There is no knowing

A thought entering your mind without stating its origin is like someone sneaking into your house, but more dangerous– especially if it pretends to be some kind of “knowing”.

Part 1: Learning to know

radiation, I would like to teach you something amazing.

(hushed awed voice) Oh, please do! My head is splitting!

Now pay close attention.

Oh I am, I am. I feel sad all of a sudden!

Now, I have to tell you some bad news. Your new boyfriend is sad.

What? My boyfriend lives far away. Is he ok?

I think he will be, but I need your help. But listen, listen to your instincts…

Hmm, hmmm.. My boyfriend… did something happen? Is he ok?

Just listen, listen to yourself, radiation.

Am I talking too much?

No, of course not. You are wonderful, absolutely wonderful. So wonderful in fact that you already know why your lover is sad, don’t you.


radiation: Did you hear something?

No. And you didn’t either! I was just telling you, you already know what’s making your lover sad, and you can help him! You can! Isn’t that wonderful?

I do? 


Hmm, let me think. I feel really sad and generally feel horrendous.

Because that’s how your boyfriend feels! Don’t think, radiation. Know. You know why you are feeling sad?

Why I am feeling sad?

Yessss! Yess, radiation, see? You know why.

Or why my boyfriend is feeling sad? 

You are thinking about it too much. Relax and listen!


What? Wait, I feel sad like… I wish I had more money. Like I lost a lot of money in the stock market!



Oh no! He is very sad!

What else?

I feel like I’m on a faith healing show!

What else do you feel? Can you see?


Can I see what? Oh yeah, there’s–


(mumbling) Oh look, that’s him right there. I can hear him– he’s crying! Oh my goodness!

You can see him! You did it! 


You are right, I feel quite needy and forlorn. This is confusing.

radiation you are not needy and forlorn, your lover is. And ashamed. Losing money in the stock market dishonered him.

Dishonered him how?

It is a cultural difference you won’t understand.


I feel needy and forlorn — and shamed! What should I do?


Don’t you know what to do?


I guess I could give him that $14,000 from the bond that just matured.

Yes! You did it! radiation, the next time you need to answer a question, don’t think about it–just concentrate and you will know the answer.

The next time I need to send him money?

Yes! I mean no! The next time you need anything.



I mean it feels like you are telling me the truth.

See, you know I am. But don’t tell anyone about it, or they will persecute you. They persecute people who know.

Ok, got it. Let me call Western Union. He looked so sad!

Is that all you are going to do?


I’d better not tell him why I am sending the money. I’ll just say it’s a gift.

Part 2: Test your ability to know

There is no knowing

There is only figuring out.

People talk about knowing, as if they can know things with certainty, without having to figure them out.

But anytime you feel like you “just know” something, someone’s messed with you–someone who doesn’t want you to think. An ex-boyfriend perhaps, or a TV commercial, or something even more sinister, tucked away in a hidden corner of your brain…

It’s really depressing but we’re taught to talk about knowing things so that we will believe lies. You feel like you “know”, but really someone just told you.

If you think of something but you didn’t work through the reasons for it objectively, scientifically, rationally, like a proof in geometry — or you can’t think of reasons for it even when you try– you don’t know it. You were told it. By someone.

That means there’s a person somewhere who wanted you to think you knew it and is tricking you somehow. There’s an author other than you, every single time.

We all know that when we say “I just knew it would be this way!” that this is make-believe. We know that everything you believe should come with a little box of reasons and things you observed. A full set of reasons why you believe it.. That’s called its logical thought process. 

A thought entering your mind without a logical thought process is like someone checking into a hotel without luggage–up to no good!

A thought entering your mind without a logical thought process is like someone checking into a hotel without luggage–up to no good!

If we could just know, we could sit down with a book of physics problems and write the answers out. Why not?  Oh, it doesn’t work for things like that? A person’s thinking has to be involved?

Ok, get a deck of cards. And some people you don’t know very well.

Pull a card and stick it to your forehead. Don’t look.

Then guess it. I mean, know what it says.

What? It doesn’t work for things like that either? Why not? It’s not good at numbers? Why isn’t it good at numbers?

Okaaay.. then you can try guessing the middle names of strangers.

No? It’s also not good at names? Why not?

That’s fine, but if you can’t “know” simple things that are right in front of you in this sense, how much should you trust what you “know” otherwise?

Part 3: Test your spidey sense

Some people get around this test by saying they only know when they really need to, when they are in serious physical danger for example. Like they have a spidey sense.

But you can test that too. Put out two cups of tea and have a friend put poison in one of them. Without being told, choose which one is safe to drink.

Do you know which? How much do you trust this?

So if you’ve ever had or witnessed a car accident– you don’t have “spidey sense”, or you would have seen it coming.

Or if you’ve ever stepped off the curb in front of a cyclist and had to jump out of the way, or leaned over to pick something up and bumped into someone, or —

No? What? You have to turn it on?

You have to call on your spidey sense before it will work? Do you ever get a busy signal?

Does it ever drop the line and mess you up?

Every idea that enters your head include its origin.

In addition to a logical thought process, every idea that enters your head should announce its origin– memories have their locations, things you were told have their sources, conclusions have their supporting evidence.

A thought entering your head without stating its origin is like someone sneaking into your house, but more dangerous– especially if it is pretending to be some kind of “knowing”.

Thoughts often pretend to be “knowing” to hide their real origin — someone bad you wouldn’t believe if you were aware of them.

Part 4: Trick your friends into thinking they just “know” something

Still not convinced? Or convinced but bored? Try tricking one of your friends into thinking they know something. Get their permission first.

Here’s what you want to get them to say: “I already know that ________. I have known so all my life, in a secret, mystical way.”

And you thought the cards were fun!

But now promise, ok? Promise to think things through and not fall for “just knowing” anymore. If you can’t think it through step-by-step like a physics problem, don’t act on it. Do nothing instead.

Makes sense, right?

If there’s no reason for something you think, there’s no reason to do anything about it.

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