Monday, January 12, 2015

Bon courage

I literally panicked when October came and then November followed by December. As an avid reader of fictions, I dream of becoming a fiction writer. I have made little progress on whatever I have been writing.  Another year has ended and  a new year has begun.  
 New Year Countdown to 2015 London

So I sit here trying to churn out something. I was away for three weeks, I had a nice time but I really miss writing. I have to get to work early and I should really get to bed but I need to write something. I went to French conversation class yesterday evening. That is another heart breaking project.  I cannot even remember things in English let alone in French. In London, I met up with a friend from school days as we both happened to be vacationing there. My daughter dropped by Monmouth coffee place just as we were leaving the coffee shop. She asked my friend if she had enjoyed the coffee in Mandarin and my friend was surprised. When my friend had left, I asked my daughter why she had spoken in Mandarin to my school friend although it was nice, she said it was because she had heard us conversing in Mandarin. I said, “ No , we conversed in English.” I then recalled that I might have asked my friend if she wanted to get some fresh coffee beans and her response was in Mandarin. Did I ask her in Mandarin? I cannot remember. It came naturally amongst most of  my school friends as we learnt Mandarin as our primary language in school. When I travelled to Shanghai, I read some signboards in Chinese language and did not realise that they were  in Chinese even though I think and process information in English. Now that I am learning French,  I find myself answer “Oui” when I should be answering ‘Ya” that  meant yes in Malay. Odd indeed.  Maybe it is because my left brain has been in an overdrive state or that I am simply not able to switch from one language to another these days. My mind is getting too cluttered just like my laptop . Too many ideas at any given time. Thoughts flow in and out in a flash and I find myself getting distracted easily.

Though I am not one who  think things rationally, I resume reading The Art of Thinking Clearly written by Rolf Dobelli  with the hope that  some of the articles  will set me back on track. Several of the author’s essays strike a chord with me and the Myth of Like-Mindedness is one of them.

Rolf Dobelli writes, “ We frequently overestimate unanimity with others, believing that everyone else thinks and feels exactly like we do. This fallacy is called the false – consensus effect.  He quotes from his personal experience about his novel Massimo Marini . He was completely convinced that his novel Massimo Marini would be a resounding success or at least as good as his previous books but the public was of a different opinion and he was therefore proven wrong.

Often whenever I thought that  I might have done better in certain test papers or essay writing in school or some food  I had  prepared or whatever tasks I had executed in my adult years, the  reality was I had not done as well as I had thought.

Cafe Sant'Eustacchio, Rome
The author further writes : The false-consensus effect is fascinating for yet another reason.If people do not share our opinions, we categorize them as “abnormal.”  And he writes that with the false-consensus effect, no outside influences are involved and it still has a social function in that “Whoever seemed courageous and convincing (thanks to the false-consensus effect) created a positive impression, attracted a disproportionate amount of resources, and thus increased their chances of passing on their genes to future generations.”  Dobelli’s conclusion : Assume that your worldview is not borne by the public. More than that :Do not assume that those who think differently are idiots. Before you distrust them, question your own assumptions.

Her Majesty's Theatre London
I would add that while it is good to question some of our assumptions, we must believe in our conclusions when we arrive at them. On the other hand we should be prepared to acknowledge that we might have been mistaken and adjust our past views to make way for new deductions or observations.

Dobelli writes in another chapter,“ You Were Right All Along” that ‘no matter how tough we are, admitting mistakes is an emotionally difficult task’.  He writes : But this is preposterous. Shouldn’t we let out a whoop of joy every time we realize we are wrong? After all, such admissions would ensure we will never make the same mistake twice and have essentially taken a step forward. But we do not see it that way.

In the same chapter, Dobelli advises that it is safe to assume that half of what we remember is wrong as our memories are riddled with inaccuracies. I cannot agree more with that statement as I do doubt my own memories when I recall an incident or event.

We do not want to be wrong about our judgments or conclusions all the time but there must be time when we want to be proven wrong.   Perhaps ' chill'  is the word. 

No comments:

Post a Comment