conflict of interest: Knowing yourself

In my blog posts I have certain motivations. At times, I want my readers to agree with me, and at other times I want them to disagree. Generally, this is veiled under my desire to have discussions about a wide range of material. Agreement may keep one listening and spots of disagreement can start an argument. Each element can be helpful.

Ironically, today it is my desire for discussion that I want dissect. Instead of questioning my facts and figures I want to you question my motives.

Dan Ariely’s most recent TED talk (05:35) covers the topic of conflicts of interest. He tells the story of how his doctor was trying to push for a simple medical treatment because of the doctor’s underlying need for a research subject. Ariely also speaks of his own self deception in the way that he modifies research results.

Knowing one’s self can be a long and difficult task. As a person, I am always changing, and necessarily the insight I have about my own being must be modified time again. Regardless of effort or demand, though, I believe that this knowledge is paramount. You must start with the self and move outward.

In Ariely’s case, his research hinges upon this. Here, my respect as an admirable blogger may come into question. I do not intend to avoid my motivations or to make myself neutral in all cases. Instead, I just want to see where I am going, where I have come from and, most importantly, where I am in the present. With greater awareness should come more definitive arguments, discussions and speculations.

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1 comment
  1. jskitter said:

    The scientific method means disproving a theory is also a mandate for a new hypothesis. The ideal of science is repeatability. Outside of science, our individual understanding is generally bereft of data, which is replaced with thought experiments.

    I believe we try to understand the world not just to anticipate the future. I believe we try to understand the world so that are actions seem to have consequences. Our successes and failures can be rationalized, and our lives are not lived in futility. A discussion of hypothetical situations may help our perception through playacting. But the greater benefit might be finding the chinks in our ideals, so that we can adapt before we do something we regret.

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