Social media can be infuriating, especially during the political season. Opinions fly back and forth like spitwads. Here’s a lesson I learned from publishing a book about politics: no one cares about your opinion. Especially if they didn’t ask for it.
I see the irony of me writing this in a blog post.
The problems are lack of knowledge, overestimation of competency, and the inability to use logic.
Imagine a circle. That’s what you know. Now put that circle inside of a bigger circle. This circle represents the things that you know you haven’t learned about yet. The space outside of it is what you don’t see that you don’t know—unknown knowledge.
The solution is to be well-read, which leads to its own issues, like the Dunning-Kruger Effect. The short version is, the less competent you are, the more overconfident you are. On the reverse, the more qualified you are, the less sure of yourself you are.
As you gain knowledge, you realize it’s complicated. Which is why I rarely post about politics or current events like I did years ago. There’s more to it than I know.
I have opinions, but even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongue.
We have to be detectives. Gather the evidence without a bias towards a particular resolution. Examine and let the evidence decide where to go by reasoning what story fits all the evidence.
Oh, and by evidence, I mean primary sources, not third parties. If I say something, don’t take it as absolute truth until you’ve checked my references. And my references sources. Opinions aren’t evidence.
Remember the principles we learned from the Cold-Case Christianity book review:
- Don’t be a know-it-all.
- Learn how to infer.
- Think circumstantially.
- Test your witnesses.
- Hang onto every word.
- Separate artifacts from evidence.
- Resist conspiracy theories.
- Respect the “chain of custody.”
- Know when “enough is enough.”
- Prepare for an attack.
Remember the laws of logic, the law of identity, the law of the excluded middle, and most importantly, the law of non-contradiction, and the correspondence theory of truth.
The law of non-contradiction being something can’t be true and not true at the same time. Like “there’s no such thing as absolute truth.” Well, is that true?
The last one is whether a statement’s truth or falsity is determined by how it relates or accurately describes the world.
A few years ago, I wrote a long and mostly unread post on thinking and epistemology in response to a few telling me I’m not thinking deep enough. I doubt they read my passive-aggressive “rant/lecture.”
Instead, I’ll sum this all up by quoting what General Colin Powell said about gathering intelligence to make decisions.
“You can’t make good decisions unless you have good information and can separate facts from opinion and speculation. Facts are verified information, which is then presented as objective reality. The rub here is the verified. How do you verify verified? Facts are slippery, and so is verification. Today’s verification may not be tomorrow’s. It turns out that facts may not really be facts; they can change as the verification changes; they may only tell part of the story, not the whole story; or they may be so qualified by verifiers that they’re empty of information.
My warning radar always goes on alert when qualifiers are attached to facts. Qualifiers like: My best judgment … I think … As best I can tell … Usually reliable sources say … For the most part … We’ve been told … and the like. I don’t dismiss facts so qualified, but I’m cautious about taking them to the bank.
Over time I developed for my intelligence staffs a set of four rules to ensure that we saw the process from the same perspective and to take off their shoulders some of the burden of accountability:
Tell me what you know.
Tell me what you don’t know.
Then tell me what you think.
Always distinguish which is which.”Colin Powell
Then use the same criteria on what you’re about to say before you speak.
3 thoughts on “Don’t Be Foolish”
Love the circles diagram. It’s so true that we often don’t know what we don’t know. Whenever I travel and the local staff asks if I have any questions, I like to ask “What question do you always wish someone asked you and what is it’s answer”. Cause I often don’t know enough to form intelligent quandaries!
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That’s a awesome question. I wish I knew it when someone asked why I’m not asking questions.
Because I don’t know where to even start.
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