The Art of Proving Yourself Wrong

Photo by Lachlan Donald on Unsplash

You have an opinion about something. Anything. Let’s say you think that dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate. Now Google it. You see three articles that say, in fact, that dark chocolate is better. You also see two articles that say milk chocolate is far superior. Which do you read?

Armed with a web browser, most people won’t start searching for why they are probably wrong. We will click any one of the first three articles to reassure ourselves that dark chocolate is better. We have an inherant desire to prove ourselves right. We are programmed to look for confirmation bias — the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of our existing beliefs or theories. It’s not that we are unable to come up with contrary ideas, it is just that our strong instinct is not to.

The problem? If you’re always proving yourself right, then you’re never wrong; and if you’re never wrong, then, well, you already know everything. Nothing else to learn, no room to grow.

As an easy exercise, train yourself to view your own ideas as a hypothesis in need of testing. The aim should not be to convince others that you are right but to encourage others to help falisify your own notions. This is how you deepen your understanding and broaden your frame of thought. Frankly, this is how you learn.

Begin to embrace the logic of a loss just as you would the reinforcement of a win. Question yourself. Put on a different pair on lenses. Look at the world in various lights. Read those two articles about the benefits of milk chocolate. Research, learn and grow. Let your opinions mature and transform with you. Perfect the art of proving yourself wrong.