Problems in our world, Part I: The desire to be right

Problems in our world - The desire to be right - Original by geralt/Pixabay

Original image by geralt/Pixabay.

I have already blogged about the problems in the world before. But this was an attempt of really looking at the world from an objective standpoint and make a cross-section of what are currently objectively the biggest problems. I touched thereupon lack of water, not caring about what’s true, climate change and so on.

This post will be about what I subjectively feel are some of the biggest problems right now. The big difference here is that this is not what you might call – a researched post. Rather it is only a reflection of my opinion. There are very little objectivity and research to it. But, as the right likes to point out lately – it is an opinion, and everybody has the right to their opinion. Especially on their own platform. The difference – or I like to think so - is that I will not present opinions as facts. Enough rambling, let’s So, let’s get into it.

Even if you do not participate in any sorts of online discussions you must have noticed that there’s basically no end to online debates and that all your rebuttals often make your opponents withdraw even deeper into their beliefs, without even considering that they are not on a firm ground. This is not only my opinion – there is research to indicate this is true.

This is because people think that by attacking their ideas, you are attacking them personally and therefore it is almost impossible to have a rational debate.

Well, what I wish to say here is that this phenomenon you have observed online is not limited to the online world, but rather permeates all our interactions and actions. Of course, you could argue that the online echo chambers did not help the issue but rather magnified it many, many times and you would probably not be far from the truth. The internet and smartphones have enabled us to really pick and choose to the tiniest detail what we present about ourselves and who we listen to. While this is a huge step forward from the times when TV could simply present you with something and it would be hard to argue otherwise because the information was simply not as accessible, this ability also helps us feed our egos, listen to those who agree with our points of view and block the others. When you combine our natural desires to be right with this ability you get a dangerous combination.

As we can see today in our world, the desire to be right is very, very strong. If this was not the case, why would people vote for politicians who betrayed them multiple times – and not only vote, but make social media accounts solely to defend them? It is in my opinion no longer the case of believing that those politicians have their best interests at heart. They probably in their heart of hearts know that this is not true. It is probably at this point more about justifying their earlier decision – the decision to support them in the first place. They cannot bear to admit that their earlier decision was wrong. Ideas that people hold have been too closely connected to their egos.

Of course, many times when presented with evidence dogma will lose. People are still capable of changing their minds. But in my opinion, this is usually not accomplished solely by providing evidence and facts. This process should almost always be accompanied by at least some small mental trick – like implying that they had no choice but to believe it because they were fooled or by saying that anyone in their position would believe the same or something similar. But I would still argue, even with these tricks that it’s extremely hard to change someone’s mind if they have too deeply connected their own ego to the ideas they hold.

So, what is to be done? Well, in my opinion, it would be ideal if we would behave like scientists try to behave – not take their ideas too close to heart. As far as I understand it, in science, they see something in the world. Then they measure it, describe it, etc. Based on that they form a hypothesis. Then they make predictions what will happen based on that hypothesis. After all that, experiments are done to see if any of the steps above hold up. If they do, that is an indication that the hypothesis is good. If they do not, the  hypothesis was wrong, and they often need to start again. So, you might imagine that it would not be good for their mental health if they would hold each of those hypotheses very close to their hearts. It is my contention that they are always ready for those ideas to be thrown into the trash. And I would like to believe even if they would be hurt by that, they would still come to accept it.

Creating theories / Accepting Ideas in Science:

The Scientific Method as an Ongoing Process

Of course, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we are really like that, while the other side is not and that they alone should change. But it is not as easy as that. If we truly wish to be consistent, we will first try to behave that way ourselves. Of course, re-examining ideas that we already hold is extremely difficult, but we should try and apply similar principles to any new ideas we acquire. When you come across a new piece of advice on how to behave or what to think about something, try to understand why it would be a good idea. What ground does the author have for stating that idea or reaching that conclusion? Do their reasons seem valid? And if you decide that the idea sounds logical, you should not still connect your ego to it because unless it’s a scientific fact, like evolution, or gravity, for example, there is a pretty big chance that it will be at least superseded, if not proven completely wrong. Once you start to behave in this manner – with ideas that you hold well researched and on a solid ground, but still disconnected from your ego – you can start to lead by example, to be a role model of how to genuinely live – to show others to follow reason and evidence whenever they load. As supposedly Bruce Lee said once – “Be the water, not the rock”.

Yes, all this is extremely hard and I myself am probably not like that, but I genuinely feel this is the way to move forward. I feel that in this manner the very least that can happen is that you become a person who is open to new ideas without fear that they will be emotionally injured by changing their old beliefs.

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