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2008-08-05 11:22  来源:     我要纠错 打印 收藏   

How to Avoid Foolish Opinions
如何避免愚蠢的见解

  1. To avoid the various foolish opinions to which mankind is prone, no superhuman genius is required. A few simple rules will keep you, not from all error, but from silly error.
  1、要避免人们常常产生的各种愚蠢的观点,并不需要过人的天赋。立几条简单的规则就可以使得你避免荒唐的错误,虽然不能避免一切错误。

  2. If the matter is one that can be settled by observation, make the observation yourself. Aristotle could have avoided the mistake of thinking that women have fewer teeth than men, by the simple device of asking Mrs. Aristotle to keep her mouth open while he counted. He did not do so because he thought he knew. Thinking that you know when in fact you don't is a fatal mistake, to which we are all prone. I believe myself that hedgehogs eat black beetles, because I have been told that they do; but if I were writing a book on the habits of hedgehogs, I should not commit myself until I had seen one enjoying this unappetizing diet. Aristotle, however, was less cautious. Ancient and medieval authors knew all about unicorns and salamanders; not one of them thought it necessary to avoid dogmatic statements about them because he had never seen one of them.
  2、如果事情可以通过观察来解决的,那你就亲自观察好了。亚里斯多德认为女人的牙齿比男人少,其实很简单,只需请亚里斯多德夫人张一张口来让他数一数,他本是可以不犯这一错误的。他没有那么做,因为他认为他知道。自以为懂而实际并不懂是一种致命的错误,我们都易犯这种错误。我自己相信,刺猬吃黑甲虫,因为人们告诉我,它们是这样的。但如果我要写一本论述刺猬习性的书的话,那么在我未亲眼看到一个刺猬享受这种倒胃口的食品之前,我是不会动笔的。然而,亚里斯多德却不够谨慎。古代和中世纪的作家谈起独角兽和火蛇来如数家珍,但他们中没有一个人认为,因为自身从未见过这些东西的任一种而有必要避免对它们作武断的阐述。

  3. Many matters, however, are less easily brought to the test of experience. If, like most of mankind, you have passionate convictions on many such matters, there are ways in which you can make yourself aware of your own bias. If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry, that is a sign that you are subconsciously aware of having no good reason for thinking as you do. If someone maintains that two and two are five, or that Iceland is on the equator, you feel pity rather than anger, unless you know so little of arithmetic or geography that his opinion shakes your own contrary conviction. The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion. So whenever you find yourself getting angry about a difference of opinion, be on your guard; you will probably find, on examination, that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants.
  3、但是,许多事情是不那么容易用经验宋检验的。如果像大多数人那样,在此类事情上执迷不误,那么有许多方法可以使你自己认识到自己的偏见。如果某—种与你相左的见解使你生气,那么这就是一种迹象,说明你潜意识地感到,你没法给自己的想法以充分的理由。倘若有人坚称,2加2等于5,冰岛是在赤道上,你只会感到同情而不是愤怒,除非你对算术或地理知之甚少,以致他的观点动摇了你的立场。最激烈的争沦是对那些双方都没有充分证据的事物的争论。迫害仪发生于神学领域,而不见于算术领域,因为在算术中有知识,而在神学中仅有观点。因此当你发现你自己对不同的意见气恼时,你一定要警惕;通过检验你或将发现,你的信念并无足够的依据。

  4. A good way of ridding yourself of certain kinds of dogmatism is to become aware of opinions held in social circles different from your own. When I was young, I lived much outside my own country—in France, Germany, Italy, and the United States. I found this very profitable in diminishing the intensity of insular prejudice. If you cannot travel, seek out people with whom you disagree, and read a newspaper belonging to a party that is not yours. If the people and the newspaper seem mad, perverse, and wicked, remind yourself that you seem so to them.
  4、使你自己摆脱某些教条主义的一种好方法是去了解与你不同的社会集团所持的意见。我年轻时常居住在国外—在法国、德国、意大利和美国。我发现,这大大有助于消弥井蛙之见。如果你无法远行,那就找—些与你意见相左的人,读一读不属于你们党派的报纸。如果这些人和报纸看,上去疯狂、荒谬和恶劣,那么请提醒你自己,在他们看来,你可能也是如此。

  5. For those who have enough psychological imagination, it is a good plan to imagine an argument with a person having different bias. This has one advantage, and only one, as compared with actual conversation with opponents; this one advantage is that the method is not subject to the same limitations of time and space. I have sometimes been led actually to change my mind as a result of this kind of imaginary dialogue, and, short of this, I have frequently found myself growing less dogmatic and cocksure through realizing the possible reasonableness of a hypothetical opponent.
  5、对于那些想象力丰富的人来说,假设与观点不同的人进行辩论,不失为—种好方法。较之与对手进行面对面的谈话,这种方式有一个好处,可以说是唯一的好处:它不会受到时间和空间的限制。有时,由于这种假想的对话,结果,我真的改变了我的想法。而有时虽然未能真的改变看法,我也常发现自己因认识到假想对手可能有道理而变得不那么武断或自以为是了。

  6. Be very wary of opinions that flatter your self-esteem. Both men and women, nine times out of ten, are firmly convinced of the superior excellence of their own sex. There is abundant evidence on both sides. If you are a man, you can point out that most poets and men of science are male; if you are a woman, you can resort that so are most criminals. The question is inherently insoluble, but self-esteem conceals this from most people. We are all, whatever part of the world we come from, persuaded that our own nation is superior to all others. Seeing that each nation has its characteristic merits and demerits, we adjust our standard of values so as to make out that the merits possessed by our nation are the really important ones, while its demerits are comparatively trivial. Here, again, the rational man will admit that the question is one to which there is no demonstrably right answer. It is more difficult to deal with the self-esteem of man as man, because we cannot argue out the matter with some non-human mind. The only way I know of dealing with this general human conceit is to remind ourselves that man is a brief episode in the life of a small planet in a little comer of the universe, and that for aught we know, other parts of the cosmos may contain beings as superior to ourselves as we are to jelly-fish.
  6、对于那些迎合你自尊心的意见,要十分小心。无论男女,十有八九都确信自己这一睦别优越。双方都有充分的证据。如果你是个男人,你可以指出,大多数诗人和科学家是男性;如果你是个女人,你可以回敬说,大多数的罪犯也是男的。这问题本来就讲不清楚,但是自尊心让大多数人看不到这点。我们大家,不管来自世界何地,都相信自己的民族是最优秀的。鉴于每一个民族都有其固有的优点和缺点,我们常常试图通过调整价值标准来扬长避短,以便证明我们民族所具有的优点是真正重要的,而缺点则是相对不重要的。在这里,理智的人会再次承认,这类问题没有一个明确的答案。而作为人类的人的自尊心则更难对付了,因为我们不能同某种非人类的观点去进行辩论,以求得结论。我所知道的处理这种人类普遍具有的自负的唯一办法是提醒我们自己:人类仅是宇宙一角中一个小行星的整个历程中的一个短暂的插曲,也许,宇宙的其它地方可能有某种生物远胜于我们,就像我们远胜于水母一样。

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