Fostering an open mind

There’s an interesting article in Psyche: How to foster ‘shoshin’.  “Shoshin” is a Japanese Zen word referring to a “beginner’s mind.”  The idea is that when we take ourselves to be a beginner in a subject, or at least still a student of it, we’re more open to possibilities.  But as we begin to think of ourselves as experts, we tend to close off those possibilities.

Key suggestions from the article:

  • Explain a theory or idea to yourself or someone else. Overconfidence in your own knowledge and expertise fuels closed-mindedness. By attempting to explain an idea or argument to someone else, you will get a more realistic sense of what you do and don’t know.

  • Argue with yourself. It’s an essential part of human psychology that we are inclined to seek out knowledge and information that is consistent with our current views and beliefs. Try to be more aware of this ‘confirmation bias’, and deliberately counteract it by debating with yourself – look for evidence or arguments that challenge your current perspective.

  • Recognise that intelligence is not fixed but accrues through the pursuit of knowledge. If you believe in the malleability of intellect, this is known as having a ‘growth mindset’ (by contrast, if you see people as essentially either smart or ignorant by nature, then you have a ‘fixed mindset’). By periodically reminding yourself that expertise is something that accrues through study and effort, you are more likely to develop a growth mindset, and in turn this will help you to be more open-minded.

  • Look to the stars. Gaze at the night sky, take a walk in nature, or listen to a stirring symphony. Any activities that invoke in you the emotion of awe (wonder at the enormity and beauty of the world) will increase your feelings of humility, and inspire a more open-minded perspective.

I find blogging to be an excellent way to deal with the first suggestion: explaining an idea to yourself or someone else.  You often have to condense a lot of material in a way others will (hopefully) find intelligible, but also be prepared to defend your particular take on it.

It also works pretty well for the second point: arguing with yourself.  I have a graveyard of draft posts which began with a particular conviction, but at some point in the writing became untenable.  Somewhere in trying to work through the logic, or in anticipating possible objections, I realized I no longer bought the thesis anymore.

Of course, if I should fail to do these adequately before publishing, a lot of intelligent people will point out the fumbles.  Arguing with ourselves can be good, but debating real opponents is often a better reality check.  They’re less likely to go easy on our blind spots.

The third point about intelligence not being fixed, is crucial.  I frequently encounter people who take themselves to be experts on a particular topic, or to at least to have superior knowledge of it.  But many who think they’re experts, aren’t.  It’s a fact of life that people who know less, often overestimate their knowledge, while genuine experts tend to be more aware of their limitations and are more likely to issue cautions about hasty conclusions.

The problem with illusory expertise is that it frequently leads people to lock themselves out of learning more.  They’re already an expert, the thinking goes, so no reason to listen to new ideas that don’t accord with their own.  Recognizing that expertise is an ongoing process, not a permanently achieved state, and being open about learning new things, helps to guard against this rut.

The article’s last point about awe seems particularly useful when we’re tempted to summarily dismiss a proposition just because it seems absurd or ridiculous.  If we can summon some sense of wonder for it, then we’re more likely to give it a fair hearing.  We might still end up finding good reasons to reject it, but it’s less likely to simply be because it violates our expectations.

Of course, as a skeptic, a lot of people think I’m closed minded.  And to some extent, they’re right.  It’s not practical to be endlessly open minded.  We all have limited time, and have to decide where to invest it.  I’m not going to spend much of mine looking at propositions in areas I’ve repeatedly found unfruitful in the past (except maybe for entertainment), or theories that seem more motivated for a comforting result than to explain the data.

But I think being open minded goes both ways.  People should be open to the need to justify their propositions, and to fulfill the first key suggestion from the article and provide clear explanations.  They should also be open to the possibility that the proposition isn’t reality.  Often when people are telling me I’m closed minded, they’re being evasive on one or more of these points.

But that’s the problem with talking about being open minded.  Everyone wants others to be open minded about their favorite ideas, but are typically less eager to be open minded about everyone else’s.

What do you think about the article’s suggestions?  Or my take on them?

49 thoughts on “Fostering an open mind

  1. I don’t really get the point about awe and wonder. I mean, awesome and wonderful things are awesome and wonderful, but that could either promote beginner’s mind … or dogmatic theism. I’m afraid it depends more on what the person brings to the experience than where the experience is leading them.

    I’d suggest tactic #5: study quantum mechanics and general relativity. By the time you’ve scratched the surface, your notions of time, space, matter, and energy will be so mind-blown that you will have trouble dismissing even the looniest theories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of people who do study QM and GR can be pretty dogmatic about their views. Consider the QM interpretation wars. People actually saw their careers ruined over this stuff. It seems like considering interpretations with a sense of wonder can help being more open minded about them.

      Of course, it’s not awe and wonder in isolation. We still need evidence and a clear logical account. The awe and wonder just help in keeping our minds open long enough to hear and process those, if they’re available.


    2. Interesting. I was quite intrigued that the article Mike refers to argues that open-mindedness is not divorced from emotion—that it depends, for example, on feelings of confidence, of feeling loved and respected. It also paraphrases Einstein on this. The more complete quote Is helpful:

      “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein

      Liked by 2 people

      1. A thousand times, yes! Here’s another one from ol’ Albert:

        Many people think that the progress of the human race is based on experiences of an empirical, critical nature, but I say that true knowledge is to be had only through a philosophy of deduction. For it is intuition that improves the world, not just following a trodden path of thought. Intuition makes us look at unrelated facts and then think about them until they can all be brought under one law. To look for related facts means holding onto what one has instead of searching for new facts. Intuition is the father of new knowledge, while empiricism is nothing but an accumulation of old knowledge. Intuition, not intellect, is the ‘open sesame’ of yourself.


  2. I definitely agree that blogging helps a lot with points one and two. I like to say there’s an “unlearning step” in my research process. It usually happens when I fact check something I wrote in a blog post. Whatever I thought I’d learned, I have to unlearn it and then try to learn it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean about unlearning. It can be tough sometimes, since it usually means things are more complicated than we thought. Or giving up some idea we thought was really cool. It’s really annoying if the unlearning happens after we hit Publish. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think those are all excellent approaches. I might add one more: learn to be ruthless with yourself. It’s part of arguing with yourself, but includes the necessity of accepting, even presuming, you are wrong and requiring that you justify your own views. It’s a bit like writers having to learn to throw away words they sweated over. Never get too comfortable with your own ideas.

    Totally agree on the value of blogging (or teaching) and debating. As you know, I think the dialectic is an important tool.

    With regard to expertise, there is something called the Dunning-Kruger effect. It essentially says one requires a certain level of knowledge about a topic to fully appreciate how much one doesn’t know about that topic. Without that understanding, as you say, it’s easy to over-estimate oneself.

    Regarding awe, I think that one’s important, too. The text used the word “humility” — I might have used the word “small” (but same thing, really). It’s a good way to combat the Dunning-Kruger effect — realizing how small we are and how much we don’t yet know. Realizing that, no matter how much one learns about something, there is almost much more than that to know.

    “Of course, as a skeptic, a lot of people think I’m closed minded. And to some extent, they’re right. It’s not practical to be endlessly open minded.”

    Perhaps guilty as charged, but suggesting the alternative is being “endlessly open minded” leaves a lot of middle ground.

    “They should also be open to the possibility that the proposition isn’t reality.”

    Always! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I definitely think being ruthless with ourselves is beneficial, to the extent we can pull it off. However, I’m uneasy that we always can. We might succeed on some occasions, but fail on others, even when we think we’ve succeeded. That’s where I think bringing in outside opponents is beneficial. It adds an additional reality check and ensures we’re not fooling ourselves. As Feynman said, we’re the easiest ones for ourselves to fool.

      One alternative to blogging that I forgot to mention is teaching. Teaching something forces you to get your act together far more than when you’re just imbibing a topic. I guess blogging is technically a subset of that, with the comments counting as an unruly class challenging your points and asking questions.

      The Dunning-Kruger effect is pretty much what I had in mind. It’s often presented as a problem in self assessment, but you make an excellent point. Often what it really is, is a problem in assessing the knowledge domain. When we know little about a particular topic, the temptation is to think, how complicated can it be? Of course, just about anything, when you dig into it, ends up being more complicated than it appears from afar. But it’s not obvious until that digging.

      I don’t think that paragraph as a whole implies I’m saying there’s a binary choice between complete open mindedness and complete closed mindedness. Only that for most of us, there are practical limits on just how much time there is to investigate things. At some point we have to triage and depend on our prior experience, or lean on the assessment and consensus of actual experts in the relevant field.


      1. “However, I’m uneasy that we always can.”

        Nothing is perfect! I quite agree about input from others, totally!

        “Teaching something forces you to get your act together…”

        Again, totally! I’ve taught machine repair and computer programming, and both those experiences sharpened my own knowledge and skills considerably. Because, speaking of input from others, there are always those students who ask questions about things one had never really considered.

        (Teaching programming was especially eye-opening because it turns out a common question from newbies is “why?” — from assembly level register stuff to high-level 4GL stuff, they want to know the why? of things. From the perspective of many years of experience, the why? has become a background foundation I don’t even think about. From what I’ve observed in others, many students fail to get programming because the teacher didn’t hear, or answer, the why? question.)

        “Often what it really is, is a problem in assessing the knowledge domain.”

        I think that’s what the D-K effect really is — the inability to assess one’s level of knowledge due to a poor grasp of the subject matter.

        To quote the great philosopher (Don Henley), “The more I know, the less I understand.” As you say, many subjects are far more complicated than they may at first seem.

        “Only that for most of us, there are practical limits on just how much time there is to investigate things.”

        Of course! No one is suggesting long nights at the (virtual) library researching topics. I think it’s more about one’s approach to what one writes and says in debates.


        1. On the why question, there’s actually a tweet going around of some schmuck ridiculing a teenage girl for asking basic why questions about math, on how the ancient Pythagoreans could have worked out the relations they did. (At this point, given all the criticism, I’m surprised the ridiculer hasn’t deleted the tweet.) But just about everyone agrees this girl is asking meaningful questions, the kind that should be encouraged.


          1. “Schmuck” would be putting it nicely. I’ll add this to my list of reasons to avoid twitter. 😀

            I’m sure I’ve mentioned how much value I place on foundational knowledge, and those why? questions are instrumental to gaining it.


          2. Twitter is definitely a jungle. But who you follow largely determines your experience. Following clueless politicians and celebrities makes you want to put your head in a blender. Following scientists and philosophers (with some stark exceptions), provides a much more interesting palette.


    2. Realising how small we are. Yes, couldn’t agree more. Realising how different reality may actually be from our still very closed and limited knowledge. Awe… Yes. Vital. Love the Einstein quote furthe down in the stack. That was one wise old cove.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He was, indeed. A big believer in intuition and awe. (The theory of Special Relativity comes from his long-time pondering (since an early age, I believe) what light would look like if you could move at, or very near, the speed of light. Would you see frozen waves? That seemed wrong to his intuition, so he came up with a better view.)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent points all of them. They express thoughts I have often had and have come to believe in. In the world of finance where I have spent my life I have come to realise I am invariably wrong footed. I don’t know very much despite the past 40 years. The joke is no one does. The latest fad is machine learning to predict stock prices which leads us slap bang into the problem of determinism, adaptive systems with feedback, chaos and so forth. I won’t go into my views on such matters, but they are doubtless misconceived. As you can imagine your point on “awe” strikes an enornous, loud and harmonious chord with me. Yes, I know precisely where you are coming from. And for me at least, you are 100 percent correct in this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Excellent points! I’m in management and had a similar epiphany about 15 years ago. Most people don’t really understand what they’re talking about or doing, although they usually know enough to muddle through. The really smart ones are the ones who do understand they’re muddling and are wary about being too overconfident in it. It makes them more cautious, but also a lot less likely to make catastrophic decisions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mike,
        What you have just described is the systemic problem within institutions at large. Our institutions are not built based upon individual strength, they are built based upon individual weakness.

        Collectively, institutions are the individuals that make up the leadership hierarchy, otherwise known as the ruling class. Those individuals who move up the hierarchy, i.e. the ones promoted into positions of power are not the most talented, smartest and/or gifted, they are the ones who are the most compliant and willing to conform to the culture of the institution. In other words, they are followers not leaders. Individuals who are self-make, the most gifted and talented are systematically screened to ensure that they never reach a position of power because those individuals are considered a threat because they cannot be controlled.

        This is the “why” of what you have personally witnessed in your own illustrious career at the University.



  5. As with all disciples of Hume, skepticism itself is a metaphysical position. As with any deterministic system, the original starting point, i.e., the original boundaries set by the system’s properties ultimately determines the outcome. This is defined as a limited degree of self-determination within an otherwise deterministic system. A skeptic could call that freedom of self-determination within the deterministic architecture of skepticism empirical data, curiousness or even entertainment, nevertheless, what is determined by the metaphysical position of skepticism will always equal skepticism, (S=S).

    Furthermore, the notion of open minded-ness is deeply rooted in the primordial psychical predispositions of any given mind, and that primordial need is a sense of control. It’s a literal sensation of deeply felt e-motion. A sense of control and a sense of self are coextensive, one cannot have one without the other. That is why change is so difficult. Fundamentally, systems use the power intrinsic to the properties of any given system to maintain the identity of the system at any cost, even when all other meaning and purpose is lost. The only way change occurs within the natural world is when a system is compelled to compulsion by another system with greater power.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Skepticism is a vast umbrella term. There are many different types. What I think distinguishes them is what the adherents will accept as justification for a proposition. Hume’s variety is scientific skepticism, a variety that accepts empirical evidence, or rigorous logical extrapolation from such evidence, as justification.

      I would agree that it’s a philosophy, but one I think we don’t have to resort to metaphysics to justify. All we need to do is look at the epistemic fate of the overwhelming majority of proposed notions throughout history. If they’re not driven by data, they’ve almost always been wrong.

      But being such a skeptic means being on guard against slipping into blanket denialism. It means being open to actual evidence. But it also means being on guard against propositions we’re most eager to be true.


      1. (“But being such a skeptic means being on guard against slipping into blanket denialism. It means being open to actual evidence.”)

        But where is that arbitrary line of blanket denialism drawn when a skeptic is confronted by the brute fact that empirical evidence proves absolutely nothing? (Sabine Hossenfelder).

        (“But it also means being on guard against propositions we’re most eager to be true.”)

        The first rebuttal is a straw man, but this second rebuttal is an even weaker straw manning position, one that should be reserved as advice for children and unreasonable, religiously inclined individuals. What we really want to be true is that we have some semblance of control, which we do; but that control is limited and finite within the confines of a deterministic system.

        Being dumped into this reality and left in the lurch sucks, there’s no question about that brute fact. Nevertheless, by surgically de-compartmentalizing really into parts and not considering reality as a unified whole is our first fundamental mistake.



        1. Where do you see Hossenfelder asserting that?

          I didn’t see these points as rebuttals, just aspects of skepticism I think are important. You can say they’re straw man positions, but I regularly see examples that bear them out. And yes, I include myself in that.


          1. (“I want to leave aside here that, of course, you cannot strictly speaking prove any empirical fact; you can only prove mathematical identities,…”)

            Essay: Flat Earth “Science”: Wrong, but not stupid
            Rock on Sabine…….



          2. Thanks. Well, if we’re speaking strictly, I agree. You don’t prove scientific conclusions. They’re just the explanation with the fewest assumptions that fits the data. But empirical evidence is still crucial. I think her full sentence makes that clear.

            I want to leave aside here that, of course, you cannot strictly speaking prove any empirical fact; you can only prove mathematical identities, so more precisely we should speak of seeking evidence that disfavors the hypothesis that the earth is flat.



          3. (“…so more precisely we should speak of seeking evidence that disfavors the hypothesis that the earth is flat.”)

            Great advice Sabine, Rock On: So as scientists, neuroscience should be seeking the evidence that disfavors the hypothesis that consciousness emerges from a biological brain. Just imagine the findings of that research program…… Imagine, a neuroscience research program on consciousness where the horse is actually in front of the cart :).



          4. Wait….. My crystal ball just flickered. The incoming message is illuminating, it reads: “Non-Conscious Matter ‘Science’: Wrong, but not Stupid”. Have fun kids. You’ve got a great blog going Mike; keep up the good work.



          5. Find the evidence and you can write the headline.

            (Actually you can write the headline anytime you want, but for it to have the same effect as Hossenfelder’s, it helps to have the evidence.)


          6. Evidence? The empirical evidence is all around us, and that evidence is beyond refute. It starts from three simple, fundamental premises; premises that are predicated upon a metaphysics of unity, not a metaphysics of separation and division. The indisputable, empirical evidence is as follows:

            1. I am alive therefore, every other system is the universe “must” be alive.
            2. I am aware and having an experience therefore, every other system in the universe “must” be having an experience as well.
            3. I have a limited degree of self-determination within an otherwise deterministic system therefore, every other system in the universe “must” also have a limited degree of self-determination within an otherwise deterministic system.

            How else does one explain the diversity and novelty of the expression we know as our physical universe?………. Magic??? These fundamental assumptions do not negate the physical sciences in any way, shape or form. Therefore, it is the most parsimonious explanation that can be articulated.

            In closing, please refer to the quote from Arthur Schopenhauer, as someone other than myself will write the headlines.



          7. Hmmmm, the metaphysics of science. Let us systematically dissect the empirical evidence according to the paradigm of science:

            1. The miracle of a physical universe automagically emerging from nothing.
            2. The miracle of living matter automagically emerging from dead matter.
            3. The miracle of consciousness automagically emerging from non-conscious matter.

            I don’t know about you, but I’m a little confused by the current explication of things and yet, It seems to me that you are stuck on bullet point #1 of Schopenhauer’s progression. 🙂



  6. I have found that explaining something to someone helps clarify my position. Every time I start to write a post I am doing the first two simultaneously & many a post has been binned because I was not convinced.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a bad habit of not binning mine, which is why I have the graveyard. I have gone through it a few times and deleted the ones that are most obviously dead, but there are still about 40 lying around. I really should delete all of them so someone doesn’t find them someday and think, “Aha, this is what he really thought.”


        1. One thing I have learned, when pulling a post out of the Trash, be sure to check the slug (the string that becomes the part of the URL referencing the post). WP usually changes it to “Trashed” plus some number. Changing it after publication is problematic.


  7. Thought this quote was apropos for open minded-ness:

    “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

    Arthur Schopenhauer



  8. The moral of fostering an open mind:

    What does it mean to have an open mind? It means that all of the intellectual constructions that we inherit directly from our immediate family and culture, the intellectual constructs that we trade in on the open market, modify and/or create for ourselves are irrelevant. In laymen’s terms what this means is that our thoughts individually and/or collectively do not impinge upon Reality. Reality is sovereign and furthermore, that Reality is a unified whole of which we are only a part. That Reality is vibrantly alive, consciously pulsating with life generating systems that evolve into the most uniquely profound systems that one could ever imagine. That system is called mind.

    The notion of open minded-ness as a concept is directly correlated to one’s threshold for uncertainty. The more comfortable one is with uncertainty the more inclined one is towards being open minded. The only place where this assessment does not hold true is for the wild beasts of nature who are only interested in survival. At their core, all wild beasts of the field are functionalists, instrumentalists and computationalsists. In closing: Any dead fish can float down stream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream against the current.



  9. Mike,
    I wanted to bring this comment over from Broad Speculations to your site because it is relative to this particular post. I stated:

    “One cannot replicate our own experience of mind without the exceptional raw materials provided by biology and likewise, one cannot replicate biology without the exceptional raw materials provided by inorganic matter.”

    Then you unequivocally stated: “I disagree”.

    I do not question your right to disagree, nevertheless, I find your rationale to be the quintessential paradox. On the one hand, you consistently cite evolution as empirical evidence to justify your own beliefs; and then on the other hand, when the exceptionalism of evolution somehow undermines those beliefs you then reject the very empirical evidence that evolution provides. I find your rationale to be incoherent and furthermore, it does not conform to the thesis of Fostering an Open Mind.



      1. Mike,
        You avoided the main thrust of my comment, that being your incoherent, paradoxical arguments. No offense intended here Mike, but I find your blog to be a cyber replicate of talk radio shows. Those talk radio shows are nothing more than a bully pulpit for the host.

        You have been a courteous and accommodating host nevertheless, I am left to conclude that your blog is nothing more than a bully pulpit for furthering your own prejudicial biases, not a platform for the free exchange of ideas.

        Because of the reason cited above, I am recusing myself from further participation wishing you all of the best.



  10. This post has reminded me of a passage from Mark Twain’s what is man and I will paste it here. Forgive its length.

    [….]That list of sects is not a record of STUDIES, searchings, seekings after light; it mainly (and sarcastically) indicates what ASSOCIATION can do. If you know a man’s nationality you can come within a split hair of guessing the complexion of his religion: English–Protestant; American– ditto; Spaniard, Frenchman, Irishman, Italian, South American– Roman Catholic; Russian–Greek Catholic; Turk–Mohammedan; and so on. And when you know the man’s religious complexion, you know what sort of religious books he reads when he wants some more light, and what sort of books he avoids, lest by accident he get more light than he wants. In America if you know which party- collar a voter wears, you know what his associations are, and how he came by his politics, and which breed of newspaper he reads to get light, and which breed he diligently avoids, and which breed of mass-meetings he attends in order to broaden his political knowledge, and which breed of mass-meetings he doesn’t attend, except to refute its doctrines with brickbats. We are always hearing of people who are around SEEKING AFTER TRUTH. I have never seen a (permanent) specimen. I think he had never lived. But I have seen several entirely sincere people who THOUGHT they were (permanent) Seekers after Truth. They sought diligently, persistently, carefully, cautiously, profoundly, with perfect honesty and nicely adjusted judgment–until they believed that without doubt or question they had found the Truth. THAT WAS THE END OF THE SEARCH. The man spent the rest of his life hunting up shingles wherewith to protect his Truth from the weather. If he was seeking after political Truth he found it in one or another of the hundred political gospels which govern men in the earth; if he was seeking after the Only True Religion he found it in one or another of the three thousand that are on the market. In any case, when he found the Truth HE SOUGHT NO FURTHER; but from that day forth, with his soldering-iron in one hand and his bludgeon in the other he tinkered its leaks and reasoned with objectors. There have been innumerable Temporary Seekers of Truth–have you ever heard of a permanent one? In the very nature of man such a person is impossible. However, to drop back to the text– training: all training is one form or another of OUTSIDE INFLUENCE, and ASSOCIATION is the largest part of it. A man is never anything but what his outside influences have made him. They train him downward or they train him upward–but they TRAIN him; they are at work upon him all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mak! A lot of truth here.

      I’m not sure it’s quite as bleak as Twain paints it though. He’s probably right that it’s not possible for anyone to permanently stay in seeker mode, but it seems possible for someone to enter it multiple times, perhaps even periodically. Of course, it’s also very easy for us to fool ourselves, and extremely hard to catch ourselves at it. All we can do is be aware of our natural tendency to fall into that rut, and try to compensate for it as best we can.


      1. For must of us, I think we are oblivious to the rut. But it is easiest to see in religious settings: my Muslim friend has the right religion and he is not open to the question of it being wrong.


        1. Definitely religion is the most common example. But Max Planck’s observation shows it’s far from the only place.

          A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. . . . An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out, and that the growing generation is familiarized with the ideas from the beginning: another instance of the fact that the future lies with the youth.

          — Max Planck, Scientific autobiography, 1950, p. 33, 97

          Again, similar to Twain, I don’t think it’s that stark. Many ideas do seem to get accepted pretty quickly. But the really paradigm shifting ones often do need a new generation.

          Strangely enough, I actually think something similar is true for most religions. They often have a narrative of timeless values, but history shows they do change, but it often takes a new generation.


  11. I think “look to the stars” is the most helpful advice. It’s hard to lie to yourself about whether or not you feel a sense of awe. (Dogs—one in particular—do it for me too.) The other tips might work to some degree for people who are already basically open minded, but for those who really need to be more open minded there are ways of pretending to argue with oneself, pretending to listen to all sides, etc.

    “Somewhere in trying to work through the logic, or in anticipating possible objections, I realized I no longer bought the thesis anymore.”

    Isn’t that the amazing thing about writing? Of course, it’s also frustrating when you get an idea for a post and want that sense of finality that comes from publishing it, but alas, the idea isn’t worthy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The “look to the stars” one seems about considering ideas presented to us. The others seem more about our own ideas. I agree. It’s a lot harder to get people to scrutinize their own ideas, knowledge, and expertise.

      Writing can have a downside to it too. It’s very easy to get locked into our positions once we’ve written about them and published it. But it does make me be sure I want to live with what I’m writing. It definitely can be frustrating when you’ve just finished a 1500 word post and realize you need to throw it away.

      Liked by 1 person

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