I believe in now I believe because of personal prayer and faith not because of concrete evidence.

    For example if someone came up with ndisuptable facts that the Boof Of Mormon was nothing but a storybook that Joseph Smith wrote one night cause he was bored, I would not believe it. Because at the time that I was taught about it I prayed about it and was given the truth about it.

  3. I agree with Sally. There are very few things that I believe, where that belief came out of “instinct”. I have had too many personal and amazing experiences where the truth of the gospel has been testified to me to ever change this belief, no matter what someone else puports to have evidence against. If, hypothetically speaking I got to the pearly gates, so to speak, and was told by God that I needed to change part or all of my beliefs then yes I would change. It would have to be straight form the man! LOL.


  4. i agree with mum and kris. but what i mean is, if something, not faith based. scientific reasoning doesn’t explain God. so someone coming up with “indisputable charges” wouldn’t change that fact. but when it comes to other long held beliefs, well that’s something else entirely, but like i said, look at all the falsified scientific evidence coming out now. man is fallible.

  5. I would change my beliefs. In fact, I have done that several times over the years as it is.

    I accept truth, no matter the source. Continuing on with my mum’s example, if there was indisputable evidence that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon himself, it would not change how I feel about the book, or more importantly, the messages of principled living contained therein.

  6. Hmm, what would I dislike to have turn out to be the “real” truth:

    (a) that God is hostile to humanity and to me …

    (b) that my family hates me instead of loves me …

    Gee, that is bad enough.

  7. I’ve already lived my worst fears. My most important thing was to be a good mom and uh, I wasn’t.

    But Stephen strikes a chord in me, I’ve arrived a place where I believe God is loving after years of struggle. I hope, hope, hope, I’m not wrong.

  8. The most? That death is the end. That’s it. They’re gone forever. If this were to be true I would really have to rework alot of history and concepts that really float my boat…though I’m sure all the hard liquor and narcotics would help manage my sense of loss…(Just kidding)…

  9. I also fear that pink really does go with red, polka dots and stripes can be worn together and it doesn’t matter when you wear white shoes.


  10. I found your blog by chance while doing a search for a conference talk, and I thought your question was quite interesting. I hope that it’s okay for me to answer.

    I don’t remember EVER not knowing that the gospel was true. I had a LOT of misunderstandings about the gospel and teachings, but the basic truth of it was never questioned. So that couldn’t be proven false to me.

    I think I’d be most bothered to find out that the scale, my mirrors, and clothes sizes were all lies, and I was actually a lot bigger than I am. That would be a really big bummer! No pun intended ;)

  11. Tracy

    Welcome! I am the same way, I have always known the Gospel is true, although some misunderstandings about different things, but it has never changed my testimony, so I have no fear of being wrong about that.

    Actually I would have to agree with you on the other too…The mirror and scale had better NOT be lying (unless of course it’s the other direction??)

  12. Perhaps I have muddled the question by a poor choice of titles and a comment that also incorrectly pushes the idea that you have to already fear something being wrong to answer as that thing being what you fear.

    A better way to think about what I was getting at is: If the belief you are most invested in turned out to be wrong, how would you react?

  13. When I was in Afghanistan and my base came under a minor attack, I felt, for the first time, a genuine fear of imminent death. What I feared at that moment, more than anything else, was finding out that there was nothing after death. I had, and still have, a very sincere and strong testimony, but this doubt and fear still crept in. Of course, there would be no “finding out” one is wrong if one has ceased to exist and no longer has any capacity for consciousness. But I feared it more than anything.

  14. I have been proven wrong many times in my life, and I am sure it will happen many more times. I hope I have been open minded enough to change when the facts are opened up to me.

    The only area in which I have that much invested in is my faith in God.
    Where my beliefs are concerned any proof, facts or evidence means absolutly nothing. My beliefs are based on the whisperings of the spirit. That supercedes any proof that can be given.

  15. “Where my beliefs are concerned any proof, facts or evidence means absolutly nothing. My beliefs are based on the whisperings of the spirit. That supercedes any proof that can be given.”

    This is a good example of irrational thought.

  16. I don’t understand – what’s irrational about it? I think it all depends on your understanding.

    Maybe it could be better explained in that the whisperings of the spirit ARE the proof. Does that make it more rational?

  17. Irrational: Marked by a lack of accord with reason or sound judgment

    When one hold to the theory that despite *any* evidence they will choose to believe something not to be true, that’s irrational.

  18. I guess it’s just interpretation then, cuz I view listening to the whisperings of the spirit as one of the greatest forms of reasoning.

    And no physical evidence can contradict the whisperings of the spirit, as it’s Divine, whereas physical evidence is of the world.

  19. Taking the word of an authority and bypassing the use of your skeptical mind, is indeed a form of irrationality.

    So yes, I suppose, it is my interpretation.

  20. When one defers the decision making process to an authority figure, rather than applying their own skepticism to a situation, it means that they are allowing themselves to act in a manner than precludes logic.

    It is the so-and-so told me to do it scenario (i.e. I was just following orders).

    The end-run around logical thinking can be called acting irrationally.

    If a person were to say that *nothing* – no fact or observation could sway their view, this also precludes the use of logic and is deemed to be irrational, at least by me.


  21. What decision making is being deferred? If you make every decision based on logic, not heeding any guidance other than the words of men, how would man ever increase in knowledge and improve life?

    Here is the definition of faith:

    1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
    2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief. See Synonyms at trust.
    3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters.
    4. often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.
    5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
    6. A set of principles or beliefs.

    And from the LDS Bible dictionary:

    Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true (Heb. 11: 1; Alma 32: 21), and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. The Lord has revealed himself and his perfect character, possessing in their fulness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in him without reservation. Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith (Rom. 10: 14-17). Miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one’s faith.

    Faith is a principle of action and of power, and by it one can command the elements and/or heal the sick, or influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants (Jacob 4: 4-7). Even more important, by faith one obtains a remission of sins and eventually can stand in the presence of God.

    All true faith must be based upon correct knowledge or it cannot produce the desired results. Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action; it carries an assurance of the fulfillment of the things hoped for. A lack of faith leads one to despair, which comes because of iniquity.

    Although faith is a gift, it must be cultured and sought after until it grows from a tiny seed to a great tree. The effects of true faith in Jesus Christ include (1) an actual knowledge that the course of life one is pursuing is acceptable to the Lord (see Heb. 11: 4); (2) a reception of the blessings of the Lord that are available to man in this life; and (3) an assurance of personal salvation in the world to come. These things involve individual and personal testimony, guidance, revelation, and spiritual knowledge. Where there is true faith there are miracles, visions, dreams, healings, and all the gifts of God that he gives to his saints. Jesus pointed out some obstacles to faith in John 5: 44 and John 12: 39-42 (cf. James 1: 6-8).

    If you’re telling me I’m irrational because I have faith, then call me irrational.

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