A rational mind needs regular maintenance. One of the maintenance systems I employ is to remind myself of things I used to be sure about and later discovered to be untrue. I started a list organized by the approximate ages at which I realized my errors. A healthy rational mind needs regular doses of humility. (I might need more humility than most people.)

Here is the approximate age at which I stopped believing in different stuff.

Age 8

Santa Claus
Tooth Fairy
Easter Bunny

Age 11

Money isn't important for happiness


People are mostly rational
Unquestioned patriotism is a good thing
Any college is as good as any other
Memories are generally accurate
Looks don't matter
Wealth doesn't make you more attractive
Gay is a choice
Alcoholism is a choice


School reputation doesn't matter
History as taught in school is generally accurate
You can do anything you set your mind to
Flying saucers are visiting on a regular basis
Hard work is almost always rewarded
Some men don't enjoy porn
Individuals can pick good stocks if they do research
Management is a science


Food pyramid
Vitamin supplements are backed by science
Free will
Solving your problems can bring you lasting happiness

Age 50

Common sense exists (as opposed to experience)
Drink eight glasses of water a day
Exercising is a big help for losing weight
A calorie is a calorie
Don't swim soon after eating
Wash hands with hot water to kill germs
Marijuana is bad for adult health (Note: still probably bad for kids)
Stretching helps athletic performance
Humans are more likely to be real than artificial/software
Everyone will die
The government isn't controlled by big money
The stock market is mostly legitimate

You can probably suggest a few things to add to my list.


Link to my book: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.

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Mar 31, 2014
This discussion reminds me of something I've thought about for a while now. Our perception of general maturity age is overly skewed by age. FYI, I'm on the younger end of middle age. I have friend who are in their early 20's who are much more mature than some of my friends in their mid 40's. The important factors that I've noticed are: first, the years since they were married/moved in together; second, the years since their first child was born. And after that, there are other factors as well. How many years it has been since they first got a career level job, moved out, bought their own car/home. I know some middle aged guys that still live with their parents, wear skinny jeans, go clubbing and try to talk and act like my two teenage sons.

I think that the age at which these beliefs change is less important than the impetus behind the change. The childhood changes are easy to explain with neurology and brain development. Adult belief changes are harder to explain. Experience is primary, yet so many adults change their beliefs for emotional or philosophical reasons.
Mar 30, 2014
With me, even in the age any, I am always trust in God.
God in my life, your life and all every one on this the world!!!

Bộ sư tập <a herf="http://cuacong.com.vn/products/ngoai_that_sat/cua_cong_sat_dep-98-792.html">cong sat cao cap </a>
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 8, 2014
It took you until age eight to figure out Santa Claus?
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 7, 2014
What is your definition of god? If we are all artificial/software, wouldn't the creator(s) of such a system be a reasonable equivalent?
Feb 6, 2014
I have to qualify the following as saying that this is a real question, not being a troll:

"Humans are more likely to be real than artificial/software"

If you believe that humans are more likely to be artificial/software, then why did you get so upset and angry with the manner of your father's death? If we are merely software, is there a point to getting upset about anything? If we really are software, then what is the point of anything? I'd really like to know.
Feb 4, 2014
Did you intentionally leave out "True love exists" on purpose?
Feb 1, 2014
Oh, now I'm so distraught. You mean Santa DOESN'T exist???????
Jan 31, 2014

Were discussing things we used to beleive and dont anymore. Cynicism is embedded in the topic.
Jan 31, 2014
why are the comments to this post so cynical?
Jan 30, 2014
Before age 10
Most adults know what they're talking about

Before age 20
Guns are bad
Anyone can be likeable and liked with enough of the right kind of effort
Most people are reasonably smart
Christianity is true

Before age 30
12-Step programs work
Sex is overrated
Religion is true

Before age 40
Once you find the right niche, other good things will follow
Love fades with time
Addiction is a disease
Addiction is a choice
Children are the products of their environments
Religion has no value

After age 40
Addiction has no cure
Jan 30, 2014

Thanks, but I'm pretty sure it was about the cucumbers.
Jan 30, 2014

Well, I wasn't one of the people who downvoted you. But I would guess that most people aren't inclined to think "believing in something" is one of the things we "quit believing in" just because you weaseled a double-negative in there somewhere. That seems to be the sort of anti-rational approach you're going with in life, and hey... who am I to judge? Thinking clearly doesn't work great for everyone. (Well.. it does for everyone I know, but hey, there are people I don't know, so let's assert something about them under the presumption that we can't know the opposite about them -- works for you, I presume.)
Jan 30, 2014
I think all the thumbs down I got for the last comment were because people didn't like the cucumber serving suggestion in your book. But trust me, people, it's delicious!
Jan 30, 2014
Scott, if you don't know what you don't know, then you don't know how God will choose to speak to you. Historically, he's chosen to speak to some people through other people--through their spoken or written words--and he might choose to work that way with you too.

Oh, and btw, he told me to thank you for the cucumber soaked in vinegar with a little salt suggestion. I passed the recipe on to him because I liked it so much.
Jan 30, 2014
It seems like you have dropped most traditional beliefs.
What beliefs do you have left and would you predict when you will drop them?

Ron Weiland
-6 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 30, 2014

That God has to be a monotheistic, super-powered being with a personality. Belief in a higher power returns along with the belief in a cosmic consciousness that cares about our intentions during our lives returns. Which is good because studies show atheists are more prone to depression and die younger.

Almost thought you would mention that in your book Scott. Considering it is about programming your mind for success, seems like a non-dogmatic belief based around karma and the golden rule would be something you advocate programing into yourself just for the health benefits.

As for your other points, I think they are only truths from your subjective position, not universal truths.

"Money isn't important for happiness" - So everyone in pre-currency, egalitarian tribal societies were always unhappy?

"Flying saucers are visiting on a regular basis" - Tough to say. Maybe not regularly. I'd check out the Disclosure Project. Was a big seminar where military personal, air traffic controllers, politicians, and astronauts all come clean about their UFO experiences. Not the type of flakey guys who want other non-flakey guys thinking they are making stuff up or hallucinating.

"Some men don't enjoy !$%*! - Eunuchs? But more seriously, I think a lot of guys are more mentally disgusted with themselves for watching/jerking to it then they are happy with it. For many, I suspect a net loss of happiness.

"Vitamins are backed by science" - Depends on the vitamin. Vitamin D and B-complexes have plenty of support.

"Exercising helps lose weight" - Depends on the exercise. You may put on muscle which won't mean you lose weight. Something like Yoga definitely loses you weight though.

"Stretching helps athletic performance" - Maybe you mean stretching immediately prior to athletic performance? I don't think anyone can argue stretching after exercise doesn't help recovery time allowing for more exercise overall.

Either way, fun list. I think my big one I've unlearned in my 20s is the idea that we can actually know anything at all.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 30, 2014
While I'll continue to love Dilbert, humility is NOT a word I would use to describe that blog post.
Jan 30, 2014
You might want to add God, Angels, and Miracles back onto the list. Haven't you been hearing that story about a cop and a social worker both suggesting some family they were assigned to investigate was possessed?

On reincarnation, I'd lump that in with cloning in terms of being a possibility. I don't believe in it personally, at least not until we can download our minds and put them into a clone of ourselves. Then it's close enough for me.

I've heard that a lot of the men doing !$%* don't enjoy it.

Management is probably half art, half science.

You need soap to kill germs, but killing all germs is bad as there are good ones.

I'm reading drudge right now and it looks like my belief that the republicans are an opposition party is at an end. Right now I think they are being run by democrats who are trying to get a piece of the action by pretending to object to the president and caving at the last minute.
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 30, 2014
For me, here are some of the false beliefs I eventually shed:

Age 6: Santa is real (I though it was morning, and caught my parents setting things up -- whoops!)

Age 7: Forcible volunteerism/charity is a good thing (the hypocritical rich liberals at my school were of a "Do as I say, not as I do" variety, and I've seen the left that way ever since)

Age 14: Rush Limbaugh's philosophy is good (the day he came out in favor of GATT was the day I stopped listening to anything he had to say... a guy who complains about international organizations like the UN simultaneously wanting to make a new system like that for economics came off as hugely hypocritical and cognitively dissonant).

Age 19: Love is more than just a chemical reaction in your brain/body

Age 26: The friends you make in college are the friends you'll have forever (half true; I still know a handful, but they're mostly not that close or have moved away)

Age 35: Money has inherent value (in truth, it only has value because people accept the lie that it does -- if nobody wanted US Dollars tomorrow, we'd all be SOL).

Age 37: Actual talent will carry you farther than personal connections in getting hired (after observing a bunch of handshake deals firsthand, I now wonder how many job postings are actually real, especially for higher-level positions).
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 30, 2014
I can believe there is no scientific evidence that stretching helps not to pull a muscle, but I won't adventure into play a long game of soccer (100 meters long field, played in two halves of 45 minutes each, with 15 minutes halftime) without stretching. Every single time I've done it I've felt exhausted, and on two occasions I actually pulled a muscle (once on a hard sprint and the other kicking the ball.)

If you think stretching won't help is just because you are not playing hard enough, that's all.

[You're confusing warming up (which prevents injuries and improves performance) with stretching, which decreases strength and performance substantially, according to every test on the topic. Confirmation bias is strong. -- Scott]
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