Room for Being Wrong

We all like to think of ourselves as being rational beings, unaffected by bias and holding opinions which are, majority of the times, always right.

During this, we fail to realize the fact that rationality, by itself, is nothing but subjective. If there’s nothing inherently objective and absolute, how can rationality be? To think that the choices we make, the opinions we form, and the decisions we take, all have to be right is based on a false assumption.

We often get into spontaneous arguments with friends, coworkers and family where we try our best to reaffirm our stance and how it’s the correct one. The arguments are based on subjective opinions, and in cases where a reference to some absolute facts is involved, people often end up believing what they’re thinking at the back of their minds are the apparent facts. This can happen without any true knowledge of the underlying facts.

For example, two persons debating which browser is the best. A Firefox fan can make up an argument that it’s the best browser since it’s installed on the most number of devices. It may or may not be true; but since that person is a hardcore user, they’d like to think of it as the most downloaded browser. In reality, Chrome, for example, may have more downloads. If the number of installs is the only criteria for being “the best”, shouldn’t Chrome be ahead, then?

This takes us to another challenge. When pointed out that our stance is factually incorrect, we often shift the argument. The basis of our previous argument no longer means anything.

In the example above, if the number of downloads is indeed the criteria for being the best, our stance turned out to be wrong and it’s Chrome which should be on top. How many will accept it and change opinion, if their assumption (read fact) was proven wrong?

Being self-critical can be good if we don’t judge others and don’t automatically put down the opinions of others. Embracing difference of opinion is excellent; the world can be a better place if we don’t always judge others as wrong and realize it’s down to having different perspectives.

I’ve just started reading the book Thinking, Fast and Slow, and it has me wondering: The understanding of how we think and make our choices is an interesting science, and being aware of it can help us in becoming more accepting of other’s views.