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Ladder of inference

Ladder of inference

(Monday December 10, 2018)

– Munawar, Anant Fellow 2018-19 Cohort

Personal mastery is one of the most loved modules in the entire curriculum of Anant Fellowship. Taught by multi-disciplinary expert, Amit Kumar, who has 25 years of experience in variegated organizations based across India, USA, Nepal and Mauritius, this course has helped Fellows in many ways.

The subject matter revolves around conceptual thinking; it is like a pancake of wisdom, crammed with lessons of life.

Here is the cardinal lesson from the module

Ladder of inference

Yeah, you heard it right. It is like a usual ladder but this one is intangible. Like the steps of ladder, it involves steps in thinking process whereby an individual reaches his/her decisions. It may sound unnecessary or maybe trite to dissect our thinking pattern-which usually comes about naturally with less effort-but various scientific studies and of course ladder of inference establishes this process as complicated, spiced with complex nuances.

Why do we love certain individual? From where does hatred creep upon us? What political opinion do we have? Why most of us dislike mathematics? Our lifestyle, the way we behave, our likes and dislikes, all of it is consolidated through a certain defined pattern.

It is not natural, it is complicated.

The first step of this ladder introduces us to ‘reality and facts’ available to us. For instance, Donald Trump is 45th POTUS, former businessman; he encourages protectionism: puts America first. And guess what, he often tweets misogynistic, sexist and racist comments.

Now, my political, psychological, social and emotional baggage will influence my perception. I will select only those characteristics which conform to my state of mind.

Let us say, he is not a considerate leader. This selective perception automatically brushes aside other qualities of Trump. Now, he is an embodiment of inconsideration for me. This phase involves ‘selection and interpretation of reality’.

Based on this data, I will cook my ‘assumptions’. Words like: he is bad, anti-immigrant, pro-war, indecisive, reactionary, and despot will run across my brain whenever he appears before me, in TV of course.

Now, brain cells are ready to draw ‘conclusions’. You have processed in much information. This is the time for output. I am ready to claim that Trump is in fact a bad person, not only for Americans but for whole world.

My beliefs, for instance, if I support pluralism, egalitarian society, will push me towards this decision: he is a bad person. Also, there will be a display in my mind which will juxtapose my beliefs and Trump’s. I will chart down his inclinations. To which party does he belong?

Oh! He is a Republican.

The ones, who are ultra conservative, they have capitalistic mindset, usually help concentrate wealth in big corporations and rich, most of them are inattentive to problems of destitute.

Based on all this data stored in my brain, I will now take an action. Probably, criticize him on social media. I may take part in a parade critical of his policies. If my skills allow, I can also write an article in a local newspaper against his protectionist mindset.

Single story is a dangerous story. The key take away from this conceptual framework is that every phenomenon is governed by many aspects. There is no single way to approach any problem. One has to look at different aspects of a problem if we really want to understand it. Here, decision doesn’t come about impulsively or in a fraction of a second. There is a process involved in this.

And the process is complicated.