Thursday, January 03, 2013

On Being Open-Minded

You can cling tightly to your beliefs, or you can have an open mind. Decide which you want.

Clinging tightly to a belief is not a profitable strategy for learning new things. If you must cling to a belief, cling with a child's grip.

People who cling tightly to beliefs seal off their minds to input from others. That's basically what it comes down to.

The more firm beliefs you have, the more closed-off your mind is.

Clinging tightly to a belief makes the belief religious in nature, regardless of whether it involves God or not.

What are you religious about? Perhaps it's gun control, abortion, the death penalty, patriotism ("America is the greatest country on earth"), deficit spending, taxation, evolution, global warming.

If you have religious beliefs about non-religion topics, it means you have a closed mind. Never a good idea.

Why are you defending your own religiosity? Do you not see how that makes you look? How it makes you sound?

Having religious beliefs about non-religious things is absurd.

Having religious beliefs about religious things might also be absurd. Are you even open to that possibility?

"I don't have an open mind about certain things" is the hallmark of  a stunted mind.

Everything you know is wrong until proven otherwise. Proven, as with facts. Not with beliefs.

Don't be so defensive.

Take your mind out of the root cellar and let it breathe.

If you're confident in your beliefs, you can allow fresh ideas in without being defensive.

If you feel strong emotions (like anger) when debating a given topic, you're not being rational. Just admit it. Out loud. To yourself. To others.

Get off your high horse. You don't know half as much as you think you do.

"Doctrinaire" is a variant of "jerk."

Don't be a jerk.


  1. People have grown too accustomed to their "comfort zones". Culture cultivates these comfortable zones of belief. It helps define them (church, parents, science, law, peers, etc.) through dogma and doctrine. Sadly, it begins as children, when we have no say in what we believe. We are crafted according to the will of others.

    It is the rare soul who, at a certain point in their life, steps back and fully realizes this. It is a more rare soul who, upon realizing it, begins the task of inventorying and re-evaluating their beliefs... because there are an amazing number of them with roots other than our own intelligent, questioning, and reasoning mind.

    They say an mind is a terrible thing to waste, and yet by closing off possibilities, you're doing just that.

  2. My understanding of what it means to have an 'open mind' is that one needs to be willing to consider evidence which may alter or contradict previously-held beliefs / ideas / knowledge. It doesn't lower the bar for what's considered evidence, though -- contrary to the popular usage of the term among proponents of irrational beliefs.

  3. Anonymous11:39 AM

    If I wrote a 20 page paper on why you don't need shelter would you be open minded about the conclusion?

    1. yes if you could show me an environment you could live in without shelter

  4. Tim Miller11:52 AM

    I think this post makes some very good points about keeping an open mind. Certainly there are beliefs,concepts and ideas which are passed on to us, which we should reexamine and possibly discard because they are indefensible despite our emotional or nostalgic attachment to them. Gun access being one of them in light of recent events. I was tracking with you up until you said, "everything you know is wrong until proven otherwise", which is oddly concrete and doctrinal within a post otherwise pushing for dialogue and open-mindedness. Being a person of belief and trying to be open to fresh ideas, I wonder what you would do with miracles (external) and subjective religious experience (internal)? Neither of these experiences will ever be proven concretely and while you certainly can explain away some miracles (maybe most?) with science, and some subjective religious experience with psychology/sociology, in the spirit of keeping an open mind, would you discount all of them, when these two unprovable things have been experienced by not hundreds, or thousands but millions and quite possible billions of people throughout history and around the world? Is there no room in the world for the super-natural? That seems a bit arrogant and possibly naive to me.

  5. Having an open mind, being open to possibilty is what makes us grow. Without it, we're stagnant and stuck with archaic constructs and beliefs. Most cultures and parenting methods work so hard at ensuring that we stay in this box. It's only natural that most minds, and indeed most lives, are wasted.

  6. Anonymous1:45 PM

    There is a difference between having an open mind and being gullible.


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