Cause and effect and the art of interpretation

Cause and effect and the art of interpretation


Mieke Mosmuller

04-03-2021 1 comments Print!
The text below is a literal transcription of the spoken video text.

In thinking, it is important to see the relationship between a cause and its effect, so-called causality. But precisely becoming aware of the lack of such causality is also an important competency for the art of interpretation. If we look at the interpretation of facts and data in the current corona crisis, we see that, due to a lack of understanding of causality, the truth is not always honored. How can we train our thinking to use it freely and independently to experience truth with certainty? Watch video on YouTube

Mieke Mosmuller

Of course, we also have the possibility to simply say: what the authorities do must be good, so we don't do any research and we just live on until this is finished and we don't ask questions. There may have been a time when people were more inclined to do that, but the modern human being certainly isn't and a large part of mankind is very keen to know how things really are, you notice that as a doctor too, you don't, as used to be the case, make the diagnosis and therapy like an authority and keep quiet about it so that the patient is kept in the dark about what exactly is going on and what the prognosis is. That's really not possible in modern times, you really have to communicate about the findings. So what I was saying that it could also be the case that we simply follow the governments - I can answer that immediately - that that is actually not possible at all and that we as the people are becoming more and more empowered, and a crisis like this only makes that stronger. Because one is confronted with, what I like to call, incongruities and that raises the questions one asks and the answers one looks for. And one of the important concepts that is used in the search for correlations is the concept of causality, is the concept of cause and effect. And we tend to connect cause and effect with time, so that you say: what happens before has an effect later. So if you see that something happens because you do something, and that some other thing happens afterwards, then you tend to say that the first thing is the cause of the second. But that doesn't have to be the case. An interesting example is found in nature, where we know that when the swallows fly low, rain comes. You can find all kinds of explanations for this, again cause and effect, but they do it and when they do it, it is a sign that bad weather is coming. We then actually know in a very natural way that these swallows somehow perceive that something is changing in the atmosphere which makes the weather bad. But if you would only look at the time, you could say: these swallows are flying low, and so they cause the bad weather. That is bizarre, you don't think so as a human being. But the fact that it is so clear there that you cannot always say that what is earlier is the cause of what is later, even if it happens time and time again, the fact that it is there, does not mean that we also know that in all situations where you are dealing with two related events, you cannot always say that the first is the cause of the second. You cannot always say that what happens later in time is a consequence of what happened earlier. These are things that, as a human being, you have to remember when you try to judge the course of events. In the spring we experienced that a large number of elderly and very elderly people died and that the cause of death was covid-19. When you thought about that, the question arose: wouldn't those people have died anyway? Wasn't it time they were going to die and that possible infection was only a kind of catalyser, at most, and not a real cause of death? That's one of those considerations you can have when you start thinking about cause and effect. Well, of course you were not allowed to think that at the time, there was a very strong trend in thinking that those elderly and very elderly people would not have died if they had not gotten this infection. And so a very emotional atmosphere was also created around this infectious disease, where it is mainly the old people and the already diseased who are affected. Now there was a confrontation in the Dutch Parliament last week between a Member of Parliament and the Minister. And that was about the question: there are people who are very old, who are ill, who are vaccinated and who die after a week, or after some time. And the question from the Member of Parliament was: is there also research being carried out into the extent to which the vaccination itself could be a possible cause of death. I think this is the same question that could have been asked in the spring with the COVID-19 infection. There the question was: does the very old person die from being very old, or from the underlying disease, or from the infection? It was not the idea to ask it like that, but of course it is very logical to ask it like that. Now this Member of Parliament is actually asking the same question and saying: is there a connection between vaccination and death? Only he asks the question more or less the other way round. This led to a furious reaction from the Minister, and when you see this on video, it is actually quite shocking because of the impertinence that takes place in response to a more or less ordinary and also justified question: is it really the case that vaccination and the death of the very elderly are in no way connected, or is it possible that there is a cause and effect? You have to be able to ask yourself that question, and you also might expect the government to ask such questions itself, but of course they are more or less passed on to a team that carries out a special investigation, which is modern, so the people responsible pass the responsibility on to other people and then they can always say yes, but that is being looked into there and that is none of my business. And when you do ask more questions, it turns out, then the person being questioned gets furious and says this is spreading fake news, that's not possible at all, this is not possible, we are in a pandemic and it is life-threatening. This was an image, what you saw there, which in itself was so remarkable, that you actually become, I don't want to say suspicious, but you do wonder why this uncontrolled reaction? Why not just say: yes, I understand your question and we will do it this way and you can rest assured that everything is in order and if you want to check it, you can do so there and then. Surely you can answer in that way. But this furious reaction raises strong questions. This is about the strange handling of cause and effect. Another connection that exists is that the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) and the OMT (Outbreak manageme nt team) make prognoses about how the new British variant is likely to spread in the Netherlands, how that will then lead to problems in care, and how that should then be ‘treated'. Based on these prognoses, very strict lockdown measures are then put in place, and then it all turns out better than expected. Then, of course, the question arises: were the prognoses wrong or are the better-than-expected results a consequence of the measures? Now the conclusion is simply drawn that the fact that things are better than expected is due to the measures. And that, as far as I am concerned, is another inconsistency, because this is, of course, not at all scientific. In the first place, prognoses are predictions, they have a certain degree of probability but they are based on assumptions and these may already be wrong, so what is a prognosis? If it does not come true, you would rather say that we did not make a good prognosis, but when you then take very strict measures and it is not as bad as expected and you then say well, that is because of the measures, then that is not scientific, because you could actually only say that if you also were to do a test in which those measures were not taken. Only then, when you see a huge outbreak of this British virus, of this British variant, can you say that the measures have had an effect. But to simply say that is a certain way of, I would almost say, creating a mood, which justifies allowing those measures to continue. Cause and effect. If you want to become an independent thinker, then you have to empathise with both these concepts. Every person who can think knows in himself what is meant by cause and effect. But how to correctly interpret certain data that arise is something completely different. And there were, let's say, protocols in science, how to deal with it, and they are abandoned. They are not taken into account because people say of course, and that is understandable, they say yes but listen, we can't take that risk, we can't take those measures and then see what happens, because if it turns out the way we think it will, then we will have caused a disaster, so it is better to be safe than sorry. That may be all true, but then there really is no more science. And I pointed out last week that we as humans must learn to think independently, and I actually mean that you must learn to do that. That is not something you can just do. You have to develop in order to actually be able to do that. Because we as humans are born in a certain country, in a certain family, we go to a certain school, we have such and such teachers, we have this and that curriculum, we may go to university or we may go to work but all these things that we do influence how we stand in the world and what thoughts we develop is mainly determined by that. And what I mean by independent thinking is thinking that knows how to detach itself from that and that wants to go to the heart of the matter. And actually, you need a certain training for that, so that you can first thoroughly know how to detach yourself from everything that always comes up from your background. Of course, there are rebels, and they detach themselves from everything that comes from their background, but I believe that they often fail to realise that they are drawing from another reservoir that also comes from their background. So as an independent thinker, if you want to get a grip on your thinking, you have to develop more and more in such a way that you can think independently, as I have tried to give an example now of the pair of concepts cause and effect. How you can also go wrong with that, because you link it for example to time. Or that you link it to certain assumptions of which you have no idea whether they are actually true. Here I am thinking of the prognoses. So it is not so easy to become an independent thinker, but the first step is that you stand up within yourself and that you say: I try not always to listen to what comes from the environment and I try not always to listen to what constantly arises from my associative thoughts, but I try to think through the facts that are there in an independent way. And for that, it is often necessary that you do not draw any conclusions at all for the time being, and that is of course the most difficult thing for a human being.

From another activity I came back to a book from the 14th century, written by Thomas a Kempis and called: The Imitation of Christ. It's a book with, yes, you could say phrases for reflection and for self-education and, of course, it's old, it actually comes from a time when people were not at all as emancipated as they are now, so you certainly can't extend it to our time in its entirety, but nevertheless the book is full of indications and admonitions that you can take to heart and so right at the beginning, in chapter four, he has the theme of thoughtfulness and that's actually what I want to finish with, because that's what I mean with the foundation for independent thinking.1. One should not trust every word or every impulse without reason, but carefully and patiently weigh and consider a matter before God.

2. Often, unfortunately, we believe and say evil rather than good about other people: that is how weak we are.

3. Perfect people, on the other hand, will not believe any storyteller; for they know human weakness, which tends easily to evil and is unstable in its claims.

4. It is great wisdom not to act hastily nor to persist in one's own opinions.

5. This also includes not immediately believing everything that is said, and not immediately whispering in other people's ears what one hears or believes.

That is something you want to engrave in your heart, in a time like this when we are so overwhelmed by facts, by news. And perhaps within the news there is often fake news, so let us not immediately believe everything that is said.

6. Consult with a wise and conscientious person and seek to be taught by an outstanding person rather than follow your own findings.

This does not contradict that you should not listen to what comes from outside, but you must select. If you want to learn to think independently, then it is of course necessary that you become acquainted with the thinking of wise people, so that you learn to become familiar with that wise form of thinking and adopt it as a habit. 

7. To live well makes one wise according to God's standard and experienced in many things.

8. The humbler a person is in his inner self and the more dependent he is on God, the wiser and more peaceful he will be in everything.

This is, of course, a task that lies more at the end of the road for us than at the beginning, because we, as empowered people, do have the task of examining everything and not just depending on God, who is invisible, but of training our thinking and our judgements in what is happening. And it is actually necessary for us to develop a sense of what is true, what is told to us in accordance with the truth, or what is written or what is shown, and what is perceptibly not true. And I said in a previous video: the truth always comes to light. But it only really comes to light in modern times because there are people who develop this sense of truth within themselves. These are people who do not immediately fly into rage when they are asked a question, but who calmly and carefully consider the facts and then realise in their hearts whether something is true or not.

Cause and effect and the art of interpretation by Mieke Mosmuller

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  • From Annemarie Haest @
    Hartelijk dank, Mieke.
    Annemarie Haest.