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Knowledge and the Bamboozlers

If you were given two pills—a red pill that will allow you to gain all known knowledge about reality, and a blue pill, where dreams and fantasies are all that exist, a false reality—which one would you choose?

To know, or not to know?

The reality is that modern [wo]man chooses the illusion. The majority of our species do not strive for discovery in knowledge, especially when they are driven by goals of attaining intrinsic things. Yes, ‘things’ are distracting. I love things, don’t get me wrong, but I’d like to think that they do not blind me to everything that is real about the world. I’m talking about factual based knowledge.

Why do people choose the blue pill over the red? Could it be laziness or perhaps doubt? Learning to comprehend life’s many complexities may pose difficulties to a few, but this is no excuse since understanding can be attained. Do people who refuse to learn adopt this kind of attitude: “I can’t be bothered attitude? Why should I learn about the earth’s gravitational pull, or global warming, when in the end it’s not going to affect my personal life? I’m not bothered about all that, I live in the moment!”. That, by the way, was Jacob, a friend of mine, he tells the best jokes, but sadly does not know much about the world. He, through a miracle, finished school, but that’s where he stopped learning. Everything that he has retained from school is outdated information. As far as he knows, there are (still) nine planets in our solar system. He is a work in progress.

People often choose the blue pill because of this false sense of comfort self-serving illusions bring. Living in an illusion is way better than living in the real life. Real life is often brutal, as if Shakespeare wrote it himself, like after a tough break up. I know many people who choose to not watch the news only because they find it depressing. They prefer to pretend that civil wars, xenophobic attacks, and all the other depressing things simply do not exist. Once again, if it doesn’t affect them, then it’s not their problem.

Then we have people who swallow blue pills like junkies: “No we have not been to the moon, that was a lie told by the United State government to get us to support their wars during the cold war”, some say. To them, the world lies on the back of elephants riding a turtle. Yes, things are good in the blue-pill-verse. Everything has the simplest explanations, and conspiracies are often abundant. These junkies often refuse to accept evidence-based knowledge and instead choose to accept an answer that will make sense to them. Even if the answer is beyond what possible. 

I have no qualms about people disagreeing, however, if they are not able to give you a valid response or argument, then you are basically having a conversation with someone who is literally high on their own illusions. Sadly, junkies can pass down their rendition of knowledge to their children (through memes, not genes), this tends to lead to a generation of young people who have been disillusioned into believing, and so perpetuating, a false reality. The blue pill is a powerful force to go against, as Carl Sagan put it, “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back (Sagan,1997).”

If you are one of the few who decide to take the red pill…never ending doors will open. At first, it will be difficult to swallow, but continue to do so, and you will get your reward. “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” said Abraham Lincoln, and as South Africans, we should all be familiar with perhaps Madiba’s most powerful line on education: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

Were these two influential men who on to something? Is knowledge something we can use to empower ourselves? Absolutely! The more you learn, the more you know and understand everything around you. Better to live in the real world so that you can survive and thrive. The red pill also gives one strength, especially when conversing with the blue users.

So what will it be: do you want to live in an illusion (denial), or in the real world?

Red or blue?

Thuli Mashabane


The Matrix. Dir. The Whachowski Brothers. Warner Bros, 1999. Netflix. Web: https://www.netflix.com/za/Login?nextpage=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.netflix.com%2Fsearch%2FThe%2520Matrix (accessed 01/03/2017).

Sagan, C. 1997. The Demon Haunted World. United States of America, Random House Publishing Group.

[IMAGE SOURCE: Minecraft forum]

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