09 April 2014

Kathryn Schulz on feeling right and being wrong

This talk was a real eye-opener. It's eerie how accurately this describes my conversations with people in the last six months! In my recent uh, "experiences", I have been through EXACTLY the sort of communications problem that she describes -- on both sides. In case you don't want to watch the whole thing, I have pasted the relevant excerpt below.

"Think for a moment about what it means to feel right. It means that you think that your beliefs just perfectly reflect reality. ...And when you feel that way, you've got a problem to solve, which is, how are you going to explain all of those people who disagree with you? It turns out, most of us explain those people the same way, by resorting to a series of unfortunate assumptions.

"The first thing we usually do when someone disagrees with us is we just assume they're ignorant. They don't have access to the same information that we do, and when we generously share that information with them, they're going to see the light and come on over to our team.

"When that doesn't work, when it turns out those people have all the same facts that we do and they still disagree with us, then we move on to a second assumption, which is that they're idiots. They have all the right pieces of the puzzle, and they are too moronic to put them together correctly.

"And when that doesn't work, when it turns out that people who disagree with us have all the same facts we do and are actually pretty smart, then we move on to a third assumption: they know the truth, and they are deliberately distorting it for their own malevolent purposes."