Being certain is not the same as being right

I had an unpleasant experience yesterday in which someone I respect said that people who hold a position I hold are morally reprehensible and should be treated as no better than those who would advocate for slavery or marital rape.

I obviously believe this person is wrong, but it still shook me. A different person would just say, “Who gives a shit what they think? You know it’s not true, and they’re a jackass for saying it.” But I don’t have that kind of self-confidence. Instead, what I’m having to do is take a deep breath and repeat to myself, “Being certain is not the same as being right.” Because it’s not. People who are absolutely certain in their views come across as though what they’re saying is inarguably correct, which can make it hard to remember that they’re just as subject to error as anyone. And if they’re angry — especially if in some ways, they’re very justifiably angry — it can be hard to resist wanting to agree. You want to validate the things they’re justifiably angry about, and you don’t want them to be angry anymore. At least, not at you. But anger doesn’t make someone right either.


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