Samantha Merlin October 14, 2012 IGE 120 MWF 11:45-12:50 Reading Response: Being Wrong: Chapter 5 by Kathryn Schultz At the beginning of chapter 5 “Our Minds, Part Two: Belief” Schultz informs us that Alan Greenp testifies before congress on October 23, 2008 because of the financial crisis. The chapter then leads on to expand on the“Greenp moments” which is basically when beliefs fail us. Belief in casual conversation is a conscious belief, such as morality, politics, ourselves or others.
Philosophers include all unconscious beliefs too, like believing that the sky is dark outside if you’re in your bedroom at night with the blinds closed and that the sun won’t rise for many more hours and when it does it will do so in the east. Both explicit beliefs like “everyone hates me” and implicit ones “the sky is blue” serve as a function of helping me figure out where to sit when I enter a room. Once an implicit assumption is violated, it becomes explicit. If I suddenly fall through the floor, my implicit assumptions about the solidity of the floor suddenly appear in my conscious.
The beliefs at the acute ends of the implicit and explicit range breaks down most strikingly when they are revealed incorrectly. However, holding a belief can have many outcomes. Belief in overall perspective led to spending $300 million and $30 million per year on LIGO. We have distal beliefs because we need to be able to theorize about some things, but end up theorizing about everything. The theorizing process is quick and automated and doesn’t require us to intentionally activate it, so we cant stop theorizing. We tend to mainly notice our theories when they’re wrong.
Babies as young as seven months are already theorizing about gravity. Alison Gopnik assumed that the theory drive exists particularly esfor early childhood, but functions throughout lives, just like sex drive exists precisely for fertile years, but works before and after. Although we are good at making theories, we are not good at realizing we made them. We have a tendency toward “Naive realism” which means that our perception matches reality. Anyhow, this can not be true because there are things that we can not perceive like infrared and molecules.
All children under the age of four are Naive realists because they believe that we can not believe things that are wrong. The chapters main idea was that if you believe that your beliefs are true, you will assume that those that disagree with you are ignorant of facts, are idiots or evil. Just from reading this chapter I have come to the conclusion that Schulz takes on a heavy topic that most of us don’t understand. The broad majority of people either feel they have to be right at all costs, or that being wrong is a personal failure.
In reality, being wrong is what helps us grow and understand our world better. It was impossible not to think about politics while reading this, either. Each political party has a hard and fast set of beliefs that define them, and anyone not advocating to those beliefs is wrong and needs to be corrected. Unluckily, even when presented with evidence to the contrary relating to one of their closely-held views, it is nearly impossible for the person to adjust their thinking and admit they were wrong. There’s no discussion and consideration of views to come up with a compromise or to learn from others.
It’s often a duel to the death to be right while proving the other person wrong. In the end, nobody gains from that. In class i’d like to discuss whether people thought that Being Wrong had a great message and can make a difference in someone’s life or thought it can’t cause any type of dramatic change of perspective. I feel that it can make a person’s life more productive and enjoyable. Unfortunately, I have little hope that the average man on the street who is affected by the need to always be right will ever take the time to read and understand the message of this chapter or the whole book in general.
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