I think I coined a phrase a couple of years ago: affinity bubbles.
(Image clipped from http://www.despair.com/idiocy.html. I love their stuff.)
Affinity bubbles are the cocoons we build to protect us from challenges to our beliefs. They’re confirmation bias on steroids. And search engines and social networks help us build them.
Sure, the sounds of our echo chambers can be as peaceful as a mother’s heartbeat to an infant. But what if you’re all wrong?
Realizing You’ve Been Wrong All Along Is Better Than Being Wrong And Denying It
Don Peppers is one of the smartest men alive because he actively challenges his own beliefs.
He recently reviewed a book that discusses the importance of accepting that you might be wrong. The book is Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz.
While there’s much to love about the book, I want to stress one point: you might be wrong. In fact, to some degree, you are wrong about some aspect of everything you believe.
That doesn’t mean we should simply dismiss all of our beliefs. It means we should challenge all of our beliefs. It also means that we can become better advocates for our causes if we spend more time reading and thinking outside of those causes. (I’ve blogged about this before. And here.)
Here’s How To Break Out Of Affinity And Strengthen Valid Beliefs
To break out of your affinity bubbles, do this exercise. (It won’t take long.)
1. Make a list of your 5 most important core beliefs that are absolutely, positively certain of.
2. For each of 10 unshakeable beliefs, spend 3 minutes contemplating this question: “What if this isn’t true?” Think broadly about this. How would the world be different if that one core belief were wrong? What would you have to change about yourself?
3. Find one intelligent blog, article, research paper, or book that challenges your belief and read it with an open mind.
4. If you find your belief is still valid, circle it in red. If, however, you are less certain of your belief, keep reading about it.
Make this an annual exercise. It will keep your mind broadening. And you’ll probably find yourself far more open to ideas beyond your affinity bubbles. The more frightening this exercise seems, the more you need to do it.
Please write about your experience in the comments.