What Have You Changed Your Mind About?

The "Question of 2008" over at Edge, which I keep posting in reference to, is "What have you changed your mind about?". Here's my answer: opinions.

I used to believe opinions were dangerous. At best, sharing opinions would gain nothing as we pat one another on the backs for sharing the same beliefs. At worst, I might avoid the person altogether because I was shocked by their profound ignorance.

Recently, I've realized two things about opinions. First, they are never Truth. People usually have reasons for believing what they do, and finding out why can be interesting (if difficult). Second, when you approach these subjects with a lighter heart, they are actually very approachable subjects.

Synthesizing the two, the result is that you learn from talking about people's opinions. There are points to be made on either side of any argument, and by accepting both sides' existence, I think you walk away with a better understanding. It becomes almost a Zen thing.

1 comment:

Victor said...

I haven't changed my mind about many major things; I would like to think this is because I generally tend to get things right on the first try, at least for the last decade or so. :)

I did change my mind about economics. I became a lot more pro-free-market (which also percolated through a number of related policy issues, such as healthcare and environmental protection) after I decided to learn some economics.

This happened perhaps 4 years ago or so, though.

A few years ago I also changed my mind about atheism. I no longer think that atheism is all that important. What I think is important is anti-fideism, rejection of faith as an epistemic methodology. Focusing on atheism IMO misses the point, because it's quite possible to be an atheist and still a faith-soaked idiot. in fact, i have met quite a number of such faith-soaked atheists.