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Trying to Be Confidently Wrong

Trying to Be Confidently Wrong
In this episode, we talk about epistemic humility - acknowledging the limitations of our beliefs. Taimur has recently made an effort to be *less* "epistemically humble" when he talks about things, and we into why.

In this episode, we talk about epistemic humility - acknowledging the limitations of our beliefs. Taimur has recently made an effort to be *less* "epistemically humble" when he talks about things, and we into why.

Here are some of the highlights from our discussion:

Epistemic humility is the acknowledgement that knowledge of the world is interpreted and filtered by the you, the observer. It’s a self-reflective recognition that knowledge that you receive is always received, observed and judged through a personal lens.

Hedging can dilute statements to such an extent that an impasse will be reached in many debates and discussions. The ability to scrutinise and explore even your own views can be affected if you have a preponderance towards prefacing all statements with some form of hedging.

Many techniques around hedging are usually ways to put out a thought without actually identifying with it. If you always talk about how things seem or what your mental model is you can entirely avoid a) the feeling of fully believing something and b) the realisation that you are 100% wrong about something.

If you stake claims to things and expose yourself to the possibility of being confidently wrong and potentially having to admit that you are wrong, it tunes your thinking differently. You’ll think about things in a different way, you will iterate on your beliefs differently and more regularly. If you constantly hedge, you are not incentivised to correct your mental models because you’re never going to be completely wrong about something.

There’s a difference between being open to being confidently wrong publicly and privately. For instance, it’s easier to be confidently wrong when speaking with close friends or housemates in a closed, private environment. However, it’s a different matter to be confidently wrong on a public platform such as a YouTube video.

If you close yourself off to being meaningfully wrong, there is a good chance that you’ll never be meaningfully right.

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What is this?

Not Overthinking is a podcast about happiness, creativity, and the human condition. We talk about things to help us think, do, and be better. Things like social interaction, lifestyle design, mental models...things that are hard to examine, but important to explore. And hopefully, things that make for a fun and interesting chat every week.

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Who are we?

Ali is a junior doctor and YouTuber working in Cambridge, UK. He makes videos about medicine, technology, productivity and lifestyle design. His links: YouTube, Blog, Newsletter, Instagram

Taimur is a data scientist and writer, working on his own startup Causal. He writes on his blog and as a columnist for Medium. His links: Blog, Twitter, Medium, Instagram