Predictions and the Power of Why

I appreciate how important it is to have an answer or some kind of reason for why things happen as they do. We invent religions and gods to help us cope with what we don’t understand or fear. Even science has its own religion of sorts – always seeking to find that illusive reason “why.”

I, too, would love to know why. It’s in my nature to want to know. Although I consider it important to ask questions as part of the process of arriving at a satisfactory “Why,” I find asking a useful question much more difficult.

In lieu of useful yet difficult questions, I’ve occasionally settled for poorly-formed questions. I then defend the resulting deficient answers when those answers are passable enough to match my preconceptions, prejudices, and expectations. I exploit these settled-upon invalid answers as “proof” of my “truths” that now seem confirmed – absolutely right – and no longer subject to further inquiry. Done deal!

A Cause and Effect Conundrum

For a moment, let’s dispense with all reasoning, justification, rationalization – and simply look at cause and effect. Something happens and that causes something else to happen. I have experienced some cause and effect relationships often enough that I feel confident I can accurately predict effect from cause.

For example, if I step off a steep ledge, I drop to the ground. I’m familiar with the action of gravity on this earth and I can expect to fall every time I step off a steep ledge. Further, I can predict with a fair degree of accuracy that if you step off the steep ledge, you, too, will fall. Consensus truth!

Physicist David Boehm showed that cause and effect may be an illusion. Why? Because all causes are entwined with all effects in a mesh so tightly woven that it is literally impossible to separate cause from effect – we just believe that we can – making us feel safer when we believe that we can know cause from effect.

This is “if-then” thinking. I do it because I like to accurately predict and so feel safer. Even when I manage to accurately predict something, I feel better because I was right about my prediction. Validation. Vindication. Feel-good.


I make a fine human and a lousy scientist overall. That is, I like to be right rather than correct. I will tend to “fix” the outcomes of my experience to appear more right – rather than accepting what actually IS. To that end, I sometimes set myself and others up so I will more likely make myself right and as a bonus, receive some hard-earned validation from those I’ve convinced. Maybe most of that work went into hope that by convincing others, I’ll convince myself. Truth by consensus.

In other words, I’m willing to cheat!

Let’s take another look at cause and effect and relate it to cheating.

Something happens. Something caused it. If Dr. Boehm is correct, then something caused that cause – everything. What is everything? Isn’t that another way of saying, “All” or “Oneness”?

Assuming Dr. Boehm’s point, everything is causal to everything else and I’m experiencing my perception of those interactions. Cheating is not impossible – it’s irrelevant!

Time to get back to finding useful questions to ask. I think we’ve been through this before… 😉

Doing Something Constructive with Why

What if, instead of spending all your time visualizing your goals, you spend about 60 percent of your time thinking about WHY you want them?

Want a new house? Why? The typical response is “Er, uh, well because I’d like to have it.” That won’t do. Sorry. You’ll need to dig deeper and find things like because…

  • I want to live near my children’s school so we can participate together in their education.
  • My aged mother is moving in, and we need more space so we can more enjoy each other’s company.
  • I want stability for my family after years of moving around.
  • I want to build up some real equity for our future.

Look for reasons that tickle something deep down in your psyche. Shallow won’t motivate. It won’t keep you moving for the long haul.

Once you’ve got some reasons why that are deeply meaningful to you, then spend time getting familiar with them. Saturate your mind with them. Do it many times a day to build your ability to focus on your dream rather than defend what you already have or know.

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