Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Are we doomed to be wrong?

I keep reading things that suggest that because of the way human brains work and the limits of our experiences, we are usually wrong about any important issue we form an opinion about.

Whether it's Xerographica talking about the blind men groping an elephant, or Cracked.com's list of the 5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think, I feel I am getting signals from all sides saying that little old me has no chance to ever discover the truth. Either my perspective will be too limited or my brain will deceive me.

But I know that's not completely true.

Sure, I may be blind, feeling only one part of an elephant (and she'd be enjoying it, too), but I don't stand in one place for long. In moving around I would quickly get a clue that things were not as they seemed at first.

And, if everyone is being deceived by their own logical fallacies then they have as little chance of being right from the start as I do. If my ideas are wrong, then chances are those who disagree with me the most are also wrong. As long as I keep listening and testing my ideas, I will at least keep up with those who think differently about the issues. Eventually one of us, out of all of us, will find reality. If you find reality it isn't a good idea to change your mind later just because a lot of people disagree with you. Reality stands up.

One thing that suggests to me that I am at least on the right track is that I now accept some things that I once found absolutely abhorrent. But I heard them (or realized them), I tested them, and they passed, so I accepted them and was forced to adapt in order to be right.

Because being right- seeing reality as it actually is- is important to me. And I do think there is an objective reality and the universe isn't just a subjective guessing game.



  1. Very interesting. A profound post.

    I wonder, do you think that there is a 'reality" in opinion? In other words, do you think any certain philosophical position is the verifiable 'truth'?

  2. I don't think there is a reality in opinion. There is no "best" color or food or music.

    But, I don't think that the philosophical position that it is wrong to initiate force or to steal is an opinion. I think that position is falsifiable, and it keeps standing up to all the "yes, but"s of those who desperately want to find a loophole for their own reasons. That's as close to verifiable as you can get.

  3. If we're doomed to be wrong, we're doomed to being wrong about being wrong. So I guess we're not doomed to be wrong.

    And we once again discover that post-modernism is BS.

  4. People's concept of wrong is usually wrong. ;)

    For every problem, there is a near-infinite number of solutions.

    The Latin root word for "Choice" means "to cut away".

    This is what gives humans "choices" - it takes only one solution per problem, so the other near-infinte solutions that remain are discarded or "cut away".

    The range of solutions to the problem, however, also comes with tradeoffs.

    Some of the solutions to THIS problem also creates worse problems then the one we are trying to solve. (These tend to be called "bad solutions")

    Other solutions to THIS problem also solve other incidental problems that we didn't intend to solve right now (we call these "good solutions")

    Further we cannot see the unintended consequences of our actions - so until we act upon a solution, we do not see the all the consequences of our actions.

    We judge our solution by looking backwards based on today's manifestation of an unintended consequence.

    It is this aspect of our hindsight that makes it appear that we are often "wrong", because we experience a negative consequence today due to a solution acted upon in the past.

    But it is only an illusion of our experience of time - and is necessary, since if we add our REASONING to this, it provides us KNOWLEDGE - we can connect cause and effect and then try to make better choices of solutions to our new problems.

  5. BF- You have found Unfortunate Truth #6.

    And you're right. Many things I have "solved" in my life were solved at that moment, but the unintended consequences that resulted from the solution made me later feel that my solution was in error. But at the time it did "work".