Conventional wisdom doesn’t work in a changing world

  1. We humans often trust conventional wisdom over our own reasoning.

This is a good trait in a non-changing world. You can tap into the “super-intelligence” that is the accumulated knowledge of several generations.

In our history as a species, this has more often than not been a good strategy. I.e. “don’t eat that berry” or “trust in the common spiritual system of the tribe”

Trusting conventional wisdom helped individuals survive in the tribe.

2. The modern world has changed faster than conventional wisdom — making it obsolete in some areas.

Conventional wisdom still works in timeless areas like human relationships, love and family. My grandmother can probably give good advice in those areas.

However, when my grandmother tells me I should get job X or education Y — I would not trust her as much.

3. The problem is we humans still trust conventional wisdom in all areas.

It takes energy to do your own reasoning. More often than not we like to reason by analogy or simply trust conventional wisdom rather than think for ourselves.

In some crucial cases this doesn’t work as well in modern society. How will you live your life? How will you raise your children? What career path should you take?

4. Just because others are doing it doesn’t mean it is a good strategy for you.

Often everyone is doing the same thing — herd instinct. Study the same things and try to live in similar ways according to conventional wisdom.

The problem is that almost everyone has this bug of not reasoning for themselves. So by trusting others we are trusting their view of conventional wisdom, which is probably wrong in modern changing society.

Furthermore, even if you trust others that are doing good things — there is no guarantee it will suit your particular skill set and what you enjoy doing. Start reasoning for yourself.

Thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: Reasoning for yourself means you can still take input from others. Just be aware that it is you doing the reasoning and choices in the end.

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Maximilian Rehn

Change is good. Writing too slowly wastes your time, while writing too quickly wastes your ideas. Writing too long wastes other people’s time, while…