If you already believe something, should you attend to the opinions of naysayers, complexifiers, and qualifiers? It depends on whether you’re coming to an issue for therapy or truth. And the quality of the second opinion matters. Every liberal should read the neoconservative journal Commentary, and every conservative should read The New York Times. Otherwise, you’re in danger of falling into epistemic closure and confirmation bias. Even though I’m emotionally invested in many (all?) of the things I believe, I know that I better give a fair hearing on a regular basis to the best arguers and arguments on the other side. Every theist should read Dawkins; every atheist William Lane Craig. Orwell wrote, “To see what is in front of one’s nose requires a constant effort.” It’s an effort because there is always the temptation to come to an issue for therapy, not truth; to, like Oedipus, pluck out your eyes because you can’t face the truth. Every person should actively seek out disconfirming evidence and opinions when truth is the goal, though this is very, very hard because we are human and don’t want to be like Hamlet, unable to make up our minds and act (“To be or not to be; to do or not to do, to think or not to think.”) But shunning Hamlet is a danger, for certainty and an excess of confidence are temptations of hubris (a theme of classical Attic tragedy). So on any question where you want the right answer, it’s wise to ask, “Have I really and fairly weighed alternative explanations about this matter, and come to the best explanation?” Sometimes we cannot do this because we are frightened, and frightened people too frequently outsource their thinking to people they trust or to experts they trust, ignoring the other side. They don’t want to think about it. But it’s good to think. And to doubt. Doubt is a good thing.
- 2,777,105 readers since June 2008
- barneybettyhill on Carl Sagan Looks Like an Alien and Wants Us to Believe That There are No Aliens Visiting Earth. Shouldn’t That Tell You Something?
- Glenn Hall on “We Rule You, We Fool You”: Classic 1911 Poster Depicting Capitalism Titled “Pyramid of Capitalist System”
- The Journey Starts Now: How To Discover What Motivates Us - Yellow Parachute Learning Partners on Human Beings are “Purpose Maximizers, Not Profit Maximizers”
- Anonymous on Walt Whitman: “To be indeed a God!”
- Commercial Project 1 from start to finish – Meg Dobson-Armstrong Art on Emily Dickinson, Lesbian?: Her Letter to Susan Gilbert, in June of 1852, Might Tell Us Less Than You Think
- Learning Plan – Meg Dobson-Armstrong Art on Emily Dickinson, Lesbian?: Her Letter to Susan Gilbert, in June of 1852, Might Tell Us Less Than You Think
- Commercial project: House of illustration competition – Meg Dobson-Armstrong Art on Emily Dickinson, Lesbian?: Her Letter to Susan Gilbert, in June of 1852, Might Tell Us Less Than You Think
- Dennis Gannon on “Male and Female Created He Them!”: Was Adam a Hermaphrodite? And Does That Explain How Eve Could Be Taken from Adam’s Body?
- Anonymous on UFOs, Aliens, and Religious Art
- Janet on Bearing Witness to the Holocaust: Children Lined up with Heads Shaved in a Croatian Concentration Camp
- Jim Loving on Robert Wright on Osiris, Jesus, Dives, and Lazarus
- longviewhypnosis on What, Exactly, Is Wrong With Bestiality?
- frauposaune on Emily Dickinson, Lesbian?: Her Letter to Susan Gilbert, in June of 1852, Might Tell Us Less Than You Think
- Andre Fruge on Emily Dickinson, Lesbian?: Her Letter to Susan Gilbert, in June of 1852, Might Tell Us Less Than You Think
- Dave on Barack Obama: The Leopard in the Book of Daniel?
- Emily Dickinson, Lesbian?: Her Letter to Susan Gilbert, in June of 1852, Might Tell Us Less Than You Think
- What, Exactly, Is Wrong With Bestiality?
- Clit Rubbing Bonobos: A Clue to the Evolutionary Origin of Human Homosexuality?
- Does Time Exist? Einstein, Julian Barbour, Lee Smolin, Some Greek Philosophers--And The New Data From The NASA Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope
- An Atheist Writes a Poem: Thomas Hardy's "Hap"
- Suicide is Painless? Albert Camus's First Problem of Philosophy---and the Southern Novelist Walker Percy's Answer to It
- Chance v. Conspiracy Theory Watch: Ezra Klein's Contingency Observations v. Matt Damon's "The Adjustment Bureau"
- The Difference Between Having An Ideology And Having An Agenda
- Walt Whitman: "To be indeed a God!"
- Shakespeare, James Joyce, and the Dirty Encoding in Britney Spears's "If U Seek Amy"
- RT @RachelBitecofer: Remember when you had a chance to choose country over party and you chose party @SenatorCollins? Well, @ProjectLincol… 6 days ago
- RT @RachelBitecofer: Trump cares more about dead traitors than live patriots. RT this @votevets ad & tell your followers https://t.co/OD5Z… 1 week ago
- RT @ltgrusselhonore: Make a note, We need to forbid police and federal agents from using military uniforms . The camo uniforms are meant to… 2 weeks ago
- RT @MittRomney: Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying t… 3 weeks ago
- RT @MeidasTouch: Hey @EricTrump, you know what they say, #BirdsofaFeather. Retweet to remind Eric that his dad is a sicko. https://t.co/Yb… 1 month ago