However, a statement does not necessarily have to be true for a person to believe it to be true – a statement can be entirely untrue, and yet people can believe in the statement and think it true, shown in criterion 2 of truth. People repeatedly told that something is true can come to believe in it even if does not meet the three criterion of truth, as the quote by Lewis Carroll suggests. There are many instances and ways through which this could happen. Particularly in Mystical paradigms, but also in most religions, the religious leaders control their follower’s beliefs, by telling them what to believe.
This is paramount to telling them what to think, as Antonio Machado says; “Under all that we think, lives all that we believe, like the ultimate veil of our spirits. ” As religious beliefs do not rely on empirical knowledge, “facts” that are repeatedly drilled into congregations and religious followers become accepted as the truth. For example, during the crusades, which occurred from the 11th to the 13th centuries A. D. , thousands of people died because of their belief that the Saracens (Arabs, non-Christians) should be evicted from Jerusalem and the Holy Land, which was a belief instilled by the church.
Of course, for non-religious people this does not apply, however, it is still possible for figures in positions of power (those with “authority”), to preach to the masses of their beliefs, and in turn sway the masses beliefs to match their own. This can occur partly out of fear, of the masses for what the authority figure is capable of, but also because the authority figure hammers his beliefs home, and he must be right, because he is in the position of power and authority.
An example of a non-religious figure of authority instilling beliefs in people through repetition is Fidel Castro, who led a revolution against Cuba’s dictator at the time, President Batista, and instilling the population with his belief of freedom from America. Again, of course, there will be always be people who refuse to listen to people in positions of power and authority, and who thus shape their own beliefs. On the other hand however, people in authority quite often don’t even require 3 repetitions of something for other people to believe them, people will simply take their word for it on the first utterance.
Soldiers, for example, have this sort of obedience drilled into them from the time they join the military – Obey your commander and don’t question him at any cost is the precept drilled into raw recruits. Eventually, the theory goes, that if their commanding officer tells them something, they’ll believe it without questioning. One way of getting people to believe something other than the truth is through perceptual filtering, where facts about an event are “filtered” – only selected facts are given to the targeted individuals, and the facts given are usually governed by an individual in a position of authority.
Of course, the most typical perpetrators of this sort of perception altering are the media. Quite often, commercial media corporations, such as newspapers and commercial TV stations, give a typically one-sided view of an event. For example, during the Tampa/boat-people incident, most news coverage gave the impression that the boat people were manipulative, self-serving illegal immigrants bent on gaining access to our country through any means possible because they didn’t like it where they lived.
What most news corporations neglected to cover was the fact that most of these refugees were in fact fleeing from Afghanistan, and the cruel Taliban regime that held power there. The Taliban regime regularly tortured people to death, or mutilated them beyond recovery, and “disappearances”, where a person would go missing overnight and never be heard of again, were commonplace.
So, rather than being the selfish people that the majority of media was portraying them as, they were in reality innocent victims of cruel oppression seeking refuge in a safer country, however most people were unaware of these facts at the time, and merely saw them as they were portrayed. Of course, not everyone instantly believe things like that, however, due to the fact that the same information was available from so many different sources (a form of repetition), the majority of people tended to take the information at face value.
Another way of coming to believe something through repetition is through reasoning. Take, as an example, the high-school student, who, for the sake of argument, yells at her sister for no reason. Normally a kind girl, after the act she feels very remorseful, but, refusing to blame the action on herself, because it was so out of character, tells herself that the yelling was because of something the sister was doing wrong at the time.
She knows that it wasn’t so, it was really because she’s bad at coping with stress at school, but keeps telling herself that it was her sister’s fault, and after a time forgets the real reason and remembers only the perceived wrong-doing of the sister. Thus, through telling herself something repetitively, she comes to believe it as if it were the truth, and a more complicated version of the quote “What I tell you three times is true. ” proves to be true. There are many things, however, which require no repetition at all to make them true for an individual.
These things are so self-evident that they require no one to state them to make them true for a person – such as a Christian’s belief in God. Certainly, they have to be told about the existence of God to know about the existence, but they do not require repetition to know that he exists – to them, it is a self-evident truth that he exists and watches over us – it is the interpretation of the Lord’s commands that need to be reinforced and repeated, by people such as priests. Likewise, a person looking at the sky can know that it is blue, or clouded over, or the black night sky, without having to be told the fact.
They may not know the cause for it, but they know that it is so, thus showing that belief cannot solely be determined by repetition alone. The formula for determining belief suggested by Lewis Carroll’s quote, “What I tell you three times is true”, or more complicated interpretations of it, can be shown to be true in some cases, but not all. Through an examination of examples, including examples of authority, perceptual filtering, and reasoning, the truth of the statement has been proved for some cases. In some cases however, the statement does not hold true, as shown through several examples of self-evident truths.