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Friday Refill - Seeking a Different Inside View

Published 5/7/2021

Our inside view is not on the outside of others' inside views. In order to think empathetically, we need to develop skepticism about our own perspectives.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Happy Friday everybody, you're listening to another Friday Reveal episode of Developer Tea. In the last episode of this show, we talked about getting an outside view. And if you haven't heard that episode, I encourage you to go and listen to it. We kind of lay out what an outside and an inside view is and how our inside views are essentially impossible to completely escape. And so instead of trying to actually escape them, perhaps we can get to know the walls of our inside view a little bit better. But in today's episode, I want to discuss kind of the opposite. And I want you to think about getting an inside view that's even more on the inside than yours is. And really what we're talking about here is changing your viewpoint to the inside view of another person. Very often when we try to do these exercises of seeing things from another person's point of view, you hear that phrase a lot, try to imagine how they feel or try to put yourself in their shoes, we forget that the inside view that we have is not simply a point of view. It is a fundamental restriction on what we're able to perceive. And so if we try to imagine how to get a different inside view, what we're likely to do is imagine taking our view, imagine taking all of the information that we have and simply changing our own minds about what we think. And this is the fundamental error that we have in trying to practice this intentional kind of perspective shifting. We try to imagine what it would feel like to change our own opinions, to change our own beliefs, to suspend our current beliefs and adopt the beliefs of another person. The problem with this is that we're forgetting the entire setup of this inside view. We're still inside our own bubble, we're still inside of our own context. And we're trying to imagine that within our own context, we have adopted the views of another person or that we've tried to change specific variables in our context to try to simulate someone else's context. To try to imagine, for example, that we are younger or older or a different race, a different gender, these basic changes while they may be a little bit helpful in gaining empathy, they miss the vast majority of what makes our perspectives fundamentally different from each other. And so in today's episode, I want to take a moment to hopefully clue us in, help us think a little bit more about how fundamentally different our contexts are. And we're going to do this by practicing something that reduces your ability to perceive what you perceive. This is just a thought experiment. So the basic idea that I want you to entertain is the idea that you've lost one of your senses. Most of our perception is indeed filtered through our different senses. We can simulate a lot of those original senses in our brains. We can imagine things that bring back to mind what we had previously sensed with our five senses. But I want you to imagine that you've lost one of your senses. How does that change the way that you see the world? So let's say, for example, that you have lost your sense of hearing. Now in this thought experiment, we're not trying to focus on gaining empathy for people who are deaf. That's not the intention. And certainly that's not a bad thing that's not what we're trying to do in this thought experiment. Instead, what I want you to understand is that no matter how hard you try, if you don't have that sense, you cannot make that sense appear. You can't shoehorn that sense into being. It's like imagining that we have the ability to have a sixth sense, not in the supernatural format that is so popular, but instead a sixth sense, like being able to see a different, maybe a different way form of light. So maybe not necessarily a sixth sense, but an expanded, singular sense, the ability to see spectrums that we don't necessarily see. If you imagine that you have a restricted sense, then you can start to understand what it feels like to have a different inside view. This is not just because you've restricted things, but instead, if you were to study those who have, for example, gone deaf, maybe they were born deaf, or folks who have gone blind or they were born blind, there is a lot of evidence that these people find adaptive ways to use their other senses. So in a matter of speaking, when we change our context, when we have a different inside view, it's not that your inside view is kind of the best version of all views. That's not necessarily the case. In fact, it's almost certainly not the case. Instead, as you change contexts, people adapt to those contexts. So in these studies that I'm talking about, people who do not have the sense of sight become incredibly aware of their surroundings in other ways. So their brain is processing their surroundings in a different way. They can understand, for example, their location and as they're driving in a car, maybe they can understand where they are relative to where they began. So they can understand, for example, and we may have blind listeners to the show, almost certainly reduced, statistically speaking. And they would probably attest to this fact that they don't necessarily, and what's interesting is in their inside view, in the inside view of another person, they don't necessarily see that as enhanced ability of those particular senses. It is, each of our contexts is native to us. And this is true when we're not talking about senses, but rather when we're talking about expanded perspectives or suppressed perspectives on other issues, beliefs. When we can see reality more clearly in one area than another person, or when we don't have the context, the information, the clarity that another person has in a given area, that context changes the way that we see the world. It also has interactions with our other beliefs. So getting the inside view of another person involves understanding that nothing is true about their life that's true about yours. You have to kind of back out of your entire existence in a way to forget everything that you know, which is, once again, impossible to do. In order to do this, kind of have to adopt an outside view, like we talked about in the last episode, and then truly put yourself in their shoes. And this is not an easy exercise. In fact, it's arguably impossible. And so what we should do, most likely in response to this, and in Friday refills, I'm a little bit more prescriptive than I am in other episodes, what we likely should do since it's so difficult to actually put ourselves in other people's shoes, is to develop a sense of skepticism about our own perspective, skepticism about our own perspective. We like to imagine that our perspectives are representative of something close to the truth. We like to imagine that our perspectives are very close to an outside view, and when we see other people that they are more restrained or restricted than we are. And we should develop a strong sense of skepticism about this very untrue belief about our perception. And instead, try to develop the habit of imagining that the other person knows more about their perception and their position than you do. Try to lend more credibility rather than trying to test the other person's perception. Lend credibility first, and then try to find a common understanding. This flipping of the kind of test process of comparing one belief versus another or debating or trying to come up with some kind of shared common ground, if we instead invert to lend credibility out of the gate, lend credibility by the simple fact that this person has the only access to their inside view. If we believe that their inside view is unique from ours, then we have to lend credibility and listen to what they have to say. Because as much imagining as we can do, as much simulation as we can do, as much intentional empathy as we can practice, ultimately, we still are restricted by our inside views. Thanks so much for listening to this Friday Reveal episode of Developer Tea. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure you subscribe in whatever podcasting app you're currently using. We come back every week with three episodes, unless some extenuating circumstance prevents this from doing so. And I'm so excited about upcoming episodes, these interviews that we've been putting out, the guests have been incredible. So please subscribe in whatever podcasting app you currently use. Of course, if you want to have discussions like this one on a daily basis, we talk in the Discord community, developertea.com slash discord. Thanks again for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.