Monday, November 21, 2016

Facts or Factish?

According to a variety of sources, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women are colour-blind. Typically a genetic condition, there are several types of this “blindness.”  Some forms are mild, some severe such as those who see no colours at all, only greys. Most colour-blind people DO see colours although they are not fully able to “see” red, green or blue.

Think about that. Colour-blindness is a fact. And yet don’t we “regular-sighted” people tend to think red is a fact, green is a fact, blue is a fact. Maybe that’s not true? Even though 11/12 men could all point to red and 199/200 women could do the same, maybe colours can be opinions?

Colour-blindness is not considered a severe limitation; “sufferers” learn to adapt by using other cues such as labels, brightness, or location. Red/green colour blindness is the most common. The name is tricky because apparently, this doesn’t mean sufferers mix up red and green; instead, they struggle to distinguish colours which contain some red or green as part of the whole colour. For example, a red/green colour blind person will confuse a blue and a purple because they can’t ‘see’ the red element of the colour purple. One man described it this way: “most people would see 32 differently coloured crayons in a box; I see about 12.”

Think about that too. For some, 1 x 32 = 12 colours. Whoa. Maybe basic math isn’t factual either? 

This leads me to three conclusions:
  1. Some so-called facts are actually fact-ish.
  2. Therefore, it’s important to question "facts" (and their sources).
  3. And it’s especially important to question facts even if you’re absolutely sure you know the facts because those have been the “facts” your entire life.

Here's my point: our judgment, our choices, our decisions, must be based on critical thinking. Sure, confirmation bias is way easier, but emotions aren’t facts. Perceptions aren’t facts. Opinions aren’t facts. Even some facts may only be fact-ish. Determine the truth based on a combination of evidence from several sources through observation, experience, evidence, analysis, reasoning, research, reflection, and so on. Otherwise, we may become colour-blinded people manipulated by those who insist their red is red and their green is green.

Saturday, November 12, 2016


Hands up if you hate being wrong. Go ahead and admit it. We are raised to be right. Trained in fact. And that makes us very productive. Yet it also weakens us, and sometimes it ruins our relationships.

It’s okay to be wrong. It really is. We all know this. We can assure others and we can even assure ourselves, but let’s be honest: we still don’t like it. We all remember those times when our faces burned with embarrassment. We remember feeling too vulnerable, to unsafe, too unstable, too powerless. We remember that sting.

Yet fear of being wrong is a huge problem. It’s why people sometimes double down on stupid ideas. Remember the Titanic? There were not enough lifeboats because it was “unsinkable.” Um, sure it was. Constantly being right is a narrow journey. What’s left to discover? To wonder about? To find?

And be careful because being wrong feels exactly like being right. Think about it: when we don’t know we are wrong; we think we’re right. It’s only when we realize we’re wrong that we feel awkward or ashamed. Couldn’t we avoid some of that if we simply developed a healthy habit called self-examination?  I know, I know. Easier said than done. True. So start right now. Make a list of all the things you’ve been wrong about. Here’s mine:
  1. Bigfoot. (Still waiting.)
  2. Parenting.
  3. Election outcomes.
  4. How to peel a banana. (Start at the bottom, not the top.)
  5. Almost everything I’ve tried to do right.
  6. Decisions.
  7. People.
  8. Life.
  9. Mullets.
  10. I’ve even been wrong about being wrong sometimes.

A friend of mine has this philosophy: today is the last day I’ll be the worst I’ll ever be. I love that. We don’t have to like being wrong nor do we have to question everything. But if we ever want to create the right conditions to get life truly right, we have to admit when we’re wrong, to ourselves and especially to each other.

(I'm 98% sure I'm right about this.)
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