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Once upon a time, ignorance could be used to excuse stupidity. Then we got the internet and found out that ignorance was never the problem.

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Feb 13, 2023·edited Feb 13, 2023Liked by Gurwinder

Amen! - the expert has the most limited perspective on possibility:

"Never confuse education with intelligence - you can have a PhD and still be an idiot."

...and...

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts…The experts who are leading you may be wrong… I think we live in an unscientific age in which almost all the buffeting of communications and television -- words, books, and so on -- are unscientific. As a result, there is a considerable amount of intellectual tyranny in the name of science.”

~ Richard Feynman, Quantum Physicist

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Feb 13, 2023Liked by Gurwinder

Fantastic! I found a couple of ways to address my own bias: 1. get rid of the labels that bind you to an identity and belief system, and 2. just shut up. Ignore the temptation always to respond, and, as you noted, win arguments. I changed my political party affiliation to Independent years ago, which profoundly impacted my thinking. More recently, when I'm with someone who makes ridiculous, unfounded, and politically biased assertions, I nod my head and smile.

Some additional thoughts on humility and curiosity and changes in the workplace: http://www.valerius.us/blog-posts/quality-thinking-essential-skills-for-the-21st-century-or-how-to-make-friends-with-the-big-brain

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Feb 14, 2023Liked by Gurwinder

As someone who was brought up in a cult and managed to break free later in life, this article hits pretty close to home because I've experienced how adept we can be at self delusion in an extreme way.

And just like the article says, I don't think intelligence had much to do with my leaving; several of my former acquaintances were much smarter than me and are still in the cult, staunchly defending beliefs that are totally irrational.

Unfortunately it usually takes facing the real-life consequences of an irrational belief in order to burst an ideological bubble.

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Excellent work. I now have a much better understanding why I avoid the company of intelligent people generally, while cherishing those with humility and character.

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This was absolutely phenomenal. It's like a short manual to alethiology. I've caught myself engaging in exactly those kinds of rationalizations for FIBs (and probably much more often, not caught myself), and my experience is precisely what you describe - by focusing on curiosity, wanting to know simply for the sake of wanting to know, I'm best able to dodge around the gorilla mind that wants to be confirmed to be 'right' far more than it wants to be right.

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Feb 14, 2023Liked by Gurwinder

Good article - thank you. And in some ways the conclusion is similar to that of George Orwell in his essay, Notes on Nationalism:

"As for the nationalistic loves and hatreds that I have spoken of, they are part of the make-up of most of us, whether we like it or not. Whether it is possible to get rid of them I do not know, but I do believe that it is possible to struggle against them, and that this is essentially a moral effort. It is a question first of all of discovering what one really is, what one's own feelings really are, and then of making allowance for the inevitable bias. If you hate and fear Russia, if you are jealous of the wealth and power of America, if you despise Jews, if you have a sentiment of inferiority towards the British ruling class, you cannot get rid of those feelings simply by taking thought. But you can at least recognise that you have them, and prevent them from contaminating your mental processes. The emotional urges which are inescapable, and are perhaps even necessary to political action, should be able to exist side by side with an acceptance of reality. But this, I repeat, needs a moral effort, and contemporary English literature, so far as it is alive at all to the major issues of our time, shows how few of us are prepared to make it."

https://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/nationalism/english/e_nat

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Incentives matter. "Smart" DEI/ESG commissars hold stupid beliefs because they get paid well to espouse them. Their strategy akin to religion: stoke fear, repent by paying them, then keep hiring more priests because the work is never done. Our institutions are now crumbling under the weight of these destructive commissars: https://yuribezmenov.substack.com/p/how-to-fire-a-commissar-part-2. Calculate your ESG score here: https://yuribezmenov.substack.com/p/how-to-raise-your-esg-score

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Feb 14, 2023·edited Feb 14, 2023Liked by Gurwinder

> So be open to the possibility that you may be wrong, and always be willing to change your mind

This is the topic I exclusively write in my substack: skepticism. The problem is that people misunderstand what skepticism should mean, even self-described "skeptics".

Your two high values--humility and curiosity--are contained in my high value: *uncertainty*. When one is uncertain about everything one believes, that irreducibly leads to humility. And because one doesn't know anything with 100% certainty, there's always something more to learn, which leads to curiosity.

Your quote about rationality not being about intelligence rings very similar to my quote: "rationality is not about being good at logic: it’s about not being bad at it". A "rational" person may wrongly conclude that not being bad at something is the same as being good at it, but that's the thing: are you 100% certain?

Precisely because skepticism today is misunderstood I invented a new term: meta-skeptic. A meta-skeptic is uncertain about absolutely everything, especially his/her own skepticism.

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Feb 13, 2023Liked by Gurwinder

Tu as toujours de l’esprit et de la sensibilité dans tes textes, j’aime vraiment bien te lire. C’est vrai que l’humilité et la curiosité font partie des plus jolies qualités !

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It’s interesting to see how people spin parts of this piece to fit their biases, without realizing that they are committing errors the piece warns against.

People troubled by the criticisms of “wokeism” seem to think that the kind of criticism Gurwinder makes can’t be consistent with respect for wokeism’s good intentions, or appreciation for the worth of much of that ideology’s values. His criticism is actually pretty mild, it seems to me.

Another misunderstanding is that criticism of wokeism is an implicit acceptance of the various dubious ideas found on the right.

It’s actually possible to be troubled by flaws on both sides; creeping authoritarianism on the right doesn’t justify irrational conclusions on the left, any more than dubious thinking on the left justifies creeping authoritarianism on the right.

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Feb 14, 2023Liked by Gurwinder

Ideology must by definition be irrational therefore biased: it is a fixed notion in a world who's minutiae and paradigms constantly shift. If we accept that most people at "expert" status are literate in many theories of knowledge their bias may come more from fear than bad or selective epistemiology. EG I can debate equality with a moderate leftist - we both want as open a society as possible and value equality as a social good. We disagree on method - i favour fixing rules to create equal opportunities where they want to fix outcomes. One or other will carry the debate. Now you can't do that with people like Oxbridge, Harvard or Samual Cartwright types who believe the colour of a man's skin equates to his character. Holocaust museums, rigorous historians (yes there are some) and events in the Balkans, Rwanda and now Ukraine are testament to this. Bias against these closed ideologies of left or right origin is not necessarily just the blind spot Gurwinder identifies, but may simply be normal human fear. The best solution to racial supremacists and men with beards and penises claiming to be women is the rule of law. Sure they should be aloud to carry on in their own private homes or consenting social clubs but when they get into the public square (or ladies changing room) then the rest of us have some say. Trying to return UK/US/ANZAC countries to the rule of law is the best solution to the threat of closeed society ideologues. If that doesn't work we'll evetually have to go to the mat, as Ukraine has had to with Russia.

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Feb 14, 2023Liked by Gurwinder

Bravo. Just became a paid subscriber, and with pleasure, on the basis of this post. Thank you.

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Feb 14, 2023Liked by Gurwinder

Brilliant, Gurwinder.... This was alwayys a puzzle for me and you have clarified many things.

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Jul 4, 2023Liked by Gurwinder

Your article (calling for curiosity among high intellectuals) seems like a call for critical thinking that goes beyond dismissive criticism. Your clarion call for critical thinking in politics also appears in science. In the April 2019 issue of the journal The American Statistician there is a series of articles attempting to make sense of the valid criticisms of the use of P < 0.05 as an intellectual shortcut for scientific validity. This argument and the controversy surrounding it remains so important that the entire issue (and all the articles in it) is available for free:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00031305.2019.1583913

The opening editorial by Ronald Wasserstein (then President of the American Statistical Association) and colleagues recommends an approach that is (in my mind) similar to the core of critical thinking, although they did not use that precise term. They summarised their recommendations with the acronym "A-T-O-M":

Accept uncertainty

be Thoughtful

be Open

be Modest as to your conclusions

Although that article is long (as it summarises all the articles in the issue), you can get the gist of the controversy among academics within the first 7 pages (through section 6). If you read onward through section 7, you see that the arguments are anything but settled, and the ideologies are laid out clearly for all to see -- all translated into the language of statistics.

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Mar 27, 2023Liked by Gurwinder

The Power of "I Don't Know" in our modern culture has been underestimated. I am drawn to people who are honest and forthright enough to admit when they don't know something. It is so rare to find.

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