Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Cover your ears and say 'I cant hear you!'

Author:Jeremy Bowers
Posted:10/4/1999; 7:34:36 PM
Topic:Today's scriptingNews Outline
Msg #:11740 (In response to 11737)
Prev/Next:11739 / 11741

You know, I'm getting somewhat sick of this spiel.

[Rant alert]

It seems every time somebody has opinions in this society, and is willing to stick by them, a number of people pop up and deliver this speech, extolling the virtues of the open mind and asking that the person (whom they inevitably disagree with on some level) "open their mind" and try out the idea that they may be wrong.

The odious aspect of this speech to me is that it is always always always based on two simple ideas (no, not ideas, assumptions):

  1. That the person expressing the opinion is not "open" to "new ideas", because clearly if they were they would not hold such strong opinions. (This in turn is usually based on the opinion that strong opinions are always wrong; itself a very strong opinion.)
  2. That there is no possibility the person has thought the expressed opinion out, because clearly if they had, they would not disagree with the person giving the "open your mind" speech.

Having been on the recieving end of this speech more then a few times, let me assure both you and Stuffed Dog writer that just because Dave has some strong opinions, does not mean that he has not considered the alternatives. While it is a possibility, in lack of other evidence (which, unless you know Dave personally or are somehow able to read his mind, you do not have), it behooves you to grant Dave the benefit of the doubt and assume that he has indeed thought out a position and come to good conclusions, that yes, happen to disagree with yours.

It is odious to me the way that this speech is given by people trying to wear the Clothes of PC Righteousness (today's featured motto: "Thou Shalt Have An Open Mind And Never Form Opinions"), but is given by people themselves close-minded to the point that they are willing to accept as axiomatic that they can't be wrong, therefore if somebody else disagrees with them, the disagreement must stem from close-mindedness on the part of the other person. Whether it comes from an honest inability to see in oneself the fault that one is trying to accuse another of, or if it is a clever political/tactical ploy, is unknowable without close knowlege about somebody. I'm pretty sure I've seen both (without any statement about either of the examples at hand).

This has obviously touched a nerve with me and you can freely substitute my name for Dave's.

In conclusion, accusing somebody of not being willing to consider alternate points of view, based on their having strong opinions and sticking by them (and you have no other evidence to go on!), is downright insulting, . Perhaps those who deliver these speeches should focus on opening their OWN minds to the possibility that REASONED opinions CAN be had that disagree with their own. In the meantime, please quit insulting people by groundlessly accusing them of intellectual laziness.

Here's a thought experiment: Assume the person you disagree with is at least as smart as you are, but with a different set of life experiences and motivations. Why might they hold the opinion[s] they do?

(I believe the obvious response, "Why don't you do the same to the message you just relied to?", has already been answered to in this post, although indirectly.)

[Rant off.]

I apologize for the acidity of this message, but dog gone it, I'm sick of this one. Please understand this isn't really aimed at anyone in particular, but yes, it is in direct reply to the implied sentiments and for that I don't apologize.

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