Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Intellectual Dishonesty

Since I started going online regularly as a teen I've been part of various message board communities. I really enjoy message boards because it's a great way to communicate, share ideas and learn.

Unfortunately, some people aren't as open to sharing ideas and learning as others, and this tends to frustrate me. In the spirit of being "nice" and "accepting" people can sometimes tend to go soft, and want everyone around them to be soft as well. Instead of sharing opinions, they would rather just skirt issues and pretend that everything is right for everyone. They call this being open minded. I call it intelectual dishonesty.

Let's be truthful here, if someone feels strongly that their oppinion about something is right, then they (by default) feel just as strongly that a differing oppinion is wrong. They may be able to fit it into a "right for you, wrong for me" sort of category, but even still, not every issue will fit like that.

I honestly believe it's possible for two (or more) people to have a conversation about something, disagree completely, share their reasons why, and all go away happy and having learned something - either expanding their point of view, having a greater understanding for other points of view, or realizing that they didn't know as much about the subject as they thought (or possibly all of the above).

There are a few dear people in my life that I am usually in disagreement with about certain issues, and I treasure the conversations that we have. They thibnk I'm wrong, I think they're wrong, but we undersand that it's possible neither of us really know what we're talking about, so it's ok. In these conversations I've learned humility, I've learned how to express myself, and I've learned that I can be wrong, very very wrong. I've learned that having to defend my ideas strengthens my belief in them, and that the best way to help someone to understand my position is to do all I can to understand theirs.

So back to the intelectual dishonesty - it frustrates me when I'm accused of "trampling" another person because I refuse to just say "oh, that's nice" when something I believe strongly in is being discussed. I share my point of view, expecting (hoping?) and appriciating when the other person expresses theirs. We may not agree, but we can both go away having learned something.

My stance in a discussion is this - if you've already made up your mind, then my oppinion shouldn't threaten you, so why not listen and perhaps learn something. If you have not made up your mind, then shouldn't you want as much information from as many sides of the issue as possible?

I try not to be arrogant, I'm always open to the possibility that I am the one who is wrong, but expect me to give and defend my position until you show me where (and how) I am wrong.


Maybe I should take a break from message boards for a while....or find people I truly can discuss (and possibly disagree) with.


matthew said...

hey steph! I could have written this post, seriously. I love message boards too, but sometimes they are frustrating. I agree with everything you said about loving a good conversation and being able to end happily in disagreement.

What kinds of message boards are you involved in. I routinely check 1 big Christian board, 1 lil christian board, and a sports board. And I've had tons of great debates and discussions.


Steph said...

right now I'm involved in a parenting message board, an art/story disscusion board and lurking on a few others. I usually stay away from the Christian ones because people are so.....churchy?....I usually am seen as an instigator/flaming liberal (and I don't really consider myself either).

There have been a few boards I've been involved in that have been great, but it takes a long time to get any credibility on most good discussion boards, and that also annoys me. New people have good ideas too, they shouldn't be ignored.