Friday Notes 090 - February 14 2020

Tough week at work for my wife, so tough night for me when she came home. Add to that sick kids, and a night up with one of them and it’s been a long week. I even missed skiing this weekend with a sick kid, though my wife took the other two kids along with her dad and her aunt who are out visiting.

But I got a free kitchen table today.

If you’ve found my content helpful I’ve opened up a Patreon page. You can help ensure that more helpful content keeps coming.

Have you Thought about Vetting Online Resources?

People do not come to the Internet so that their bad information can be corrected or their cherished theories disproven. Rather, they ask the electronic oracle to confirm them in their ignorance. The Death of Expertise 112

And

The very act of searching for information makes people think they've learned something, when in fact they're more likely to be immersed in yet more data they do not understand. The Death of Expertise 119

As you read anything online it’s important to remember that the Internet is merely a vessel for words and ideas. There is no one sitting over my shoulder to make sure that whatever I right is in fact correct. There is no fact checker to ensure that the quotes above are right. I’m merely communicating my ideas to you, but are you weighing them in any way?

There are two big things at play in many people (including myself) as we research anything. First is confirmation bias, our tendency to only look for information that confirms the opinions we already hold. This takes hold of us right from the start as search engines lead us towards things that we read based on our past history. Your search and my search for the same thing will yield different results as Google tries to find the article that we’ll read.

Second is the Dunning-Kruger effect which is represented in the second quote above. Simply be searching for anything we assume we have a much greater knowledge than we actually do. This is very common for all of us as we start down any path of knowledge, at the beginning we think we know more than we do because we don’t even understand that there are vast areas in a field we know nothing about. It’s only once we have some true expertise that’s hard fought over months and maybe years that we realize how much we don’t know.

For those of us that want to gain a deeper insight into truth, that means we need the express humility and listening skills. I’m a cis white dude and come from a fairly traditional religious background. I have no insight into trans issues, or issues of people with different ethnic backgrounds than white European. I grew up in a house with my dad making $250k/year, and while that changed drastically it wasn’t until I was out the door and could pay for college myself.

I tell you that to try to illustrate how I’m working to learn more about trans issues and the things that people in minority groups see things, I’m mostly listening. I now follow many people in both of those communities and when they talk about issues specific to them, I simply listen because if I want to understand them that’s all I can do. I’m starting to feel like I might be able to ask questions, but the Internet is a hard place to do that because people don’t know you and grace is much harder to give across the typed words of the Internet. My questions are most likely to start by taking out my running coach for a coffee to ask her about the queer community she’s a part of. Even then it would be the opinion of a 50+ white woman, which would give me only minor insight into issues that many others would face.

My final point is this, maybe until you can argue the other side of an opinion almost as well as they could, you’re not ready to say that much about it. Yes this is a huge burden of work for you, but many of the opinions we spout have huge effects on those we want to enforce them on so we have a duty to understand that impact before we go pushing any opinion.

I Shipped

Monday I put together a video on how I organize my book notes. Since then I have added a AirTable component, but I’ll wait to see if that sticks before I share it with everyone.

Wednesday I recapped my reading for January, and talked about the books on my to read list.

Today I reviewed Scarcity. It’s all about how time and money scarcity make it hard for us to think of anything else. If you work with customers in scarcity, it has a great section on how to design programs to maximize the potential for completion.