ehowton (ehowton) wrote,

And Vice Versa (Why Monochromatic Thinkers Believe I'm Stupid)

Mired in the existential soup of standing by one's principles versus allowing incoming information to be processed and utilized as additional data to potentially change one's opinion, is often viewed with suspicion by both sides as an either-or scenario. Those who are open-minded may be seen as unprincipled and flapping in the wind, believing those who blindly cement their viewpoints in unchanging principles close-mindedly bigoted. I recently made the statement to someone, Its not a reversal [of opinion] if MORE INFORMATION IS PROVIDED WHICH CHANGES THE EQUATION. He tentatively agreed that could be the case given specific scenarios, which led me to wonder how many people never thought of opinions as equations, if I myself should think about them less uncompromisingly so, or if I was trying to fit something far more complex into a tidy package.

But then, that's the difference. I ponder these things. Those who form opinions on emotion alone may not. My own opinions are highly fluid things based upon available information and introspection - not duration or vehemence - which appears to be the driving force behind emotional opinions.

If I feel a certain way about something, I endeavor to discover why. Is it upbringing, programming, trauma, experience, something I've remembered or something I've forgotten? Is it because of a book I read in my youth or a movie I've seen which planted the idea? Did I form the opinion recently or long ago? What frame of mind was I in at the time? Given what we know about how memory works, it would be foolish of us to doggedly stand by an opinion formed over something as flighty and unreliable as emotion, and yet sometimes emotion is all we have which is why it makes such a fantastic starting point; absent of data we can still feel.

I then usually catalog what I know about the subject, and more importantly, what I don't know. What are the limitations of my experience? How did I arrive at my current perspective? Is it simply the default societal view or have I actively pursued a side on a debate, and if so, how long ago? Does my opinion need to be re-baselined? Is there information available which could change my point of view? Why do I feel the way I do?

The neuroscience behind decision making is universally emotional, but must all our opinions be also?

There is a lot of reserach out there on the interrelationship between emotions and logic, and which one fuels the other. Prospect Theory suggests we behave emotionally first, rationally second. A fine article on Critical Thinking suggests the opposite. I ran across the name Viktor Frankl twice in two days in unrelated articles while researching two different subjects - he discusses reappraisal, the capacity to cognitively control emotion.

But all of this is really superfluous as far as I'm concerned.

No matter how you choose to form your opinion, endeavor to understand why you believe what you believe, acknowledge that some people may form theirs differently, don't behave reprehensibly, and absolutely allow room for your opinion to be modified if there is new data. Few things are immutable, and none of us are ever always right all the time about everything. Additionally, intent and its receptor, perception are rarely transparent enough to not occasionally get lost in translation - which can sometimes mean both asking for forgiveness, and forgiving others. Armed thusly, I believe we can eventually conquer all our demons, and live our lives joyfully intertwined.
Tags: principles,

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