Truly Considering Diverse Views

A now undervalued value.

Posted Oct 06, 2019

Eddi Van W, Flickr CC 2.0
Source: Eddi Van W, Flickr CC 2.0

Nearly everyone considers themselves open-minded if not downright celebratory of diverse ideas.

Alas, the truth may not be as sanguine. Try this self-assessment:

1.  How often do you vote for a candidate from just one party:

  • All the time
  • Most of the time
  • It varies a lot.

2.  How often have you changed your mind significantly about a foundational issue, for example, affirmative action, climate change, marijuana legalization, illegal immigration, whether the gender/race pay gap is caused mainly by sexism/racism or by other factors?

  • Often
  • Sometimes
  • Rarely

3.  On such issues, when a person you respect or a media outlet argues for an opposing side, how likely are you to listen with an open mind, willing to consider changing your position?

  • Usually
  • Sometimes
  • Rarely

4.  On such issues, when a person you respect or a media outlet argues for an opposing side, how likely are you to respect them as much or even more despite your disagreement?

  • Usually
  • Sometimes
  • Rarely

Some people argue that open-mindedness isn’t that important, perhaps even believing that it's better to stand firm, no "flip-flopping." Yet there is merit in the time-honored proposition that wisdom resides across the ideological spectrum. I've ended every radio show with, "We find comfort among those who agree with us. Growth among those who don't."

When we sit ossified, viewing right- or left-of center thought as intrinsically wrong, we reduce our judgments' wisdom. The best decisions derive from across the ideological spectrum, the so-called marketplace of ideas. When you’re closed to half the market, you’re likely missing out.

Before settling on an important position, it would be wise to consult at least two diverse, respected sources: whether people or media outlets. My favorite single source is IntelligenceSquaredUS.org. It posts debates on crucial issues and the protagonists are unerringly brilliant and expert people.

Also, credible sources on the Left include the New York Times, the Economist (which used to be more centrist), The Atlantic, and The New Yorker, plus books published by Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Harper, plus most movies that score 80+ on Metacritic. From the Right, consider The National Review, American Thinker, Commentary, Reason (libertarian), books published by Regnery, Threshold, Crown Forum, Penguin Sentinel, and Encounter, and the articles of Victor Davis Hanson, the late Charles Krauthammer, Heather Mac Donald, Michelle Malkin, Christina Hoff Sommers, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and, yes, even the Left-reviled Fox News.

In today's era of so strongly felt polarization, this may be too much to expect. But despite today's mind-molders—the schools, colleges, and the most influential news and entertainment media—speaking mainly with one voice, consider pulling on ropes of restraint and considering, with respect, a fuller range of ideas.

I read this aloud on YouTube.

This is part of a series on undervalued values.

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