How do you know you disagree?

Nowadays, despite (or maybe because) there is a vast amount of information available to people, there’s very little processing of new ideas. Opinions are distilled into ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ or ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’. There is rarely any analysis of the assumptions that underly these opinions. So if you find yourself disagreeing with an idea, how do you know you really understand it? How often have you disagreed with an apparently absurd idea, which, when it is explained, becomes perfectly reasonable — obvious even.

Many ideas are counter intuitive and when people first come across them they instinctively disagree. Not only that, but ideas that go against your preconceived notions are automatically rejected. It’s as if people have a ruler that they measure all new ideas against. A right-wing person will automatically reject an idea that they perceive as left-wing; a left-wing person will reject perceived right-wing ideas and an atheist will reject an idea that seems to be based on religion in some form or other, and so on. The ideas are never examined; they are rejected out-of-hand. In any case some of these ideas are starting with totally different assumptions and no one wants to question their assumptions — that’s really is hard work.

So if you find yourself disagreeing with an idea, how do you know you really understand it? Often there’s the view that by even attempting to understand it you will somehow get sucked in. As if by even examining, for instance, the idea of Karma, will turn you into someone who has become a crackpot and rejects science. As if it will somehow contaminate your mind. Of course, many people would argue that it already happened when you decided to accept ‘science’ (which is not really the scientific method but a number of assumptions that people in this social group make). So you seek solace in your peers who will all assure you that the writer was a complete idiot. After all, he makes different assumptions to you doesn’t he?

By Philip Braham on .







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