There are people so set in their ways and perceptions, that even when presented with facts, incontrovertible truths, they dig in deeper, defending their wrongness. People who are wrong become more entrenched in the wrong to where they can’t see beyond the forest of lies they are telling themselves.
It seems like I’m encountering these people every day and they are becoming more aggressive. I know that’s just a perception based on my own biases, but I feel exhausted by the constant onslaught of those diametrically opposed to truth.
In some strange way, I get it. We are the stories we tell ourselves and about ourselves. If we admit to wrong, then there’s the fear that our carefully constructed toothpick teepee (I’m trying to get that to catch on so we don’t have to say “house of cards” anymore) may come crashing down. There’s a lot of fear involved with admitting being wrong. “How will I be perceived?” “What does it say about me that this thing I felt so strongly about is incorrect?” “That side is against everything I believe, so if they are right about even one thing, what am I doing with my entire life perspective?” “Does this mean I have to reevaluate my thought process?”
Example that haunts me three years later: A coworker I don’t particularly get along with sneezes. I say, “gesundheit.” The response, “Around here, we say ‘bless you.'” I’m flabbergasted because, who corrects someone on the mumbo jumbo we say to each other after a sneeze because of some hold over from our superstitious ancestors who thought sneezes were a sign of souls escaping from our bodies? Before I could retort about the blatant stupidity of this complaint of a kind-yet-cursory gesture, a different coworker chimed in, “I say ‘gesundheit.'” To which the first coworker, when confronted with infinite wrongness, responds by shaking her head and saying, “no, no, around here it’s ‘bless you.'” Coworker 2 was born and raised in the very zip code in which we worked. What is the point of clinging to such blatant wrongness? What did she hope to achieve?
Like many times when I’d rather not engage with stubbornly faulty logic, I most often shrug or nod because that’s easier than trying to navigate the labyrinth of reasoning that lead that person to believe their initial assertion. I’m not talking about subjective things or even marginally debatable things. I’m talking the evry day landmines of attempted confrontation we slalom through every day, like deliberately provocative things people bring up just because they want to argue for some reason. Like the cab driver or mechanic who says, “What do you think about the president. . .” or “Can you believe. . .”
Isn’t it easier to just give in to the truth, to submit to facts rather than tread water in a sea of ignorant fallaciousness? My guess is it’s a mix of fear and disdain. People are deathly afraid of being wrong (please watch the video I just linked to), afraid of their personal narrative being wrong and especially if that means someone they don’t like is right. So, instead of adjusting, they/we become mental acrobats. To justify such wrongness, our thoughts do more leaps and contortions than a Cirque Du Soleil show run by an angry ex-Olympics Russian gymnastics coach.
Appreciating the fallibility of humanity is what separates us from our future robot overlords. Be suspicious of anyone who claims to have a grasp on absolute truth. The only way we advance as a species is by embracing our wrongness, learning from it, and building off it. But maybe I’m wrong. After all, I’m only human.