‘The Streetlight Effect’ and Our Search for Truth

Finding answers to what challenges us means being open to looking for truth wherever it may be.

Posted in , Mar 15, 2018

Searching for your truth

One dark night, a police officer came upon a man who was frantically searching for something under a streetlight. “What have you lost?” the officer asked the man. “My keys. I dropped them somewhere across the street,” responded the man as he crawled around and examined every inch. “So why are you searching here?” asked the police officer. “Well, this is where the light is,” came the man’s reply.

This story—or joke, depending on how it’s told—has taken many forms over many decades, dating back to the 1920s. In most versions, the searching man has had a bit to drink, which only highlights the folly of his searching for keys in a place they can’t possibly be. Today, “the streetlight effect” is often cited in science circles, when researchers are cautioned not to pursue their inquiries only in clear, visible areas of study, but to look to hidden, unexplored places for the truth.

In other words, if we are serious about finding the true solution to any problem, we need to be prepared to look for it wherever it may be hiding.

This requires faith, an inherent belief that the keys—either literal keys as the story says, or the “keys” to our happiness or positive lifestyle—are there to be found, if only we’d look in the right spot.

It requires patience, the willingness to tolerate failure as we fumble in the dark in search of that familiar metallic jingle.

And it requires a positive outlook to fuel both your inner faith and abiding patience as you pursue your keys, your truth, your answers.

What are you searching for in your life? Are you sure you’re looking for it in the right place?

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