The tradeoff of reality is empathy. It’s easy for us, being raised in a scientific background, to hail and pedestalize truth and reality. We often forget that human have been grappling with reality for thousands of years and that we do survive even though we are still far from knowing reality. In contrast, will human still survive if we lose our empathy or, at least, our theory of mind?

My point is that sometimes reality and truth is not the most important thing for the sake of survival. Sometimes, a healthy amount of ignorance or bias is good for our fitness. Sometimes, the kindest choice is to not give truth to others. “The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.” It’s hard to approach the previous proverb from the position of kindness and not sociopathy. But I think it’s worth the try.

This tradeoff of reality and empathy also extends to the instruments we use to achieve both ends. In pedestalizing the methods of reality (such as measurements, statistics, math, etc.), we often ignore the tools of empathy (such as intuition, gut feeling, etc.). And not only do we ignore the tools of empathy, we even become less adept at using it over time, leading to lazy overreliance in number when using our empathy-based qualitative judgments is more appropriate.

This conflict between the methods of reality and the tools of empathy have practical implications in our daily life, especially if you’re working with people who rely on such tools. For example, is it the right thing to decide the color of a product by using statistics instead of the expert intuition of the designer?