The self deception problem

Many are mistaking research with “I googled it”. Research is the painstaking process of purposely putting yourself in a position of incompetence and then doing the work until you’re competent again. Reading a couple tweets or your Facebook feed or clicking a couple articles doesn’t change our narrative, it reinforces it.

We need to rely on experts because most of us don’t actually understand how vaccines work. Sure, we have basic concepts but there is an intellectual debt accrued. I don’t know how to work on cars so I go to a mechanic. I know some basics but ultimately I am trusting the expert to tell me what needs to happen next. The same is true if I am going to take Ibuprofen.

And yes, finding the right experts to trust can be harder than ever. In the last 20 years, government, banks, etc have failed the people. The mistrust is warranted. But listening to all sides makes zero sense. I don’t need to listen to a conspiracy theorist that hasn’t done the reading and lacks the credentials. We can toss that opinion to the side. We all know we live in an era of disinformation–someone is the sucker in the room. We need to find experts and listen to them not because they know everything but because the probability that they are right is much higher than a conspiracy theorist.

When 96% percent of doctors in the US are vaccinated and nearly 6 billion doses are administered worldwide–what are we actually talking about? Because there is a clear consensus and not a string of dead bodies from the vaccine. We are talking about ideology not science or truth seeking. What we are actually talking about is tribal. If I speak up against what my tribe has shown to stand for then I am hitting too close to who I am as a person. What happens if the tribe now throws me out?

We are biologically wired to connect, to fit in with those around us. We don’t want to stand out. Which leads us to the problem of self deception:

We all believe we are rational actors. As such we will continue to deny or go through great lengths to uphold a fragile worldview. Cherry picking the facts and fitting it into the cannon–the story we are already telling ourselves.

The mountain that you’ve chosen is not the mountain you have to die on.