Not everyone is WEIRD

If you are told that you are WEIRD don’t take it as an offence. It likely means that you belong to about 12% of the global population that is Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, and Democratic *. Good as it may sound, it also puts you in the disadvantage when dealing with people from different cultural backgrounds. Problem reliance on studies that were done solely with WEIRD participants is that it skews the results and, worst of all, assumes certain cultural background in the decision makers:

Has the culture of discourse disappeared?

One of the risks that we often run into, but rarely talk about is the risk of being accidentally or wilfully misinterpreted. This is particularly noticeable when your debating partner is in wild disagreement with their idea of what you said. Arthur Schopenhauer penned his “Art of Controversy” in the mid 19th century, yet it seems that it is once again coming to the forefront - without many debaters even knowing they’re using the “tricks” from the book. In case you haven’t seen it before, here’s the 38 “tools” for winning a debate no matter the cost. Schopenhauer identified these techniques and indeed warned against them. It is sad to see that he’s remembered for them, but not also his work in helping one defend against such techniques.

1 Carry your opponent’s proposition beyond its natural limits; exaggerate it.
The more general your opponent’s statement becomes, the more objections you can find against it. The more restricted and narrow your own propositions remain, the easier they are to defend.

2 Use different meanings of your opponent’s words to refute his argument.
Example: Person A says, “You do not understand the mysteries of Kant’s philosophy.” Person B replies, “Oh, if it’s mysteries you’re talking about, I’ll have nothing to do with them.”

3 Ignore your opponent’s proposition, which was intended to refer to some particular thing.
Rather, understand it in some quite different sense, and then refute it. Attack something different than what was asserted.

Culture? We have that in buckets!

Sometimes I wonder why we even bother. The calculation is quite simple. We know that if you don’t know how to get from point A to point be in the most efficient way you will go past points C, D, and G: 1. Strategy without tactics is the longest path to victory. Cheshire Cat teaches us that if you don’t care where you want to go it doesn’t matter which direction you take. You will leave this place, but may end up in a much, much worse place: 2.

What is more important: getting work done or saving face?

Do you do the same thing over and over again? Sitting at the production line, going through the motions? At times most of the risk assessments end up looking just the same. Something goes in and after 10 revisions the end product does not resemble the inputs, because you need to present someone in a good light? Despite gaping holes in their risk stature? How often do you find your opinions tempered “for the good of all”? How often does “do not rock the boat” end up in the boat sinking?