Introduction

Beliefs are an integral part of the human experience, shaping our perceptions of the world and influencing our behaviors. Some beliefs are rooted in fact and supported by evidence, while others are based on superstitions, urban legends, or conspiracy theories. On this episode of English Plus Podcast, we delve deep into the topic of beliefs, exploring the different types of beliefs and the role they play in our lives. From the power of positive thinking to the dangers of groupthink, we discuss the many ways in which our beliefs shape our worldviews and impact our decision-making. So join us for a thought-provoking conversation as we examine the fascinating world of beliefs and the -isms that often arise from them.

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Interactive Transcript

Text Transcript

Let’s Talk about Beliefs

Danny:

This is your Host, Danny and this is English Plus Podcast.

Welcome to a new episode of English Plus, where we delve into the importance of beliefs in human life. From superstitions to isms, we explore the impact that our beliefs have on our thoughts, actions, and overall worldview. We hope that by listening to this episode, you will gain a deeper understanding of the power of beliefs and how they shape the way we navigate through life. As always, we appreciate your support and encouragement. If you enjoy this episode, please share it with your friends, leave a review on your favorite podcast platform, or consider supporting us by becoming a patron. Your support helps us continue to create engaging content and improve our English language skills together. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this fascinating topic of beliefs on English Plus.

Ben and I are going to discuss the topic of beliefs. What do you think we should start talking about, Ben?

Ben:

Well, first, let’s start talking about superstitions. Now, before we start talking about specific superstitions, why do people have superstitions?

Danny:

Superstitions are a form of belief that are not based on reason, evidence, or science. People have superstitions for a variety of reasons. One reason is that they can provide a sense of comfort or control in uncertain situations. For example, someone may have a superstition about carrying a lucky charm to help them feel more confident before an important event.

Another reason people have superstitions is because they are passed down from generation to generation and become part of a cultural tradition. Some superstitions also develop as a way to explain events or experiences that can’t be easily explained by science.

Finally, some people may simply find superstitions to be fun or entertaining, and they enjoy participating in them as a form of play or celebration. Whatever the reason, superstitions are a part of human nature and have been present in various cultures throughout history.

Ben:

But can superstitions come to a point where they can be dangerous or may lead to hallucinations and pose a danger to people’s mental health?

Danny:

Yeah, definitely! While most superstitions are harmless and simply a way for people to cope with uncertainty, some can definitely become dangerous. When superstitions start to interfere with someone’s daily life and decision-making, it can cause stress and anxiety. This can then lead to negative effects on mental health.

For example, if someone becomes overly obsessed with a certain superstition and starts to avoid certain situations or activities because of it, it can seriously limit their ability to live a normal life. In extreme cases, it can even lead to hallucinations or delusions.

That’s why it’s important for people to be mindful of their superstitions and to seek help if they start to feel like their beliefs are affecting their mental health in a negative way. A mental health professional can help someone understand the root cause of their superstitions and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Ben:

Alright, let’s talk about some common superstitions. Why do some people throw spilt salt over their shoulders?

Danny:

The throwing of salt over one’s shoulder is a superstition that dates back centuries and is thought to have originated as a way to ward off evil spirits. In the past, salt was a valuable commodity, so spilling it was considered to be a waste. Throwing salt over one’s shoulder was seen as a way to counteract the bad luck associated with spilling it.

The idea was that the salt would land on the devil, who was believed to be standing behind the person and causing trouble. Throwing salt over the shoulder was thought to “blind” the devil, thus rendering him powerless and protecting the person from harm.

Today, the tradition of throwing salt over the shoulder is still practiced by some people as a way to ward off bad luck or to reverse the effects of spilling salt. While it’s not a widely observed superstition, it remains a part of popular culture and is often referenced in movies, TV shows, and other forms of media.

Ben:

What about the phrase “touch wood”? What is the origin of the phrase and why do people use it?

Danny:

The phrase “touch wood” is a superstition that originated in Europe and is used to ward off bad luck. The idea is that by touching wood, you are connecting with the spirit of the tree and asking for its protection.

In the past, trees were often considered to be sacred and were associated with good luck and good fortune. Touching wood was thought to transfer some of this positive energy to the person doing the touching, and to provide a shield against bad luck or misfortune.

The tradition of touching wood has evolved over time, and today it’s often used as a way to counteract jinxing oneself. For example, someone might say “I’ve been really healthy lately, touch wood” as a way to avoid tempting fate and inviting illness.

While the phrase “touch wood” is not as widely used as it once was, it remains a part of popular culture and is still recognized by many people.

Ben:

And what about “housewarming”? Where does the practice of a “housewarming” gift come from. and why is it called so?

Danny:

A “housewarming” is a celebration held by someone who has recently moved into a new home, and the giving of a “housewarming gift” is a way for friends, family, and neighbors to welcome the new residents and wish them well in their new home.

The tradition of giving a gift to celebrate a new home is thought to have originated in ancient times, when people would bring gifts of food, drink, and other necessities to help the new residents establish themselves in their new home. The idea was to provide them with the resources they needed to get settled and to make sure they had everything they needed to live comfortably.

The term “housewarming” comes from the practice of warming the new home by lighting fires in all the fireplaces. This was seen as a way to chase away any negative energies or spirits that may have been left behind by the previous occupants, and to make the new home feel welcoming and comfortable.

Today, the tradition of giving a housewarming gift continues, and people often give items that are practical and useful for the home, such as kitchen gadgets, linens, or home decor. The goal is still to welcome the new residents and to help them get settled into their new home.

Ben:

And what about “black cats”? Why are black cats supposed to bring bad luck? And why specifically black cats, not brown cats or white cats?

Danny:

The belief that black cats are bad luck is a superstition that dates back centuries and has roots in several different cultures. In some cultures, black cats were associated with witchcraft and were thought to be the familiars of witches. This led to a belief that black cats were evil and brought misfortune to those who encountered them.

In other cultures, black cats were associated with death and darkness, and were thought to be an omen of bad luck, especially if they crossed someone’s path. The color black was often associated with negativity and was seen as a symbol of death, so it’s not surprising that black cats were believed to bring bad luck.

As for why black cats specifically, rather than other colored cats, it’s likely that the color black itself was seen as ominous and was associated with negativity. In many cultures, black was also considered to be a mysterious color, and black cats were thought to be especially mysterious and enigmatic, which may have added to their reputation as bringers of bad luck.

It’s worth noting that despite the superstition, black cats are no more or less lucky than cats of any other color. The belief that black cats are bad luck is simply a cultural myth and has no basis in fact.

Ben:

And what about horseshoes? Why are horseshoes meant to bring good luck?

Danny:

The belief that horseshoes bring good luck is a long-standing superstition that dates back to ancient times. Horseshoes were originally made of iron, which was a rare and valuable metal in the past. Because of this, horseshoes were seen as symbols of good fortune and were thought to have the power to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.

In some cultures, horseshoes were also associated with the goddess of the hearth, who was considered to be the protector of the home. Hanging a horseshoe above the doorway was thought to bring good luck to the residents of the home and to protect them from harm.

The tradition of hanging horseshoes for good luck has evolved over time, and today it’s often seen as a decorative item rather than a talisman. People may hang horseshoes in their homes as a way to celebrate their heritage or to evoke a sense of nostalgia for the past.

Regardless of the reason, the belief that horseshoes bring good luck remains a popular superstition, and many people still hang them in their homes as a way to invite positive energy and protect themselves from harm.

Ben:

And what about the number 13 and especially if it happens to be the date of a Friday? In some buildings, there’s no 13th floor until now, so where does that come from and why?

Danny:

The fear of the number 13, known as triskaidekaphobia, is a superstition that has been around for centuries. The origin of the superstition is unclear, but it’s thought to have roots in several different cultures and belief systems.

In ancient cultures, the number 13 was seen as unlucky because it was the number of people present at the Last Supper, and the subsequent betrayal of Jesus. In Norse mythology, the god Loki was the 13th member of a dinner party, and his presence led to the death of the god Balder.

In some cultures, the number 13 was also seen as unlucky because it is one more than the number 12, which was considered to be a number of completeness. For example, there are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, and 12 gods of Olympus. Adding one more was seen as overstepping the bounds of completeness and bringing misfortune.

The fear of Friday the 13th is thought to have originated from the idea that the 13th was unlucky, combined with the longstanding belief that Fridays were also unlucky. Friday was considered to be an unlucky day because it was the day of the week on which Jesus was crucified.

As for why some buildings don’t have a 13th floor, it’s a reflection of the fear of the number 13 and the belief that it brings bad luck. By skipping the 13th floor, building owners and architects hoped to appease the superstition and avoid any negative associations with the number.

Today, the fear of the number 13 and Friday the 13th is largely a cultural myth, and many people do not believe in it. However, the tradition of not having a 13th floor in some buildings remains a widespread practice, and it’s not uncommon to see elevators that skip from the 12th to the 14th floor.

Ben:

Alright then. Do you have any other famous superstitions that you would like tell us about?

Danny:

Sure! There are many famous superstitions from different cultures around the world. Here are a few

Knocking on wood This superstition is similar to “touch wood” and involves tapping on a wooden surface to ward off bad luck after making a statement that might jinx things. The idea is that the physical act of knocking on wood will prevent bad luck from coming true.

Crossing your fingers This is a gesture that people make when they want to wish for good luck or to counteract bad luck. The origin of the gesture is not clear, but it’s thought to have roots in early Christian symbolism, where crossing the fingers represented the cross and was seen as a way to invoke divine protection.

Breaking a mirror Breaking a mirror is said to bring seven years of bad luck. This superstition is thought to have originated in ancient cultures, where mirrors were considered to be windows to the soul and were associated with the supernatural. Breaking a mirror was seen as a way of breaking the connection between the physical and spiritual realms, and inviting bad luck.

Carrying a rabbit’s foot In some cultures, carrying a rabbit’s foot is thought to bring good luck. The idea is that the foot of a rabbit, which is considered to be a lucky animal, will transfer some of its luck to the person who carries it.

Finding a four-leaf clover Finding a four-leaf clover is said to bring good luck. The extra leaf is thought to represent good fortune, and finding one is seen as a sign that good things are on the way.

These are just a few of the many famous superstitions from around the world. Despite being based on myth and folklore, superstitions continue to be a part of human culture and are still widely observed by many people today.

Ben:

So as we did talk about the negative effects of superstitions, are there any positive effects? Are superstitions good in any way?

Danny:

Yes, there can be positive effects of superstitions. While superstitions are not based on reason or evidence, they can still have a positive impact on people’s lives.

For example, superstitions can provide a sense of comfort and control in uncertain situations. If someone believes that carrying a lucky charm will bring them good luck, it can give them a boost of confidence and help them feel more secure.

Superstitions can also bring people together and create a sense of community. Participating in superstitions, such as throwing salt over the shoulder or crossing your fingers, can be a fun and lighthearted way for people to bond and connect.

Another positive effect of superstitions is that they can provide a source of inspiration and creativity. Superstitions often involve rich symbolism and imagery, which can spark the imagination and inspire people to create new beliefs, rituals, and traditions.

Overall, while superstitions are not based on science or reason, they can still have a positive impact on people’s lives by providing comfort, community, and inspiration. Just be mindful of not letting superstitions interfere with your daily life or affect your mental health in a negative way.

Ben:

Are superstitions related in any way to urban legends or are the latter a completely different thing?

Danny:

Superstitions and urban legends are similar in some ways, but they are not the same thing. Superstitions are beliefs that are not based on reason or evidence, and are often associated with good luck or bad luck. Urban legends, on the other hand, are stories that are passed down from person to person and are often used to explain unusual or mysterious events.

Urban legends often contain elements of mystery, fear, or the supernatural, and are often used to warn people about potential dangers or to entertain them with scary stories. Superstitions, on the other hand, are often focused on bringing good luck or avoiding bad luck.

That being said, there is some overlap between the two. Urban legends can sometimes involve superstitions, such as the belief in a cursed object or the idea that a particular action will bring good luck or bad luck. And superstitions can sometimes become the basis for urban legends, such as the belief that breaking a mirror will bring seven years of bad luck.

So, while superstitions and urban legends are similar in some ways, they are not the same thing. Superstitions are beliefs about luck, while urban legends are stories that are passed down from person to person.

Ben:

But there are a lot of mysteries around the world that we still cannot fathom, so while we wait for science to figure these mysteries out, can we rely on urban legends instead?

Danny:

No, relying on urban legends is not a good idea when it comes to trying to understand mysteries or unexplained events. Urban legends are stories that are often based on folklore, hearsay, or misinformation, and they are not reliable sources of information.

In many cases, urban legends are created to fill a gap in our understanding of the world, but they are not based on scientific evidence or fact. Instead, they are often sensationalized stories that are meant to entertain or scare people, and they are not a reliable source of information about the world.

It’s always best to rely on science and facts when trying to understand mysteries and unexplained events. Science is a systematic and rigorous method of investigating the world and gaining knowledge through evidence-based experimentation and observation. This is the best way to get a true understanding of the world and to find answers to the mysteries that we encounter.

So, while urban legends can be fun to listen to and may provide a temporary explanation for unexplained events, it’s always best to rely on science and evidence-based information when trying to understand the mysteries of the world.

Ben:

And what about conspiracy theories, how are these different from urban legends and superstitions?

Danny:

Conspiracy theories are different from urban legends and superstitions in several ways. While urban legends and superstitions are often based on folklore, hearsay, or misinformation, conspiracy theories are beliefs that involve a secret or hidden group of people working together to achieve a goal.

Conspiracy theories often involve the idea that events or circumstances are not what they seem, and that there is a hidden group of people or organizations behind them working to manipulate or control the situation. These beliefs are often not based on evidence or scientific fact, and they often involve a distrust of government, institutions, or other authority figures.

Unlike superstitions, which are often focused on luck or fate, and urban legends, which are stories that are passed down from person to person, conspiracy theories are more focused on motives and hidden agendas. They often involve the belief that there is a hidden truth that is being kept from the public, and that the truth can only be uncovered by those who are willing to look beyond the surface of events.

While conspiracy theories can be intriguing and may provide a sense of explanation for events, it’s important to be critical of the information that is being presented. Conspiracy theories are often based on speculation, misinformation, and unverified claims, and it’s important to seek out reliable and credible sources of information when trying to understand the world.

Ben:

And I believe that indulging in conspiracy theories can make a person paranoid, and while a few of them may be true, believing in them and following sites and social media accounts that talk about them all the time can be a harmful habit. What do you think?

Danny:

Yes, indulging in conspiracy theories can indeed lead to paranoia and other negative effects on mental health. Believing in conspiracy theories can cause a person to feel distrustful of others, the government, and other institutions, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Additionally, being exposed to extreme or false information through conspiracy theory websites and social media accounts can have a harmful impact on mental health by causing people to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or confused.

It’s important to be critical of the information that is being presented, and to seek out reliable and credible sources of information. Consuming a balanced and diverse range of news and media from trusted sources can help to counteract the negative effects of exposure to conspiracy theories and false information.

Additionally, it’s important to be mindful of the amount of time and energy that is being spent on following conspiracy theories. Spending too much time reading about or discussing conspiracy theories can take away from other important aspects of life, and can have a negative impact on mental health.

Overall, while it’s natural to be curious about the world and to seek out answers to the mysteries that we encounter, it’s important to be critical of the information that is being presented and to seek out reliable and credible sources of information. Believing in and indulging in conspiracy theories can have negative effects on mental health, and it’s important to be mindful of the impact that they can have.

Ben:

After all, do we really have to understand everything? I mean can’t some mysteries remain as mysteries because that will add to their mystique and beauty, or do you think we should seek to understand everything that is happening around us. I’m sure there are two sides of this coin here. What do you think?

Danny:

There are indeed two sides to this coin, and both perspectives have their merits. On the one hand, there is something intriguing and beautiful about the idea of mysteries and the unknown. Some people find comfort in the idea that not everything can be explained and that there are some things that will remain forever shrouded in mystery.

On the other hand, there is also something to be said for the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. The human desire to understand the world around us is what has driven so much of our progress and advancement as a species, and it’s what has allowed us to make so many discoveries and solve so many mysteries.

Ultimately, the choice between seeking to understand everything and accepting that some mysteries will remain unknown is a personal one, and there is no right or wrong answer. Some people may find comfort in accepting the unknown, while others may find fulfillment in the pursuit of knowledge.

It’s important to find a balance that works for each individual, and to be mindful of the impact that our beliefs and perspectives have on our mental health and well-being. Whether we seek to understand everything or accept that some mysteries will remain unknown, what’s most important is to find peace and happiness in our lives and to live in a way that brings us fulfillment and meaning.

Ben:

Well talking about conspiracy theories, I remember what believing in them too much did to World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer. Many people consider Fischer to be the best or at least among the best chess players of all time, and that takes intelligence, but his brain was spoiled by indulging too much in conspiracy theories, or do you think there were other reasons to that?

Danny:

Bobby Fischer’s descent into conspiracy theories and paranoia was indeed a complex issue with many contributing factors. While it’s true that his exposure to conspiracy theories may have played a role, there were likely other factors at play as well.

For example, Fischer had a history of mental health issues, including symptoms of schizophrenia and manic depression. He was also known for his eccentric and unpredictable behavior, and was known to have a volatile and confrontational personality.

Additionally, Fischer’s life was marked by a number of personal and professional challenges and setbacks, including a tumultuous relationship with his family, legal and financial difficulties, and a self-imposed exile from the chess world.

So while it’s possible that his exposure to conspiracy theories may have contributed to his decline, it’s likely that a number of other factors were also at play, including his mental health, personal challenges, and behavior.

Overall, it’s important to be mindful of the impact that exposure to conspiracy theories and false information can have, especially for individuals who may be vulnerable or have a history of mental health issues. It’s important to seek out reliable and credible sources of information and to be critical of the information that is being presented.

Ben:

Now the concept and methods of conspiracy theories as it were in the second half of the past century have indeed changed. We have false news and false information on social media and on the internet in general, and many people believe in that. What do you think about that?

Danny:

The proliferation of false information and conspiracy theories on the internet and social media is indeed a major concern. With the rise of the internet and social media, it’s easier than ever for false information and conspiracy theories to spread quickly and reach a large audience.

This can have serious consequences, as false information and conspiracy theories can lead people to make poor decisions, harm their mental health, or contribute to the spread of misinformation and distrust. It can also have a harmful impact on society by eroding trust in institutions and spreading fear and confusion.

It’s important for individuals to be critical of the information that they encounter online and to seek out reliable and credible sources of information. This can include fact-checking websites, reputable news organizations, and credible sources of information in a particular field of study.

Additionally, it’s important for social media platforms and technology companies to take responsibility for the spread of false information and to take steps to combat it, such as through the use of fact-checking algorithms, the removal of false and misleading content, and the promotion of credible sources of information.

Ben:

Doesn’t that lead to polarization in some way? How dangerous can that be and what can we do about it?

Danny:

Yes, the spread of false information and conspiracy theories can indeed contribute to increased political polarization and division. When people are exposed to false information and conspiracy theories that align with their existing beliefs and biases, it can further entrench those beliefs and create echo chambers where people only hear information that confirms their existing views.

This can lead to increased political polarization, as people become more entrenched in their beliefs and less likely to listen to or consider other perspectives. It can also lead to a decline in trust in government, media, and other institutions, which can have long-lasting and damaging effects on society.

I know that I’m repeating myself, but only because this is very important. To combat the spread of false information and conspiracy theories, it’s important for individuals to be critical of the information that they encounter and to seek out reliable and credible sources of information. This can include fact-checking websites, reputable news organizations, and credible sources of information in a particular field of study.

Additionally, technology companies and social media platforms have a responsibility to take steps to combat the spread of false information and promote credible sources of information. This can include using fact-checking algorithms, removing false and misleading content, and promoting credible sources of information.

Finally, it’s important for individuals to engage in respectful and constructive dialogue and to seek out opportunities to understand and learn from people who hold different beliefs and perspectives. This can help to reduce polarization and increase understanding and respect between different groups.

Ben:

Alright, our discussion so far has proved one thing for sure if any, and that is people have different beliefs and can easily be contradicting beliefs. How can we reconcile our belief differences, or is it important at all to reconcile that, or should we simply seek to understand each other and accept our belief differences, or even celebrate it? What do you think?

Danny:

Reconciling belief differences can be a challenging task, but it’s important for individuals and society as a whole to strive for understanding and respect for different beliefs and perspectives.

It’s unlikely that everyone will agree on every issue or belief, but it’s important to seek out opportunities to understand and learn from people who hold different beliefs and perspectives. This can help to reduce misunderstandings and increase respect and understanding between different groups.

Additionally, it’s important to engage in respectful and constructive dialogue, even when people hold different beliefs. This can help to foster an environment of understanding and respect, and can lead to a greater appreciation of the diversity of beliefs and perspectives that exist in the world.

It’s also important to recognize that people have the right to hold their own beliefs and perspectives, and to respect their right to do so, even if they differ from our own. This can help to create a more inclusive and accepting society, where different beliefs and perspectives are valued and respected.

Ben:

But when do our beliefs start to become extreme, and then we may not have the right to hold these beliefs anymore? Actually, some beliefs are so extreme that can lead to being locked up in jail for just having them. While we have the right to hold different beliefs and opinions, how and when can we cross the line?

Danny:

While people have the right to hold their own beliefs and opinions, there are some beliefs and actions that are not protected by the right to freedom of speech and expression. For example, beliefs and actions that incite violence, hate, or discrimination against others are not protected by the right to freedom of speech and expression.

Additionally, beliefs and actions that are considered to be criminal, such as making threats, planning or participating in acts of terrorism, or promoting hate speech, are not protected by the right to freedom of speech and expression. These beliefs and actions can lead to criminal charges and consequences, including imprisonment.

It’s important to be mindful of the impact that our beliefs and actions can have on others, and to ensure that our beliefs and actions are not causing harm or violating the rights of others. Additionally, it’s important to be critical of the information that is being presented and to seek out reliable and credible sources of information. This can help to prevent the spread of false information and extreme beliefs that can lead to harm or violence.

Ben:

Our freedom ends when other people’s freedom starts, isn’t that something we should all consider?

Danny:

Yes, that is an important principle to consider. The idea that our freedom ends where others’ freedom begins is a cornerstone of many legal and ethical systems, and it is often referred to as the “harm principle.”

The harm principle states that individuals should be free to act as they choose, as long as their actions do not cause harm to others. This means that while people have the right to hold their own beliefs and opinions and to express them, they do not have the right to engage in actions that cause harm or violate the rights of others.

It’s important for individuals to consider the impact that their beliefs and actions can have on others, and to ensure that their beliefs and actions do not cause harm or violate the rights of others. This can help to create a more inclusive and accepting society, where different beliefs and perspectives are valued and respected, and where people are free to act as they choose, as long as their actions do not cause harm to others.

Ben:

Alright, let’s talk about something else related to beliefs. Many beliefs are given the suffix -ism, and this is a morphological matter that we are not interested in at the moment, but let’s talk about some of -isms and understand what they mean better if we can. Let’s start with altruism. What is the meaning of that belief?

Danny:

Altruism is a belief or value that prioritizes the well-being and interests of others over one’s own self-interest. It’s often described as a selfless concern for the welfare of others, and is characterized by a willingness to help others and to put the needs of others before one’s own needs.

Altruism can take many forms, from volunteering time and resources to help those in need, to making sacrifices for the benefit of others. It is often considered to be a positive and virtuous trait, and is often praised in many cultures and societies.

While altruism is often motivated by a genuine concern for the well-being of others, it can also have its own rewards, such as a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from helping others. Additionally, altruistic behavior can have a positive impact on the well-being of both the person performing the altruistic act and the person receiving it, creating a positive feedback loop of helping and well-being.

Ben:

What about exorcism? What kind of belief is that?

Danny:

Exorcism is a belief and practice that involves the expulsion of evil spirits or demons from a person or place. It is often associated with religious or spiritual beliefs and is performed by a priest, minister, or other religious leader.

In many cultures and religions, it is believed that evil spirits or demons can possess a person or a place, causing physical or psychological harm. Exorcism is seen as a way to rid the person or place of these evil influences and to restore balance and well-being.

The practice of exorcism can vary greatly between cultures and religions, but often involves a combination of religious rituals, prayers, and other forms of spiritual intervention. In some cases, the person undergoing the exorcism may exhibit signs of possession, such as speaking in a strange voice, displaying unnatural strength, or having knowledge of secret or hidden information.

It’s important to note that exorcism is a controversial and sometimes divisive belief and practice, and that many mental health professionals and scientists do not believe in the existence of evil spirits or demons, and consider exorcism to be a manifestation of psychological and emotional distress rather than a supernatural phenomenon.

Ben:

Alright. What about fatalism? What does this belief mean?

Danny:

Fatalism is the belief that events and outcomes are determined by fate or destiny and cannot be changed or altered by human action or choice. Fatalists believe that everything that will happen has already been predetermined and that individuals have no control over their lives or their futures.

This belief can have a profound impact on an individual’s perception of control and agency, and can lead to feelings of helplessness and resignation. For some, fatalism can be a source of comfort, as it removes the burden of personal responsibility and decision-making. For others, it can be a source of anxiety and stress, as it implies a lack of control over one’s life and future.

Fatalism is often associated with religious and philosophical beliefs, and can be found in various forms in many cultures and traditions. However, it is often criticized for promoting a passive and deterministic view of the world, and for encouraging individuals to abandon their sense of personal responsibility and agency.

Ben:

Alright, what about feminism? What does this belief mean?

Danny:

Feminism is a political and social movement that seeks to advance the rights and status of women and to promote gender equality. Feminism is grounded in the belief that women and men should be equal in terms of rights, opportunities, and treatment, and that current social, political, and economic structures and systems often reinforce gender inequalities and discrimination against women.

Feminism has a long and varied history, with different waves of the feminist movement addressing different issues and advocating for different rights and reforms. Some of the key issues that feminists have sought to address include equal pay for equal work, reproductive rights, domestic violence and sexual assault, access to education and career opportunities, and the representation of women in politics and media.

Feminism is a broad and diverse movement, encompassing a range of perspectives, ideologies, and political orientations. However, all forms of feminism share a commitment to advancing the rights and status of women and promoting gender equality.

Ben:

Very well, what about hedonism? What does this belief mean?

Danny:

Hedonism is a philosophical belief that pleasure and happiness are the primary goals of human life. Hedonists believe that pleasure and happiness should be sought after and pursued as the ultimate aim of one’s existence.

Hedonism is often associated with a focus on immediate pleasure and gratification, and can include the pursuit of material pleasure, such as wealth, luxury, and comfort, as well as more intangible pleasures, such as sensory experiences and emotional states.

There are different forms of hedonism, including both psychological and ethical hedonism. Psychological hedonism is the belief that humans are inherently motivated by pleasure and the avoidance of pain, while ethical hedonism is the belief that pleasure and happiness should be the guiding principle for ethical decision-making and behavior.

Hedonism is often criticized for promoting a shallow and self-centered view of the world, and for encouraging individuals to prioritize their own pleasure and happiness at the expense of others and the greater good. However, proponents of hedonism argue that it is a positive and fulfilling philosophy, and that pursuing pleasure and happiness can lead to a more meaningful and satisfying life.

Ben:

And what about racism? We all know about it, of course, but what does it exactly mean and how bad can it be for our societies?

Danny:

Racism is a belief that certain races are superior to others, and that this superiority is reflected in their physical characteristics, cultural practices, and intellectual abilities. Racism often leads to prejudice, discrimination, and unequal treatment of individuals based on their race or ethnicity.

Racism can have a profound and lasting impact on both the individuals who are targeted by it and on society as a whole. Racism can lead to social, economic, and political inequalities, and can perpetuate cycles of poverty, marginalization, and exclusion. Racism can also lead to physical and emotional harm, including violence, trauma, and psychological distress.

Racism has a long and painful history, and has been used to justify acts of violence, exploitation, and oppression throughout the world. Despite significant progress in recent decades, racism remains a persistent and widespread problem, and continues to impact individuals and communities in profound and harmful ways.

Ben:

And finally, what about snobbism? What does this belief mean?

Danny:

Snobbism is a belief in the superiority of certain people, practices, or things, and a disdain for those that are perceived as being of lower status or quality. Snobs often believe that they are better than others based on factors such as their wealth, education, background, or cultural tastes, and they may look down on those who do not meet these criteria.

Snobbism can manifest in many different ways, including a preference for exclusive or high-end products, a disdain for popular or mass-produced items, and an obsession with status symbols such as luxury brands, expensive cars, and exclusive social clubs.

Snobbism can have a negative impact on both the individuals who engage in it and on society as a whole, as it reinforces social and economic divisions and can lead to feelings of superiority and entitlement. Snobbism can also lead to feelings of inferiority and exclusion among those who do not meet the criteria set by the snobs.

Ben:

Now, of course there are a lot of other beliefs or isms and we cannot talk about all of them today, but can you think of some other important isms that we haven’t talked about?

Danny:

Yes, there are many other -isms that we could discuss, including

Absolutism the belief in absolute truth and the rejection of relativism

Capitalism the belief in a market-driven economy and private ownership of the means of production

Communism the belief in a classless society and collective ownership of the means of production

Environmentalism the belief in the protection and preservation of the natural environment

Humanism the belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings and the promotion of human well-being and happiness

Nationalism the belief in the cultural, political, and economic autonomy of a particular nation or people

Pacifism the belief in the rejection of violence as a means of resolving conflict

Realism the belief in a practical and pragmatic approach to problem-solving and decision-making

Secularism the belief in the separation of religion and state, and the promotion of a secular society

Socialism the belief in a society based on collective ownership and distribution of resources.

These are just a few examples of -isms that we could discuss, and there are many more beliefs and ideologies that exist in the world. Each of these beliefs and ideologies can have a profound impact on individuals and society, and it is important to understand and engage with them in a thoughtful and respectful manner.

Ben:

Alright then. Well, finally, let’s hypothetically challenge some beliefs we have today, and see how that would affect our lives. I mean, it’s not just religion and superstition that is concerned with beliefs. Much of science, for example, is based on a series of beliefs and hypotheses. People used to believe that the earth was flat, and the sun revolved around it. They thought madness was a sign of demonic possession and that leeches could be applied to the skin to cure illnesses. But it is not only our ancestors who had some strange ideas. For example, in the 1980s a group of scientists ‘discovered’ that water has memory. Well, How would it affect our lives if in the future the belief that animals cannot talk is proved to be false?

Danny:

If the belief that animals cannot talk were to be proved false in the future, it would have a profound impact on our understanding of the natural world and the relationships that we have with animals.

For one, it would challenge our assumptions about the limits of animal intelligence and communication abilities. We might have to revise our understanding of the cognitive abilities of animals and the ways in which they can express themselves.

Moreover, it could also have implications for the way we treat animals and the ethical considerations surrounding animal rights and welfare. If animals were able to communicate with us in a more sophisticated manner, it might lead to a greater recognition of their sentience and a greater obligation to treat them humanely and with respect.

Finally, this discovery could also have implications for fields such as linguistics and psychology, as it would open up new avenues of research into the nature of language and communication.

Ben:

What if the belief that we cannot be in more than one place at the same time is proved to be false?

Danny:

If the belief that we cannot be in more than one place at the same time were to be proven false, it would have significant implications for our understanding of the nature of reality and the limitations of our perception of the world.

For one, it would challenge our current understanding of the concept of time and space, and might lead to a revision of our scientific models and theories. For example, it might suggest that there are multiple parallel realities or dimensions in which we can exist simultaneously.

Additionally, it could also have practical implications for fields such as transportation and communication. If it were possible to be in more than one place at the same time, it could revolutionize the way we travel and communicate, making it possible to be physically present in multiple locations at once.

Finally, this discovery could also have philosophical and spiritual implications, as it might challenge our beliefs about the nature of the self and the limitations of our physical and mental abilities.

Ben:

What if the belief that we cannot control the weather is proved to be false?

Danny:

If the belief that we cannot control the weather were to be proven false, it would have significant implications for our relationship with the environment and our ability to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters and extreme weather events.

For one, it would mean that we would have the ability to intervene in the weather patterns and mitigate the effects of natural disasters such as hurricanes, droughts, and floods. This could have a major impact on our ability to protect communities and critical infrastructure from the effects of extreme weather.

Additionally, it could also have implications for agriculture and food security, as we might be able to better manage the conditions that are necessary for crop growth and production.

Moreover, it could also have ethical and moral implications, as we would have to consider the potential consequences of our actions on the natural world and the balance of ecosystems. For example, we would have to consider the potential consequences of intentionally altering weather patterns, such as the impact on migration patterns of wildlife and the distribution of precipitation.

Ben:

What if the belief that smoking causes cancer but meat doesn’t is proved to be false?

Danny:

If the belief that smoking causes cancer but meat doesn’t were to be proven false, it would have significant implications for public health and the food industry.

For one, it would mean that we would have to revise our understanding of the causes of cancer and the role that diet and lifestyle play in the development of this disease. This could have implications for the way we approach cancer prevention and treatment, and could lead to changes in public health policies and guidelines.

Additionally, it could also have implications for the meat industry, as it might mean that consumption of meat could be linked to a higher risk of cancer. This could lead to changes in consumer behavior, with people choosing to eat less meat or switch to alternative protein sources.

Moreover, it could also have ethical implications, as it might lead to questions about the welfare of animals used for food production and the impact of animal agriculture on the environment.

Ben:

What if the belief that there is human life only on the earth is proved to be false?

Danny:

If the belief that there is human life only on Earth were to be proven false, it would have profound implications for our understanding of the universe and our place within it.

For one, it would mean that we are not alone in the universe, and that there may be other intelligent civilizations out there. This would challenge our assumptions about the uniqueness of life on Earth and the likelihood of the existence of extraterrestrial life.

Additionally, it could also have implications for the way we view ourselves and our place in the universe. It might lead to a greater appreciation for the diversity of life and the importance of preserving our own planet.

Moreover, it could also have practical implications for fields such as astronomy and space exploration, as it would provide new opportunities for scientific discovery and technological advancement.

Finally, this discovery could also have philosophical and spiritual implications, as it would challenge our beliefs about the nature of the universe and the purpose of human existence.

Ben:

Finally, what if the belief that death comes to everyone is proved to be false?

Danny:

If the belief that death comes to everyone were to be proven false, it would have significant implications for our understanding of the nature of life and the concept of mortality.

For one, it would mean that death is not an inevitable and universal experience, and that it might be possible to extend human life beyond what we currently consider to be its natural limits.

Additionally, it could also have implications for the way we view aging and the treatments that are available for age-related diseases. It might lead to a greater focus on researching and developing treatments and interventions that can extend human lifespan and improve quality of life in old age.

Moreover, it could also have ethical implications, as it would raise questions about the allocation of resources and the impact of an aging population on society.

Finally, this discovery could also have spiritual implications, as it would challenge our beliefs about the afterlife and the nature of human existence beyond death.

Ben:

Well, to wrap up our discussion about beliefs. Why do you think believing in something or sometimes someone is important to us? Why can’t we live without beliefs?

Danny:

Believing in something or someone is important to us for several reasons

It provides a sense of purpose and meaning in life. Beliefs give people a reason for existing and help to provide a framework for understanding the world and their place in it.

It helps to create a sense of community and belonging. Shared beliefs can bring people together and create a sense of community and shared identity.

It provides a source of comfort and security. Beliefs can provide people with a sense of comfort and security, especially in times of uncertainty or adversity.

It provides a source of guidance and moral values. Beliefs can shape our moral values and help us to make decisions about how we should live our lives.

It allows for self-expression. Beliefs can be a means of self-expression and can provide people with a sense of individuality and uniqueness.

Ben:

Very well, I guess that’s all we want to discuss about beliefs for today. I really enjoyed our discussion today and I learned a lot from it.

Danny:

Same here. Thank you, Ben.

And that’s a wrap for today’s episode of English Plus, where we explored the intriguing topic of beliefs and their significance in human life. We hope this discussion has provided you with new insights and perspectives on the role of beliefs in shaping our thoughts and actions.

Before we go, we would like to remind you to please support us by subscribing to our podcast, leaving a review on your preferred platform, and sharing this episode with your friends and family. Your support is essential to help us create more quality content for you and other English learners around the world.

If you have any feedback, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can find our contact information in the show notes or on our website.

Thank you for listening to English Plus. We look forward to bringing you more engaging content in the future. Keep learning and improving your English. This is your host, Danny. I will see you next time.

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<a href="https://englishpluspodcast.com/author/dannyballanowner/" target="_self">Danny Ballan</a>

Danny Ballan

Author

Danny is a podcaster, teacher, and writer. He worked in educational technology for over a decade. He creates daily podcasts, online courses, educational videos, educational games, and he also writes poetry, novels and music.

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