What is the purpose of debate? Most of us, if asked, would say it’s about helping someone with an incorrect, harmful idea see the light. It’s an act of kindness. It’s about getting to the truth.
But the way we tend to engage in debate contradicts our supposed intentions.
Much of the time, we’re really debating because we want to prove we’re right and our opponent is wrong. Our interest is not in getting to the truth. We don’t even consider the possibility that our opponent might be correct or that we could learn something from them.
As decades of psychological research indicate, our brains are always out to save energy, and part of that is that we prefer not to change our minds about anything. It’s much easier to cling to our existing beliefs through whatever means possible and ignore anything that challenges them. Bad arguments enable us to engage in what looks like a debate but doesn’t pose any risk of forcing us to question what we stand for.
It’s never fun to admit we’re wrong about anything or to have to change our minds. But it is essential if we want to get smarter and see the world as it is, not as we want it to be. Any time we engage in debate, we need to be honest about our intentions. What are we trying to achieve? Are we open to changing our minds? Are we listening to our opponent? Only when we’re out to have a balanced discussion with the possibility of changing our minds can a debate be productive,avoiding the use of logical fallacies.
Bad arguments are harmful to everyone involved in a debate. They don’t get us anywhere because we’re not tackling an opponent’s actual viewpoint. This means we have no hope of convincing them. Worse, this sort of underhand tactic is likely to make an opponent feel frustrated and annoyed by the deliberate misrepresentation of their beliefs.
And if you’re a chronic constructor of bad arguments, as many of us are, it leads people to avoid challenging you or starting discussions. Which means you don’t get to learn from them or have your views questioned. In formal situations, using bad arguments makes it look like you don’t really have a strong point in the first place.
Read more about bad arguments and how to avoid them: https://fs.blog/2020/05/bad-arguments/
If you are a founder or a CEO, read this great interview with Daniel Ek, Founder and CEO of Spotify.
In this interview:
On a Typical Day →
On Good Meetings →
On Being Intentional with Time →
On Personal Time Management →
On Creating an Open Calendar →
On Company Bets →
On Delegated Decision Making →
On Working in Flow →
On Learning as a Personal Habit →
On Founders →
On Spotify and Content Acquisition→
On Creative Process →
On Acquisitions →
On Shadowing Other CEOs →
On his Personal Leadership Style →
On Handling a Board →
On Swedish Culture →
On Algorithms →
On Becoming a Father →
As a CEO, I often have no clue what I am doing, what is my job/role, and where this company is going to. I often think that the company I am building is a total BS 💩.
Also, I sometimes feel that we are implementing the most genius idea, and it will turn over the world. And then I have a crystal clear clarity of the future and how we are going to get there 🚀.
Then I ask myself if I am slightly bipolar, and googling around that proves true 😭.
If you can relate to this, don’t worry, this does not prevent you from building a unicorn 🦄. Surprisingly 🤷♂️.
Sam Altman, CEO @ OpenAI, ex President @ Y Combinator writes about idea generation:
“The best ideas are fragile; most people don’t even start talking about them at all because they sound silly. Perhaps most of all, you want to be around people who don’t make you feel stupid for mentioning a bad idea, and who certainly never feel stupid for doing so themselves.”
“Finally, a good test for an idea is if you can articulate why most people think it’s a bad idea, but you understand what makes it good.”
Read full post here: https://blog.samaltman.com/idea-generation