Reading broadly

I have been thinking that it might be better to not know where the truth lies than to believe things that are mistaken. For this, you need a great ability to tolerate uncertainty. If we act on mistaken beliefs, we can end up with unfortunate results. If we keep our beliefs more fluid, investigate more, we may have better odds of discovering a correct basis for action. Maybe, maybe not. I can’t rigorously defend this at the moment. Better to be aware of multiple possibilities and not wrong, or certain, and wrong?

I think we do benefit from reading broadly, across any spectrum of opinion that you might care to name. Again, since there is going to be a great deal of contradiction across writers, we realize, if we think logically, that most assertions will be false, even if well-argued. This breadth of reading may not help us knowing what is true, but we may be a little more cautious in forming our beliefs. In the end, we will probably anchor to certain assertions, deeming them more likely to be correct. Unfortunately, science itself is a lot more flawed than we previously thought.

The key question for me is: do we improve our chances of getting things right by looking for multiple viewpoints, or do we just get more confused? We can certainly find out that our current viewpoint is only one of many. That should be a good thing for the open-minded to know. It might just create emotional distress (cognitive dissonance) in others, and particularly the dogmatists.

I have not found a good discussion of this issue. I suppose that most never even think of it, and some may believe that the answer is obvious. I am unsure of the best answer.

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