impressionable. They can be easily tricked. Their minds are developing. They
defer their beliefs to authority. Only in adolescence do they start questioning
themselves. For example, look at Boko Haram. An army of children led by
psychopaths. Kids are convinced they need to shoot at their village members and
blow themselves up on demand.
On average, adults
are less impressionable than kids. But how does that switch really happen ? Are
we perhaps more impressionable that we would like to admit? If so, should we
revise the importance we give to how we form beliefs, as well as those which already
drive our daily behavior, those beliefs we never question ?
Stoicism is a school
of thought from ancient Greece. They put beliefs at the head of the behavior
chain. One of their core tenets is that
random events are processed by beliefs, which cause emotions to arise which crystallize
into actions. This is rather controversial, since that means emotions can be
controlled by reason. This is not evident in daily life, is it ? We just
"feel" angry or happy. We don't think : oh yeah, I should suddenly
feel happy ? Not only do beliefs precede emotions, but they also precede
actions. They are at the root of human behavior. As a thinking animal, we
sometimes ask ourselves what is the kind of person do I want to become ? Do I
want to be come a great guitar player ? An excellent developer ? A good citizen
But think of the
Boko Haram case again. That is an example of thoughts leading to behavior. A
rather extreme case, but it serves my point.
For my part, I try
to refine my understanding of how my own beliefs form. As I get older, I don't
trust myself as much as I used to. I make more mistakes, and uncover beliefs
I've held for a long time which were just wrong.