Counterclockwise

The power of possibility.

Open But Not Undiscerning

Today's closed minds are likely to miss tomorrow's possibilities.

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My last post seems to have upset people. My intention was to suggest that we keep our minds open to the possibility of new phenomena, but perhaps the example I gave was too far from current beliefs to do the trick.

We need to remember that all we can say about any unproven phenomenon is that its truth is indeterminate. Our experiments can only tell us that -thus far-there is no evidence in support of it. But this is not the same thing as evidence against the hypothesis. William James had the courage to consider the possibility of being able to contact the dead. Being open to an idea doesn't mean believing in it, it just means not being mindlessly certain that it can't be true. (I personally worry more about life before death than whether or not there is life after death.) Some of what seems unbelievable today will become old hat tomorrow and we can all point to examples of things that were once thought impossible that are now everyday.

Today's closed minds are likely to miss tomorrow's possibilities. Which is not to say that open minds are undiscerning, just open to possibility.

Ellen Langer is a professor in the Psychology Department at Harvard University.

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