So... I was wrong. I bet you are too.

Sunday, June 01, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

Have you ever considered you were wrong? You know those beliefs you hold so deeply they practically define you... what if you were wrong?

I recently came to the conclusion that being a vegetarian may not be the best thing for my personal fitness goals, and I'm okay with that. In fact, I find it rather exciting. Change is okay. Being wrong is okay.

Unfortunately, it's hard being wrong today. The internet provides us with endless information. I was easily able to obtain numerous resources as to why being a vegetarian was superior be being a meat-eater. But, you know what? I was only looking for those articles that confirmed my opinion, so of course that's all I found. When I went looking for reasons as to why being a vegetarian was bad... I was, sadly, able to find tons of articles to support that theory as well.

It turns out that there's a word for that. Confirmation bias. It's the tendency of people to seek out information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses, and if you're looking to be truly right about anything, you need to avoid it at all costs. But, it takes more than just a superficial scan of your opposing viewpoint to avoid confirmation bias. You can't trust a pro-vegetarian book about to explain why I omnivore diet is unhealthy. You can't expect an anti-vaccination book to explain why vaccines may be good. It doesn't work that way. Give your opposing beliefs every chance to prove themselves correct. Jut because you believed something first doesn't mean it's right.

Avoid Confirmation Bias

  1. 1. Read books advocating the stance you're against.
  2. 2. "Like" Facebook pages with views you're against. I often found Facebook pages mis-representing their counter-arguments.
  3. 3. Search out facts. Let become your new best friend.
  4. 4. Be aware of groupthink. Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in decision-making outcome. Group members reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences. 
I think a truly intelligent person must be willing to be wrong. Be this person. Have an open mind. Have your beliefs, but research the beliefs of the other side too. Don't look to prove them wrong, but to prove them right. Give the beliefs against yours every opportunity to prove themselves right. Investigate potential answers — however unlikely they may be — to the difficult questions inspired by this vast, beautiful universe. A willingness to be wrong frees you to to pursue any avenue opened by evidence, even if that evidence doesn't support your original hunch.

What beliefs do you hold true that you would be shocked to find untrue? Will you go to the point of researching the other side to know more? Feel free to leave a comment below. I appreciate and respond to each and every one. :)

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