How to Open a Mind

I’ve never met anyone who has admitted to being closed-minded.

Even most zealots claim that they’d be willing to change their position if a good enough reason were presented, which of course will never happen.

Humans have built in confirmation biases that twist any new information we encounter into something that supports what we already believe. Similarly, we are only critical of information that contradicts us.

Humans, in other words, avoid deep thinking whenever possible.

I believe I’m open-minded, of course. But I also know that I am human, and am probably less open-minded than I think I am. I read books, like Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, to help myself recognize and account for cognitive errors that humans are prone to. I do my best to think thoughtfully (so meta!), but how do I know if I’m doing a good job? Could I be just as bad as the political automatons in congress? Are we all equally delusional?

I tried to think of examples of times when I’ve changed my opinion drastically. I used to dislike (fairly adamantly) San Francisco, organic agriculture, social media, Dave Matthews, Obama, brussel sprouts, and Apple, and have since grown to love and appreciate all of these.

Does that prove I’m open-minded? Does it mean I’m willing to think, even when thinking is hard?

Changing a strong opinion is a decent indication of open-mindedness, but how much is enough? More importantly, how do we instill this value in our society?

How do we fight lazy thinking?

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