Why can't people be mistaken?:

Total posts: [33]
Mate Griffon To Mare
It has come to my attention that a lot of people assume that everyone who gets something wrong got it deliberately wrong for an agenda. If Alice says that 95% of domestic violence is committed by men against women, she's obviously actively trying to smear men. If Bob says that women have less muscular endurance than men, then he's a raging misogynist. If Richard is an antitheist and John Paul is a fundamentalist, then Richard obviously hates God, and John Paul obviously hates science. It's not possible that any of them are simply MISTAKEN. They must all, according to some, have some sort of agenda.

Maybe Alice is citing a study that is from a different culture, a different era, or that has a small or selective sample that's not representative of the general population.

Maybe Bob has simply confused the terms "muscular strength" and "muscular endurance," or never learned the difference between the two.

Maybe Richard really believes that God doesn't exist, and that religion causes more harm than good, and maybe John Paul really believes there is credible evidence against the theory of evolution or for young earth creationism.

Now, that said, when someone won't change their views even when presented with evidence, they probably have an agenda. But someone who you haven't presented with evidence against their views yet may simply be mistaken, and it's better to give them the benefit of the doubt and present them with evidence, than it is to automatically label them and their views, thereby putting them off and making them less receptive to any evidence you may present them with later.

edited 4th Nov '11 12:32:31 PM by LeighSabio

"All pain is a punishment, and every punishment is inflicted for love as much as for justice." — Joseph De Maistre.
2 Karalora4th Nov 2011 12:53:27 PM from San Fernando Valley, CA , Relationship Status: In another castle
Manliest Person on Skype
I suspect the thought process goes something like: I know what they just said is wrong, therefore they must know it's wrong too, therefore they're lying/trying to trick people, therefore they have some evil agenda that requires lying/tricking people. It comes down to a failure to realize that a) not everyone has the same information and b) even among people who have the same information, not everyone interprets it through the same set of life experiences.

Also, its more ego-boosting to think of oneself as a crusader against evil than a schoolteacher.
3 MarkVonLewis4th Nov 2011 01:00:50 PM from Somewhere in Time , Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
I think it's because people take being wrong as a slight to their pride, or some people like to view erroneous views as an attack on their own views.

Either way, I chalk it up to a mix of idiocy, ignorance, and stubbornness.

edited 4th Nov '11 1:01:02 PM by MarkVonLewis

Val-halla at your boy, yo.
4 Ekuran4th Nov 2011 01:50:25 PM from somewhere. , Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
[up],[up][up]Yeah, pretty much.

On a related note, I've never heard anyone say they are wrong. Were wrong, sure, but their never currently mistaken. That was their stupid past self, not them, of course.
[Insert seemingly profound or amusing phrase here.]
Karalora covered it; I'd prefer to be more precise though:

We do this because

a) we don't have the computational resources to accurately model people,

b) the particular shortcut our brains take is to model other people as broken versions of us


c) Western society encourages us to isolate ourselves, to work things out on our own rather than as a group, which means we don't develop the skill or mindset of working things out together. Such behaviour is lionized, particularly in the media. The notion that we're systematically not clever enough to reliably work things out on our own, is not popular (it would help counter this dynamic).

What's wrong with having an agenda? I can see the problem with prejudice and the like, but not with having a politico-cultural plan.

edited 4th Nov '11 2:35:04 PM by Wonderqueer

7 Vellup4th Nov 2011 02:41:27 PM from America , Relationship Status: The Skitty to my Wailord
I have balls.
So some people on the internet are extremely anal and excessively confrontational at the first hint of a dissenting opinion? I never knew.
They never travel alone.
8 USAF7134th Nov 2011 02:46:14 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
What's wrong with having an agenda? I can see the problem with prejudice and the like, but not with having a politico-cultural plan.

In theory? Nothing.

People with agendas have a bad habit of twisting or misrepresenting statistics and ignoring those that don't comply with their worldview, however...

edited 4th Nov '11 2:46:56 PM by USAF713

I am now known as Flyboy.
[up][up]It's only more evident on the internet. people do plenty of this stuff IRL too; it's just not as blunt.

edited 4th Nov '11 2:47:18 PM by SavageOrange

10 TheEarthSheep4th Nov 2011 03:16:39 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
4: If someone thought they were currently wrong, they would just switch opinions. Oh wait, sorry, this whole post is wrong.

Also, people have heard all kinds of statistics through their lives. If someone hears that 95% of domestic violence is man on woman, and also hears that only 55% of domestic violence is so, and they hate men, which statistic are they going to believe? I think the logic isn't that they should know that they are wrong, I think it's that people think other people's ideas always reflect their personality. Which is understandable, to an extent.

If that makes sense.
Still Sheepin'
11 feotakahari4th Nov 2011 04:50:33 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
I agree with what I assume to be the spirit of the OP, but I disagree with the wording. If someone makes an argument that's based in an agenda, I expect them to have that agenda, but I don't necessarily expect them to follow that agenda for bad-faith reasons. For instance, I disagree with many of the arguments Major Tom makes, and with the political philosophy he bases them off of, but I assume he believes in that philosophy.

edited 4th Nov '11 4:53:18 PM by feotakahari

That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
I think there are two definitions of 'agenda' in use in this thread: one which is a political buzzword defined to intrinsically require bad faith, and one which is simply neutral, like WQ said: "having a politico-cultural plan"* .

@ Leigh: Would you clarify which meaning you meant?

Mate Griffon To Mare
I meant that people would accuse the person of having the bad-faith type. Distorting the facts to their own purposes.
"All pain is a punishment, and every punishment is inflicted for love as much as for justice." — Joseph De Maistre.
14 SpookyMask5th Nov 2011 12:21:23 AM from Corner in round room , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Insert title
I always assume that when people say things that aren't true, they don't know what is true, hence my obsession to correct people all the time O-o
Time to change the style, for now
15 TheGloomer7th Nov 2011 03:22:59 AM from Northern Ireland
Inadequate law student
If you're wrong, then the other side is right, and that simply won't do.

It's the kind of attitude you often see on Conservapedia and some of the Rational Wiki (they're a bit better, but not much). The views of the other side are so impossible that they stop being "wrong" and become "deceitful".

It just seems alot of such mistakes go against logic, not just facts, I suppose sometimes though, someone's argument may be considered convincing enough to stand against such a kneejerk reaction, therefore the mistaken beliefs are spread. (It's happened to me, embarrassing.)

edited 7th Nov '11 6:06:50 AM by Mysteria

I think a lot of it stems from the differences between inherent biases and conscious biases.

As a black male in my 30s, I'm inherently biased to foremost think of a situation from my own unique perspective. If I'm at work and an 18 year old subordinate is a constant no-call, no-show, my immediate bias is to assume that she's a lazy, good-for-nothing youngster without professionalism. I make that judgment call because her actions are unacceptable from my POV, even if I don't consciously consider myself "biased". My "agenda" is simply that I have a job to do and that little snot-nosed teenage punk is stopping me from doing it correctly.

However, someone else could point out that she is actually in an abusive relationship and has a number of family problems which, combined with college life and a part-time job, is beginning to crash down on her. My assessment of her character was incomplete at best and incorrect at worst.
Three-Puppet Saluter
I would guess that just about everybody here sees their political views about the same way they present them. (If I were an astroturfer, the website where twenty-somethings discuss cartoons would not be my first choice as a venue.) I hope my economic opponents see me as Pollyanna Hayeksdottir, but I know that when I started here, they thought I secretly wanted to bring back the workhouses.
Hail Martin Septim!
19 storyyeller7th Nov 2011 11:24:47 AM from Appleloosa , Relationship Status: RelationshipOutOfBoundsException: 1
More like giant cherries
So is the question basically, why Hanlon's Razor is not more widely applied?
Life is simple: it has no nontrivial normal subgroups.
Three-Puppet Saluter
Yep. And I guess the answer is that it's genetically easier to see the opposition as The Enemy That Must Be Conquered rather than The Misguided People Who Must Be Dissuaded.
Hail Martin Septim!
21 storyyeller7th Nov 2011 11:54:03 AM from Appleloosa , Relationship Status: RelationshipOutOfBoundsException: 1
More like giant cherries
No, it's mostly a matter of the Fundamental Attribution Error.
Life is simple: it has no nontrivial normal subgroups.
I'm already familiar with this problem due to lesswrong website, but Cracked just did an article about it.

A good read, and in addition, here's a great quote I have about it:

"The proposition here is that the human brain is, in large part, a machine for winning arguments, a machine for convincing others that its owner is in the right - and thus a machine for convincing its owner of the same thing. The brain is like a good lawyer: given any set of interests to defend, it sets about convincing the world of their moral and logical worth, regardless of whether they in fact have any of either. Like a lawyer, the human brain wants victory, not truth; and, like a lawyer, it is sometimes more admirable for skill than for virtue." -Robert Wright, The Moral Animal

edited 7th Nov '11 1:04:58 PM by ViralLamb

Power corrupts. Knowledge is Power. Study hard. Be evil.
23 TheGloomer7th Nov 2011 05:33:52 PM from Northern Ireland
Inadequate law student
We can't accept that other people might be mistaken because that introduces the possibility that we could be mistaken as well. (Assuming that everyone uses the same faculties and processes to reach their conclusions, anyway).

Mystical Monkey Master
simple answer, ego. Even when we are wrong we can't admit it because that would be admitting we are flawed.
25 DeviantBraeburn20th Sep 2012 02:07:28 AM from Dysfunctional California
Wandering Jew

edited 20th Sep '12 2:08:32 AM by DeviantBraeburn

Everything is Possible.

But some things are more Probable than others.

Total posts: 33