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Why Disagreement Is Good

Of course, incentives don`t have to be financial. Tribalism – the desire to see our group win – is usually portrayed as the enemy of rational thought for good reason. But it can also be a help for that. In 2019, a team of scientists led by James Evans, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, published their study on a huge database of disagreements: changes to Wikipedia pages. Behind each topic, there is a „talk page“ that anyone can open to watch editors discuss their proposed additions and deletions. The researchers used machine learning to identify the political trends of hundreds of thousands of publishers — whether „red“ or „blue“ — based on their changes on the policy pages. Here`s what they discovered: the more polarized the writing, the better the quality of the page they were working on. I also sat at tables when different people are fighting in their corner, sometimes beyond the point that seems reasonable. This kind of debate can be extremely productive; Of course, this can also tip into an ego battle that generates more heat than light. Over the centuries, we have developed processes and institutions to stabilize the volatility of disagreements while unleashing their benefits, with modern science being the most important example. It is also possible to create these favorable conditions yourself, as Wikipedians and Wrights show us. If you identify too closely with your idea, if it becomes an essential tenant of who you are and what you believe in, you are heading for problems.

The trick is to balance passionate conviction with realistic expectations. If your idea is not accepted, it is not a personal attack on you. There had to be a way that was as good – or even better – than you imagined. The sooner you can move away from your idea, the better you`ll be able to disagree without sabotaging the discussion with your emotions. Disagreements are healthy, even essential to success. It is the hallmark of a dedicated and dedicated team member. It is important to test and improve new ideas. It is an opportunity to build trust, respect and mutual understanding. If your team doesn`t disagree, chances are you have another type of problem.

– What are the good things not mentioned by the editorial that can result from arguments or disagreements? And bad things? Today, I believe that we are in danger of losing touch with this principle. Open disagreements are associated with personal animosity, stress, and futility, in part because we see so many toxic struggles on social media. Through the popularization of research on the flaws of human cognition, we have also become increasingly aware of the difficulty of arguing without „prejudices,“ such as. B the tendency to choose and stick to one side instead of passionately weighing evidence from different points of view. So it may be tempting to avoid open arguments altogether, but it only turns our differences into grumpy resentment, while depriving us of a powerful investigative tool. An alternative is to suggest that debates, when they take place, should be carefully civilized, emotionally distant, and indisputably rational. Homo sapiens is an intensely collaborative species. Smaller and less powerful than other primates – weeds compared to our Neanderthal ancestors – our human ancestors still managed to dominate almost every environment they entered, largely because they were so good at banding together to meet their needs. Given the importance of collaboration to our survival, we have developed a finely tuned skill set for dealing with each other. According to Mercier and Sperber, thinking is one of these social skills. If you are faced with a disagreement, go back to the basic ideas and see if both parties can agree on them first.

If the remaining disagreements relate only to points under the positions, contact the person with the most knowledge and experience in the particular field and move forward. Dalio calls these „credibility-weighted decisions.“ At Bridgewater, not all opinions are balanced equally. People with more proven experience and proven experience in a particular field carry more weight. When there is an impasse, their opinions eventually form the decision. Sperber and Mercier argue that the confirmation errors seen through the interactionist lens are actually a feature and not a defect of human cognition. It maximizes the contribution that each individual makes to a group by motivating them to generate new information and arguments. Think about what it`s like when someone contradicts you. You feel motivated to think about all the reasons why you are right and the other person is wrong, especially if it is a problem that is important to you. You can do this for selfish or emotional reasons – to justify yourself or prove how smart you are. Nevertheless, you help the group generate a variety of points of view and then select the strongest arguments.

If you bring your opinion and I bring mine, and we both feel compelled to deliver the best possible case, the answers that will come up will be stronger because they were forged in the crucible of our disagreement. .