What Happened When I Said Two + Two is Not Four

Everyone in the room had just agreed with each other that a statement that was obviously true was, in fact, true.

I spoke up and said, “No, that’s not the case.”

Everyone looked at me like I was crazy or dumb or a jokester.  But I was serious.  Then they tried to figure out if I really was that dumb.  (I’d like to state that I’m not.)

I had remembered the 10th Man Rule from “World War Z.”  Then I found an article that talks about confirmation bias.  This is all very interesting stuff if you’re a knowledge worker – if you use your brain to earn a living you want it to be as useful to you as a carpenter feels about his hands and tools (although a carpenter is probably a knowledge worker too… I can’t figure that out right now.)

The article states, “People mostly have a problem with the confirmation bias when they reason on their own, when no one is there to argue against their point of view. What has been observed is that often times, when people reason on their own, they’re unable to arrive at a good solution, at a good belief, or to make a good decision because they will only confirm their initial intuition.”

The consultant said, “are you serious?”

I said, “I’m completely serious.  What you said is obviously true, but this discussion is so much more interesting if someone disagrees with you.”

And so we had an enlightening discussion about how to handle a situation where 2+2 does not equal 4. And would you believe, it was productive and energizing and we discovered some weird edge-cases in our processes.

By the way, I disagree with the article I linked to.

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