Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Being Open-Minded

Here's a little problem most skeptics are accused of having in most debates - being open minded. Often believers in 'x' will usually end up claiming that a skeptic has a closed mind in dealing with 'x'. I have even heard a believer in the paranormal say that skeptics are constrained to the 'limited views of science.' Clearly, if a person wants to make sense of their life and this world, then they need to do so with an open mind, but what just exactly is an open mind?

It seems that to the general public, accepting all ideas, theories, and hypothesis, without putting forth many questions is sufficient for having an open mind. This is evident with the respect religion claims, making it (until recently) almost impervious from any sort of scrutiny (at least at the cost of the scrutinizer,) the persistence of alternative medicines, theories of the paranormal, all the usual.

Most skeptics already know though, that being open minded isn't about a lack of inquiry into any system of beliefs or accepting all theories for what they are. Being open minded, actually, has more to do with coming closer to any form of truth by creating an open forum for debate. What being open minded really means is, that in order to arrive at the truth, every theory and hypothesis must be treated equally with skepticism and ridicule, all the while holding no prejudices against new claims until they too are examined. It also helps to leave our emotions at the door. In other words, being a skeptic is sufficient for having an open mind.

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