17 June 2013

The Common Thread

I was at a party yesterday, and I was talking about who knows what, and, I guess maybe because I have an "educated" accent, or whatever, I really have no idea why, she commented that she was surprised I hadn't gone into some field of science.

And I mentioned that I had been expecting to in high school, I had interned in  microbiology and biotech labs, focused mainly on science classes in high school and college, got associate degrees in biology and earth science - but then, by random acts of fate, I had ended up doing semi-skilled manual labor which afforded me not only decent money, but an extremely flexible schedule and the ability to be my own boss. 
I said I still satiated that side of my mind with plenty of reading, and occasional writing.

She asked where I wrote, whether it was just for myself - basically just this blog, and given the size of it's readership, yeah, pretty much just for myself.
and what topics I wrote about, and I tried to think of all the various things I've covered.

She asked what they all have in common.

Nothing really, other than I find them interesting.  And I find of lot of things interesting.  The world is a vast and complicated place.  reality is fascinating.  I really can not comprehend how so many people can willingly specialize, focus on just one area of human knowledge, when there is just so much else out there.  I'm much more interested in understanding a little about everything than everything about a little.

So, yeah, my blog has no theme.
Probably why I will never be able to generate any significant readership.  People subscribe to stuff that focuses on what interests them, and mine doesn't focus on anything.

She insisted that there must be some angle where a common theme could be found.  She said that in what she did, there were always commonalities emerging, even when they weren't obvious at first.

We kept talking more, I elaborated slightly on a few posts, she suggested that maybe challenging preconceptions might  be a consistent thing, and then I realized, duh! it's right there in the header of the blog.



Nothing inspires me to write - to really write, something in depth and well thought out, with perhaps hours of research and weeks of drafting in my head - like something where I find millions of people hold a particular piece of "common wisdom" which just happens to be completely wrong.


But I learned something recently:
People are stubborn. 
I mean, like, really stubborn.

No surprise, right, but the extent of it is.

Its not just rejecting arguments that you don't already agree with.  We humans have a tendency, even in the face of independent evidence or clear factual data, to believe our wrong beliefs EVEN HARDER when they are challenged.

That certainly isn't encouraging in terms of my chances of changing anyone's mind about anything!

Therefore, perhaps I should make this article:

http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

mandatory reading before you can read any of the more potentially controversial things I've written.
Except of course that there is no way for me to enforce it.

Well, read it anyway.  And be aware of it, not just when you're reading what I write, but all the time, in day-to-day life, and whenever you argue with anyone.  You can go a long way to overriding your own cognitive biases, if only you are aware of them.  You will make yourself smarter, and by so doing, be able to make your own life better in every way, forever.

You may still disagree with me on all sorts of stuff.  But, at least if you approach it with a truly open mind, you will disagree for the right reasons.

1 comment:

  1. This reminded me of Professor John Baugh's research at Stanford:
    http://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=37414

    ReplyDelete

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