Don’t avoid reading things or talking to people that you think you will disagree with. If you read this essay, don’t do it because you think you agree with it. If you believe in right wing politics, do not avoid people with left wing politics. Doing that just reinforces your beliefs and makes you close minded. It is essentially just a confidence boost, but you don’t learn anything new or improve yourself.
Different is Interesting
Instead you should be looking for new points of view, new ideas, ideas you disagree with, even on a fundamental level. While the title, or even first few paragraphs of a news article might seem like something you don’t agree with, that doesn’t matter. If someone you know claims to be a communist, that is no reason to avoid them or hate them. Sticking to people and ideas that you already know about and believe in is boring, because you don’t learn anything new. A civilised discussion or article can help you to understand why people think differently from you. Close minded people often just assume the reasons other people have for their different beliefs, and they reinforce those assumptions when they hear bits of what the other people say, but they don’t really try to understand.
If you don’t try to understand them, you can’t really say you disagree with them, you would just be close minded. Talking with a friend about something you both agree on is boring because you’re both just saying the same thing. What you should do is try to explain your point of view to others and have them explain theirs to you. This way you can compare your beliefs, and if eithers your or their facts or reasoning are wrong, then you can help each other by pointing that out and letting each other reevaluate your beliefs. This is both more interesting and more productive to everyone, as long as they are calm and open minded about it.
The Desire to Reinforce One’s Ideas
It is natural for people to either look for or stay with people that either agree with them or think like them. This is partly because it is easier and perhaps more fun to be friends with people like that, but it is also because they can talk about their shared ideas without argument.
People also naturally look for or choose to read articles and news that they agree with, rather than reading something that seems like they will not like or agree with it.
If you surround yourself with people and information that reinforces your beliefs, then you will not expose yourself to many new ideas. This is close minded and quite dangerous. The longer you do this, the more close minded you will become and the less likely you will be to consider others’ opinions or ideas, and the less likely, and to consider that your opinions and beliefs may be incorrect or flawed.
Especially in philosophy, it is vital that you read the views of others that you disagree with. You can only know if you really disagree with them if you truly understand their beliefs and the reasoning they used to come to those conclusions. If you do not truly understand them, or if you simply assume you understand them without really trying, then you are just being close minded and rejecting beliefs because it is easier and more convenient for you.
It is essential to being open minded that you not only look for positive information about things you believe in, but negative ones too.
- Close minded people might have confirmation bias towards information about something they believe. This means that they will happily read and consider evidence that supports their beliefs, while ignoring other evidence.
- Close minded people might also reject anything that they see as a threat to their beliefs without even considering them or really trying to understand them.
There is a standard format of essays in the United States that consists of stating one’s conclusion in the first paragraph, and then supporting it with evidence in the following paragraphs. This format of essays presents a problem when read by a close minded person.
- If the person disagrees with the conclusion at the start, they might reject all the following evidence simply because they know it is evidence -for- something they disagree with, and they might be looking for reasons, true or not, to claim that the conclusion is false.
- If the person agrees with the conclusion at the start, they might blindly accept all the following evidence, because instead of wondering if the conclusion is correct, they instead assume it, which then justifies the evidence for them. This is the opposite of how it should work; evidence can justify they conclusion based on them, but a conclusion cannot justify the evidence it is based on.
Similarly with news, a close minded person is more likely to believe news if it supports their beliefs. If it does not support their beliefs, they are more likely to think it is false, incorrectly stated, or that it is biased news.
They may be correct in thinking that the news is correct, false, or biased, but the reasons they used to decide that are fallacious. Since their reasoning is incorrect, they are likely to be wrong about the truth and bias of news. This is why it is important to find unbiased news sources and consult various news outlets, taking into account their bias, to determine what the actual truth is.
Being close minded and reinforcing your unchanging ideas will make you even more close minded. Such people generally either continue to hold their same limited beliefs, become crazy since they do not accept the truth, or because of their unwillingness to accept that they may be wrong they make mistakes that cost them dearly, and it may only be then that they realise that they were mistaken.
Religious zealots and ultrapatriots are examples of how closed mindedness can make people into extremists by sticking to a fixed set of beliefs. This is because fixed beliefs are unreasonable, in the literal sense in that they lack proper reasoning. Instead of using logic to determine if those beliefs are in fact correct, they assume them and reject counter evidence or any attempts to analyse those beliefs. Since this can only be done by rejecting logic, these people naturally will be more likely to believe fallacies and not know how to use logic correctly. As a result, they become less and less logical and eventually cannot make basic decisions related to the real world.
Don’t read this essay, or any of my other essays simply because you agree with them. If you only read things that you think you will agree with, then you are not really learning or improving yourself, but instead just reading it to convince yourself that you are not mistaken. This is essentially a confidence boost, and little more. There is little reason to read something if it doesn’t tell you anything new. On the contrary, you should read things that offer you something new: a new point of view on something, a new idea, an idea that you think you’d disagree with, but it is presented such that you might understand the reasons for it.
Being open minded means that you analyse and doubt your own ideas and reasoning, which requires investigating new ideas to relate to your own, so that you determine what is true.