TED: Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.
Jef Rouner: Before you crouch behind your Shield of Opinion you need to ask yourself two questions.
1. Is this actually an opinion?
2. If it is an opinion, how informed is it and why do I hold it?
I’ll help you with the first part. An opinion is a preference for or judgment of something. My favorite color is black. I think mint tastes awful. Doctor Who is the best television show. These are all opinions. They may be unique to me alone or massively shared across the general population but they all have one thing in common; they cannot be verified outside the fact that I believe them.
There’s nothing wrong with an opinion on those things. The problem comes from people whose opinions are actually misconceptions. If you think vaccines cause autism you are expressing something factually wrong, not an opinion. The fact that you may still believe that vaccines cause autism does not move your misconception into the realm of valid opinion. Nor does the fact that many other share this opinion give it any more validity.
- British public wrong about nearly everything, survey shows
- Ever found yourself at odds with what you thought was the majority opinion? There’s a name for that: pluralistic ignorance.
- How we naturally think vs. the scientific method