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I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.
The work required to have an opinion is the hard part, that’s why people avoid it.
You have to do the reading.
You have to talk to competent people and understand their arguments.
You have to think about the key variables and how they interact over time.
You have to listen and chase down arguments that run counter to your views.
You have to think about how you might be fooling yourself.
You have to see the issue from multiple perspectives.
You have to think. You need to become your most intelligent critic and have the intellectual honesty to kill some of your best-loved ideas.
We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
Doing the work required to hold an opinion means we can argue against ourselves better than others can. Only then can we say, “I can hold this view because I can’t find anyone else who can argue better against my view.”
Doing the work counteracts our natural desire to seek out only information that confirms what we believe we know.
The difference between the people who do the work and the people who just reel off memorized opinions is huge. When you do the work, you can answer the next question. You know when to follow the rules and when they’ll get you in trouble.
The people who know the memorized answer are chauffeurs. They can’t answer the next question. We’re all chauffeurs in some aspects of our lives. This is why understanding your circle of competence is so critical to living a rational life.
The ability to destroy your ideas rapidly instead of slowly when the occasion is right is one of the most valuable things. You have to work hard on it. Ask yourself what are the arguments on the other side. It’s bad to have an opinion you’re proud of if you can’t state the arguments for the other side better than your opponents. This is a great mental discipline.
Doing the work required to hold an opinion means we can’t make up our mind with a high degree of confidence right away.
Doing the work forces us to challenge our beliefs because we have to argue from both sides. We become the somewhat impartial judge. What’s on trial is our own opinion.
Teach thy tongue to say “I do not know”, and thou shalt progress.
“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison
While we all hold an opinion on almost everything, how many of us actually do the work required to have an opinion?
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