on the Obligation to Consider Others’ Opinions

I noticed a contradiction within myself. I was emailing with someone about the financial morass of ≥2008, and he said:

  • “I didn’t read any more than the first paragraph of that article, because I could already tell I wasn’t going to agree with it.”

On the one hand, that sentiment sets me on edge. How can you write off what the author’s saying without reading it? On the other hand, it is obviously possible to get a feel for what someone’s saying by reading a sample of their writing rather than the whole thing. In fact I almost never read an entire (nonfiction) book.


Maybe not with regard to something more topical like #OWS or the social value of HFT, but with regard to the evolution/creation debate, I really have made up my mind to the point that it’s not worth listening to the other side.

Back to the other hand, I sense that certain perennial arguments like

  • abortion
  • corporations
  • objectivism
  • supply-side economics / Austrians / gold bugs
  • religious proselytising

are driven to be so annoying by the dynamic of both parties entering the conversation knowing that nothing can be said to them that will change their mind.

I guess that I actually did spend a lot of time (too much time) in younger years looking deeply into the creation/evolution argument, because I felt an obligation to deeply listen to the other side with a truly open mind. (How else could progress ever happen unless everyone did so?) But what did I achieve with all of that reading and cogitating? Very little, if anything at all. I didn’t make anything that benefited others. I didn’t make money. So maybe I had more correct or valid opinions. So what? Who cares about that? On the other hand, outsourcing my viewpoint to someone else with a trustworthy exterior feels icky in another way.

So, I don’t know. What do you think?

About isomorphismes

Argonaut: someone engaged in a dangerous but potentially rewarding adventure.
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