Haley Scholars Fall 2013 Reading Groups
In chapter 6 of Being Wrong, Kathryn Schulz notes at one moment that ""our mistakes are part and parcel of our brilliance, not the regrettable consequences of a separate and deplorable process" (121-122). Of course, Schulz notes, the reasoning that "makes us right is what makes us wrong" as well.
Later, she notes that the many forms "of creatively dodging" counter-evidence "represent a backhanded tribute to its importance. However much we ignore, deny, distort, or misconstrue it, evidence continues to matter to us, enormously. In fact, we ignore, deny, distort, and misconstrue evidence because it matters to us" (130).
Schulz maintains that in order for us to "improve our relationship to evidence" then "we must lean to active combat our inductive biases: to deliberately seek out evidence that challenges our beliefs, and to take seriously such evidence when we come across it" (131).
What issue that she raised in the chapter seemed most helpful to you for attending to counterevidence or to taking into account more seriously those facts that contradict positions that you find favorable?
An issue she raised in the chapter that seemed most helpful to me was the notion that we alter and distort evidence because it matters to us. I know this to be particularly true in my life during my childhood. When I would argue about something with my siblings, I would always change current facts/evidence or make up new facts/evidence to support my claim. It was so bad that I even started to believe in the evidence I created in my head. It showed that I did not want to be wrong at all costs, even when I knew I was wrong. Now that I am older, I do not do it nearly as much but I still do it unconsciously. I really liked her idea/solution of seeking out evidence to challenge our beliefs; I think this will truly help us believe and become more comfortable with the fact that we can be wrong. It also makes us realize that being wrong is not such a bad thing; being wrong is not the end of the world and the sooner we accept our mistakes, the faster we can learn from them and move on.
I also thought that the issue of distorting evidence is something I have been in contact with in my life. I noticed that I distorted evidence if it would benefit me. This is especially true when I used to get caught doing something wrong. i think knowing that I am conscious of doing that, i will be better at catching others/myself from during it further.
What I have realized through reading this is that the fear of being wrong has been with me since childhood. Talking to friends about things such as why leaves fall in autumn. I found myself making up information to justify my theories. I did the same when I was trying not to get in trouble with my parents. I wouldn't purposely lie, but some facts definitely got distorted when the story of the days event was told. I have become more away of that as I got older. I now know when to pay attention to how I recount a situation.
After reading this last chapter, it has come to my attention that people do any thing possible to make a point. Whether they change, twist, or distort the truth in order to be seen as right they will. It is common that we manipulate evidence so that it favors our claim. Instead of listening to the whole situation we ignore the concept. At times people will create "stories" in order to justify their thought process. At this day and age I realize how I would do this often in my past. I was quick to go against what anyone else said or thought only because they contradicted my position. I feel that everyone should make a conscious effort to take into account all ideas and points from both positions. This way people will begin to be honest in all efforts of trying to prove a point.
From reading this, I further learned how afraid of being wrong we are. It was interesting to think about how we distort evidence because we care. Even when the proof of our wrongness is right in our face, we will change it around to benefit us because we want credibility. I've been guilty of this before and sometimes I do it unconsciously. Schulz's idea of seeking out evidence that contradicts us could be a solution. Maybe people will get a better understanding of things and also be more comfortable with being wrong.
When reading this chapter a paticular friend kept coming to mind, especially when she mentioned distorting evidence. A friend of mine was always guilty of this. She never actually lied completely but her story was never excatly correct whenever she was recounting an exciting event or describing a scene in which she may be looked at unfavorably. She seemed to do it unconsciosly which made me wonder if she was right when we remembered the same event, or if I unconsiously changed a few details as well
The issue of distorting evidence stood out to me the most while reading this chapter because I have witness other individuals, including myself, distort evidence in order to maintain the validity in my arguments whether they were true or false to begin with.
Like many of the others said, distorting evidence is what stood out to me the most. I can relate to this notion because I do it on a constant basis. I ALWAYS want to be right so i tend to exaggerate or distort things so that my point, which may or may not be valid, is made
An issue that I have encountered that affects the way I feel about myself is the fact that I have a need to be 'right' all the time. When someone claims to know more than me, or somehow prove my thought wrong I sometimes find myself getting very offended. I'm learning to be more open to other people's opinions and ideas. I'm learning that I am not right/correct all the time and it's good to be the person getting the correction. It pushes me to be a better listener and overall a better person. No one wants to be around a 'know-it-all'.
Like many of my peers, the distortion of evidence part really drew me in. I, like many, get really bogged down on being right. To make sure that our beliefs and opinions are seen as the right way, people often fabricate information to enhance their argument. I especially noticed this when I was in my teens. I hated the idea of anyone challenging my beliefs or arguments . But once I got into college I realized that having people challenge your beliefs makes your beliefs even stronger.
One issue Schulz addresses is that seemed most helpful to me is when she speaks about people's tendency to distort facts. I could definitely relate to this because often times we will change the truth to support our claim. People don't always do this intentionally either. I feel this helped me because I understand that everybody in fact does this and it is human nature.
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