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August 17, 2020

The Dangers of Rationalization

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Something that we do every moment of every day, that usually happens beyond our conscious control, is "rationalization".

Essentially, we rationalize when we take in new information and assimilate it into our world view. It’s when we attempt to explain or justify the existence of something in a way that is logical and makes sense to us. But the difficult part about this process is it is incredibly biased because the meaning you extract in the rationalization process is meant to be compatible with your previous belief systems.

Let’s put it this way.To rationalize often involves “rational lies”. Without having an awareness of the pressures that bias our judgment we have a tendency to use new information as evidence that validates our previous belief system.  That’s the inherent danger of rationalization, it’s designed to strengthen your current beliefs, not keep you open to changing them given new details.

So what can we do to keep an open mind? First is to assume the identity of a life-long learner. When you accept the fact that you are always a work in progress, always your own experiment, you are no longer threatened by information that potentially disagrees with your belief system. You choose to embrace new thoughts as different and novel, and incorporate that information through expansion and not biased assimilation. In an ever-changing world where we don’t know nearly enough, it’s an important quality to possess to play your role in it.

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