## Fifty Shades of Human beings ### Fifty Shades of Human beings Thoughts from this piece titled **[Complicating the Narratives](https://thewholestory.solutionsjournalism.org/complicating-the-narratives-b91ea06ddf63)** [by Amanda Ripley](https://thewholestory.solutionsjournalism.org/complicating-the-narratives-b91ea06ddf63) is still fresh in my mind. I've noticed this behaviour myself on how it becomes so difficult to come to a different standpoint at the end of a conversation when it comes to polarising topics. The crux of this essay is about how it has become ever-so difficult to come to a consensus among polar opposites of the political spectrum and it indeed struck a resonant chord with my thinking. > "_Over time, people grow increasingly certain of the obvious rightness of their views and increasingly baffled by what seems like unreasonable, malicious, extreme or crazy beliefs and actions of others_" I was nodding my head. I was one amongst them. It was as if the essay was addressed to me. I felt that the more I discussed with others on my spiky viewpoints, the more it was getting reinforced. And the vicious cycle of conformation bias that was kicking in. And I realised that all these were becoming antithetical to the whole aspect of engaging in a conversation in the first place. And this was not just me. In America, the partisan antipathy has risen to drastically high numbers. The differences between the left and right go beyond politics at this moment. It becomes a personal clash. And in this personal clash, we claim that the battleground is that of reason. We value reason, or at least, we believe that we value reason. But in a debate why do our personal opinions get more reinforced? "Anyone who values truth," social psychologist Jonathan Haidt wrote in The Righteous Mind, "should stop worshipping reason." At the end of the debate, the audiences should be willing to come out of their foxholes and consider new and inconvenient truths. And in this tryst, various tools from the pockets of psychology could be used. One of these pocket psychology tools which I found useful is to trick your mind into a sort of anti-conformation bias. Which is a mindset which is constantly looking at ways to prove yourself wrong (instead of proving yourself right). This idea was inspired by [[Nassim Taleb](Nassim%20Taleb.md)'s Antifragile](<https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13530973-antifragile)> in which he mentions the absurd french protest that was intended with a sole purpose of expressing the _right to contradict oneself_ ! The right to prove ourself wrong, reform our opinions, and break the shackles of our previous versions of ourselves. Which brings us back to the topic of how to engage in a civilised discourse without being entrapped by the political echo-chambers and the tribalism that engulfs them? Amanda Ripley in this essay mentions various approaches to combat this issue. What intrigued me the most is the viewpoint on adopting complexity as an approach which is highlighted in the following paragraphs from the essay — > Was there a way to cultivate better conversations? To find out, the researchers started giving the participants something to read before they met — a short article on another polarizing issue. One version of the article laid out both sides of a given controversy, similar to a traditional news story — arguing the case in favor of gun rights, for example, followed by the case for gun control. > The alternate version contained all the same information — written in a different way. That article emphasized the complexity of the gun debate, rather than describing it as a binary issue. So the author explained many different points of view, with more nuance and compassion. It read less like a lawyer's opening statement and more like an anthropologist's field notes. > After reading the article, the two participants met to discuss Middle East peace — or another unrelated controversy. It turns out that the pre-conversation reading mattered: in the difficult conversations that followed, people who had read the more simplistic article tended to get stuck in negativity. But those who had read the more complex articles did not. As issues become more and more complex, we are at a junction where we have to address difficult conversations. The idea is to revive complexity in a time of false simplicity. "_The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete_," novelist [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says in her mesmerizing TED Talk — A Single Story.](https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story?language=en) Reality is not so black and white as we imagine it to be. Black and white are easier ways of narrating or explaining our surroundings, but it need not be the most accurate. In reality, we are all different shades of grey, as human beings. Everything has a _nuance._ At the end of this essay, I have begun to appreciate the value of nuance in any spiky topic, be it the Israel-Palestine conflict, India-Pakistan border conflict or even the Presidency of Donald Trump for that matter. There is a nuance in these topics which we ignore, and hence miss. Complexity leads to a fuller more complete story. A more accurate story of reality. In a world where even a flap of a butterfly can lead to a tornado, painting a broader, more holistic picture can help resolve conflicts, **and even conversations**.