“If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.”
Intelligence is often seen as the ability to think and learn. But when things are changing fast (and we all know how fast things are changing these days), it’s wise to know how to rethink and unlearn.
There are 3 modes we are in when we refuse to question our knowledge and beliefs: preacher, prosecutor and politician.
Preacher mode: we strive to defend our beliefs when threatened.
Prosecutor mode: we point out the mistakes in other people’s arguments.
Politician mode: we campaign to get support for our ideas.
We get so caught up in the overconfidence cycle that we choose to preach that we are right, prosecute others because they are wrong and campaign for support. Recognizing that we’re wrong would represent moral weakness, not intellectual integrity. And why would we change our minds when others can?
What we forget is that sometimes we need to pause and think about whether we are the ones who need to amend their views.
That is why we need the 4th mode — the scientist mode
It’s about updating our beliefs. About being actively open minded and looking for reasons why we might be wrong, not only why we might be right. About searching for new solutions and perspectives.
Scientific thinking is not reserved only for scientists. In fact, there are scientists who think like preachers, prosecutors and politicians. Scientist mode is a way of thinking that can be embraced by all of us.
It includes going through the rethinking cycle that starts with intellectual humility, which triggers doubt and leads to curiosity. The cycle ends with making room for new discoveries and understanding what’s still to be learned.