Intentional naiveté

Intentional naiveté is my way of approaching new concepts and ideas.

  • ''Naiveté'' means that I have a strong bias towards simplicity. It means that I'm not afraid to tackle hard questions and consider simple answers.
  • ''Intentional'' means that I'm aware that simple answers are very likely to be wrong, and that my naiveté is mostly a learning tool.

Being intentionally naive is often difficult because others might see it as being superficial. Some people believe that it is wrong to talk about difficult topics without deep prior knowledge of the subject. To have certain conversations, it is important to appear knowledgeable. For this reason, we are incentivized to repeat the conclusions of experts, even if we haven't thought much about the way those conclusions were reached in the first place. This is what intentional naiveté tries to avoid.

To be fair, intentional naiveté is probably not the best approach if the goal is to make collective progress as fast as possible. Learning through personal experience often involves repeating the same steps that others have gone through in the past. But if the goal is personal growth, then intentional naiveté can be a useful mindset to reach a deep understanding of new ideas. Perhaps even more importantly, it encourages a curious and playful attitude towards the world.


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