Don't Believe Everything You Think

This one is for you, Stephanie, your quote is a title of Thomas Kida’s book Don’t Believe Everything You Think. I enjoyed a good read. The impact of confirmation bias and other forms of reinforcing rather than challenging one’s own beliefs is enormous. We are among the worst offenders since we are excellent in defending our points of view, accustomed to being in the minority, and having our positions challenged or rejected out of hand. Of course, we can’t always be wallowing in self-doubt. As a whole, we could do with a lot more humility and open-mindedness. I try to wait for the initial defensive or self-justifying reaction to pass before I assess the value of something that challenges my belief--sort of the intellectual equivalent of counting to ten. I’m not sure it helps--it's a process.

In the book, Kida quotes Michael Shermer “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.” As an example, he talks about a gambler who accepts successes at face value but fabricates elaborate reasons for losses. In other words, we seek to confirm--not to question--our ideas (one of the six “basic mistakes” Kida believes we make in our thinking.)

Do you find it extremely difficult to question your own ideas about something--especially when those ideas are foundational to your beliefs? At times when my religious/spiritual identity may be in flux, I’d seek out more secular points of view to confirm my questioning. Letting go of beliefs, in particular, can be most frightening when I haven't yet found alternative beliefs to replace them with. I am okay with that, though. It's acceptable not to know certain things. Allow myself to find my answers in my own time and enjoy the mystery. Mystery translates into wonder, excitement and adventure. There is beauty in that.

It's difficult to modify one’s beliefs, independent of one’s intelligence. Those are not too bright don’t recognize or have the resources to introspect and find errors or to discuss ideas with others analytically. Intelligent people can do these things. Because they are bright, they get in the habit of a) having a higher likelihood of being right, b) often winning arguments even if they are mistaken, and (c) knowing what they believe is correct and therefore introspection is not needed.

Thank goodness I am not intelligent.

4 encouragements:

jewlsntexas said...

Hi Sarah!
Your blog looks awesome -
And I was just thinking the same thing - thank goodness I'm not intelligent! hee hee
I love this - and it is so true - we all start with presuppositions, and then set out to support what we think.
presupposition - that is my $10 word for the day

Stephanie said...

Thanks for researching for me :)
I love the 3 columns, I want 3 columns but whenever I searched I didn't like what I found. I'll look into it.

Tina H. said...

Thank you for your lovely comments on my blog. I definitely need to realize that help is a blessing, not a hindrance. Your blog is peaceful and informative.

Sarah said...

Thanks, Jewls, for your compliment. To expand on your word of the day, mine is quasi-transcendental. What's next?

Stephanie, I didn't find one I liked completely. So, I settled for a relatively basic one and tweaked to fit my taste, for now. I'm experiencing challenge incorporating a wallpaper to background. So, more of an unschooler! <sigh>

Welcome, Tina, to my cyber cafe, a place to give voice to the other parts of my life and hang out with wonderful people like yourself.

True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

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