Being Wrong

There are beliefs you hold onto for dear life (like the belief in a higher being) and inconsequential opinions (like whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza (it does, you heathen)). We tend to hold these beliefs in high-esteem, identifying with them and protecting them when other internet users tell us how wrong we are.

This could be somewhat harmless as these beliefs are malleable, but, what if a fundamental belief held by generally everyone was challenged? What if someone challenged gravity? How would that change how you think?

Chuck Klosterman does this in his last book, “But, What if We’re Wrong?” He begins by assuring the reader that his belief in gravity is absolute. He would never budge from that stance and there is no one who could ever change his mind about that. But, he could still be wrong. Quoting physicist Brian Green about it,

"There is a very, very good chance that our understanding of gravity will not be the same in five hundred years."

which is later followed by,

"I do think–and I think many would agree–that gravity is the least stable of our ideas, and the most ripe for a major shift."

Maybe we’re all not wrong now but we may all be wrong eventually. If gravity is in question, what else is and what can you learn?

How to Be Wrong with Class

There are going to be a lot of topics you’re wrong about. Do not be afraid to be wrong, be afraid of doing nothing about it. Start with:

Finding Someone who Disagrees

Find someone who disagrees with you or loves the thing you don’t necessarily love-no need to get confrontational. Ask them what benefits they’ve received from their viewpoint and how they got there. Spend 80% of the time listening to them instead of challenging them.

Convincing Yourself They’re Right

Spend a few hours convincing yourself that they’re irrevocably correct and find material that supports their point of view. This helps you seek even more arguments for the other side and puts you in someone else’s mindset.

Write it down and reflect on how your life would change if you fundamentally believed in all the things they believed in. This helps you ground the belief/activity and apply it (even if imaginary) to your own life.

100% Commiting and Finding the Value

If this is an activity, I challenge you to commit yourself fully to it. Keep your mind open to the value it is bringing to your life and try to internalize it until you understand why someone would do it.

These three things have been successful for me in changing my mind about a lot of things in my life. While I don’t necessarily accept everything as truth, this is a good exercise to ensure I’m always analyzing the data incoming.

Being wrong doesn’t have to be as painful as we make it out to be. There’s typically some value in someone else’s viewpoint–you just have to find it. What are you wrong about?

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