TED Conversations

Charles Zhang

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We learn more from people whose views are similar to ours or from those contradictory to ours?

Nowadays, conflicts are everywhere, in the academic realm, as well as in our daily life, from the election of presidents to a homework problem. From the contradictory view we can know the other kind of explanations, or ways to solve problems. But actually not all these are good to us, maybe too much conflicts waste our time in debating with others. Meanwhile the we can also learn a lot from similar views, because we have the stage for our debate, we have something in common as a pivot.
What your point of views? which is important?

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    Nov 11 2011: Usually, we need safe environments in which to open up our minds to be able to absorb new information. This would argue for our ability to learn best from people with whom we feel safe and this usually means people of like mind. The famous psychologist Albert Bandura demonstrated that children learn best from other children who are just a stage ahead of them in development. So that might argue that people who know just a bit more than we do have the inside track to teach us. I find that I love to learn from people who know a lot more than I do in a topic.

    Having said that I find that people who confuse the heck out of me because they come from such a different place really excite me with the possiblity of what I might learn. I cannot resist engaging them in dialogue and I hope with all my heart that they lead me to something I have not known before. I tend to want to test that person every step of the way, which can be off putting for them, I am sure, but I just want to convince myself that there is something worthwhile there. As I question, as I argue, I am hoping that this discovery is not 'fool's gold' but I hold out such hope that the person is the keeper of puzzle peices that I am missing.
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    Nov 11 2011: My grandfather told me only stupid people argue which I immediately took issue with. Since then I have rarely argued.

    Upon a table I place all of my ideas and thoughts and you do the same we both can now take away everything there. But if you are hasty you will miss the others contribution and leave with only what you came with. The inept hear only what they want to hear, they see only what they expect to see, and miss what they care not to seek.

    Debates are altogether different.

    When I was young and certain of myself I believed with in just a few minutes I would not only get your view I could improve it. I hid that confidence from you then you would be none the wiser. So I did hide. I bring this point up about arrogance since it is been my observation that those that expose their steep confidence stir the pot to the point others stop contributing. And yet if one does not have this internal fortitude they probably will not gain the far flung views of others.

    When both sides are working towards a consonance and the point is to persuade not to conquer then a fraught synthesis of two estranged ideas becoming the one grand idea is worthy of the brawl. And it’s fun.

    So maybe the answer to your question is training. Training contributors on how avoid conflicts and how to find consonance.
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      Nov 11 2011: Thank you very much. I think you get the point. It is share with others make you wiser.
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    Nov 7 2011: how about that: neither this nor that. you should learn the smart things, whether it is an extension of your own views or a correction to them.
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      Nov 7 2011: I see, You mean that whether we can learn something is not determined by pro or against, it is lying in the substance of the question. But I think it is too theoretical to some extend, I think. Actually it is quite hard for us to ignore the attitude focusing on the substance.
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      Nov 7 2011: I see, So can I say that ( as I mentioned above), There are several kinds of conflicts, We need to be smart enough to know whether a conflict is worthy.

      I think both the pro or against are important, but If we only have the pros, it will turn to be a disaster, In the political area, autocracy as the result. So againsts to us just like spurs to horses.
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    Nov 6 2011: Yeah. I think there are two kinds of contradict, one is just emotional expression without understanding the real meaning of the different views. The other one is the contradict after knowing what opposite is talking about. Only with mutual understanding the contradicts can be useful
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      Nov 6 2011: But I think sometime it is just a waste of time, if your opposite are not in the same level as you.
  • Nov 6 2011: I think we probably learn more from contradictory views. I forces us to review our findings, check our supports, and see how we might more effectively arrange our arguments in support of a case. Perhaps we adjust what we are trying to prove a little better to fit the arguments. This sort of review strengthens our arguments and our case.

    There are a couple good books on argumentation theory and critical decision theory. There is a difference between good argument and debate and the emotional exchange of hurtfull words. The former is productive.