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1 “Daring” Method to Guard Against Overconfidence

Woman showing paper with prohibition sign

There is nothing wrong with an individual displaying confidence. The more competent people we have in society, the better.

           However, after evaluating many social media posts of random people throughout the country over the last few years, I’m starting to see a pattern develop. Person A states blanket statements about a whole set of topics as fact. Generally, they offer very little data to support their position.

           I realize most of them are doing it to gain attention. Although I recognize the pattern, I did the same thing in my younger days.

           As a young person, I was trying to figure things out. I developed not well-researched theories based on personal experiences. Fortunately, I could not give my flawed ideas to the world.

           Now, the ability to give your theories to the globe in seconds is available. While this gives us all hours of funny entertainment, it does remind me of myself when I was younger.

           As I reflect on this situation, I think, “what would I tell my younger self about my not-so-sound ideas?” What is the best way to honestly suggest to that young man to rethink some of his not-so-factual beliefs?

           I would tell him to apply the scientific method to his ideas before basing them as facts.

           As most of you remember, the scientific method is the six steps scientists use to gain information about the world. Here are the six steps to the scientific method:

  1. Question- a scientist proposes the problem he wants to solve.
  2. Hypothesis- a potential answer to the question at hand.
  3. Experiment- ordered investigations that are intended to prove or disprove a hypothesis.
  4. Observation- a statement of knowledge gained through the senses or scientific equipment.
  5. Analysis- comparing the experiment’s results to the prediction posed by the hypothesis.
  6. Conclusion- a statement of whether the original hypothesis was supported or refuted by the observations gathered.

           Starting with this method would have helped me shore up my ideas before taking them as truth. Posing a belief as a “question” first instead of a fact allows one to explore the validity of what you’re saying instead of possibly defending a falsehood.

            Taking time to investigate my beliefs would have saved me some embarrassment for stating clearly false facts.

           It is not to say that the scientific method embodies perfection. Nothing made by human beings can qualify as infallible. Although, it is the best we have for ensuring our emotions do not get in the way of stating facts.

           The scientific method serves as a safeguard against our biases.

           For instance, even if I come to a conclusion based on a study I conducted, it still isn’t fact. My theory can gain traction only after other researchers conduct the same experiment and find similar results.

           Even after that, your idea still gets challenged based on how well the experiments maintained scientific integrity.

           For example, how large was the sample of the “people” in your study? Making grand generalizations on small sample sizes is generally frowned upon for obvious reasons. Also, were the “subjects” in your experiment groups random, or did you pick people? Random selection makes more sense if one is trying to avoid making biased reports.

           I could go on and on about measures to challenge one’s beliefs.

           The point of this revolves around the need for our theories to face scrutiny instead of immediately declaring them as fact. Many of us are so confident in our convictions that we will defend them no matter the outcomes.

           That is a severe problem for the health of any society.

           It is alright to have your cause, but we bear responsibility for the results of the decisions. We should evaluate the results of our personal and political views. What happens to other people or us when following our opinions?

           It is not enough to intend good, but what was the actual consequence?

           Using the scientific method could make us better citizens by acting on what makes sense instead of what feels good. This would have given me more pause as a young man and forced me to reevaluate my thoughts.

           But don’t take my word for it; judge by your experiments.

Vertis Williams is a Positive Habits Life Coach and a Mindfulness Trainer. He is a regular presenter at employee and team-development events. Contact him to request more info on his Workshops or on his Coaching Services! Click HERE to Request a Complimentary Habit Coaching Session!

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