The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
Expressing ideas and opinions with conviction: This is something I have battled with for a long time and still do.
In college, when evaluated for group discussions, I would be told many times “You are not confident in your sentences, therefore your argument appears weak.” I used lots of “can, could, may, might, about, approximately”.
I never understand this fully – why can’t I have two conflicting viewpoints at the same time and therefore be unsure. Most people are incapable of seeing someone else’s perspective. They think in terms of black or white – and it’s rarely so.
In Group discussions, participants affiliate stubbornly, for or against an idea, taking sides outweighs actual discussion. What bothers me is that never in a GD has anyone said “hmm. You are right. I am wrong”. Humility is a sign of weakness.
Writing without being sure is OK as long as you evaluate conflicting arguments critically. This will also get you the respect of intelligent audiences who want to see the world as it is, not how they think it is.
Freakonomics does this beautifully. In many of their podcast episodes, they give opposing arguments, one after the other. At times, they don’t conclude as well. Why? Because there isn’t any easy conclusion.
You should say and write what’s important – the logic, analysis, and ultimately the truth. Express conflicting opinions without the fear of appearing weak. You are not a politician. Think scientifically. Truth in science is revised in the light of new information. If your truth changes upon new conflicting information, accepting it is evolution, development, but not a weakness.
You know why?
In the end, it’s not about you. It’s about the truth. If you have to contradict yourself to reach to the truth, do so.
Save yourself from bigots and dogmatism. Be uncertain. It’s OK to be wrong in the past if you can be right now.
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