Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Why doubt is contagious

Last Sunday, I felt something was wrong. It took me a while to obtain an answer. Apparently, there’s doubt. I don’t feel that doubt myself. I warned doubt has a habit of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Afterwards, I realised that doubt is contagious, like a virus. Others feel the same way. Kathryn Schulz: “both doubt and certainty are as contagious as the common cold”.

After some reflection, it dawned upon me that the same (underlying) principle may apply to the entire cycle of Doubt-Fear-Hope-Love (my blogs). A few examples: 

  • TED Idea by Ingrid Betancourt: “Fear is contagious, but so is faith: a hostage’s story”;
  • Indestructible Daughters: “Doubt is contagious and requires no faith or effort on our part to obtain or contain it. It’s always easier not to trust God than it is to trust Him. [] “;
  • Medium: “Confidence is Contagious…so is Lack of Confidence”.

The 2nd quote above reveals the underlying principle in doubt: (lack of) trust. Interestingly, trust requires reciprocity (my blogs), an even more fundamental principle. Without reciprocity, there can be loyalty, but no trust. Essentially, you need to give trust to get trust (eg, Jim Canterucci). 

Last week, I wrote my blog: Trust works better both ways. Then, I failed to realise that reciprocity is involved, despite the title of that blog. I’ve added that label now. That blog stated the Wiki description of trust: “Humans have a natural disposition to trust and to judge trustworthiness”. Hence, any doubt arising between people should result from “judging trustworthiness”.

The irony doesn’t escape me that today’s blog may be the “logical” sequence of last week’s blog. 

There are 3 ways to measure trustworthiness: deeds, words and intentions (my blogs). Deeds are often beyond doubt, a.k.a. unequivocal. Words can either be meaningful or meaningless. Only our intentions can define our trustworthiness but our true intentions are often (very) hard to decipher. Hence, doubt should arise when the other party’s intentions are not clear to us.

There can be another complicating factor: reverse psychology and (psychological) projection. Last Sunday’s projection of doubt onto me was a (my) warning signal. Then, I replied that I didn’t feel any doubt. Unfortunately, doubt is contagious.

Contagious (2001) by The Isley Brothers

artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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