Being wrong could be the right thing

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

Mark Twain seems to have said or written a lot of cool lines, but apparently the quote above is from the psychologist Abraham Maslow. It’s an amusing quote and it isn’t that rare that you get to experience people showing it to be true.

Physical tools aside, I think it’s interesting to consider our thinking as a toolset. In today’s world of gurus there’s no shortage of intelligent people who have arrived at a number of clever and reasonable conclusions. Reading their blogs can be educating, but you might also see patterns emerge. To serve their teaching they are busy finding examples in the world that prove them right. Telling parables, analogies and anechdotes. Just like Jesus did and Aesop with his fables about animals.

That’s not a bad thing. But there’s a different quote that I’m very fond of, attributed to different people according to Quote investigator. I’ll settle for Bertrand Russell: “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

Since I started blogging again, I’ve been employing a method which was suggested to me. “To look at a thing and ask yourself, if I was to blog about this what would I write?”

It’s a great way to inspire creativity, pattern recognition, to come up with analogies and metaphors. What I wonder is, what if I just go around using objects and peoples like mirrors. Looking for self-validation and proof of my beliefs? Maybe this method of blogging teachers could be challenged somehow.

From an intellectual perspective, wouldn’t it be more interesting and admirable to look for things that could challenge your world-view? A method that would rhyme more with Karl Popper’s idea of striving for the falsification of your hypothesis.

Put simply, that the job for anyone seeking knowledge is to try to prove yourself wrong. Rather than to prove yourself right.

2 thoughts on “Being wrong could be the right thing

  1. Another good post. One thing I’m pondering in my approach to blogging is this: How does one’s loyalty to ideology hinder our intellectual growth? Sure, we may be smart, but unconditional loyalty to ideas cancels intelligence out.

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    1. Yes, that’s something to think about. When we’re thinking rationally, we are probably aware of our reasons. Maybe the trick is to become more aware of our emotional decisions and judgments. What are our reflexes? Why am I reacting like this? Why am I upset? Could they be right? Do we give people the benefit of a doubt? Prejudice. Blindness that leads to omissions. Failing to see certain beauty…

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