Coming Clean about how right or wrong we might be.

Trying to get some to publicly, willingly admit it when they are wrong.

I call it “coming clean” when they no longer believe in the accuracy of one of their previous attitudes.

Is not knowing the scope of our own ignorance part of the human condition?

Personality psychologist Julia Rohrer thinks that it’s a cultural issue that people are not willing to admit mistakes. “Culturally we seem to lack a serious amount of personal intellectual humility, the characteristic that allows for admission of wrongness.

Rohrer continues, “I’ve come to appreciate what a crucial tool it is for learning, especially in an increasingly interconnected and complicated world. As technology makes it easier to lie and spread false information incredibly quickly, we need intellectually humble, curious people.”

More and more among us are opting for copy-and-paste opinionizing, posturing as authors of well thought out declarations that are in truth someone else’s magic.

How do we develop intellectual humility which is far more value than copy-and-pasting our paths to some sort of choir-base respectability.

More from Rohrer:

I’ve also realized how difficult it is to foster intellectual humility. In my reporting on this, I’ve learned there are three main challenges on the path to humility:

1. In order for us to acquire more intellectual humility, we all, even the smartest among us, need to better appreciate our cognitive blind spots. Our minds are more imperfect and imprecise than we’d often like to admit. Our ignorance can be invisible.

2. Even when we overcome that immense challenge and figure out our errors, we need to remember we won’t necessarily be punished for saying, “I was wrong.” And we need to be braver about saying it. We need a culture that celebrates those words.

3. We’ll never achieve perfect intellectual humility. So we need to choose our convictions thoughtfully.

Mark Leary, a social and personality psychologist at Duke University, insists that we do not confuse  intellectual humility with overall humility or bashfulness.

“It’s not about being a pushover; it’s not about lacking confidence, or self-esteem. The intellectually humble don’t cave every time their thoughts are challenged.

Instead, it’s a method of thinking. It’s about entertaining the possibility that you may be wrong and being open to learning from the experience of others. Intellectual humility is about being actively curious about your blind spots.”

Michel de Montaigne, the 16th-century French philosopher wrote that “the plague of man is boasting of his knowledge.

Case in point from a political perspective.

Donald Trump said on the night of his nomination, “I alone can fix it,” with the “it” being our entire political system.

It was also Trump who once said, “I have one of the great memories of all time.”

Trump once  told the Associated Press, “I have a natural instinct for science,” in dodging a question on climate change.

Brian Resnick, who writes for Vox talks about “a frustration I feel about Trump and the era of history he represents is that his pride and his success — he is among the most powerful people on earth — seem to be related. He exemplifies how our society rewards confidence and bluster, not truthfulness.”

We could apply Resnick’s next sentences to what is happening with Elon Musk and Twitter: 

Yet we’ve also seen some very high-profile examples lately of how overconfident leadership can be ruinous for companies. Look at what happened to Theranos, a company that promised to change the way blood samples are drawn. It was all hype, all bluster, and it collapsed. Or consider Enron’s overconfident executives, who were often hailed for their intellectual brilliance — they ran the company into the ground with risky, suspect financial decisions.”

Then there’s the Dunning-Kruger circumstance.

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool,” wrote Shakespeare in As You Like It.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias first highlighted in literature by David Dunning and Justin Kruger in the (now-famous) 1999 study Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments.

In truth the first rule of those covered by the Dunning-Kruger definition is that they do not know they are those covered.

The obvious truth should be that our perceptions are not the absolute truth. The world around us – Mother Nature, Father Sky and all those beings, are indifferent to whether our feeble sensory organs can perceive them correctly. All the time we are just guessing; admittedly often our “educated guesses” are right on the money, but not all the time.

The sense of indignation that we might be wrong has been called naïve realism. Naïve realism is probably most prevalent in religion where churches that claim possession of The Truth w(with a capital T) believe their own notions with extreme confidence. Most likely, political rhetoric leads to similar notions about who has the “Truth” regarding civics, politics, economics and proper cultural mores.

Then we have socially constructed illusions where we’re taught or learn to fear other people. Others seem more menacing, and we want to build walls around them. When we learn or are taught that other people are less than human, we’re less likely to look upon them kindly and more likely to be okay when violence is committed against them.

Not only are our interpretations of the world often arbitrary, but we’re often overconfident in them. “Our ignorance is invisible to us,” David Dunning, an expert on human blind spots, says.

Our lives are living myths of our own creation. Our companion is our personal story – all the stuff inside we use tell us who we are and tell the world the same.

“Myth” is a word given too much work in how we share knowledge with one another. Many will not accept a myth because it is something built from nothing. Others say myth is illusion or a mistaken belief. When myth equates to the opposite of “fact”, how can we trust or use myth?

Myth is assumption. Every definition of life is an assumption. Every reasoning behind what we choose to do and how we choose to behave is based on assumption.

Defenders of religious creeds and political philosophies use the word myth to characterize religious beliefs that conflict with their own, saying,

Your, assumptions are not as valid as my assumptions. In fact, your assumptions are myth while my assumptions are truth.”

What do we deny if we refuse to recognize our own assumptions? How much are our individual lives shaped by inner scenarios based on assumptions we have been taught to accept as absolutely true?

Do we live an inner myth that reflects how we’ve been taught the world “is” rather than how we’ve discovered the world to “be”?

Our personal mythical scenario is always on and is always running. Sam Keen has described myth as referring to

“an intricate set of interlocking stories, rituals, rites and customs that inform and give the pivotal sense of meaning and direction to a person, family, community or culture.

The myths we carry around inside include unspoken consensus, the habitual way of seeing things, unquestioned assumptions, and our ‘automatic stance’.”

A society lives on its own unconscious conspiracy to consider a myth the truth, the way things really are.

Do we belong to the majority who are literal without thinking; men and women who are not critical or reflective about the guiding “truths” – myths – of their own group?

As Keen implies,

” To a tourist in a strange land, an anthropologist studying a tribe, or a psychologist observing a patient, the myth is obvious. But to the person who lives within the mythic horizon, it is nearly invisible.”

Author: Arthur Ruger

Married and in a wonderful relationship. Retired Social Worker, Veteran, writer, author, blogger, musician,. Lives in Coeur D' Alene, Idaho

One thought on “Coming Clean about how right or wrong we might be.”

  1. Its very hard to imagine any of the deplorables (or even more moderate, thinking citizens blindly supporting a con, liar, cheat), would ever have the personal fortitude to admit any wrong. After all, 74 million+ voted for a complete failure of a president going for a second term. Its just not going to change. That is why this country is going to be hard-pressed to survive. People are clinging to their beliefs, right or wrong, and will cling to them until the country is destroyed. It may very well result in the demise of the planet itself, as climate change is one of those truths that is tearing us apart. If we don’t work that out soon, we will face cataclysmic forces that will overwhelm us as we argue about political minutiae

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