The human mind is a complex beast. It draws information from various sources. Sometimes, odd things stick with us, and over time, our mind treats them as “facts”. Only one day, we find that it isn’t a fact at all. You’ll be surprised how often you are wrong.
It’s not stupidity, gullibility, or any defect in you. Misconceptions happen, it’s a part of being human. Whether it’s the news you read, the “facts” you heard, or the things you believed in. As you grow up, you should want to challenge yourself, and figure out what you are wrong about and what you are right about. Here are a few sites to help.
1. Debate: Hear Both Arguments About Anything
One the pillars of a free society is the ability to debate issues. And we don’t need to wait every four years to see a few political party leaders duke it out on stage. Debate.org hosts debates about controversial opinions and hot topics.
For example, take a recent debate: “Is outsourcing jobs to other countries bad for America?” Readers get to vote yes or no, and then substantiate their argument. Anyone is free to read all the arguments, presented neatly under “yes” or “no” on the site. The best arguments get voted to the top.
Reading through the debate, you will find points you agree with, points you disagree with, and even some solid facts and figures. Maybe it will change your mind or perhaps further strengthen your position. Either way, you will come out wiser.
2. /r/ChangeMyView: Challenge Others to Change Your Mind
Let’s say you have a deeply rooted belief. For example, you might believe that “giving money to homeless people is a waste”. Do you have the guts to ask others to prove you wrong? If yes, try it out at the Change My View subreddit.
The idea is to put yourself out there. For best results, go in with an open mind. Your job is to put your opinion out there. The community’s job is to provide other perspectives on the issue, expanding how you think about the subject. And make sure you participate too. Change My View is one of the most sociable and hospitable sub-reddits out there.
The sub-reddit has a group of active moderators who quickly remove any abusive posts. The exchanges are informational and engaging, and devoid of silly trolls. Even if your opinion doesn’t change, you might get some new points of view to consider it from.
3. All Sides: Balanced Political News
The big topic of discussion since the last U.S. Presidential election has been “fake news” or the filter bubble we find ourselves in. But if the media is already taking sides, how do you find the truth, or rather, a balanced perspective?
All Sides classifies news outlets into three political sides, presented in side-by-side columns:
- Left (Washington Post, New York Times, etc.)
- Center (Politico, NPR, Christian Science Monitor, etc.)
- Right (Breitbart, National Review, etc.)
It deals almost exclusively with American political news, or topics that affect the political world. You can browse the feeds on the site, or filter the news by issue. Click any news item and you’ll read it in full, along with prompts from All Sides to read the topic’s coverage from the other two sides.
Reading this site regularly, your news consumption will be more balanced. And by knowing the different perspectives on any issue, you might just discover things you always held true, but are completely wrong.
You might also want to check out some recommended ways to avoid fake news and verify the truth.
4. Common Misconceptions: Wikipedia’s Mega List
Wikipedia is no stranger to controversial topics. But some misconceptions are so widely held across the globe that the world’s common encyclopedia needs to list them.
Wikipedia users have created a massive list of the most common misconceptions. This relevant XKCD comic describes its need better than we ever could:
The “misconception” isn’t actually written, but implied instead. What you get are facts, which thoroughly debunk your wrongly held beliefs. The list covers a range of topics, including food, music, literature, biology, history, astronomy, human body, religion, health, mathematics, science, and much more.
Our mind likes to trick our brain into believing that it’s right. Over time, this leads to us creating biases. Biases can be both positive or negative, but it’s important to identify these deeply rooted subconscious factors. If they are affecting your behavior, you aren’t being fair — to others or to yourself.
Google now puts its employees through a guide to identify such unconscious bias. These exercises, which last roughly two hours, won’t magically break your biases. But research shows that being aware of these stereotypes is enough to change your patterns.
Even if you don’t want to go through the whole workshop, read through the “Understand the Science” part of it. It’s an eye-opening experience, and you don’t need to take insightful psychological tests to realize how wrong we are about so many things around us.
When Did Someone Change Your Mind?
They say the true sign of wisdom is the ability to have your mind changed. Accepting that you are wrong, reevaluating your stance, and coming up with a new perspective shows great maturity.
What was the memorable issue where someone changed your mind?
Image Credits: vexworldwide/Shutterstock