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Why is everyone always wrong about everything?
If you feel personally attacked by that question... Don't.
It's nothing personal.
(Although if you think you're not 'everyone' then I have some news that might trouble you...)
We are all constantly wrong about all sorts of things.
Yet, despite our individual ignorance, we somehow manage to provide for ourselves and others, generally do more good than harm, muddle through, and add value to society in weird and abstract ways.
Contrary to the headlines, society is actually heading in a positive direction...
In the chat 👆 Pinker talks about “improvements in human flourishing.”
His results and data-driven conclusions are often derided (as a quick google search will confirm...)
Let's look at them anyway 👇
Some graphs track increases in good things: income, longevity, sustenance, safety, literacy, democracy, civil rights, leisure and happiness.
Others show declines in bad things: poverty, infant mortality, famine, state-sponsored torture, capital punishment, war, homicides, lynchings and racist attitudes.
Together, the graphs demonstrate that we are wealthier, healthier, freer, more peaceful, smarter and nicer than we have ever been.
Not by a little, but by a lot.
But the world is CLEARLY getting worse, doesn't he watch the news?
One of my favourite graphics 👇
Media coverage is one of the biggest obstacles in the pursuit pursuit of avoiding ignorance.
I prefer to define the pursuit of information as avoiding ignorance rather than seeking knowledge.
I know they sound like the same thing, but somehow my brain differentiates between the two...
a) Avoiding ignorance = Figuring out how things work
b) Seeking knowledge = Gaining intelligence
The second option either leads to intellectualism or becoming this guy 👇👇
The first option keeps that healthy curiosity alive and kicking...
So, why are we always wrong?
Well, how can anyone expect to master anything when human thinking is so ridiculously flawed?
188 cognitive biases to prove that point 👇
It's a wonder we manage to achieve anything when you see it like that, might as well just give up now...
OK, this is all pretty abstract.
Let's get more specific and use a recent example.
Wherever there's outrage, there's misunderstanding
- Me, today
The UK government again.
Full of terrible monsters seeking to RUIN British farmers...
shakes fist angrily
Presumably, they're doing it in pursuit of profit for themselves and all their rich mates (those absolute bastards are always at it)
Has anyone even thought about the environmental costs of importing food halfway across the planet?
Tweet 1 assumes that more distance = more pollution
Tweet 2 assumes that self sufficiency should be a goal
Tweet 1 was expertly handled 👇
Going deeper 👇
Tweet 2 is a trickier prospect...
OK, not tricky.
It's clearly an oversimplification.
Let's be constructive and reframe the question.
Why doesn't every country aim for self-sufficiency, especially on something as fundamental as food?
As it turns out, this idea was discussed at great length back in 2008, shortly after the global food crisis.
“What we are now witnessing in the world is the consequence of too much free-market liberalism,” he said.
“We can’t leave feeding people to the mercy of the market. We need a public policy, a means of intervention and stabilisation.
“I think [the CAP] is a good model. It is a policy that allows us to produce to feed ourselves. We pool our resources to support production.
West Africa, East Africa, Latin America and the southern shore of the Mediterranean all need regional common agricultural policies.”
This would be the same CAP that paid farmers NOT to produce food...
A better answer to the self-sufficency question 👇
So, what can we do about the whole 'being wrong' thing?
Here's a list of 1000... Kidding.
At the root of it all, there's one over-riding value that gives most bang for the buck:
...the only way to ward off our own ignorance is by choosing to have fewer opinions and more loosely held beliefs.
Humility is an important value.
In fact, the Dunning-Kruger Effect suggests that humility can be highly practical.
By intentionally underestimating our understanding of things, not only do we open up more opportunities to learn and grow, but we also foster a more realistic view of ourselves, and prevent ourselves from looking like a narcissistic assface around others.
That is… until we decide that we are the most humble person you’ve ever met.
Nobody is more humble than me.
I’m so much more humble than everybody else…
…and now we’re back to square one.