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Default to believe, then conditioned for stability

When we are young we believe anything. If, like me, you have small children you have already seen this in action. They will believe literally anything. They can believe anything.

This inherent naivety or open-mindedness is key to development. Without it, we cannot discover or learn anything new. We need first to be able to treat new concepts before later discarding them as “wrong” or ill-fitting to our own reality.

 

As we grow older, we develop the capacity to distinguish fact from make-believe. We know (spoiler alert!) that Father Christmas probably doesn’t really come down the chimney and we congratulate ourselves on our ability to be reasonable.

But being “reasonable” is in itself the first pre-requisite for being closed-minded and too much of it leads to lack of innovation and inability to change. Copernicus was unreasonable, as were the people who wanted to put a man on the moon and anyone who thought a computer-game couldn’t load faster than a Commodore 64 did it.

 

So why do we trade pure open-mindedness for “reason”, new for old and creativity for stability?

I suspect the answer is about security or “blending-in”. and it is highly linked to values. Classical schools still today prefer to teach everyone to the same curriculum and anyone who doesn’t fit in has failed. Seeing things differently is not the point. Most corporations don’t do much better. Idioms like “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” and the wish to maintain current processes in the name of “quality” and customer satisfaction are designed to ensure that things get done the same tomorrow. Attached to our own ideas of what is “good”, we start to live on autopilot.

 

Wouldn’t a little more childishness do some good?