Impartiality As A Framework
In one of my first undergraduate economics courses, I went to the professor after class and naively asked him which school of economic thought he generally agreed with. His response was basically: All are right in some ways, and wrong in others. It would be unwise to commit to a school of thought, as it will cloud the judgement of even someone with my experience and knowledge. My advice is to disaffiliate yourself from these things, especially politically, as it will give you a clear mind to examine both sides of the argument, bringing you closer to the truth.
And wow, the impact that statement has had on me. I have modeled many areas of my life after this idea, and it has served me incredibly well.
First, economically/politically. It is painfully obvious that most people are blindly committed to a particular political affiliation, and each side controls the narrative and facts to keep them in the party’s hold. Many simply take on the political affiliation of their parents at a young age, and never consider revisiting their decision later in life. People are indoctrinated into believing that their party is absolutely right while the other party is full of ignorance/idiocy. This causes college students to be so polarized that they have no interest in discussing and debating the issues with each other, as they are brought up as enemies. A travesty, as the point of university is to grow, debate, and learn from others.
One other way I have applied impartiality is through my religious beliefs. Raised in a very traditional christian family, for the last few years I have essentially disaffiliated myself, and am building my beliefs from the ground up. I’m really building a framework for my beliefs, starting with listing all of the assumptions I personally find to be likely/believe in. What I’ve found is that I think, like my professor said about economic schools of thought, all are right in some ways, and wrong in others. I’ll go deeper into this in another post, but this change was all caused by my mindset on impartiality.
Other smaller areas of my life have been affected by this. I try to not fully affiliate with really much at all, even things as small as PC vs. Apple products, or my personal opinions on things like drugs and alcohol. I go into every debate/discussion on a topic with evenness and the mindset that my opinion can be changed with the right facts and logic.
Obviously, there are areas where impartiality doesn’t really work. Sports fandom, for instance. I am a die-hard Houston Astros fan and I’m not even from Houston, my family is. This is simply illogical, but I have rationalized this in that it is a source of great joy and entertainment, and most of the fun of being a sports fan is the emotional attachment to the team and players.
I’ll say it now, it is difficult to be impartial. Society pushes affiliation very hard on us, and biases and prejudices are very difficult to break. It is a daily mental struggle to know when to force yourself to be impartial when examining a situation, as every situation is different. But I truly believe it has been a driving force in clearing my mind and allowing me to better analyze myself and the world around me. The biggest thing I have learned from all of this is that most of the time, the correct answer is somewhere in the middle. I believe this to be especially true politically, economically, and religiously.