And to verify this, yes, I do want you to worry. The confusion comes from a misrepresentation of that statement. I want you to worry about the right things in life.
I want you to worry about being happy.
If you’ve read my writing before, you know I’m concerned with misinformation and disinformation because they inevitably lead to loss of happiness.
Now, have you read one of the latest COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy ideas about people who are vaccinated dying within six months to a year of receiving the vaccine?
I have and had countless conversations about the “logic” behind such an idea.
And what I find in these conversations is that people pushing these nonsensical notions often come across as angry, seemingly looking forward to the demise of their fellow humans. Many more of them appear to celebrate the possibility of mass deaths because that will prove their beliefs correct.
However, and I say this as seriously as is possible, the vast majority of them are scared – terrified of complex ideas and systems they don’t understand.
And I digress but only to make a later point…
Yes, I want you to worry, and quite a bit. But, before you accuse me of causing you more stress than necessary, understand how we use the word worry in philosophy.
Philosophers enjoy worrying about problems.
Problem is another particular word in philosophy whose semantics are different than in common parlance.
And they enjoy worrying about problems because, without problems, there are no solutions. More importantly, this kind of worrying fosters a love for disciplined thinking and, you guessed it, problem-solving skills.
This is to say that I want you to focus on finding solutions to your life’s problems so you can improve on its quality. And, may I add, to help the people you love to live better.
In my earlier digression, I said that in my conversations with conspiracy folks, I have found that they are afraid of extensive, complex systems. As stated in The Aeroplane Problem, the human brain isn’t suited to handle large scales like big numbers and deep time.
Knowing this inherent human limitation and understanding that most people will reject scales that are too big or complicated for their senses, I cannot hold too many of them responsible for their confusion.
Yes, I know I’ve called them idiots and much more colourful names before, and I admit to having enjoyed it, but go with me on this one.
Pay attention here because I’m about to say something that may also be misrepresented and cause unnecessary confusion in turn: I blame scientists and the scientific establishment, in part, for the many conspiracy ideas about science out there.
THE WORLD NEEDS BETTER SCIENCE COMMUNICATION!
Why are we giving a species that is mainly incapable of parsing the significance of complex scales some of the most complex scales we know? And without a proper translation or a good presentation?
As prominent cognitive neuroscientist, Michael S Gazzaniga states, and I’m paraphrasing, the human brain constantly attempts to establish order in its environment. Lack of order creates a sort of tension that must be released in any way available to an individual or group.
The brain needs to achieve order even when that order is contrived.
I’ll pose the question again differently: why are we simply giving the world access to mostly inaccessible information?
So, do I want you to worry? Yes, I do.
I want you to worry about organising your environment in the best, most honest way possible. I want you to worry about achieving the sort of order that is close to a practical reality and not a set of pretences that will hinder your happiness by causing anxiety and fear.
As I searched for inspiration when the need to write this piece struck me, I came across hundreds of thousands of nasty quotes about the Devil wanting you to worry and suffer. It will not come as a surprise to most of you that the sources of these quotes were invariably religious.
I did not read them all, this Devil has too many cool things to do, but in those quotes, I found the same fear as in what I hear and read from my conspiracy friends.
The world is a complex and largely misunderstood place. Nature is vast and complicated. People associate everything terrible that happens with my name, not because natural occurrences are intrinsically evil, but because people don’t understand why they happen, which terrifies them.
Go and worry now, but about the right and important things.
— A Philosophical Devil