Sunday, October 12, 2014

Don't climb the ladder too fast

In the book The Fifth Discipline, Senge talks about the "ladder of inference." We all do it; we hear one thing from or about someone and we begin to infer who they are. We hear a second thing, and we revise our opinion, we hear a third thing and it either confirms our opinion or we revise it a bit. By the time the fourth thing hits, we've climbed up the ladder of inference and are on the tenth or twelfth step and have decided who they are and what they will think and how they will respond to everything that happens. In other words, we have dehumanized them.

This is a good example of the dangers...

This is one of our our greatest failings in the modern internet age, that we rightly believe that our own lives are complex things that defy easy comprehension, but fail to extend that same grace to others. When it comes to their lives, especially those with whom we disagree, we suddenly possess the ability to derive a doctorate thesis’ worth of conclusions about their story and motivations, from only the smallest fragments of data.
Read the whole thing. It's good illustration of the ladder of inference and how we misuse it...may we all not fall prey to the temptation to objectify others! May we not jump up the ladder of inference!

HT: Michael Bird

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