A while back I posted a question to Facebook asking if people would rather be happy or right. I posed it without context or explanation, just to see what the initial reaction of my friends would be.
The whole thing started with a discussion about religion, politics and conspiracy theories (what could go wrong?) with an old friend from school. At some point in the discussion, where I was attempting to point out to him where he was factually, provably wrong about some point or another, I realized that it was just making him upset. It wasn’t that I was being mean, like I said he’s a friend, I was trying to be as nice and respectful as possible. No, the problem was that the things he was wrong about where something that made him happy, and by correcting him I was taking away that thing that made him happy.
This naturally set me on a path towards introspection. Was it better to be happy or to be right? If I believed something in error, but that belief made me happy, would I want to be corrected or left alone? When I posed my question to Facebook, I hadn’t settled on an answer. I didn’t get many answers, only 2 in fact, one was for happy one was for both. Nobody said they would rather be right than happy.
After thinking about it some more, I came to the conclusion that I’d rather be right than happy. Maybe it’s the scientist in me that craves knowledge for it’s own sake, maybe it’s the atheist in me that isn’t satisfied with blissful ignorance, likely it’s some combination of both and several other factors. But neither of those is really a good reason for this choice, they’re certainly no better than reasons for going in the opposite direction.
The best reason I can come up with for this choice is this: Decisions made from knowledge are more likely to result in lasting happiness than decisions made from ignorance. That is, while being wrong might make me happy sometimes, it is only through lucky coincidences and, being in a precarious state from the start, it can’t be expected to last. On the other hand, while being corrected might take away something that had previously made me happy, it gives me a better opportunity to find a more solid happiness in the future.
So when I am wrong about something, factually and provably wrong, please point it out to me. If I complain then, heck, just point me back to this post.