This week’s morsel… ‘I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.‘ — Richard Feynman, theoretical physicist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Everybody wants to be right.
It feels good, but it’s also a survival skill. When we are proved right, we get the message, ‘I understand the world and how it works. My predictions and thinking skills are good and I can survive and thrive.’
I’ve often wondered why people so passionately argue their point of view, sometimes with very little evidence. Sometimes they argue against the facts. But it’s not about the facts, it’s about the emotional reassurance that comes from being right, and that’s powerful, and not to be underestimated.
And yet… sticking to your own point of view and wanting to be right is counterproductive. The world changes more quickly than our ideas and a much better survival skill is the ability to constantly question and update your ideas.
How do you do that?
By staying open to new ideas and being willing, even eager to be proved wrong. By being a scientist of experience – constantly testing and revising your views.
Here’s the takeaway…
You will Always be (partially) wrong. The trick is to reduce that part as much as you can.
You’ll never be completely right, but the closer you can get, the better you’ll manage.
It was the very successful investor Charlie Munger (and partner of Warren Buffet) who said, ‘It’s remarkable how much long term advantage people like us have got by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.’
Avoiding being stupid is so much easier than trying to be clever. Don’t try to be right, just try to be less wrong.
And we need to actually jump in and expose ourselves to other people’s views, especially ones we disagree with. This is the opposite to the way social media algorithms work. These will feed you an exclusive diet of what you already think in more and more extreme presentations.
It’s rather like a cook that once they know you like sweet things, feed you only desserts, and over time more and more sweet, until you are on a diet of chocolate milkshake laced with jam, honey, syrup and sugar.
A better strategy is to look at opposing views and be able to state them just as well as the people who support them. Learn what other people think (not what people on your side tell you they think).
Then you’ll find out some valuable things. – they make sense – they show you where you views are lacking – you appreciate their weaknesses better by understanding them.
Doesn’t mean you’ll agree with them, but your own view will be much richer.
Books I have read and recommend:
Six Easy Pieces
Something by Richard Feynman, the brilliant physicist and Nobel prize winner. Not only was a prize winning physicist, but he revolutionised the teaching of science by his easy, down to earth style with great examples and metaphors. You’ll enjoy this as well as learn something. (And I know what I’m talking about, I regularly fell asleep during my school physics lessons). Learn More
Free and Easy
Something this week to get your feet tapping – an Irish song from the Album Granuille. Great tunes, great singing. there’s a solo on Irish pipes played by a musician who is completely stony faced, while playing with the most amazing virtuosity. Worth listening just for that. Listen to it
The Musletter has lots of ideas, they’ll blaze, resonate and strike you differently.
That’s good. New input for creativity.
Do send feedback – which saying / music / book did you like?
‘How can I be less stupid, rather than more intelligent?’
All the best,