This Week's Thought From The Koby Mandell Foundation
- Seth Mandell
A new idea in social science called the "argumentative theory of reasoning" posits that we don't use our reasoning powers to make better decisions, but rather to win arguments. When you're trying to win a debate, they say, the most effective technique is to appear to be absolutely certain and citing lots of reasons proves how sure you are.
Truth is beside the point. Reason becomes the servant of certainty
In this week's Torah portion twelve princes reconnoiter the land of Israel.
Upon return all twelve say, in effect: "Great place; flowing with milk and honey – look at this produce!" But ten of them contend: "It doesn't matter," and give their reasons... "the people who live there are too strong, their cities are fortified, and we saw giants there!"
Caleb doesn't agree: "We can do this! We can go up and inherit this land!"
But despite the evidence of a two year long string of divine miracles that support the truth of Caleb's claim, the ten princes win the argument because they give the Israelites more reasons to agree.
Listening to the ten princes' reasoning led the Israelites to spend 40 more years in the desert. Caleb's simple truth "we can do this" would have led them into the promised land.