Closed and Open Minds

Infidel753, Closed and open minds, Infidel753 Blog

There is a certain type of person who never asks questions because he already knows all the answers.  He is usually, though not always, to be found among the ranks of the ideological far right or left, or among the devoutly religious.  He is good at preaching, but bad at listening.  He never deigns to look at any website or other source which deviates from his own belief system, for he knows he has nothing to learn from such benighted fools (and, perhaps, fears a sort of mental contamination).  He makes frequent use of epithets ending in -ist or -phobe.  Curiously enough, he is usually far more passionate about what he is against than about what he is for.

He who has no doubts can never learn anything new, can never become more than what he already is.  He who refuses to ever read or listen to opposing views is doomed to live in a bubble, seeing everything outside it murkily through his own reflection.

Rejection of rigid orthodoxy does not mean one must entertain every absurdity that comes along, or must refrain from ever coming to a definitive conclusion about some question.  It does mean being open to at least the possibility that new evidence may someday show that one’s conclusions are mistaken.  I myself have often been confronted with new and intriguing ideas which I ultimately rejected because a rational analysis of the available evidence did not support them.  I have also sometimes abandoned ideas in which I had believed fervently for years, when the growing weight of new experience and knowledge led me to accept that they were not valid.  This is usually an unpleasant process.  It is also a vital prerequisite for the attainment of true knowledge and understanding.

Keep this in mind when evaluating any ideology or group.  Are they willing to entertain a variety of viewpoints?  Can they acknowledge that they might not know the answer to a question, or that it is possible for them to be wrong occasionally?  Do they treat at least some of their adversaries with respect, however grudging?  Do they put the greater part of their energy into supporting their own ideas rather than into attacking those they oppose?  Do they make you feel that you would be free to speak out against them if they were in power?  These questions hold much of the key to evaluating their merit.