There are too many “wars” happening right now. Political wars, reading wars, vaccine wars, and actual wars. We are divided into groups with whom we agree on topics that are important and relevant to us. But how many of us act like a scientist and actually read the data, research, polls, and first-hand accounts from the stake holders? Do we, on the other hand, revel being in an echo chamber that simply supports what we already believe in? What if, instead of spending time justifying our own opinions, we shift to recognizing our own biases and consider that our beliefs might not be consistent with current research?
What Would that Look Like?
We need to be critical thinkers. We need to gather the most significant resources and research to find out what is actually true. Humility is a central tenant of critical thinking and one that I speak about in my previous post “I Love Being Wrong.” If you are not willing to change your perspective based on collective knowledge, you are not thinking critically. You are not looking for new information. You are trying to defend and persuade others to believe what you believe in.
Science is not definitive because it is ever evolving. But the collective science should be our guiding principle. What if based in that science we were to be brave and ask important questions about our own beliefs and the beliefs of others? We would need to be nimble and discerning like a scientist.
So, consider the following:
Consensus does not equal truth.
Rather than preaching your beliefs to others, try to understand theirs. Ask yourself and others, “How do you know?”
Rather than attacking someone on the other side of an issue, reexamine your own perspective.
Don’t be so quick to accept what you see on social media, and don’t use those “facts” to denigrate someone else.
Don’t be afraid to stand up and call out misinformation but do your part to first be informed about the research.
Consider that discussions of “pendulum swings” derive from anecdotal evidence and/or old research studies. Science is not a pendulum. As researchers learn more, we should be actively open to their results (especially when they go against what we previously thought has true). This requires looking for reasons we might be wrong instead of reasons we might be right.
Try to listen more to ideas that are hard instead of beliefs that sound familiar.