Thursday, August 25, 2011

Illusion of Asymmetrical Insight

Via You Are Not So Smart:

"The illusion of asymmetric insight makes it seem as though you know everyone else far better than they know you, and not only that, but you know them better than they know themselves. You believe the same thing about groups of which you are a member. As a whole, your group understands outsiders better than outsiders understand your group, and you understand the group better than its members know the group to which they belong.

....[A]s part of a flatter, more-connected, always-on world, you will be tasked with seeing through this illusion more and more often as you are presented with more opportunities than ever to confront and define those who you feel are not in your tribe. Your ancestors rarely made any contact with people of opposing views with anything other than the end of a weapon, so your natural instinct is to assume anyone not in your group is wrong just because they are not in your group. Remember, you are not so smart, and what seems like an insight is often an illusion."

As mentally draining as it can sometimes be, breaking down this illusion is one reason why I regularly read, and participate in conversations with, bloggers with whom I strongly disagree. I have fallen for this illusion in the past and, knowing that as a human bean I'm likely to continue doing so, Internet does allow us ready access to the opinions of those "outside the tribe," so to speak.

Not only that, but when I see bloggers generalizing about The Leftists, The Feminists, and The Homosexualists, I invariably cringe at their sloppy thinking. Yet, when I'm up for it (and oftentimes, honestly, I'm not), talking to such people while identifying as an Avowed Lesbian Feminist that they so loathe can remind them that I'm just as nuanced and special of a snowflake as they themselves are.

Sure, conversations don't always go smoothly from there, but I do think, even on some tiny subtle level, we are reminded of our common humanity.

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