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One of the ten points made in Hans Rosling’s Factfulness is how we’re strongly inclined towards binary thinking.
“Human beings have a strong dramatic instinct toward binary thinking, a basic urge to divide things into two distinct groups, with nothing but an empty gap in between. We love to dichotomize. Good versus bad. Heroes versus villains. My country versus the rest. Dividing the world into two distinct sides is simple and intuitive, and also dramatic because it implies conflict, and we do it without thinking, all the time.”
While it may seem like binary thinking means that we’re holding two things in our mind. We’re really just holding one thing: it’s either “this” or “not this”. This is how we build concepts. We conceive of things by distinguishing them from everything that’s not that thing. If we conceive of something and think it’s good, we’ll think that its opposite is not good. This causes us to lurch into conflicts with others, where there appear to be two contrasting possibilities. The answer is most often in the middle. Finding a balanced point of view is essential. We need to have the humility to be genuinely open to points of view that contradict our own.