Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What Else Could It Be?

Look around you
Look up here
Take time to make time
Make time to be there
--Little River Band

While preparing my doctoral dissertation for defense, I was discussing my core theoretical arguments with one of my committee advisers. "Interesting," he said, "but what are the plausible rival hypotheses?"


"If you want to be persuasive, you need to not only support your argument but anticipate and convincingly explain why other arguments don't hold here."

That was a valuable lesson for me.

In pursuit of truth, we often fall in love with a particular viewpoint. Sometimes it's the first one we are exposed to (a.k.a. "anchoring"). Sometimes it's one that fits a favored view of the world (a.k.a. "confirmation bias").

To get closer to the truth, a reasoning mind must ask, "What else could it be?" Opposing arguments must be collected and then thoroughly analyzed for their validity.

Unless those competing viewpoints are anticipated and disconfirmed in an intellectually honest manner, then systematic progress toward truth is unlikely, and viewpoints thought to be true are likely to be erroneous.

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