You're Wrong

The scientific method tells us that we COULD be right, until proven otherwise

I place a very high value on our friendship, however a part of friendship is being honest with each other. We have a responsibility to help each other be better than we are today. When we see a friend doing things or believing things which are unhealthy, we should lovingly help each other in those moments. It is in that spirit that I have to tell you that, with all due respect, you are wrong. This is the basis of true and powerful relationships.

Being wrong is causing problems in your life. Your inability to see that you are wrong — indeed your unwillingness to even consider that are wrong — is doing harm to you and those around you. It is causing a rift in our relationship. It is causing you to act in ways that are contrary to your best interests.

I know your first response to this is to be defensive, and to explain how you are right. This leads to arguments in which the entire point is to prove you are right. It denies true discussions that might allow us to find out what is right, what is true.

You are wrong. You believe things that aren’t true. It’s a fact.

So, step away from what I am saying for a few minutes. Grab a coffee or some cola and spend a few minutes chilling with some nice music in the background. Then come back and I’ll continue.

Go ahead… I’ll wait.

Ready? Perhaps a few more minutes of music might be helpful.

Ok… let’s proceed.

Look, I know you are wrong. There isn’t any room to question that fact. It is obvious if you simply step back and consider the matter at hand. No one is infallible. We all “KNOW” facts that are simply wrong, untrue, incorrect. Some are just outright crazy, stupid, unbelievable, silly. Yeah, I’m sorry to be so brutal, but we need to face this inconvenient truth: You firmly believe many things that are simply not true -- and you are all too often willing to argue endlessly to prove it. That isn’t healthy for anyone.

The ability to be effective in this world depends on our ability to step back and consider whether even the most basic things we “KNOW” are true, or not. The more often we are able to correct these incorrect knowings, the more effective we will be in the real world.

Don’t get me wrong. One cannot walk around questioning everything. There is no power, no effectiveness in this world in constantly questioning one’s every thought. The scientific method, however, tells us that when confronted by something which is not explained by our “knowledge” we have to adjust our understanding to match reality. We have to stand ready to change our understanding when evidence is presented which contradicts it.

To do so we have to listen and consider when someone else says something, or shows something, which is contrary to our understanding. We have to take the time to understand how they came to their understanding and honestly hold up the light to both and see where the paths go in different directions. To honestly and openly say “Cold they be right about that?”

We have all walked up to a building and pushed on a door to enter and the door didn’t open. We believed that pushing would open the door, but the sad truth is that we were wrong. We can either continue to push on the door insisting that it opens inward, or we can step back and reconsider our understanding. We won’t be effective in entering until we realize that the door pulls to open instead of pushing.

A door is a very simply, fundament item in the world. It works as it works whether we understand, know, or believe it. The door’s truth is the truth.

If you can be wrong about something as simple as a door, it stands to reason that you may be mistaken, in whole or in part, on the very complex things you face every day. Particularly about the complex things you spend so much time arguing about.

So yes, you’re wrong… about many things. I’m wrong about many things. Whichever (both?) of us can correct our “knowings” the more we’ll be effective in the real world.

So how do we figure out if we are wrong?

Let’s start at the scientific method as described by the infallible Wikipedia (disclosure: sarcasm at work):

“The scientific method … involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations; experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. These are principles of the scientific method, as distinguished from a definitive series of steps applicable to all scientific enterprises.”

Basically, we have to step back and consider what is observed and see if it matches what we believed. The key is that we must step back and actually consider.

Science is all about, “We understand X to be true until proven otherwise.”

I think we would all do well to understand that we’re wrong… about some things… and need to listen to others and seriously, honestly, openly consider whether that person is right.

But they’re probably wrong.