“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain
If everyone believes it’s true, it’s probably not — I call this The Popularity Principle.
The Popularity Principle applies particularly well to art and entertainment, which is why I never watch celebrity award shows and I distrust anything on Oprah’s book list. For instance, the book 50 Shades of Gray was wildly popular. Case closed.
However, the principle is most useful when applied to knowledge generally. For a better way (other than popularity) to gauge the worth of an idea, use what we (might as well) call The Scientific Principle.
Scientific Principle: If the scientific consensus says X is true, it’s reasonable to believe that X is true.
That doesn’t mean X is true. It simply means that you can feel less anxious about believing that it is. Never lose your healthy skepticism. Having absolute knowledge about the objective world is not possible for limited primates living on a rock in the middle of the Milky Way. But we have a fantastic tool in the scientific method.
I also didn’t say “If a scientist believes X is true…”. Any particular scientist is just a human. But the consensus of the scientific community — generally found by checking the conclusion-sections of the currently published research — tends to point in the right direction. There are blatant and obvious (and interesting) contradictions to this trend, which is why some skepticism is never unjustified, but those cases are swamped by the majority.
Next time you find one of your opinions/beliefs on the side of the non-scientific popular majority, start researching. If you were wrong, better to know early. If you were right, you may have a Nobel prize in your future.
Now go lift something heavy,