I loved this portion of Andrew Ross Sorkin’s interview of Ray Dalio in which he talks about the importance of civil disagreement:
“Why can’t we civilly disagree? Isn’t it a perversity of our society that people can’t thoughtfully disagree?
Thoughtful disagreement…that’s when the power of understanding begins.”
He goes into a bit more detail, but I think this is such an important point. You’ll notice that I disagree with lots of people. Heck, if you understand my econ and finance opinions then you almost certainly disagree with some part of them. None of my views are especially orthodox. But I always try to disagree with people in a civil manner. Why? Because civil disagreement has nothing to do with undermining other people. It has to do with forcing us to think differently and forcing us to ask if we might be wrong.
Being wrong is so important to me. It is in learning to be wrong that we learn to be right. And the best way to learn from your misunderstandings is to have someone disagree with you and aggressively and civilly challenge your views. This is how we make progress. We should disagree. We should encourage disagreement. Because that’s one of the best learning tools we have. After all, if no one challenges the orthodoxy then how can we expect to move past the status quo? How can we ever expect to improve our understandings and the world around us? Disagreement is a good thing. In fact, we should do it more often. Just don’t be a jerk about it.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.