We don’t know what we don’t know

Certainty can be dangerous. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of our overconfidence. Consider for instance:


There will always be stuff that we didn’t even consider. So being open to be entirely or partially wrong is a safe bet. We must train continuously, be aware of it, because it goes against our own nature of simplistic view of the world, trying to simplify things that are inherently complex, living within entire ecosystems.

The way we talk for instance: “that thing is blue” instead of, “that individual said that thing is blue”. For starters, do that person has conflicting interest? what if that person is color-blind? And so on…

One thing is the possibility of certain thing being blue, the other, is that, the person will pass on the message reliably. Let’s say for the sake of argument that we have 50% of chance of the thing being blue and 50% of chance the message will be pass on reliably since we don’t have evidence whatsoever that we can trust the carrier abilities and conditions and it will be as objective as possible.

Possibility of the carrier being correct = 0.5 * 0.5 = 0.25, or 25% or, 1 in 4.

That was a very simple example (in fact, oversimplified, since these numbers are also overconfident guesses based on the assumption that we know everything about the problem in hand). That’s why we must be skeptical about things and update our levels of confidence with objective evidence and seeking alternative explanations whenever possible because of the unknown-unknowns.

Believing something is true without objective evidence is dangerous wishful thinking. You wouldn’t trust that a person without formal training could land an airplane just because they think they can. “Hope is not a strategy” as the saying goes.

Having limited perspective and lack of interest in going after perspectives and knowledge, in many cases driven by overconfidence, makes things even worse. That’s why, the way you think matters.

So, how you know what you believe you know is true? Weren’t you fooled by randomness like suggested by Nassim Taleb’s book? Weren’t you fooled by yourself like suggested by Daniel Kahneman’s book (thinking, fast ans slow)?

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