Once, Truth and Lie went swimming in a large lake. After a while, Lie came out of the water dressed in beautiful clothes. Truth, on the other hand, remained in the lake, naked and unadorned.
When Lie came out of the lake, people admired Lie’s splendid clothes and his beauty. They were drawn to her. Lie felt a sense of satisfaction and pride. Meanwhile, Truth remained in the lake, unnoticed. Truth’s simplicity and nakedness caused people to look away, making Truth wonder if she was doing something wrong.
This well-known allegory teaches us a lesson about the nature of truth and lies.
Humans tend to simplify reality to cope with it. This usually means that we rely on some mechanisms to process information, reduce cognitive overload, and make sense of the world.
Among these mechanisms, we can include:
- Simplification through stereotypes, which are simplified perceptions of individuals or groups based on common characteristics.
- Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out, remember, and prioritize information that confirms existing beliefs.
- Selective attention is about focusing on specific aspects of a situation while filtering out non-essential details.
- Or narrative simplification, which allows us to build a structured and coherent narrative that oversimplifies actual events.
These strategies generally lead us to biases, errors in judgment, and limitations in understanding complex situations. In addition, oversimplification impairs our judgment to the point where we are sure we are looking at the truth when, fortunately, we are only looking at parts of it: the parts that are less harmful to our self-identity and our narrative.
It takes courage to realize that we don’t know the truth. We only have an idea of what we think may be true. Therefore, another person might see the same fact from a different perspective, with a different truth than ours.
This awareness of our limited understanding of the world allows us to avoid oversimplification and fuels our curiosity to broaden our perspective.
Intellectual humility plays an important role in better understanding others’ points of view. It includes an acknowledgement of one’s limitations, a willingness to learn from others, and an openness to revising one’s beliefs when confronted with evidence or different perspectives. This reduces confirmation bias and allows for more accurate views. It helps develop empathy and respect for diversity, which are essential for conflict resolution because they allow people to approach disagreements with a cooperative and problem-solving mindset.
The truth is often complex, difficult to understand, with many nuances. Lies can be dressed up and made to appear simple and attractive. But awakening to our limitations is part of the journey to growth.