I Was Wrong 😔 🤔
Rebecca’s Weekly Revue #4
It’s such a bummer to find out we were wrong. A shock to the system. How did something that seemed so plainly true turn out not to be?
As a culture, we value decisiveness over contemplation. Both have their virtue, but contemplation gets short shrift. Examination of an idea requires examination of the self, and there’s the rub. We are loathe to dismantle our processes.
We think of ourselves as rational creatures who make decisions not unlike a computer. This is fiction, of course.
There is a way to make being wrong less painful. Less of an indictment of our bad thinking, more of an acknowledgment that even at our best we are bound to misunderstand and misstep.
It speaks to our humanity that we get things wrong. By embracing it we allow ourselves to evolve and take accountability. The latter providing untold good and necessary healing.
I like to think of the parable of the the three blind men who were asked to identify an elephant by touching various sections. Having never seen a whole elephant, they can only describe their portions.
It’s humbling to think our understanding of the world is limited to where we happen to fumble about, but humility is a great start.
“The best of us must sometimes eat our words.”
― J.K. Rowling
The pleasure of being right is one of the most universal human addictions and most of us spend an extraordinary amount of effort on avoiding or concealing wrongness. But error, it turns out, isn’t wrong. In fact, it’s not only what makes us human but also what enhances our capacity for empathy, optimism, courage and conviction.
Drink enough water and you will cease to be thirsty. And yet, a doubting person can be drowning in facts, but facts won’t change a mind that doesn’t want to be changed. More facts don’t counter more doubt.
Some of this occurs because we aren’t taught the architecture of good thinking in school. I include most college educations in this assessment.
Facts, dates, equations, yes. How to think about and parse out problems, no.
Why It’s So Hard to Admit You’re Wrong — The New York Times — www.nytimes.com
Our confirmation bias kicks in, causing us to seek out evidence to prove what we already believe.
“Cognitive dissonance is what we feel when the self-concept — I’m smart, I’m kind, I’m convinced this belief is true — is threatened by evidence that we did something that wasn’t smart, that we did something that hurt another person, that the belief isn’t true,” said Carol Tavris
The Cognitive Science Behind Repeating Mistakes — The Atlantic — www.theatlantic.com
It’s not your fault you can’t learn from them, it’s how your brain is wired.
Being constantly late, losing your phone, spending too much money, dating the same inadvisable people — these are all errors that human beings make over and over again. But it has more to do with how the brain is wired than with a lack of discipline. In attempting to understand where we went wrong, our brains create “mistake pathways,” ruts that we get into when we try not to make another misstep.
Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds | The New Yorker — www.newyorker.com
It’s one thing for me to flush a toilet without knowing how it operates, and another for me to favor (or oppose) an immigration ban without knowing what I’m talking about. Sloman and Fernbach cite a survey conducted in 2014, not long after Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. Respondents were asked how they thought the U.S. should react, and also whether they could identify Ukraine on a map. The farther off base they were about the geography, the more likely they were to favor military intervention.
Researchers have shown for years that men tend to be more confident about their intelligence and judgments than women, believing that solutions they’ve generated are better than they actually are. This hubris could be tied to testosterone levels, and new research by Gideon Nave, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania, along with Amos Nadler at Western University in Ontario, reveals that high testosterone can make it harder to see the flaws in one’s reasoning.
The neuroscientists Pranjal Mehta at the University of Oregon and Jennifer Beer at the University of Texas, Austin, have found that people with higher levels of testosterone have less activity in their orbitofrontal cortex. Studies show that when that part of the brain is less active, people tend to be overconfident in their reasoning abilities. It’s as though the orbitofrontal cortex is your internal editor, speaking up when there’s a potential problem with your work. Boost your testosterone and your editor goes reassuringly (but misleadingly) silent.