Just because everyone around you holds a certain belief does not mean that you should necessarily hold the same belief too. You may feel inclined to follow the masses, because if everyone else is thinking a certain way or doing things a certain way, that must be the best way to think and to do, right?

For example, you may find yourself in a foreign country and you may not be familiar with all of their customs. Arriving at a restaurant, you take a look around to see what everyone else is doing and then you mimic their behaviors so that you can better fit in. This seems like a fair assumption to make.

General Consensus Can Be Wrong

Unfortunately, the prevailing school of thought may not be the correct one. So-called common knowledge may be common, but it may not be correct. One of the best examples of this collective ignorance was the prevailing belief that the world was flat. Everyone was absolutely certain that the Earth was flat and that Christopher Columbus would fall off the edge of the Earth if he tried to find a shorter route to India. Well, we now “know” that the Earth is round.

Even that “new” belief isn’t entirely correct, because the Earth is not a perfect sphere. It’s more like a sphere that is somewhat flattened at the top and the bottom. Every time that we become so certain of something and every time that everyone else buys into these new so-called facts, we run the risk of collective ignorance and misunderstanding.

The Political Echo Chamber

Taking this discussion into a more modern era, you may look at the current political situation in the United States. You have extremists at both ends of the political spectrum and if you only hang out with people at one end or the other, you’ll enter an echo chamber and start to buy into their propaganda. We need to move back to the center, the place where views are more balanced and assumed “facts” can be better scrutinized.

On a lighter note, you can also look at the collective ignorance when it comes to companies and countries. Do you know that Samsung is Korean and Volvo is Swedish? A large number of people believe that the former is Japanese and the latter is German. These prevailing beliefs, of course, are incorrect.

Stifle the Idiocracy, Assume Nothing

Now, I’m not saying that you should question every single belief that seems to be held by society at large, but you also shouldn’t assume that everything you hear is right just because everyone else subscribes to it. If we follow this path, it won’t be long before we find ourselves living in an idiocracy where ignorance becomes the norm. That would not be good.