Am too lazy to google whether the origin of the word was from Confucius, the Chinese philosopher. Philosophers sound scholarly. Sometimes what they say is confusing to an ordinary mortal. That was what happened to me when I attended a lecture of J. Krishnamurthy.
Anyway, I am going to explore the meaning of confusion.
Confusion of mind results from the inability to comprehend the truth. It has a negative connotation in common parlance. An adversary is charitably and diplomatically labelled ‘confused’ if he refuses or is unable to see a certain matter in the same light as you. A stronger reprimand would accuse him of not willing to accept or concede the truth. An even stronger rebuke would attribute motive to his refusal to agree.
Doubt, especially self doubt is the root cause of confusion at an individual level. A weak person will be confused and unable to make up his mind when confronted with two diametrically opposite views. He would be even more confused if exposed to several shades of possibility. A simple example is the choice of the right sari. While selecting a saree, women often decide that they like the border of one saree and the colour of another. Unlike digital transposition, the poor salesman cannot transfer the border of one saree to another. He would accept defeat and offer a larger range only to confuse the customer even more. At the end of a successful sale the sales person will have the unenviable task of folding a heap of discarded sarees and to arrange them back in the showcase in proper order.
A single person’s confusion can be ignored or removed. But sometimes a large community of people are confused. It leads to a multiplier effect and is difficult to handle. It leads to chaos that can go out of control. When there is large scale confusion, attempts to remove it may compound the problem. The present Corona virus has thrown the entire world into a monumental confusion. Governments, WHO, experts and the general public are reeling under confusion. The latest suggestion by WHO that the Corona virus is also airborne is bound to increase the confusion exponentially with multiple prescriptions of do’s and dont’s. My fear is that a patient may soon be required to pass an online test on the virus to qualify for admission into a COVID hospital.
When there are 4 options of answers suggested for a multiple choice question, and all are incorrect, it is a sure recipe for confusion. Likewise the voter in India is confused when all the candidates are worthless. Hence the Election Commission has come to our rescue by giving us the option of NOTA (None Of The Above). We are still confused what will happen if NOTA polls the largest number of votes.
Is confusion always bad? Not necessarily. It may sharpen our thinking capacity and lead to a positive outcome. Many scientific discoveries are the result of doubt and confusion in the minds of the research community.
Some strategists use infliction or leverage of confusion on their victims as a ruse to achieve an outcome. They plant and spread unverified stories to spread panic. Disinformation is a common technique in social media.
Clarity is the opposite of confusion. Is it superior to confusion? Not always. Clarity may be a temporary illusion. For instance when India And China hit it off, called themselves ‘Bhai Bhai’ (friends) and signed the historic Panchsheel (five principles) agreement in the 1950’s, it was quite clear that the two newly independent countries had come together. That clarity went up in smoke very soon when China invaded India. Nehru was a broken man after the backstabbing and never recovered. Fortunately for India it has a stronger and more competent PM now. He too displayed soft diplomacy until a while back, but on being confronted, has risen to the challenge like a lion. Fortunately there is no sign of confusion now.
The aim of this blog was to explore the topic of confusion. I must admit that it has left me confused. I can imagine your plight! I am looking forward to other blogs that will bring some clarity to the topic.
This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog topic that was suggested by Ramana. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah and Padmini (when she does!).
Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they write about this topic.