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neutrality, Switzerland

Objective Neutralism

Posted on 2012.06.02 at 21:28
Current Location: 67114
Current Music: The Romantic Strings Orchestra: Stardust Moods
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While there are many things I simply have no opinion on, most others I'm waiting for more data. As someone who aspires toward objectivity its not that I'll never pick a side or am attempting to remain stalwartly neutral for neutrality's sake - I'm just don't have all the information I require for choosing one over another. As a self-proclaimed datum junkie I'm not simply interested in two points of view, but their individual origins and the filter used to perceive their conclusions. Furthermore can two seemingly opposing points of view both be right if viewed from a different perspective? Can they both be wrong?

In recently studying the dichotomy of yin and yang under the guise of equal parts misery being required for equal parts joy in relation to the two warring wolves in my Native American grandfather quote (would my assertion of feeding only one upset the balance of nature?) I learned that yin and yang are not dichotomous - they are in fact INTERDEPENDENT complementary opposites; not opposing. The whole idea that without experiencing pain and suffering we wouldn't appreciate love and serenity then becomes a ludicrous assertion.

Where neutrality is not disclosing a bias or an opinion, objectivity is more being aware that bias and/or emotional preferences exist, and working to not let it distort the truth. I find in many things however that neutrality is looked down upon and objectivity mocked. We are visceral beings and in my experience defined more by ideology and alignment than independent thought and action - and that makes a lot of sense societally speaking. But even in society we all have individual thoughts and actions which operate outside the whole. It is this subjectivity which helps form our emotional opinion; an opinion in which we may be blinded to reason.

I have a tendency to be an objective neutralist - the many pages within this blog prove it. I am consistently searching to modify my own filters to include new data and rid myself of emotional biases. Understanding myself and the world around me has consumed me, and thus become a sort of bias itself - I require understanding, and require to be understood. I no longer want to have conversations with those who see only a single point of view. I will consider them non-combatants on the path to enlightenment.* The problem about being passionate about knowledge is it seems to perpetuate the problem rather than limit it. And I'm all about defying limits.

Critical thinking is more than thinking logically or analytically; it also means thinking rationally or objectively. There is an important distinction. Logic and analysis are essentially philosophical and mathematical concepts, whereas thinking rationally and objectively are broader concepts that also embody the fields of psychology and sociology. These latter two areas address the complex effects of human behavior on our thinking processes.*

So I argue with myself. A lot. Critical thinkers must be objective by nature - A critical thinker is a lot about identifying biases: "The critical thinker must be willing to investigate viewpoints different from his or her own and being both open-minded and skeptical means seeking out the facts, information sources, and reasoning to support issues we intend to judge; examining issues from as many sides as possible; rationally looking for the good and bad points of the various sides examined; accepting the fact that we may be in error ourselves; and maintaining the goal of getting at the truth. Having intellectual humility means adhering tentatively to recently acquired opinions; being prepared to examine new evidence and arguments even if such examination leads one to discover flaws in one’s own cherished beliefs; to stop thinking that complex issues can be reduced to matters of right & wrong. A critical thinker must also be a free thinker. To think freely, one must restrain one’s desire to believe because of social pressures to conform. One must be willing to ask if conformity is motivating one’s belief or opinion, and if so, have the strength and courage to at least temporarily abandon one’s position until he or she can complete a more objective and thorough evaluation. Finally, a critical thinker must have a natural curiosity to further one’s understanding and be highly motivated to put in the necessary work sufficient to evaluate the multiple sides of issues. The only way one can overcome the lack of essential knowledge on a subject is to do the necessary studying to reach a sufficient level of understanding before making judgments. This may require the critical thinker to ask many questions, which can be unsettling to those asked to respond."*

Sadly, not everyone has the capacity to be objective - for a variety of reasons. Ever since Christ said so then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot I will spue thee out of my mouth, I've been walking the narrow path between two camps of hotheads everywhere I go. No matter what the subject of conversation is, NO ONE WANTS TO BE SPEWED FROM JESUS' MOUTH. They therefore run full hot, or full cold, under the assumption that one is more important than the other, never bothering to question why, and only seeking council and advice from like-minded folk which is nothing more than egotistical validation - I seek the very opposite! For only through invalidation do I learn something I would not have imagined on my own.

I am either all of these things or none of them. I only ever seek the truth by way of rigorous self-evaluation and self-doubt and questioning other's point of view for understanding. But if I am truly the self-critical critical thinker, filled with objectivity and neutrality, I cannot be things others may accuse me of, being vague or wishy-washy. Neutrality is not synonymous with indifference; Objectivity is not synonymous with a lack of emotion. I submit to you it requires tremendous emotional fortitude to do what I do. I've heard it said that those who's lives are that of a skyward rocket burns fast and bright for only a short period of time. But like everything ever created even rockets are constructed from current understanding. My understanding differs, and contains no such limitations of burn time or an exhaustible supply of fuel. I will continue to burn bright for as long as I can.


thesweetestnote at 2012-06-03 03:19 (UTC) (Link)
My Grandfather once told me "don't fight" as he was leaving my house. I found this absurd because I was going to be the only one home for the rest of the day. So I told him that there was no one else home to fight with. He stared at me with deep wisdom in his eyes and said "don't fight with yourself". I just chuckled and was totally blind as to what he meant, but his stare and words had remained with me as I subconsciously kept at figuring out what he meant. It took me years. But now in my adulthood with gained wisdom he totally makes sense with saying "don't fight with yourself".
michelle1963 at 2012-06-05 01:34 (UTC) (Link)
In my experience, most people are unsettled by ambiguity. They want an answer right now, and they almost always want an answer that is in line with the other beliefs they already hold.

Except where a decision needs to be made immediately, I don't understand why the rush to a conclusion.

In my role as a biology teacher, I try to model critical thinking skills, showing that these are the facts as we know them, but is it enough for a definitive answer? What if new data comes along? Before Galileo people believed that the sun went around the Earth, because that was their best information at the time.

One day one of my classes asked me my opinion on whether homosexuality was due to nature or nurture. I didn't answer them directly. Instead I told them of one study that supported the idea that being homosexual was biologically based. I finished with that "supports the idea that homosexuality has a biological component." I carefully avoided the wording "I believe." It's not about what I believe, it's about data.

Another time, I grazed into the topic of global warming (as a man-made phenomena). Immediately a ruckus ensued as everyone gave their opinion on the topic ~ some believing it was a bunch of baloney, and others vehemently believing. I said, "There is data supporting both viewpoints, but the truth is we really don't know definitively." It quieted them down, but I could tell that none of them liked the ambiguity of my statement, regardless of the fact that it was an accurate statement.
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