Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Importance of Doubt

If there is anything I've learnt in life, it's that if you actively attempt things, you're going to get it wrong eventually. I know the saying goes that if you keep working at a problem long enough, you're going to get it right, but one should hope that people would realize not to keep hitting their head against a brick wall all too long. Partially because it's a waste of time, but mostly because it's detrimental to your health.

The reason why the saying is so optimistic, is because it assumes we'll keep on coming up with creative new solutions to our problems, and eventually one will be right. But when you hit upon a streak of successful solutions, that is when you are truly put to the test. So I say beware of those who are far too sure of themselves, for none is infallible.

How then does this present itself in society? It is visible all over the political and religious extremes. When people are so sure of their cause being just that they do not for a second consider the possibility that their premisses might be incorrect, that is when logical fallacy creeps up on them and they go astray. It means that when the inevitable happens, when you go awry, you are unable to see that you have strayed from the path and thus can't react in an appropriate fashion. It means you have no back-up plan for when things fall apart. It means you will stay a course which is detrimental to your goals, long after the first signs of your failure have become evident.

How then to go about life in a balanced manner, neither paralyzed by fear nor blinding by ego? Accept that failure is a part of life. You will make mistakes, you will stumble and fall. Be vigilant in questioning your own actions, principles and ideals. Look to new data and the latest in scientific facts and seek to eliminate fallacies in your own reasoning. Examine each subject from each side before determining a stance on the subject. Do not be afraid of going against conventional knowledge, for time and time again, conventional knowledge has failed us. Yet as much as you question your own premises and actions, never fail to act, and act with confidence. The world is no better off because you hesitate. The very best you can do is prepare and think ahead, but when the time comes to make decisions, do the best you can, and don't fear the outcome. If you were wrong, be vigilant in correcting your mistakes and in changing your stance as new facts present themselves. Doubt is both a blessing and a curse. Harness it, focus it. It will be an endless means of propelling you forward, ever questioning the world around you. Yet do not let it control you, for it will do you no good if it dominates your decision making process.

In short, doubt is the best tool we are given for self-improvement. Do not lay your fate in the hands of those who do not understand to use it, for they will walk off the cliff and believe they can fly, and will be none the wiser until they've hit the ground. That's a bad thing, by the way.



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7/6/14 22:52  

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