You have won the worldview jackpot!


Somehow each of us thinks we’ve won the jackpot of worldviews — we’re right!


Here’s something immensely fascinating and amusing — each one of us somehow thinks we’ve won a kind of “worldview jackpot”:

Of all the perspectives, opinions, beliefs, judgements, viewpoints, and positions in the world (in a word: “worldviews”) — somehow each of us thinks we’ve landed up with the most accurate one. 

The only thing all religious viewpoints have in common: they’re right!

Of all the diversity of the religious viewpoints on the earth: ranging from polytheism, monotheism, deism, pantheism, atheism and all variants in-between, including all separate dimensions like Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hiduism, Buddism, and their variants, they all share one thing in common:

Each one thinks they’re right. Each one thinks that their model of spirituality and the universe is the most accurate one around. 

Of course that’s the case right!? Don’t be silly! What religion starts a belief system wherein they think they’re wrong??

But isn’t this even the slightest bit conspicuous? Not even the slightest bit strange?

Why we think we’re right

I’m going to present a short argument that explains why at any given point in time we think we’re right. (By the way, this statement includes “meta-beliefs”, for example, being right about being right, being right about being wrong, etc.).

Let’s say that you hold a belief X.

But for some reason you discover X is not exactly accurate.

You will simply proceed to modify X until it becomes compatible with the new information you’ve accepted and the rest of your worldview, even if that modifies A, B and C along the way. Eventually the dust settles and you’re left with a new, “more complete” (at least in your view) worldview.

Hence at any given point, if we pause you and extract your worldview into a set of X’s (a set of beliefs), we will discover that you think each one is right, because if it were wrong, you would have already modified it until it became right.

Hence at any given point in time, we think our worldview is the most accurate one around!

How lucky but how improbable!

Recently I’ve turned around and thought about it for a while; of all the billions of people who’ve lived on this earth, what is the probability that I won the worldview jackpot and that I am right at this point in time?

… So infinitesimally small.


  1. Dan

    I would really love to do that exercise (be paused and have my worldview extracted into a set of X’s). I’m sure there would be lots of untrue X’s, and I think that would be the same for virtually (actually?) anyone that had the procedure performed.

    That last section (“How lucky but how improbable!”) made me think about picking a person out of a skill-tester machine with one of those remote-controlled claws. If we pick a random person from the billions who’ve lived on the earth, the probability that the one we pick is one of the few that won the worldview jackpot will be infinitesimally small (because very person has a 1/billions chance of being selected). So then, is the process of arriving at a worldview like the process of being selected out of the skill-tester machine (each person has a 1/billions chance of arriving at the truth)?

    1. shawn (Post author)

      Hey Dan, as always thanks for commenting and participating 🙂

      What I am postulating is that somehow each of us DOES indeed think we have won the worldview jackpot. That indeed since we only have our own perspectives we think they are right and we think everyone else is “less right” than we are. (Generally speaking). In other words I am the teddy that was selected by the claws of improbability, and so are you and other people.

      Because we all think we’re right, and all religions think their own religion is the absolute truth while everyone else is “partially right” to different degrees.

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  3. robert

    I realise that in replying to some of your older posts that you might not ever ‘be here’ anymore.

    I think you raise a valid point Shawn, one that needs to be considered at some point. The main issue I take with the article is the either/or perspective: Mine is right, and others are only partly right. At least for my own view, I don’t think I have the Truth and all others are merely true-ish (if that).

    There is also another thing. As with Dan I don’t think that all my sets of belief are accurate, let alone coherent with my other beliefs. I notice several of my previously unconscious assumptions, for example, not fit with how I cognitively think about things. There are assumptions I made years back which still linger and have their influence. There are also beliefs which are more at the front of my consciousness which I can’t fit together. I believe it will come in time, like science believes it will get theories to fit which do not yet (for example quantum mechanics and relativity), but I feel I have reason to believe even though it does not all fit yet 🙂

    1. shawn (Post author)

      Good comments. Yes I am still “here”, I get notifications from all of your comments 🙂

      Agreed and agreed. Perhaps this post was meant to be more thought provoking than accurate 🙂 It was meant to shake us (more particularly, me) up with comments about how I really DO run around thinking that I’ve won the worldview jackpot.

      Some people (including myself, independently before I discovered the comments of others that agree) have speculated that it is human nature to think we have the whole picture for a very good and valid reason. We need to make choices for survival every day. We need to decide whether to go to the water hole to drink or not. Part of making choices is the necessity of a coherent picture of reality, without a clear picture of reality and the assumption that our current picture is complete and coherent we’d be unable to make decisions, at which point we’d pretty much not survive. (Humans not able to make decisions would not last long)

      I also agree with your more active / passive assumption model. When I was a kid I made assumptions that live to this day. Sometimes we turn around and remember one of them and think “How could I have thought that?” and we change. Hence the argument that whatever we find wrong in our set of beliefs we quickly change to make it consistent again, we avoid cognitive dissonance — for a very good (survival) reason.

      1. robert

        We are agreed 🙂

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