Not Having an Opinion Gives You Better Judgment

http://peerreviewedbymyneurons.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/not-having-an-opinion-gives-you-better-judgment/

I have no opinions about this article…well, ok, I do! It is great. It points (indirectly) to a couple of things I keep harping on about over and over: memory is unreliable and I am blind to my own biases.

As the author says, "even when people don’t have a strong opinion, the knowledge they have floating around biases how they weigh the opinions of others, and thus they fail to take full advantage of the information contained in those opinions."

So how do we approach life with any chance of actually engaging with reality?

My suggestion is to try to use the system against itself. There must be a reason we develop this contextual way of looking at the world. if nothing else, being able to carry with me the lessons from the past would be beneficial when surviving on the savanna…this berry not good to eat, that large sabre-tooth wants to eat me. Learning, remembering, and furthermore applying these lessons made us more than knowledgeable, it made us wise. We acquired the knowledge of Good & Evil.

But obviously, there is a negative to this. I find it hard to listen to people with an open mind (let alone an open heart). I have to actively struggle to be somewhat neutral. And even then I find it hard to be sure I am able to be impartial, to give someone, anyone, a fair hearing.

So: a possible cure. As I suggested, use the system against itself. Use memory against memory. I know my memories are biased – so I will actively search for the good memories, and mistrust the negative ones. Both are probably fictional anyway, but the good memories will improve my mood. Notice, I am not saying ignore the bad things I have done in the past, but rather try to recall them as a potentially positive learning experience – if nothing else at least something to never do again!

The other angle of attack is to diligently work on my biases. Frequently search out those whose ideas are contrary to mine, and work hard at seeing things from their perspective. This includes not only those whose intellectual beliefs are opposite mine, but also those with religious and ethical beliefs which I find hard to comprehend. This does not mean I have to agree with them, though sometimes I do change my mind. But it does make me at least able to withhold judgment just that split second longer, which allows the Holy Spirit ample time to come in and fix the situation!

All of this is, of course, found in Philippians 4:8…

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About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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