When Making an Informed, Unbiased Decision is Impossible

I just got back from the eye doctor’s. It’s been a few years since I went, but I didn’t really think that I needed much in the way of a new prescription. I could see fine–and I even told the eye doctor at length how I could see fine.

Then he showed me what good vision really looks like.

Turns out, I need a new prescription.

This got me thinking (as is often the case). So often in life, I think it’s easy to assume that we know everything worth knowing. We’re capable, informed individuals, and we don’t need to listen to other people, because they’re obviously wrong. But if we can just take a bit of time to listen to someone else–to actually see something from their point of view–we find out we were dead wrong (or at least really misguided).

The question then becomes, what do you do next? Do you insist you were right all along, ignoring the new evidence at your own detriment? Or do you admit you were wrong and take advantage of the new insights the new information can give you?

Maybe I’m getting a bit too abstract here. I don’t know. All I know is that I thought I could see fine, and it turns out I couldn’t. This same experience happened to me when I was ten or so. I’d always gone to the eye doctor every year, and always had great vision. I bragged about how great I could see. And then one year, the doctor said I needed glasses. “Preposterous,” I thought. I can see perfectly. Nothing’s changed at all.

The first time I put on glasses and walked outside, I was on a New York street. I was amazed at all the details I could pick out. I had forgotten it was possible to see that well. I thought blurry was focused–and the only way to correct that was to turn to someone else and take advantage of the knowledge and information he had available that I didn’t.

There’s a lesson there to be learned, but I’m not feeling particularly preachy today. Draw your own conclusions, and have a nice Wednesday.

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