Why We Fuck Up

What would it take to convince you..

..that you are wrong?

This is not a question enough people ask themselves about their own convictions.

Unless we define our disconfirmatory evidence before making a decision, proof that we are wrong tends to be a continuously moving goalpost.

Our instincts deploy an army of biases ordered to guard our opinions from the outside world: confirmation bias, fundamental attribution error, dissonance reduction, on and on. The water in the pot heats up, and we convince ourselves that the temperature is just fine.

The only way we can fully negate the power of these biases is to define the information or events that would falsify our beliefs ahead of time. Explicitly writing down the evidence you require to overturn an opinion can also reveal the comic extent to which you’ve fenced yourself into a dangerous position. Forget about calculating “the odds”; what is the consequence if you are wrong?

Responsible scientists define and test against the null hypothesis.

Responsible investors define the point at which they’ll sell their stock before buying into the market.

Responsible thinkers define the evidence sufficient to disconfirm their assertion, especially (especially) before sharing it to social media.