May 19, 2018

The Truth Is Out There

Laurel vs. yanny. Blue dress vs. white dress. Duck vs. rabbit. Left vs. right. And on and on we go. This week I experienced my own version of perception vs. reality.

40 professional people were asked to read sentences on cards and count the number of Fs in our sentence. The group was evenly split between 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; I had 3. Then: "Are you sure? Count again." We all got the same number again, and I was even more sure of my 3. Then we were told to pass the cards around the room to see what other people were reading: we were all reading the same sentence! Was there a right answer or were we all right? There was a right answer, of course: 6. And the people who counted 6 were asked to open the eyes of the rest of us. Amazing!

What else am I wrong about? What are you wrong about? Some things don't matter, of course, but some things do. Just because somebody disagrees with you that doesn't mean you're right and they're wrong or, worse, you're good and they're bad. Whatever the disagreement let's assume the best of each other and work together in our search for reality. Confirmation bias is a very real and powerful thing.

The first step is always humility: "You know what? You might be right, I might be wrong. Let's explore this together." I love the work of Christian philosopher Esther Lightcap Meek (Covenant Epistemology): right and wrong may only be discovered or transmitted in loving relationships! "The truth is out there."

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