Angoel (angoel) wrote,

I came across the following quote by atreic:

But I don't want to change the way I phrase things. Because I still believe that I'm fundamentally right, that the world would work better if people didn't pretend to be certain when they're not certain, and becoming another person who pretends they're certain doesn't make the problem any better.

In my view, this comment is best viewed in terms of communication styles. Different people have different approaches to problems. Some people like to gather all the facts, scrunch them into a ball and see what comes out. Others like to build up logical structures to create elegant spires of theory. Some people shooting off a million ideas at other people and seeing which ones bounce back. Some people like to try what's been done before and try to fix what goes wrong this time.

One result of this is that in order to communicate effectively, you will have to modify your ideas into form that other people can understand and appreciate. Certainly, there will be the odd person where you can interact in exactly the way that you want to, and they will get the maximum benefit, but they won't be all that prevelant. With the others, you have to approach your ideas from completely different angles. Angles that feel counterintuitive, illogical and just wrong.

What does this have to do with certainty? Well, the degree of certainty you manage to show is another dimension of communication. And as with all forms of communication, you need to be able to vary it. It would be a silly world in which everyone claimed that they were certain of everything all the time, and would be a silly world in which everyone claimed to be uncertain all the time, even if they were certain. You need some sort of spectrum.

Ideally, you would have a spectrum which matched up perfectly all the time. If someone spoke, you could instinctively tell how likely the statement would correspond to reality. In reality, how is that supposed to come about? Answer - it won't. People don't know how much certainty they exude, can often not control it in any case, frequently don't know how likely they are to be correct even if they are acting with completely the best intentions. You have to calibrate your spectrum against all the other people that you meet, and decide how their level of certainty corresponds with the world that you live in.

So what point am I trying to make. I'm not quite sure, which was why I made a journal post rather than a comment about it. I suppose that 'pretending to be certain' is a charged phrase, full of implied phonyness. The person who is speaking is probably not pretending at all. They are treating it as communication, are stating what seems likely to them, and people picking up certainness or doubt are supposed to interpret as they see fit. Likewise, 'pretending to be certain' is more tailoring your views to enable you to get the point across better - and passing views across effectively is a valuable skill to learn, and is simply politeness to the people that you want to have listening to your ideas.

As for myself, I freely admit that I'm a faker. When I'm in a lecture, or these days meetings, I try to pretend that I'm interested and wouldn't rather still be having a lie in (admittedly, I'm fortunate that I don't unually have to fake it). When I explain things to other people, I try to feel how they would feel and explain it from their point of view. When I put pieces of work together, I try to put it together as if I knew what the finished product should look like. Sometimes I'm even right. And when needed, I pretend that I'm sure about things, even if I try to make sure that I have somewhere to retreat to in case someone calls my bluff. And I'm not entirely sure why this is supposed to be wrong.
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