Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2, NIV 1984).
The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3–4, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Social proof — the tendency to view certain behaviors as being correct to the degree that we see others performing them. This can, and often does, result in pluralistic ignorance — if others are unconcerned about the behavior, we are apt to to conclude that nothing is wrong either. (Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., “The Psychology of Persuasion”).
Look around. We see both social proof and pluralistic ignorance happening all the time, and with increasing frequency. Behaviors once considered abhorrent, were soon tolerated, and eventually were viewed as being acceptable as more and more people became less and less concerned. So, conforming to the patterns of this world and turning aside to myths is not merely theological conjecture, but an observed psychological and social phenomenon.
The danger is that this is not merely something that occurs naturally. It has been “weaponized” by advertisers (to buy their product), political parties (to win our vote), special interest groups (to gain our support for their cause) and yes, even religious charlatans (tickling itching ears enticing us to turn aside to myths). Their tactics are most effective when they enlist others that are most like us to endorse the behaviors they want us to adopt. They will also enlist famous personalities (actors, athletes, etc…), that we admire and trust and are most likely to believe.
My Advice – The best proof is, and always has been, the Word of God. Not social proof. Sound doctrine has and always will result in Spiritual wisdom, not pluralistic ignorance. So be very careful in following what the crowd is doing, and in what behaviors the world is no longer concerned about. Because when it comes to “the patterns of this world,” there is always a reasonable doubt.
“Now the Bereans were of more noble character…for they…examined the Scriptures every day to see if what [the crowd was saying and doing] was true.” (Acts 17:10–11, NIV 1984).