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January 20, 2020 / Congau

Your Country Is Wrong

What are the chances that you were born in the best place on earth? Sure, you are likely to love your birth place as it is connected with nostalgic memories of your childhood, but you should be able to lean back for a moment and realize that that dirty old town may not be equally appreciated by a casual observer. When pressed, you will defend its virtues, of course. You will draw attention to the hidden treasures that escape the stranger’s notice and correctly remark that he lacks the necessary experience to acknowledge them. After all, beauty is in the eyes of the observer.

But when it is not a matter of aesthetic appreciation, you don’t really have much of an advantage over outsiders when assessing the virtues of your land of birth. Rather, you are in possession of that disturbing fog called bias. A certain objective distance is required to evaluate the right or wrong of any issue, and that’s exactly what you lack where you are sitting deep inside the trenches of home.

What are the chances that of all countries on earth you were born in the one that has the most reasonable government and whose interests are most worthy of defense? The probability is about 1 to 195 (there being some 195 countries), so the likelihood that you live in the wrong country objectively speaking, is simply overwhelming. Add to that our psychological inclination to see everything from our own narrow perspective and the chance that you are right in supporting your country is quite slim.

It would be better if we could counteract our faulty instinct by stressing the possibility of being in the wrong place. You know you are biased in favor of your country, so instead you turn around and tell yourself: My country is probably wrong.

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