In a recent Medium post, “Your Opinions Can Be ‘Wrong’” (Medium link), I wrote about how feelings (how we feel about people, issues, etc.) aren’t facts and adherence to feelings can hide “flaws” in our positions and beliefs from us. More importantly, these “flaws” don’t make us “bad” people, but point out opportunities to improve ourselves or our beliefs.
What We Don’t Know
It’s interesting how I relate a lot to conversations with my son. Maybe, it’s because kids have a simpler, more clear way of seeing the world than adults sometimes permit themselves. You can easily identify an unclear explanation because they need to ask “Why” until it does “make sense.”
My son is still young, so he has the occasional habit of not admitting when/what he doesn’t know. I’ll ask and confirm by his response that he doesn’t know. To guide him through his own problem-solving, I’ll ask, “Why don’t you admit that you didn’t know?”
Just the other day, I explained to him that, for various reasons, there are people that start answering or responding without entirely understanding and don’t/can’t admit anything. I told him,
“If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are too many ‘grown-ups’ that start talking or ‘doing” without understanding. Don’t be like them. Ask questions.”
Even though this advice seems simple and clear, it still surprises me that more people don’t do this more. Additionally, it’s mindboggling how some people with experience or knowledge in one area, then considers themselves qualified/capable enough to offer an informed, valid opinion, though they may be misinformed and/or lack the adequate critical thinking skills to acquire solidly correct, reliable information (ex. letting evidence shape their “conclusion(s)” vs. starting with a “conclusion,” then seeking biased supporting evidence). Following these recommendations would go far in helping others understand them and vice versa. What we may say or hear isn’t always as clear as we think. Again, what we “think” may be different from what is (unquestionably) true.
Saving Myself The Trouble
I think that, by my early teens, I had pretty much learned about the value of admitting what I didn’t know because I have found myself in (usually unintentional) enough…