Is established information or new information more likely to be true?
Which is more effective, planning or improvisation?
Are people essentially good, or essentially selfish?
Which is more important, individual rights or collective rights?
Will the future of America be better than its past?
Are low-income people less intelligent than high-income people?
Is the Bible true, or just a collection of ancient folk stories?
Are attractive people more reliable than unattractive ones?
You may think those questions have obvious answers. But in truth, just as many people chose the opposites.
Each of us has foundational assumptions upon which our worldviews are predicated.
If your foundational assumptions are different than mine, you’ll interpret experiences, evidence, and data differently than I do.
Psychologists call a foundational assumption a “cognitive bias,” but only if your assumption is tightly focused. If we’re discussing your entire collection of foundational assumptions, we’re talking about your “schema.”
Your schema, or outlook, is how you believe the universe works.
Asking a person to reconsider a foundational assumption is like asking them to change their religion.
But every foundational assumption comes with a blind spot.
This is true even if your foundational assumptions caused you to answer our opening 8 questions by saying, “Well, it depends on…”
We often believe our foundational assumptions are shared by intelligent people everywhere.
Because when you “know” something deeply and intrinsically, it’s hard to imagine other people not knowing it. This cognitive bias is often called “the curse of knowledge,” and it’s responsible for a high percentage of bad advertising because it will cause you to answer questions in your ads that no one was asking.
Are you beginning to see why it’s important to be aware of your blind spots?
Most of us refuse to believe we have blind spots, because to accept that you have blind spots is to accept that your foundational assumptions are flawed, and then who would you be?
To point out another person’s blind spot is like undressing them in public; you will not be soon forgiven.
And now you know why polite people “never discuss politics or religion” with people outside their own ingroup.
And although this may sound Machiavellian, I share it with you not so that you might employ it, but so that you might guard yourself against it: It is easy to manipulate a person when you know their foundational assumptions.
Don’t let people manipulate you.
When you have the courage to recognize your foundational assumptions for what they are, you are more likely to be happy, more likely to be liked, more likely to experience personal peace.
But this open-mindedness comes at a price: you will never be the leader of villagers with torches and pitchforks.
But that was never really a goal of yours, was it?
Roy H. Williams
To kick off his 7th year of hosting Monday Morning Radio, roving reporter Rotbart invited back one of his most popular guests, Davia Temin, the famous crisis manager, to talk about sexual harassment, one of the hot-button issues currently sweeping our nation. Chosen by The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, Institutional Investor and other news outlets as their go-to expert on the subject, Davia shares her 15-point plan for not just responding to the wave of sexual harassment complaints, but for actually getting ahead of the issue. It’s always interesting at MondayMorningRadio.com