Monday, May 25, 2009

Minimum Standards of Entry

Somewhere along the line I realized that I'm biased.

I read a lot of other social blogs and post little random comments here and there. Most of the authors there and I have a lot of overlap. Most of them are pretty cool guys and post lots of cool stuff. Some of them post on scary stuff like religion, which I am too much of a wimp to do (I'm not a religious person so my beliefs are probably offensive to most people who read this).

The odd stuff is where we disagree. I lose a little bit of respect when self-help social bloggers suggest things about religion that I don't agree with (or more accurately, misinterpret non-religious people). I also don't really like it when people suggest that eating a normal diet is inherently bad (I realize it probably is from a health standpoint, but I am a gamer, not a dietitian).

Sometimes I need to expand my views slightly. In the case of the diet thing it is a good thing to eat better, to lose weight, and to be more healthy. It's also a good thing to stop smoking. I write a blog about mental health and self-improvement, and quitting smoking or otherwise improving your physical health is definitely along the path of self-improvement. I personally hold those values kind of low, but I realize that actually these things are important to some people. I doubt I'll write much about physical health, but thinking on my bias a little helps me refine my viewpoints a little better.

The religion issue is sticky, and I feel a bit troubled writing about it. I am a nonreligious person. I absolutely respect people with religious beliefs though, and try to give them as much room as I can to practice their beliefs around me without being obstructive or telling them that they are inherently wrong or anything like that. Unfortunately, religious people are not willing to do the same for me, or most people practicing other religions not their own. Religious debates are very difficult and frustrating because neither one will just accept or understand the other's side as a valid belief choice (it's not like we have definitive proof of any of these things - just clues that compel us to believe). This is why I don't talk about religion - it's hard for people to understand that I don't believe because there's not enough hard facts in religion's favor, but if there were, I'd believe because it'd be obviously correct.

That of course, brings me to the actual topic. This is another rant.

I can't stand closed-minded people. I look at the people that annoy me most - drama queens, selfish jerks, and so on. The people that frustrate me the most are closed-minded people.

The reason why I dislike them so much is because it is absolutely impossible to have a real discussion with a closed-minded person.

A discussion with a normal person has us talking about a subject. I talk about my views on the subject. The other person will explain their views. I will say what I think about their views, and they'll provide a rebuttal, to better explain the reasons why they have them. If I agree with that rebuttal, I'll say so, and say that the person's views on the subject are valid. If I don't, then I'll say so. Sometimes this might end with neither person giving in, but because most people are at least somewhat open minded we will typically agree to disagree. There will be respect given for each person's point.

A closed minded person is different. They openly attack viewpoints not their own. When I explain to them how their beliefs are wrong (or even just that I disagree with them) they treat it as a personal attack and get defensive. Instead of respecting other people's viewpoints, a closed-minded person condemns them.

What bothers me so much is that closed-minded people then create a barrier that keeps them from gaining any new understanding. If a closed-minded person thinks that the world is flat, they will not accept evidence that shows that the world is not flat. They will probably treat the presentation of evidence as a personal attack, and openly condemn whoever provided it. They will probably launch attacks against that person's credibility, or use other logical fallacies in order to make the person look bad, or their argument seem wrong.

But the truth stands strong. When people try to condemn the truth, it stands firm, and people can see how ridiculous these closed-minded people are. The world is round and the earth rotates around the sun.

There is a minimum standard of entry for my respect. You -must- be an open minded person. If you are not, I cannot respect you. I cannot respect someone who chooses their uneducated ways of thinking instead of shedding their mental restraints and growing and improving as a person. No matter how much I grow as a person, this point will remain the same. If you can't take the world around you and the advice of others and change yourself, I cannot respect you.

If you're reading this and are closed-minded (unlikely!), you can change. Do it.

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