21 Jun

     In the past year I had the privilege(cough cough) of taking APLang. Although they were difficult, one of my favorite parts of the class was the open response practice prompts. Here is my examination of the relationship between certainty and doubt.(It was written in 50 minutes at 11pm) 


Consider the distinct perspectives expressed in the following statements. 

"If you develop the absolute sense of certainty that powerful beliefs provide, then you can get yourself to accomplish virtually anything, including those things that other people are certain are impossible."

- William Lyon Phelps, American educator, journalist, and professor(1865–1943)

"I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn’t wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine."

- Bertrand Russell, British author, mathematician, and philosopher (1872–1970)

Write an essay that argues your position on the relationship between certainty and doubt.

My Essay:

     In the era of the internet, attention is world's most valued commodity. Some of today's most successful such as TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram rely on forming either echo chambers or heated debates to make business. Statistics found from these media sites' algorithms found that posts and reactions rooted from anger--especially politically--were the most common way internet users found themselves dogmatically spreading and defending their beliefs. 

     Although doubt is generally rooted in reasoning out improbable situations, certainty in one's self and the people around them is a much more valuable character trait in America today because it catalyzes action, motivates people and forms community.

     Using the internet often and living in America has made it hard for the nation's citizens to avoid the constant landslide of US News that reports protests rooted from oppression, and laws that take more rights away than they protect. The truth of the matter is that none of these things would happen if a considerable amount of the nation didn't truly believe in them As a young woman in America and part of the LGBTQ+ community, almost daily I find myself staring at the headlines thinking, "What is wrong with this country?" Just today I watched on my phone an army of anti-LGBTQ+ nazis clad in red chanting "there will be blood" outside a drag queen's performance of "This is me." I also listened as a reporter on the radio explained Iowa's new ban on emergency contraceptives for woman immediately after getting assaulted. The existence of LGBTQ and female rights isn't and shouldn't be a topic of political debate. However, they are two of the hottest topics in America, and have been for a while. This is because there are generally two opposing groups with two opposing beliefs on the issues. If there weren't enough people who have complete comfort in their certainty that LGBTQ+ and women's rights should be restricted, neither of these horrendous things would've taken place. There will always be a substantial group of people who doubt these oppressive beliefs. But the truth of the matter remains that certainty doesn't need to be "right" in order to tip the scale of power dynamics. 

     While large scale divide in political certainty has created and politically harmful, polarizing environment, the same relationship between certainty and doubt can be seen in our day to day lives. I experienced this a few weeks ago as I sat on my bed with my phone blinking the time 2:00am at me. Instead of going to sleep, I sat up with the notebook my ex-boyfriend had gifted me. Eight days after we had broken up I sat in bed at 2:00am repeatedly writing out manifestations for us to start talking again. Not once before that very early morning had I ever manifested anything. But low and behold I had fallen down the internet rabbit hole of hundreds of articles, youtube videos, and comments explaining how to manifest something and claiming that it worked magic. I had also seen the additional hundreds of articles, youtube videos, and comments explaining how manifestation is the biggest scam of the 2020s. However, I had already committed to my certainty that THIS was what was going to save my ex-relationship. There is literally no verifiable evidence that manifestation is real, but I had surrounded myself with an online community of people who(mostly) were completely certain that its strength was powerful. I had become part of the cult mentality that rendered all of the evidence that manifestation is a fraud nearly useless. This safety in numbers created certainty and comfort in my head.

     In a world of with a plethora of information thrown at us from all angles, our certainties will always outweigh our doubts by the power of community. This is a very valuable asset to have, but as we go through the real world we must carefully decide what to create certainty of, and not let it burn more bridges than it creates.

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