I Don’t Like to Think I’m Wrong About Nearly Everything
I must confess, just by reading the title, I did not envision this book to be on my desired “must read” list of books for the semester. Why? Because I don’t like to think I’m wrong about nearly everything. I went to the doctor this week and stepped on the scale. Shockingly, it showed that I was 4 pounds heavier than my scale at home read that morning. My first reaction was, “they need to check the mechanism of this scale.” I laughed at myself considering this reading. I certainly didn’t want to think my scale was wrong because it was in my favor. My delusion based on faulty thinking could excuse the fact that some adjustments in food and exercise would be necessary.
Bobby Duffy makes a distinction between ignorance and misperception: Ignorance is simply not knowing. People who hold to misperceptions “hold them with a high degree of certainty…and consider themselves to be well informed.” Duffy goes on to state that this is nothing new. He refers to Plato and his opinion that “the general public was too ignorant to select a government or hold it to account.”
I don’t agree with Plato. I do believe we can get things more right than wrong, but it does take thinking better and with greater curiosity. Paul and Elder note that “we often think with “biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or downright prejudiced thinking” but counter that taking responsibility for these pitfalls by being “self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective brings greater excellence in thought.”
It seems to me that Bobby Duffy had our reading list for the semester. As he shows the reader how to deal with gaining better accuracy in viewing the world, he mentions to “accept the emotion, but challenge the thought” he encourages the reader to train themselves in System 2 thinking. It also lines up with Friedman’s view of how a self-differentiated leader is emotionally aware of him/herself while remaining connected, taking responsibility, and seeing the bigger picture. I especially found comfort in his plea to “cultivate skepticism but not cynicism.” We all live in a hyper-informational world and simply need to guard against extremes.
As I mentioned earlier, this book is not one that I thought I would like. For me, what would have made it more intriguing would have been to add a chapter on the neuroscience behind why our brains so easily buy into misperceptions. I did a little research myself. An article from Stanford University cites neuroscientist, Adam Hantman, as saying“ the dirty little secret about sensory systems is that they’re slow, they’re lagged, they’re not about what’s happening right now but what’s happening 50 milliseconds ago, or, in the case for vision, hundreds of milliseconds ago.” The article goes on to state that because of this “the brain predicts the path of motion before it happens. It tells us a story about where the object is heading, and this story becomes our reality.”
Duffy ends the book by mentioning that though our delusions will never entirely be gone, the awareness of them can bring greater growth and understanding to our lives. I would add to this conclusion the thought that although this is true to a great extent, there is only so much self-awareness any of us can have when it comes to faulty thinking. Our minds so often deceive us and need to be renewed. Romans 12:2 comes to mind. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” How might the Holy Spirit bring greater light to our deep-seated ways of wrong thinking?
 Bobby Duffy, Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything: A Theory of Human Misunderstanding (New York, New York: Basic Books, 2019). 8
 Bobby Dufffy. 7.
 Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, 8th edition, Thinker’s Guide Library (Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 2020). 9.
 Bobby Duffy, Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything: A Theory of Human Misunderstanding.
 Edwin H. Friedman, A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix (New York: Seabury Books, 2007).
 Bobby Duffy, Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything: A Theory of Human Misunderstanding. 232
 Bobby Duffy. 232.
 © Stanford University, Stanford, and California 94305, “‘Reality’ Is Constructed by Your Brain. Here’s What That Means, and Why It Matters.,” Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, June 22, 2020, https://neuroscience.stanford.edu/news/reality-constructed-your-brain-here-s-what-means-and-why-it-matters.
 University, Stanford, and California 94305.
 “What Does the Bible Say About Faulty Thinking?,” accessed March 23, 2023, https://www.openbible.info/topics/faulty_thinking.
15 responses to “I Don’t Like to Think I’m Wrong About Nearly Everything”
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Hi Esther…love the way you conclude your post! As I read the list of being self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective…I am greatful for Jesus’ words in John 14:
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you….And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth….the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
I can’t do this on my own…and I am not intended to! Thank God for the counsellor who has made His home in us! Come and lead us into all truth for Jesus’ glory!
The Holy Spirit is truly our guide.
In my quest of research regarding my NPO, I found a scholarly article on how Jesus’ teaching and questioning required his followers to “keener study, deeper devotion, more intelligent, and persistent reasoning.” Dami, Alexander, and Manafe analyzed Jesus’ questions using Bloom’s taxonomy and found they “consistently accomplish the criteria of high-level thinking questions, are effective and relevant at a multiple cognitive level, have an effective wait-time, use effective redirecting questions, have a high cognitive value, and are oriented to purpose and content focus.
Not only does the Holy Spirit guide us, but the Scriptures themselves promote higher level thinking skills.
Z. A. Dami, Alexander, F., & Manafe, Y. Y. (2021). Jesus’ Questions in the Gospel of Matthew: Promoting Critical Thinking Skills. Christian Education Journal, 18(1), 89–111. https://doi.org/10.1177/0739891320971295
I agree. There is only so much self-awareness any of us can have when it comes to faulty thinking. I also think that while it is good to know ourselves and be self-aware, will we ever be fully aware. What would it be like to fully rest in the fact that there is One who knows us better than we know ourselves? Like Scott, I am grateful that the Father is Emmanuel, God with us. . . and Holy Spirit, God in us.
What would it be like to fully rest in the one who knows us best? This is a life-long quest, isn’t it? I am reminded of Ruth Haley Barton’s book: “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry” which had a profound impact on me. She takes the reader on a journey of this quest through Moses’ life-long narrative. As Moses stands before the promised land in his final days, Barton brings the reader to a pivotal question: “Could it be that Moses had come to fully rest in the fact that the “promised land” was not a geographical location but was Christ himself?”
Esther, I appreciate your critiques of this book. What I like is that you didn’t throw the whole book out but you recognized what you thought was missing and would be helpful. So, I learned a lot from your research into the neuroscience. “Adam Hantman, as saying“ the dirty little secret about sensory systems is that they’re slow, they’re lagged, they’re not about what’s happening right now but what’s happening 50 milliseconds ago, or, in the case for vision, hundreds of milliseconds ago.” The article goes on to state that because of this “the brain predicts the path of motion before it happens. It tells us a story about where the object is heading, and this story becomes our reality.””. This is helpful thinking as we learn to overcome our own biases, the mere fact that what we think we are processing in real time is really already history! Do you have any strategies that you intentionally or subconsciously employ to process the present and control where your mind is predicting what’s coming?
I have several strategies that I have come to incorporate. When it comes to my own internal dialogue that already assumes an outcome, I spend time in silence with a journal and actually ask the Holy Spirit to give me insight and then I listen and jot down anything that comes to mind, whether words, an image, a thought, a Scripture. As I write down the flow of thoughts and engage the Holy Spirit, there are often themes that come and the Holy Spirit brings awareness to what is correct or incorrect. Then I also write down a Scripture that may add insight.
Another strategy is to engage someone else in my thought process…sometimes my husband, one of my daughters, or a close friend. I ask their opinion and whether they agree or think I am off base.
Appreciate your insights and honest wrestling with the book. Im with you, it’s not fun realizing or entertaining the idea that what we are standing on or believing may not be as secure as we think.
I was talking with an agnostic friend of mine a while back and said we could argue theology and doctrines all day long. At the end of the day I can’t prove them with the scientific method, but it’s hard to argue with the health our house has when we walk in a love that imitates Christs. It’s experiential and enhancing. When information crumbles, the love of God is still standing when the smoke clears. Appreciate the posts!
Well said, Adam. In my season of life, where we are seeing more and more friends and family pass their torches on, we see how the effects of faithful, Godly living daily speaks so much louder than words. My husband’s uncle, a man larger than life in stature and in principle, just passed away. His children, grandchildren, and friends all stated a common theme…he consistently loved God and deeply loved people.
Esther! Thank you for sharing your reflections how it challenged your initial assumptions about it. I appreciated your personal example of how easy it is to dismiss information that goes against our preconceived notions, even when it comes to something as simple as a weighing scale. It’s humbling to admit that we can be wrong or misguided, but as you noted, it’s essential to cultivate a healthy skepticism without falling into cynicism.
Your reflection on how the Holy Spirit can bring greater light to our deep-seated ways of wrong thinking was insightful. It’s a powerful reminder that renewing our minds is not just about developing better cognitive abilities but also about aligning ourselves with God’s will and values. I wonder if you have any practical suggestions for how to rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance in this process of renewing our minds and challenging our biases?
The whole area of “renewing my mind’ and leaning in to where biases may lurk is an ever present lifelong journey. We all may have different rhythms in place to help this happen. For me the Daily Examin, internalizing scripture, and also daily quiet time with the Lord all help.
There is also a mindset I’ve tried to adopt which is to view life, as my mentor, Dr. Alicia Britt Chole taught me, “in the plural”. Instead of living life with “I”, verbally replacing it with “we” helps me view life from a different point of view.
For example “I can’t stand that person!” and “I am such a failure” doesn’t quite work when I say “We (Jesus and I) can’t stand that person!” or “We are such a failure!”
Hi Esther! I like your post. It has broadened my thought regarding this topic.
You wrote: I would add to this conclusion the thought that although this is true to a great extent, there is only so much self-awareness any of us can have when it comes to faulty thinking. Our minds so often deceive us and need to be renewed.
I am intrigued by your writing above. In your opinion, do we have to come to wrongness/mistakes to bring us to become more self-aware person?
You are so right. Our minds do deceive us. In answering your question, I believe it is our wrongness that gives the Holy Spirit the ability to move in us and change us and help us become more self and God aware. It’s when we don’t think we need to change that pride sets in and we can tend to stagnate in our growth on multiple levels.
This was a fun read. You wrote, “I don’t agree with Plato. I do believe we can get things more right than wrong, but it does take thinking better and with greater curiosity.”
Better thinking….hmmm…I have to admit that this class has forced me into new thinking habits. It has stretched me differently, somewhat unpleasant in the beginning, but now I begin to see how narrow minded I have been in my previous studies.
As I dive into my Key voices essay, I am seeking those opinions that contrast with mine. To talk with folk that absolutely disagree with me on U.S. immigration.
Surprisingly, in the process, I have discovered a great deal of churches who are getting tired of the “immigration hype.” They are beginning to respond to Deuteronomy 10:18 -He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.
If am finding a refreshing wave of God’s people who are focusing on what God has directed in lieu of what’s hot on the political debate scene. Nice.
Thank you Esther, for your insight, especially about the brain. I have an easy question for you. In the past 6 months in what area have you become self-aware in such away that it has helped you to grow as a person?
Hi, Todd, I am answering an older post as I see you posed an important question: “In the past 6 months in what area have you become self-aware in such away that it has helped you to grow as a person?” I am learning that I have so much more to learn. Sounds trite but in leadership positions, it is easy to come across as having the answers. I am listening more and leaning in to learn from others more than before.