CGG Weekly, October 4, 2013

"Thinking you know when in fact you don't is a fatal mistake, to which we are all prone."
Bertrand Russell

Radio conversationalist Rush Limbaugh has coined a term for the people that seem to comprise most of the electorate these days. He calls them "low-information voters." Of course, low-information voters do not know that they are lacking in any way. They think that they are on top of everything that is going on, but they know only what the media outlets tell them, which means they do not know what the media withhold from them.

Some of us might be a little like them. In fact, we might be shocked to find that much of what we think we know is false. Some of our long-standing bits of "knowledge" may, in fact, be misconceptions! Here are a few from Wikipedia's list of common ones:

  • It is a misconception that older elephants, sensing when they are near death, leave their herd and instinctively direct themselves toward a specific location known as an elephants' graveyard to die.
  • Bulls are not enraged by the color red, used in capes by professional matadors. It is not the color of the cape, but the perceived threat by the matador that incites it to charge.
  • Bats are not blind. While many bat species use echolocation as a primary sense, all bat species have eyes and are capable of sight.
  • It is not harmful to baby birds to pick them up and return them to their nests, despite the common belief that doing so will cause the mother to reject them. Some birds have limited sense of smell, and many species primarily rely on visual cues.
  • The claim that a duck‘s quack does not echo is false.
  • It is a common misconception that an earthworm becomes two worms when cut in half. However, only a limited number of earthworm species are capable of anterior regeneration.
  • According to urban legend, the daddy longlegs spider is the most venomous spider in the world, but the shape of their mandibles leaves them unable to bite humans, rendering them harmless to our species. In reality, they can indeed pierce human skin, though the tiny amount of venom they carry causes only a mild burning sensation for a few seconds.

Did any personal "knowledge" bite the dust?

"Katie" posed an interesting question about blindness on Yahoo Answers:

What do you see when you're blind? I know you can't see anything in front of you, but what do you see—blackness? Like when you close your eyes, or what? I mean there has to be something. You can't just see "nothing" because we don't physically know what nothing is. So what do you see when you are blind?

"Cory" offered this answer:

You have to be able to imagine things. It's like a dream, in a way. You [sic] can't see it but you can imagine it. . . . If you . . . went blind because of an illness or injury, you may still have memory of when you could see, so you would most likely imagine things from what you remember.

"Cadillacman" also responded:

A blind person sees nothing. For the blind person, it is always midnight on a very dark night. But, blindness varies from one individual to another [sic] Every blind person is not totally blind. Some have limited vision. So, the correct answer to your question depends upon the degree of blindness a person has.

We can gather from this web chat that when a person is physically blind, he tries to imagine and envision whatever it is that he cannot see. In addition, he relies on what he has seen in the past to form those images. To one extent or another, we are all blind—perhaps we are not physically without sight, but we often fail to see in some way or another. This is especially true because we treat others according to how we "see" them, making it a serious concern for a Christian.

We will look at a few types of "blindness" and explore how we should deal with whatever form or forms of it we have.

We are often blinded by prejudices. My grandmother distrusted black-haired people, probably because her daughter-in-law had black hair. My father considered a wrinkle of fat on the back of the neck a clear indication of poor character and dishonesty, probably due to being mistreated by someone with that characteristic. For some, people with shifty eyes, eyes too close together, or a mustache are sinister. Others think blondes are dumb and redheads prone to hot tempers. Many claim that these sure indicators cannot be disputed. The human mind is predisposed to profile people within seconds, which is why first impressions tend to be important.

Most of us are blinded by experience. Once a jerk, always a jerk! "He once stiffed me for twenty bucks! I'll never give him another dime!" In this case, we will not allow people to grow, repent, or change. To us, their condition is perpetual. We will not allow ourselves to see their maturity or improvement. We tend to evaluate based on our self-generated profiles and then stick to our initial assessments.

Everyone is blinded by incapacity. Humans do not come equipped with the ability to see what is in another's heart or to appreciate their true intentions and motivations. We can only guess. Unfortunately, we tend to imagine the worst of people, a kind of personal one-upmanship.

In each of these kinds of blindness, we are making inappropriate judgments. Jesus advises us in John 7:24 from The Amplified Bible (AMP), "Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance (superficially and by appearances); but judge fairly and righteously." Along the same lines, the apostle Paul writes: "Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand' (Romans 14:4). It is not that we cannot be discerning, but we need to do it properly and in love.

Next time, we will consider some of the effects of blindness and look to God's Word to give us some help with correcting our poor interpersonal vision.