Why are most people’s views on complex and big picture issues wrong?

Why do people hold certain views or opinions on someone or some event? Where do these views come from and what motivations do they have for maintaining them?

Hierarchy of motivations.

Most people seem to live in what could be called a bubble. This bubble or area includes all the people that a person interacts with in their daily life. This is the reality from which they judge the world, and it’s partly where they get their information from.

Wrong does not cease to be wrong. Leo Tolstoy.

The main problem with this is that the circle is small. So, things that are happening outside this bubble will be missed. The people within this bubble will get their information about the larger world from the mainstream media. This is reducing now with the range of information now available from other sources, mainly due to the creation of the internet.

However, the majority of people still get their information from the mainstream media. Or they get it from the most popular or common view in their peer group, which likely came from a mainstream source anyway. Opinions have to originate from somewhere, and few people actually research subjects properly. People have busy lives, and they want things quickly, including opinions and ideas.

Seeking Popularity or Truth?

Part of the lack of desire to research things, and to discover the truth, is because they have different priorities. Most people’s priorities are centred around their friends and family, fitting in, popularity and status. Their circle of focus is on their immediate life and the people in that life, and not what is going on around the world. In a sense, big picture issues are out of focus, they are seen at a lower resolution.

People are also terrified of looking stupid or crazy. This fear stems from the fear of being alienated or cast out from the group or tribe, or the lowering of their popularity or status. If 9 out of 10 people think a certain thing, the 1 person with a differing opinion will likely get criticised, even ridiculed for their differing view. They may get ridiculed for believing in crazy conspiracies or misinformation. However, throughout human history, the consensus view has never been a good indicator of what is true, and also what is moral.

Narcissists and those more on the psychopathic side are also going to prioritise popularity over the truth. This also includes adopting politically correct views, and whatever view potentially leads to increasing their status/popularity. See the dark triad traits for more.    

Final Comments

The problem simply lies with a person’s motivations. If your motivations are to do with popularity, then that will distort your opinions on bigger picture issues. Another way of thinking about it is there’s a hierarchy of motivations. If the desire for the truth is not at the top of your hierarchy, then your opinion and understanding on complex and big picture issues is likely to be distorted and/or manipulated, and therefore, less likely to be reliable and accurate.

So, views on important issues are often motivated by conforming in order to maintain their friendships and relationships.

The difference in people’s motivations and priorities is likely to be the result of their genetic personality traits. Most people fall somewhere in the middle of these personality traits, while a minority operate at the extremes of at least some of these traits.

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