More Skepticism, Please

We need skeptics. We need more skepticism. Less rash judgements and hot takes and fewer biases confirmed.

No more magical thinking. Less woo-woo.

Less Fake News and less referring to news that we don’t like as Fake News.

We need news networks that don’t trade in conspiracy to sell ads.

We need institutions to be held in check, but we need them to be held in check responsibly.

We need evidence-based governing and we need to hold our political parties to higher standards than winning at all cost.

We need truths that are also facts. We need whistleblowers that respect that the role of whistleblowing is larger than any one whistleblower.

We need self-help products that don’t make claims about “toxins.” We need movie stars that don’t want us to put coffee in strange places, and we need them to understand that vaccines are important.

We need headlines that don’t mimic the conversation style of 17-year-olds.

We need to ground ourselves in reality. Come back from the edges. Build politics of coalitions, not of isolation, exclusivity, or exclusion.

We need skepticism.

We need optimism.

We can and should have both.

 

The Work Required to Have an Opinion

From the Farnam Street Blog:

Charlie Munger used to say something along the lines of “You’re not entitled to take a view, unless and until you can argue better against that view than the smartest guy who holds that opposite view. If you can argue better than the smartest person who holds the opposite view, that is when you are entitled to hold a certain view.”

Good discipline. Especially now.

There’s never been a better time for people to loudly hold opinions without the hassle of facts or consideration of opposing points of view.

Politics has become more polarized and emotional than ever before.

Nonpolitical topics, like whether women can be game developers, are becoming political proxy wars.

Online news consumption takes place on platforms that are using the very height of human technology to surface content that confirms our biases.

Social interaction online has devolved into digital trench warfare. It doesn’t matter what the topic is. It might be anything from abortion to fly-fishing lures, but you’re sure to find radically polarized sides firmly dug-in, barraging the opposing force with links featuring inflammatory headlines and unread body copy.


People of substance. We don’t have many of them anymore.

Those who are capable of holding two conflicting ideas in their head at the same time.

People who are willing to hold their own beliefs to the fire. Re-evaluate their stances over time.

They might have an opinion that isn’t popular, but they’ve at least thought about it.

And I think they’ve earned the right to it.