Contrarian Views Matter – A lot

We humans have certain innate traits that often get us in trouble and they are the reason why people who approach an issue from a thoughtfully contrarian point of view are important in contributing to progress.

Abraham Maslow famously described the situation via his famous quote “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” (Maslow’s Hammer)  This essentially tells us that we tend to see the world through our own history and perspective, desperately trying to reduce all information to bits we can understand in our own frameworks and this often leaves us astray.

Along the same lines is the parable from India that discusses blind men and an elephant: Each man touches the elephant in one spot — the trunk, the tail, the belly, etc. — and comes away with a different description of the creature. Every man is both right and wrong at the same time. All of them failed to see the entire elephant, and none accepted the points of view of the others.

 

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