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Could I be wrong?

Clear thinking - humans are not naturally prone to do it. It takes effort. We would rather believe our initial conclusions were right, and seek evidence to support them, while ignoring evidence against.

But how did we arrive at the initial conclusion? By instinct, or some automatic mental mechanism, usually. This way of thinking is good when we are in a dangerous, natural environment, where thinking things out too much can get us killed.

But most of us do not live like that; in fact, we have never lived in that type of situation. But we still make snap judgments as though we did. Real life is complex. It is not like a television drama or movie, where for dramatic effect complexity is reduced.

There are no perfectly good good guys, and no completely bad bad guys. The good guys have some bad qualities, and the bad guys have some good qualities. Our choices are not life-and-death choices. They are nuanced, subtle. A wrong decision usually does not ruin our life, it just makes it more difficult. A right decision does not make everything wonderful, it just makes things better.

Even when we do take the time to think, we often start in the middle, from a set of assumptions. But we usually have not examined the source of our assumptions. Perhaps we were propagandized by parents, teachers, religious teachers, etc., into believing things that have no basis in reality.

Becoming a fully rational human requires an examination of the source of our beliefs.


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November 9, 2007
Contact: Marshall Wittmann

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