Why would I reinvent and rewrite what others have already produced? Below you find some of the many thoughts of Philip E. Tetlock as discussed in his book “Expert Political Judgment – How good is it? How can we know?” (2005, Princeton University Press)
Tetlock is a professor of leadership at the University of California, Berkeley who poses interesting questions such as:
- Do you accept ambiguity and contradiction as inevitable features of life?
- Do you update your beliefs in response to evidence?
- Do you realize it’s very human to engage in self-serving reasoning?
- Do you know when you’ve become a prisoner of your pre-conceptions?
- Do you focus on Who got what right or on Who changed their mind when they were wrong?
There is so much more to ask and there is so much more to say about our thinking but I’ll stick with the following: You are likely reluctant to acknowledge that you were wrong and you are probably reluctant to change your mind. Both can be very damaging, in the workplace and in your private life. Tetlock references laboratory experiments on belief perseverance (the tendency to cling to your initial belief even after receiving new information that contradicts or dis-confirms the basis of that belief) that show us that we use cognitive strategies to justify holding firm in order to diffuse threats to our (professional) self-esteem. Add to this our collective preference for simplicity and our aversion to ambiguity and dissonance and you can see how our thinking can become pretty messy and biased.
So my question to you is: What is it that you do to de-bias your thinking? It’s not just about what you think – what matters at least as much is how you think.