You're Wrong

Doesn’t matter what the subject is, there’s an excellent chance you’re incorrect about it. Reality got filtered through your imperfect sensory apparatus, then through the various systems in you brain, then through that set of unconscious mental biases that we all have into the semi-conscious belief structures we’ve rationalized on top of them. Sure, you think you know how the world operates and why that thing happened and how the other side is wrong. It’s true, they are wrong, but so are you.

Reality is complicated and you’re limited. You don’t know all that you think you know. You don’t even know a fraction of it. You aren’t set up to perceive the truth of reality, you’re set up to deal with fragments of it. The fragments worth dealing with to keep you alive. Or at least the fragments that kept your ancestors alive. Your brain operates on the premise of good enough. It requires a lot of energy and increased accuracy has diminishing returns most of the time. It will take short cuts and you won’t even notice. We make models in our head of how the world operates. These are vastly simplified by necessity. The problems arise when we confuse the models for reality.

The world has nuance. Your belief system operates in an insufficient number of shades to deal with that nuance. Against abortion? There are cases where you’re wrong. Pro-choice? Same goes for you. Abortion isn’t a good thing. This doesn’t mean it should be illegal because context matters. It is a very polarizing topic, because both sides are wrong and so wrapped up in the inner narratives that they can’t have an honest discussion about it. Some goes for a lot of other topics. Maybe you’re point of view is the least wrong, that may only be true for today. The world changes, ideas and solutions have to change as well. Balance that with the fact that tradition is important because it’s full of things that worked and will likely continue to work.

It isn’t a given that the other side is evil or stupid (to be sure, they might be either of those, but don’t assume it). They have their reasons. Sure, they’re wrong. Only because we’re all wrong. One of the great downsides of the internet is that it enables us to deal with caricatures instead of people. To do so anonymously and maliciously. It allows us to be blissfully wrong on a massive scale. Adding business models built on confirmation bias does not improve the situation.

So what are we to do? We’re improperly configured, reality is vastly more complex than we can reason about, our thoughts are suspect, our belief systems are the result of unconscious experience more than reasoned examination, and forces in the world are aligned to help us be wrong more often. Do the best you can. Focus on taking responsibility for yourself, your actions and the world under your control. Consider the alternate point of view. Don’t stop until you can see the merits of their arguments. Places where they might be right. Places where they are less wrong than you. Be generous. Give people space to be wrong and the possibility of being right. Have some humility. Because you’re wrong. Perhaps you’re more correct in some notions than other people. This doesn’t mean you are more correct in all things. Turn off the news for a bit. Be suspicious of the narratives you are opting into and that other people in your bubble are trying to get you to believe.

Or don’t do any of that. I’m just some random person writing and publishing on the internet and it’s entirely likely that I’m wrong. (Though in this case, I’m probably closer to being right.)