Hugh Pickens writes: "Kathryn Schulz writes in the Boston Globe that the more scientists understand about cognitive functioning, the more it becomes clear that our capacity to make mistakes is utterly inextricable from what makes the human brain so swift, adaptable, and intelligent and that rather than treating errors like the bedbugs of the intellect — an appalling and embarrassing nuisance we try to pretend out of existence, we need to recognize that human fallibility is part and parcel of human brilliance. Neuroscientists increasingly think that inductive reasoning undergirds virtually all of human cognition. Humans use inductive reasoning to learn language, organize the world into meaningful categories, and grasp the relationship between cause and effect in the physical, biological, and psychological realms and thanks to inductive reasoning, we are able to form nearly instantaneous beliefs and take action accordingly. But our use of inductive reasoning comes with a price. "The distinctive thing about inductive reasoning is that it generates conclusions that aren’t necessarily true. They are, instead, probabilistically true — which means they are possibly false," writes Schulz. "Because we reason inductively, we will sometimes get things wrong." Schulz recommends that we respond to the mistakes (or putative mistakes) of those around us with empathy and generosity and demand that our business and political leaders acknowledge and redress their errors rather than ignoring or denying them. "Once we recognize that we do not err out of laziness, stupidity, or evil intent, we can liberate ourselves from the impossible burden of trying to be permanently right. We can take seriously the proposition that we could be in error, without deeming ourselves idiotic or unworthy.""
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