If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out
June 25, 2010 § 3 Comments
Humour me while I ramble off a bunch of random thoughts I’ve been having.
I like to think that when I write I try to see the things from a reasonable perspective. Without having too much preconception, I try to use the information I have gathered and show my opinions in a rational and reasonable manner without flooding the ideas with too much preconceived dogma or un-backable opinion. But inevitably I will show my weakness and just write something that is emotionally driven or at worst completely false. I’m usually pretty good at keeping my emotional opinions out of my blogs and as time goes on I get better at it.
But one thing I pride myself on is my ability to calmly address comments that I disagree with, and reason out my standpoint. This is a skill that any reasonable debater who expects to be take seriously must be good at, and again I am getting better at it.
One part of blogging in the manner that I do, critiquing society, cultures and religious beliefs, is that I have to expect the occasional backlash, as I touch on ideas that are so ingrained into people’s lives and are hard for them to see beyond. All people think that their standpoint is the only and the right one. All religious people think that their God or religion is the “One true path”. And if I am to address these people in a respectful manner, I must remain calm and lucid throughout.
But I expect the same amount of respect for me as I try to give to them (and you) as readers in return, and for the most part I get that. And I hope that people will stop to think about what it is that they are writing in the replies before they press “Submit”.
One thing I have noticed is that some (not all) religious people, when talking of their understanding of the universe, seem to switch off that part of their brain which allows for and promotes critical thinking. Daniel Dennett in this interview puts it quite well.
I sometimes feel that the people who are constantly being badgered in interviews about atheism can sometimes go too far, and be less than empathetic toward the people they criticise. But at the same time, when people do switch off critical reasoning in the name of faith, the do themselves a disservice and a potential disservice to those around them.
I have accused of being “closed-minded”, “dogmatic” and even “sickening” in comments to this blog. It hurts the first time, but my skin has gotten significantly thicker in the past eight months that I’ve been writing this blog. The one comment has left the deepest impression on me was the one about being “closed-minded”. But the thing is, my idea of being closed-minded is to stick to ones convictions of what they believe to be true, and often at the excuse of what is provable or what is repeatable, or what I like to call “facts”. I learn new things every day and am always re-evaluating my stand on things, but thanks to logic and reason, and the ability to critically assess what information I am taking in.
Conversely there is such thing as being too open-minded too, to get a seed of doubt in your brain and let it fester into a fully blown conspiracy theory, or leading one to deny modern medicine or science, or to read the tarot or astrology or homeopathy.
Tim Minchin wrote a little song he uses as part of his live comedy set entitled “If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out” which very much sums up how I feel about the accusations of being “closed-minded”.
“If anyone can show me one example in the history of the world of a single Psychic who has been able to prove under reasonable experimental conditions that they are able to read minds
And if anyone can show me one example in the history of the world of a single Astrologer who has been able to prove under reasonable experimental conditions that they can predict future events by interpreting celestial signs
And if anyone can show me one example in the history of the world of a single Homeopathic Practitioner who has been able to prove under reasonable experimental conditions that solutions made of infinitely tiny particles of good stuff dissolved repeatedly into relatively huge quantities of water has a consistently higher medicinal value than a similarly administered placebo
And if anyone can show me one example in the entire history of the world of a single Spiritual or religious person who has been able to show either empirically or logically the existence of a higher power with any consciousness or interest in the human race or ability to punish or reward humans for there moral choices or that there is any reason – other than fear – to believe in any version of an afterlife
I’ll give you my piano, one of my legs, and my wife”
Sorry for the ramble, but not every blog piece can be a well-considered and cohesive piece.