Friday, November 29, 2013

Why So Certain?

I've already written today about the dangers of certainty in the retail trade:
http://bit.ly/1cS1cdm

Yet the problematic nature of certainty extends far beyond checkout follies.

Especially in today's polarized, 140 character world, people default to an aggressive certainty.

Boldness elicits reactions and draws pageviews.

But like the hapless Toys R Us clerk who gave me wrong information with utter certainty, not being able to back up your certainty carries a high cost.

When I was young, I was very impressed with people who expressed strong opinions.  "Wow," I thought, "If he believes something that strongly, he must have really examined the issue, considered all the alternatives and objections, and reached an informed decision."

Ha, how little I understood the world.

Today, when I see people making predictions with utter certainty, I conclude that they are arrogant and slapdash.  Painful experience has taught me that the world is far too uncertain to justify the kind of snap judgements that used to impress me.

Many people will give the rich/famous/successful the benefit of the doubt when they express their certainty.  That too is a mistake.  Except in their particular bailiwick, their judgment is probably no better than yours.  I don't care how famous they are as a journalist, VC, or entrepreneur.

And if that's what I think, I have to imagine that's what other smart, experienced people think as well (though of course, I can't be certain!).

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, you ok? I know you're brilliant, but your posts lately sound like you're been burned by someone or just burned out from the work.

I hope you can enjoy some good days too. Or at least get away from the valley to real places.



Chris said...

Doing fine, though a bit busy even by my normal standards. The crunchtime should end soon, though. I appreciate the concern!