Monday, January 3, 2011

Being right by accident

Next time you're right about something - anything - don't be too quick to be proud; rather, consider whether the underlying mental framework of analysis by means of which you initially arrived at your conclusion was truly rational, properly researched, and unbiased. If not, it may really only be by happy accident that you were right, which neither signals any kind of achievement, nor demonstrates any predictive power for being right about other things in future. When people are "right by accident", there is a risk that they will regard it as validation of their flawed reasoning methods, and use them again. As the saying goes, "even a broken clock is right twice a day". We should scrutinize our own reasoning methods as much when we're right as when we're wrong; ask yourself questions like "Why was I right? Was it for the right reasons? Were my sources sound? Was I ultimately really only guessing?"

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