Are you Curious or an Expert?

In the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.
-John Kenneth Galbraith

This is the beginning of my new daily blog. I will send an email summary every Friday.

Have you read It’s my 20,000-word essay on building a reality-based view of the world. Looking at the comments and reading emails - it’s like people are reading two different essays. The comments are essentially similar to this one:

It’s a list of your opinions deliberately framed to get the reader to agree with you as their “starting point”. You do this by cherry-picking sources and links which bolster your position, and then, almost as a side-note, conceding that other research concludes differently. 

Yet the email responses are like these:

I found your essay through Marginal Revolution and I found your writing to be deeply thought-provoking and convincing. I would love to sign up to your newsletter, and I wish you all the best with your new project! - Daniel

It sums up so much of what I've read, watched, or otherwise consumed and had an inkling to agree with, but never had available as a resource in one spot. Thanks again for putting this outstanding and vital content out into the world. - Travis

I appreciate the time that you put into this and look forward to continuing hearing your words of wisdom. - Harold

First time i read an article to the end. How refreshing and interesting. Just loved it. Can’t wait for the newsletter. - Max

I think what happened is that experts read until they find something they disagree with, then they zoom to the bottom and leave a comment. Here is how I would summarize it:


In my experience, 95 percent of people respond to being wrong by getting busy proving that they are not. But five percent go toward the source of error. Either they find the exact error and understand it, or they adjust their view of the world to incorporate the new data. I have no problem with people telling me something is wrong, but they need to show the data and the analysis, not call names.

A few people are curious experts. They don’t mind being wrong, because it gives them a chance to update their worldview. If you are inquisitive and you think being wrong is your path to learning, you’re in the right place. Vote and tell me what kind of person you are:

Tell the truth (it's anonymous, no one will ever know):

The other day, I told my brother I thought there were more than 1,000 shoe stores in New York City. He shrugged. I met him the next day and told him that the only data available was the number of chain shoe stores in the city: 250, down from about 15 percent more several years earlier as a result of Zappos and the retail-pocalypse. I therefore concluded that there were probably 400-700 total shoe stores in New York and I was officially wrong.

I am wrong all the time. I am trying to be less wrong, but it’s a lifelong process.

If you haven’t read my essay yet, please go to Inreality.Show. Give me 15 minutes a day and I’ll try to make you less wrong, too. I’ll be back tomorrow with more tools to help cut through the noise.