Friday, July 02, 2010
Although I normally use a feed reader to get myself up to speed on recent news and commentary, I found myself pleasantly surprised this morning by a blog posting by Jason Crawford from over two months ago.
His post, "How to Work with 'Stupid' People," pertains to both the Ground Zero "Property Rights" debate and some thoughts of my own on the need to take the requirements of human cognition into account when debating others. As I was the other day, Crawford takes honesty and common purpose as baselines in his discussion, which details possible sources of misunderstanding or reasonable disagreement among intelligent, motivated individuals.
I'll assume that you're not just lashing out at others as a defense mechanism against your own insecurities (although you need honestly ask yourself that). I'll assume that you sincerely believe that other people are stupid, probably based on finding it difficult to discuss things and agree with them.The above goes just as well for hastily writing someone off as "immoral."
But what you're really evaluating is their judgment. Differences in judgment are rarely due to stupidity -- in work, in friendships or in politics. You can't address the problem until you identify the real cause. Calling everyone "stupid" leaves you with no next steps. [minor format edits, emphasis in original]
Crawford covers several things I didn't in my earlier post, either because I wasn't focused on them, or hadn't thought of them at all.
A point I see in his post that dovetails with my thinking in this area is that introspection may well be an under-appreciated tool in communicating with others in several broad areas: (1) avoiding errors in one's own thinking, (2) unearthing possible communication errors, (3) discovering or anticipating legitimate reasons for disagreement, and (4) discovering possible errors in someone else's thinking. Some of these clearly involve introspection in the sense of putting oneself in the shoes of the other person.
Read the whole thing.