And Not Knowing It
There is no experience of being wrong. While being wrong is happening to you, you are oblivious to it. As soon as we know we are wrong, we aren’t wrong anymore. Thus we can only say “I was wrong.” Kathryn Schulz, in her book, Being Wrong, 2010.
But what if you are not oblivious to it? What if you know you are wrong? If you are being wrong, and keep being wrong, and knowing you are wrong — this means you are lying. (But what if you aren’t lying?)
This is an important topic in today’s politics. We have a president who is said to be lying; not just sometimes, but constantly. Can anyone imagine Donald Trump saying: “I was wrong?” He is oblivious to being wrong. He believes his beliefs are truth, whatever is personally congenial, without doubt or uncertainty. His believing is not open-minded. This sounds like a perfect example of the need for “Positive Uncertainty”. Would it help Trump to have a little bit of uncertainty? Uncertainty could avoid being wrong and not knowing it.
It may seem unfair or unscientific to use one person as an example, but Trump is the President of the United States and one of the most powerful political persons in the world. The need for uncertainty in this one case is so obvious, the point seems hard to avoid. I can’t resist using it as a perfect example of the lack of open-mindedness, that would be hard to miss or ignore. Open-mindedness is not part of Trump’s cognitive tool box.
But there is another reason for this blog. What if President Trump isn’t lying? Lying, by politicians isn’t unusual. “Honesty isn’t the best political policy.” It is obvious that Trump isn’t telling the truth. But it could be he believeshe is telling the truth. If we want to understand how we err, we need to look at how we believe,Kathryn Schulz. How does Trump believe? It is not hard to describe Trumps’ beliefs. They are not tentative or open-minded. Dogmatic may even be an understatement. This suggests that Trump is not lying — he believes what he says is true. He is being wrong, and doesn’t know it.
If the president isn’t lying, but believes his beliefs are true, it raises even more dangerous concerns — such as ignorance or a personality disorder. This concern has been raised by others, and needs more public consideration. And ignorance may not be the biggest potential problem.
If what Trump knows for sure isn’t so, should he be the political leader of the free world?This could be a current political question that needs an answer form the voting public. However, it seems clear that some of the voting public also are capable of being wrong, and not knowing it.
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble;
it’s what you know for sure that ain’t so. Mark Twain