Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Michael Benton: Some Questions on the Possibility of Changing Minds

I have been thinking about this a lot in interacting with people in my life lately (as well as in our larger society - irl and online). A lot of pontificating and dictating, little listening to others' perspectives or self-questioning of one's own position. Communication skills are seriously lacking - you reply by directly responding to what a person actually said/wrote and if you want to convince someone you build common ground. I made it my New Year's resolution last year to consciously further develop my listening skills and empathy for others. I was a shy, bookish kid, so I have always watched and listened, but I also forced myself to become more extroverted and lost some of that (especially as our society moved to online communities). I've always questioned my own perspective (when you lose a world-building faith at an earlier age, it leaves you with that) - funny how the blindly-certain view that as a weakness.

-What prevents us from changing our opinions?

-Does debate truly encourage people to change their minds, or does it actually prevent the formation of new opinions?
-Can one look at the opinions of others accurately without looking closely at their own assumptions?
-What is the role of corporate media and social media in the formation of public opinion?
-Do they allow for people to change opinions or work against it?
-Is action necessary to prove an opinion has truly changed; is saying one has changed enough?
-What is the role of violence (individually and collectively) in changing opinions?
-What effect does an absence of belief in the possibility of change have on individuals and communities?
-Does academia serve to foster or prevent the changing of minds?
-Does experience override education (or vice versa, or both working together) in the formation of beliefs, values, and opinions?
- Does our society produce an abundance of egomaniacs/narcissists that are incapable or relating to or understanding other opinions/perspectives?  If so, why is that?

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