The Value of Doubt

Last week, comedian/actor Sacha Baron Cohen blasted Facebook and other tech companies in an op-ed published in the Washington Post.

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He wrote:
“Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media platforms reach billions of people. The algorithms these platforms depend on deliberately amplify content that keeps users engaged – stories that appeal to our baser instincts and trigger outrage and fear. That’s why fake news outperforms real news on social media; studies show that lies spread faster than truth.”
Read entire op-ed piece or view his speech here.

Please note: This email is not about hate speech, fake news, nor Cohens beef with Facebook.
It’s about the value of doubt.
Now, more than ever, with the amount of information, “amplified content,” and advertising bombarding us 24/7, human beings get to lean into the value of doubt.
Specifically, we get to:

  • Exercise critical thinking skills
  • Question our own views, opinions & beliefs
  • Doubt everything we read, view & consume (until we can prove true with facts and evidence)

As Francis Bacon, English philosopher, writes:
“… if we begin with certainties, we shall end in doubts; but if we begin with doubts, and are patient with them, we shall end in certainties.”
So where do we begin?

  • Get curious about your beliefs. Ask yourself: When did they originate? Who informed me? Were they passed down from a previous generation? How do these beliefs serve me?
  • Filter news, information and advertising through 3 gates. Find 3 different sources on the same topic. Interview 3 people from different backgrounds and learn their viewpoints and perspectives on the topic. Create a list of what is known and what is not known about the topic (basically do your due diligence.)
  • Realize you have blind spots and be open to feedback and other opinions. Don’t be offended if you hear conflicting opinions. Instead respond, “I appreciate your perspective on [topic], it gives me another way to look at it.”


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