Note — Jan 20, 2019

Intellectual Humility: the Importance of Knowing You Might Be Wrong

Seen in → No.63

Source →

Excellent piece at Vox on reasons for and signs of intellectual humility in social psychology, and why it’s something we need more of everywhere. Looking at the “ignorance” quote below, I’d also parallel that to something I’ve often noticed, which I might call the reverse Dunning-Kruger (covered in the article). I.e. talented / competent people question everything they do and doubt the quality of their work.

I’ve come to appreciate what a crucial tool it is for learning, especially in an increasingly interconnected and complicated world. As technology makes it easier to lie and spread false information incredibly quickly, we need intellectually humble, curious people. […]

Instead, it’s a method of thinking. It’s about entertaining the possibility that you may be wrong and being open to learning from the experience of others. Intellectual humility is about being actively curious about your blind spots. […]

When I open myself up to the vastness of my own ignorance, I can’t help but feel a sudden suffocating feeling. I have just one small mind, a tiny, leaky boat upon which to go exploring knowledge in a vast and knotty sea of which I carry no clear map. […]

To be intellectually humble doesn’t mean giving up on the ideas we love and believe in. It just means we need to be thoughtful in choosing our convictions, be open to adjusting them, seek out their flaws, and never stop being curious about why we believe what we believe. Again, that’s not easy.