Independent thinking allows us to avoid the “herd effect”

Whether in the internet or in our daily lives, we are easily carried away.

A friend told me an interesting story about a time when he went to a store to buy dim sum. The store’s pastries were delicious, so customers would stand in long lines. While he was standing in line, a man behind him tapped him on the shoulder and asked him, “What are we buying here?” Tellingly, he had no idea what the store was selling, but seeing many people in line, he spontaneously joined in, without considering whether he needed it or not.

This is a very small example that does not seem to have much impact on our lives. However, in the current Internet era, we need more and more the ability to think independently, and blindly following will cost us a lot. On the Internet, we often see some news events reversed and people’s emotions are easily manipulated. Independent thinking allows us to maintain some rationality in our emotional emotions and not be carried away by others’ incitement.

So how do we do independent thinking?

First, do not set up a preconception. In 1894, officers of the French General Staff found a document in the wastepaper basket and knew through the document that someone was selling secrets to Germany. Soon, they focused their suspicions on an officer named Dreyfus. They suspected him because he was the only Jewish officer in his army. They brought Dreyfus’s handwriting up against the handwriting of the documents in the wastepaper basket and concluded that the handwriting was consistent. However, an outside handwriting expert found the two to be very different, but the expert’s opinion was ignored.

The army searched Dreyfus’s residence, looking for traces of his espionage. But after their search, they found nothing. But this convinced them of one thing more, Dreyfus must be a spy, and it was obvious that he had destroyed all the evidence before the search. They next investigated him in depth and found that Dreyfus had studied a foreign language, and they then assumed that Dreyfus had a desire to collude with foreign governments.

Classmates had praised Dreyfus for his good memory, which became new evidence that a good memory is not more suspicious? Because spies need to remember a lot of things. As a result Dreyfus was sentenced to life in prison. In the Dreyfus case, these people didn’t mean it; they truly believed Dreyfus was guilty.

It was preconceived, people wanted Dreyfus to be a spy and ended up using every means to find evidence that he was a spy and any unrelated factor could be evidence of his guilt. As it turned out, the German spying was still going on after Dreyfus was locked up, and the handwriting of another officer matched the handwriting of the document exactly. Pre-establishment can interfere with our interpretation of information and lead to biased conclusions.

Second, receive information widely. If you want to fully understand the information, you have to distinguish between what is opinion and information. For example, your friend tells you that so-and-so leader does not do well as a person. This is his opinion, not information. If at this point, you take his point of view as your own and think that this person can’t do it, then you are being led astray by him. You really want to make a judgment, and more importantly, understand the message behind his opinion. You ask him: Why can’t this person work? He says that this leader is unevenly distributed, the team did a project and got a bonus, but the leader shared the least amount of money with him, so he thinks this leader is not working. This is the information he gave out and is a strong support for his conclusion.

So is this the whole truth? Not necessarily.

According to Pareto’s law of optimality, when a conflict scenario arises, the human selfish instinct is to maximize their own interests and minimize the interests of the other party as much as possible. You may then ask others and they will tell you that the reason he shared the least amount of money is because he did the least in the team and contributed the least, so his share of the money was the least.

This leader does not let the strong suffer, and can do to the strugglers, you will think he can not do people? He is a leader who rewards and punishes clearly, very principled, such a leader is instead a good leader.

Third, systematic thinking. Mastering systematic thinking can help us find the key to the problem from the muddle, so as to correctly attribute the cause.

Systematic thinking has three dimensions: first is the depth of thinking. You have to catch the essence of things from the phenomenon, and can systematize it. Second is global thinking. Consider the whole from a partial. You have to think, do you see the whole of the elephant, or just one leg? Lastly, dynamic thinking. You can’t just see the static changes like a carved boat. There are dynamic changes between each person and each business.

When we are no longer swayed by the flood of information from outside, when we are pure and firm inside, we can experience all kinds of tests.