How to Debunk 35 Years of High School Myths

July 15, 2014

by Mariko Gordon

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One of the unintended benefits of middle age is finally getting over high school, something I discovered at my 35th reunion in Hawai’i last month.

For me, the most painful part of high school was having to catch the 6 a.m. bus every morning – I commuted over an hour each way from the “wrong side of the island” and didn’t learn to drive until college.

My geographic isolation, together with the fact that unlike many of my Punahou classmates I wasn’t a “lifer” (there since kindergarten), filled me with misinformation about what made my classmates tick. This reunion (my first) shattered quite a few myths.

Even the mean girls were civil. Maybe because our identity is now based on actual experience and choices made; maybe because the closer we near death the less we care what other people think; or maybe it’s the result of being with others who knew us back when we were nothing but unrealized potential. Whatever the reason, I found my classmates to be surprisingly real in our conversations.

Whether it was the fleeting moments of candor, the glimpses of shared pain, or witnessing the high school equivalent of the lion laying down with the lamb (former football star chatting with former geek), my faith in humanity was renewed.

All of this myth-busting got me thinking about how much we, as humans, need help in seeing the facts for what they are. More specifically, it reminded me of “The Debunking Handbook,” by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky, a guide developed for scientists fighting climate deniers and something I have been emailing to friends and colleagues for many months now.

The Debunking Handbook has also become my go-to manual in offering advice to investors, company managements and stockpickers alike, all of whom need to debunk myths as part of their day jobs.

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