Arnold Kling  

A Paragraph to Ponder

Savings, Genes, and Fade-Out... Be Careful What You Wish For -...

From Robert Roberts

Knowledge comes into us through a variety of channels that can be blocked by our concern for status, and the successful knowledge-seeker will be one who keeps those channels open. The process requires that we be able to "listen," either literally or figuratively, to what others say. If what they say shows them to be superior to us in knowledge, we will be hampered in our learning if our first reaction is to try to show that we know as much as they or more. The process also requires that we be corrigible, that we be open to the possibility that our opinions are in some way misguided. If, whenever our status as knowers is threatened by the specter of correction, we feel that we must prove ourselves to have been in the right, we will have closed off an avenue of knowledge and crippled ourselves as inquirers. It can be particularly galling, if one lacks intellectual humility, to be corrected in a public forum; and the galling can obstruct the process of learning.

Perhaps the moral of the story is to try to keep to a minimum the status-threat attached to your criticism of others while doing your best to ignore the status-threat implicit in others' criticisms of you.

Comments and Sharing

CATEGORIES: Economic Methods

COMMENTS (4 to date)
Les Cargill writes:

Ignoring (or even better, coopting - good comedians use hecklers well ) status-threats signals high status.

William Barghest writes:

One does not re-evaluate one's own position during an argument, one thinks of how to best present one's previously worked out beliefs. When one presents, one should make sure one is probably right beforehand. Showing respect for other positions during an argument is fake. It is just a strategy for winning the argument, or showing everyone how open minded you are. It has nothing to do with how actually open minded you are. I find the fear of shame from being publicly discredited motivates fierce self-analysis and self-criticism of my own positions.

Robert writes:

When I first read this I thought it was attributed to Russ Roberts. Sounds exactly like the sort of intellectual wisdom he would dispense on this topic.

Kenny writes:

There's a name for the moral you identify – Crocker's rules. I can attest through personal experience that it's tough to abide by these rules though.

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