Is There Such a Thing as an Open-Minded Cynic?

November

Member
I don't know if this post is appropriate for this board, and I don't have a point, so Mick can relegate it to "Rambles" or delete it, if he chooses, I don't care.

Is there such a thing as an open-minded cynic?

  • A person who can simply say "I don't know" -- when it comes to "God" or "Something", but doesn't close their mind entirely?
  • A person who hasn't made up their mind about every damned thing already, once they hit 40?
  • A person who still has the ability to say "I don't know"?
  • A person who still has the ability to say "I never thought of that", or "I never realized that"... "lemme consider for awhile...."
  • A person who is able to dislike a good portion of what another person says or stands for, but will still agree with a few things?
  • A person who still sits around and ponders, but is able to walk away and say "I may never know."
  • A person who doesn't have the need to quote the "experts" and "authorities" -- but can speak for themselves?
  • A person who doesn't idolize the "experts" and "authorities" -- but realizes, they don't know everything, because no one does.
  • A person who dares to question the "experts" and "authorities", and doesn't take for granted every single thing they say is true?
  • A person who has the ability to change their mind, even after middle-age?
  • A person who - even still - has the ability to say that they may have pre-judged inaccurately?
(You can add your own, if you like.)

It just seems like when we grow older, our brains and beliefs and attitudes grow harder and harder. Until we grow into that hard-assed curmudgeon we swore - we would never become. (And ironically, we literally, get a hard head.)

What things have you changed your mind about - over the years?


Can we have this conversation, or is it too unfocused?
Should "debunkers" - "debunk" themselves, from time-to-time?
 
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Cairenn

Senior Member.
I am 62 and I am still open minded. I am not sure about a God/creator/deity. I am Wiccan, because I feel a need for ritual in my life. Does it change the world? I don't know. It does help ME at times. Let's say we are doing an end of year ritual, and part of that is leaving the 'hurts' of the past year behind. It helps me to look at those and to let go of the hurt and the anger they caused. It can change the way I deal with those folks in the new year.

I am always open to new evidence.

I look for FACTS and evidence provided by creditable 'experts'. It also needs to be an expert in the right field with the right background. Going to the field of archeology and artifacts. I have seen experts that can look a a 1x1 in pot shard and know the age and what the pot was used for, and yet make major errors in knowing how it was made. At the same time, a potter that is in interested in the history of pottery, might not be able to ID a pot shard, but they could tell you how it was made, pinch, coil or slow or fast wheel, the type of kiln it was fired in, how hot that kiln fires, what type of a slip or glaze was used on it.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I think the answer to the broader question in your post is clearly "yes", any good skeptic questions everything. And only the simple minded would blindly accept the word of someone just because they are labeled "expert"

However you have problem with the wording if your title. I don't know any cynics, so I don't know how open minded they are. Do you know some cynics?
 

MikeC

Closed Account
Yeah the definition of "cynic" might be a problem - it is, formally:

(google define: function)

In the case of #1 - looks to me like no - there cannot be an open minded cynic by definition!

In the case of #2 - dunno - I'm not really up with the subtleties of Greek philosophy!
 

Bill

Senior Member.
Yeah the definition of "cynic" might be a problem - it is, formally:

(google define: function)

In the case of #1 - looks to me like no - there cannot be an open minded cynic by definition!

In the case of #2 - dunno - I'm not really up with the subtleties of Greek philosophy!
A lot of people use the words cynic and skeptic interchanegably but there are subtle differences in the meanings of the words.
This is just my opinion but I see cynics as people that automatically disbelieve the official story and maintain that disbelief no matter what corroborating evidence. They may even selectively ignore the evidence to reinforce their beliefs with a goal of disproving the official story. It is not by its nature an open minded approach. A skeptic does not automatically believe or disbelieve the official story but examines as much evidence as possible with the goal of proving or disproving the evidence regardless of its relationship to and impact on the official story. If the evidence fails to answer all of the questions then skeptics acknowledge where the evidence ends and speculation begins. I think skeptics are in general open minded but are viewed as and labled close minded by those whose beliefs they show to be untenable.
 

November

Member
I think the answer to the broader question in your post is clearly "yes", any good skeptic questions everything. And only the simple minded would blindly accept the word of someone just because they are labeled "expert"

However you have problem with the wording if your title. I don't know any cynics, so I don't know how open minded they are. Do you know some cynics?
hahaha!!! I'm the biggest cynic of all. (Definition #1) And a skeptic. But i still have an open mind. (i'm a freaking mess, i'll tell ya.)
 

November

Member
General question to anyone:

When a person decides to identify with a certain group, does it begin to inhibit their ability to think clearly?

Are they more likely to begin to go along with that groups way of thinking, instead of doggedly intending to continue to think for themselves?

Does religion, or the party-system, or joining certain groups or movements -- eventually cause clear-thinking to go out the window?

I remember a statement out of the Book of Isaiah 8: "Associate yourselves, and you shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought." Over the years, I have come to think -- there is profound wisdom to be found in those words.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Sort of, but not necessarily. As soon as an us and them, an inside and out, is formed conceptually, responses to challenges to that group are formed accordingly, and things can be perceived dualistically as either attack or support.
It's simple group-psychology, but it does not necessarily impair the decision to evaluate information dispassionately.
If the existence or rational for the group existing in the first place is challenged by that information, then it's more likely to effect judgement. But you can have a group based on principles that won't be threatened by new information.
 

November

Member
Sort of, but not necessarily. As soon as an us and them, an inside and out, is formed conceptually, responses to challenges to that group are formed accordingly, and things can be perceived dualistically as either attack or support.
It's simple group-psychology, but it does not necessarily impair the decision to evaluate information dispassionately.
If the existence or rational for the group existing in the first place is challenged by that information, then it's more likely to effect judgement. But you can have a group based on principles that won't be threatened by new information.
"Not necessarily".

I suppose it might be important for a young person early in life to become aware of our tendency to lean toward following a crowd, and make the decision not to fall into that trap.

It also might be good for persons later in life to realize they may have done this -- in following some of their own beliefs or conclusions.

I chose early on, never to identify myself with any of the political parties.
While I agree more with Democrats than Republicans, I refuse to identify myself as belonging to any group.
I did the same with religion, extracted myself from Christianity and in my youth went looking for another religion, but found that none of them were good in all the things they preached.
I have my own thoughts and "beliefs" -- but I'm willing to acknowledge that until "God" or "Someone" decides to become active in interacting with the human race -- none of us can know for sure that such a person exists, or what exactly that person might really think.

I suppose learning to remain impartial (but skeptical) -- might be the topic here now.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
General question to anyone:

When a person decides to identify with a certain group, does it begin to inhibit their ability to think clearly?
Depends on the group. If it's a group of people who value clear thinking, then probably not.
 
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Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Yes, because they can program in self-diagnostic patterns to catch and prevent it.
A group can make that a goal and may be better at catching it than an individual.
 

Bill

Senior Member.
Depends on the group. If it's a group of people who value clear thinking, then probably not.
I'm sure all groups consider themselves to be "clear thinking". One thing to look at is the groups reaction to new information that is contrary to their current beliefs. Do they simply dismiss the information out of hand or do they ask for evidence, debate the results and form a consensus that incorporates the new valid information even if it means surrendering old beliefs.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
General question to anyone:

When a person decides to identify with a certain group, does it begin to inhibit their ability to think clearly?

Are they more likely to begin to go along with that groups way of thinking, instead of doggedly intending to continue to think for themselves?

Does religion, or the party-system, or joining certain groups or movements -- eventually cause clear-thinking to go out the window?

I remember a statement out of the Book of Isaiah 8: "Associate yourselves, and you shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought." Over the years, I have come to think -- there is profound wisdom to be found in those words.
I think it does. That's why there is the expression "the herd mentality".
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
I'm sure all groups consider themselves to be "clear thinking". One thing to look at is the groups reaction to new information that is contrary to their current beliefs. Do they simply dismiss the information out of hand or do they ask for evidence, debate the results and form a consensus that incorporates the new valid information even if it means surrendering old beliefs.
I think many CTers would say that debunkers "dismiss information out of hand". What CTers don't understand when they say this is that many have already looked at their "new" evidence. Many CTers come here, for example, and ask "what about THIS!!!!???". "THIS!!!???" is some new kernel they have just found someplace, but many others have already seen it 1000 times and it's already been debunked. Much like the Illuminati card game, or the London Olympics Pyramid.
 

Bill

Senior Member.
There are varying levels of peer review, and varying levels of authority. But nobody is infallible.
Nobody is infallible and neither is the peer review process (Wakefield and Seralini are examples). The process does help to weed out errors and set standards for evidence before a paper is released for comments and question. Of course some people see the peer review process in any field as part of an academic conspiracy to keep the truth from the public (Scott Wolters promotes this concept)
 
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November

Member
Nobody is infallible and neither is the peer review process (Wakefield and Seralini are examples). The process does help to weed out errors and set standards for evidence before a paper is released for comments and question. Of course some people see the peer review process in any field as part of an academic conspiracy to keep the truth from the public (Scott Wolters promotes this concept)
I don't know much about it, but I would tend to think that way.
 

AluminumTheory

Senior Member.
I think the answer to the broader question in your post is clearly "yes", any good skeptic questions everything. And only the simple minded would blindly accept the word of someone just because they are labeled "expert"

However you have problem with the wording if your title. I don't know any cynics, so I don't know how open minded they are. Do you know some cynics?
I would refer to myself as cynical. And I actually used to be worse as I have some friends who are like that and it rubbed off on me to some degree. But I began to realize that you can't always look at the world through a negative lens. This in alot of ways goes back to my days as a conspiracy theorist, but perhaps it was also my cynicism that allowed me to see people like Alex Jones for who they are. So I don't know that I can fault it entirely for making me believe in conspiracies in the first place.

As stated before, one of the core tenets of cynicism is the belief that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reasons. And yes, I do find this to be the case more often than not. When my cynicism was at it's peak, I was convinced that most people were ill natured, greedy and ignorant. But after a while I began to see the flaws in that way of thinking. While cynicism to some degree may be more realistic, but taking it to extremes and always gravitating toward the negative aspects of any person, or given situation is a very narrow minded way to look at the world, and is perhaps even unhealthy. Something that I do find common among extreme cynics that I was beginning to see in myself is that we think we know everything and that we're right about everything that we know... Which of course is the very definition of close mindedness. Now my advice to people like that goes somewhat like this;
"If you think you already know everything, then don't expect to learn anything from life that you don't already know."

Today, I still agree that people are largely motivated by self interests, but I no longer feel that human beings are malign in nature (or at least I'm trying not to). What I've observed is that most people are actually good natured, and want to do good. However when external elements are introduced, our morals become conflicted. I'm sure most of us here wouldn't dream of stealing, but imagine yourself suffering from substance withdrawal and what you might do to get your fix. People who are insulated from their actions neither see nor understand the hardships they have bestowed on others. And sometimes an angry and frustrated populace can be driven to commit unspeakable horrors if the right person comes along who knows how to harness it.

I find it difficult to have faith in humanity. But I know it's more complex that just self interests. The biggest fault that I can see is overall short-sightedness. I feel like we're people who don't think about tomorrow and we barely remember yesterday. I feel like there are some people who would gladly steer the Titanic into the iceberg so long as the ship doesn't sink on their watch (this is something that I've observed of people in management) But there really is much more to the story. I personally still view self governance as an experiment as it hasn't been around for that long in the eyes of history, but I hope that it can work. The quote in my signature is an abridged version of a Thomas Jefferson quote, and it is one that I try to live by, although it's not always easy.

 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
To restore your faith in humanity, I have fixed your sig :)

Cynicism as you describe it is a matter of degree. Nobody thinks that everyone is a good person. Equally nobody think that everyone is a sociopath or an animalistic hedonist.

We each only know a very small number of people, almost a random scattering, and I think there's a tendency to take your random experiences with that small number of people, and extrapolate them to the entire world. I've had a relatively easy life, and the people I've met have been generally polite, kind, and honorable, so that skews my view of the world.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
A large number of people simply don't think deeply enough about the world to ever have to decide to be cynical or not. They just get on with life.
 

AluminumTheory

Senior Member.
To restore your faith in humanity, I have fixed your sig :)

Cynicism as you describe it is a matter of degree. Nobody thinks that everyone is a good person. Equally nobody think that everyone is a sociopath or an animalistic hedonist.

We each only know a very small number of people, almost a random scattering, and I think there's a tendency to take your random experiences with that small number of people, and extrapolate them to the entire world. I've had a relatively easy life, and the people I've met have been generally polite, kind, and honorable, so that skews my view of the world.
Thank you :)

As for the latter. We are all products of our environment. My life hasn't always been easy, so that has skewed my perspective too.
 

Melbury's Brick

Senior Member.
I doubt there's an individual on earth who doesn't think that she/he is open minded.

Maybe it's opening minds too far that lets all the crap in.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
based on the definition above of cynic, I'm a hardcore cynic. But only in regards to a few areas of 'social phenomenon' (none of which have anything to do with conspiracy theories though). I think I'm open minded about it, but that may be more that I Want to be proved wrong. Which I won't be, of course.

I agree with Mick that "A large number of people simply don't think deeply enough about the world to ever have to decide to be cynical or not. They just get on with life".
 

Alhazred The Sane

Senior Member.
My tuppence worth.

I'm considered cynical by a lot of people I know, but at the same time they also consider me to be overly trusting and at times naive. The problem or dichotomy is in how I view the world. I'm a political animal, an activist, and as an Irish man my perception of politicians is that of self-serving bastards who'd sell their daughters for a vote. Even my own party, Sinn Fein, I'm cautious about trusting too far, and would be the first in line to split us if ever the very exacting democratic standards by which policy is decided were about to change. I'm cynical about politics. I believe you'd have to be a fool to be otherwise. Likewise, I'm cynical about economics, which seems to have veered into madness over the last 30 years or so. FTA, TPP, it's a kind of greedy madness.

Yet. I've spent the vast majority of my years since 1986 living as an outsider in other countries and among other cultures. Be it New York, London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Jo'burg, or Helsinki, I've found people to be basically sound. NYC and London were a little different, in that my new circle of friends were mostly people from other countries, but wherever I've lived I've had the pleasure of meeting fine human beings. I've seen people help other people, and I've seen people help people they've never met before. I've also had the dubious experience of running up against 2 genuine sociopaths, and both those were utterly chilling. I spent some time considering killing the second one I encountered, to save someone else down the line. Circumstances removed that freak from my influence before I came to a decision, and I dread reading some day that I didn't act. But that's another story. The point being that I generally think well of people I meet. I'm cautious with strangers, in that I don't reveal personal details or give phone numbers out, but I give them the benefit of the doubt.

Of course, I've been ripped off and conned a couple of times. But I've also been taken care of, befriended, and generally treated well, and in far greater numbers. People are basically decent, given the chance.

Just don't ask me for a loan ...
 

Elfenlied

Member
Depends on the group. If it's a group of people who value clear thinking, then probably not.
I think you underestimate the power of conviction and peoples capacity for self-delusion.
Take for example Andy Thomson from the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science: he gives lectures on "why we believe in gods". I have no problem with the idea that religion is the result of evolution; after all, unless you believe in god, evolution made us what we are today. But the claims he makes about how this happened are speculative theories that cannot be proven or falsified, and some of them are just plain silly. Like his explanation for why we tend to believe in spirits (without a body).
"it's natural to think about disembodied minds, because it would be dangerous to require a body to think about a mind."
he means presumably that you want to think about your enemy without him being present. But does anybody think about people as minds when they are not present? No, you can't help thinking about their body, appearance etc at the same time. His explanation is equivalent to:
"it's natural to think about cars without gasoline, because it would be dangerous to require gasoline to think about cars"


Another argument is "hyperactive agency detection": it's better to err on the side of caution: being startled by the rustling of leaves in the wind isn't as bad as failing to notice an enemy or wild animal. Therefore we have a tendency to attribute movement, sound etc.. to a sentient agent, and that becomes god (or maybe a ghost)...
That doesn't explain why a god instead of realizing it was a mistake would be evolutionary advantageous.
There are ways in which the believe in ghosts would be beneficial, like when dangerous places get the reputation of being haunted, and people avoid them because of it. But that's not part of Thomson's theory.

Basically, he defends a simplistic theory about the evolution of religion, not because it's accurate, or based on any evidence, but because it's easy to understand and provides arguments in favor of atheism. I'm an atheist myself, but I don't want to be associated with people who use bad science to promote "reason and science".

Thomson claims "we are getting tantalizingly close to a comprehensive neuroscience of belief, robust theories, empirical evidence".
The idea that we know a lot about how the brain works, that neuroscience is a fully developed science, that we can see exactly what happens inside the brain thanks to fMRI, that is a big misconception. Neuroscience is in an embryonic stage, many studies are worthless because of improper statistical methods, and fMRI is an imperfect , imprecise method, a blunt instrument that looks at mean bloodflow in an area containing 50 000 to a million neurons, adds the results of a hundred subjects or tests together, and looks for small statistical deviations in the results to make very specific claims. It may not be as bad as the paper "Neural correlates of interspecies perspective taking in the post-mortem Atlantic Salmon: An argument for multiple comparisons correction" might suggest, but fMRI is a very blunt instrument that tells us nothing about the processes going on in the brain.

Contrasting this idea of of the advanced state of neuroscience is the overview given by Christof Koch who leads MindScope, a large scale high throughput ten year project "to understand the computations that lead from photons to behavior by observing and modeling the physical transformations of signals in the visual brain of behaving mice for one perception-action cycle (0.1 – 2 sec)." The first four years are funded by a donation of $300 million.
In his intro he talks about the problems facing the neuroscience research, including "we don't know how many cell types there are, we have no standards for accepted relevant phenomena, which is really quite shocking if you come from physics, even action potential depends on your algorithm, on your definition, and there are dozens of definitions, there are ten thousands different labs, with different standards, different protocols, different techniques..."


Daniel Dennett is another member of the atheist movement and close friend of Dawkins. He is known for his compatibilist stance on free will and the two-stage model of decision making he uses to defend that view. But is that what he really thinks? No, it's just that he believes we should not tell people that free will is an illusion, because it may have undesirable social effects; based on experiments showing more dishonest behaviour after people were told so. I doubt it would matter much, just because people answer questions differently after reading a text about free will or whatever doesn't mean it will change their lives. If you believe these psychological experiments, we constantly change personality based on stories we see or hear...
In the video below, Flanagan tells how during the workshop "Moving Naturalism Forward", Dennett said "Well, there really isn't free will, but we shouldn't tell people that". Videos of the 3 day workshop can also be found on youtube btw.

A similar effect of "group thinking" can be seen on wikipedia: in the name of science, articles about people like Galileo are "sanitized", with the only mention of astrology being:
That he probably practiced judicial astrology (predicting the future of people based on their horoscope), something for which others have been burned at the stake by the inquisition, or that we still have horoscopes he drew for himself and his daughters, is not mentioned.
The Journal for the History of Astronomy on the other hand published an article about the horoscopes, a copy of which can be found in the online SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System library. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/2004JHA....35..135S

It's a phenomenon you find in every group that has a common goal, CTs and pseudosciences but also skeptics: the tendency to ignore or dismiss facts supporting the other side, minimize the significance of studies that go against their views, assume that errors must have been made.
It's most obvious in politics, where just about every fact is interpreted in different ways depending on the party you belong to, but you find it everywhere. We're very bad at critically examining our own convictions.
(I wasn't implying that astrology was science btw)
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I think you underestimate the power of conviction and peoples capacity for self-delusion.
Take for example Andy Thomson from the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science: he gives lectures on "why we believe in gods". I have no problem with the idea that religion is the result of evolution; after all, unless you believe in god, evolution made us what we are today. But the claims he makes about how this happened are speculative theories that cannot be proven or falsified, and some of them are just plain silly. Like his explanation for why we tend to believe in spirits (without a body).
"it's natural to think about disembodied minds, because it would be dangerous to require a body to think about a mind."
he means presumably that you want to think about your enemy without him being present. But does anybody think about people as minds when they are not present? No, you can't help thinking about their body, appearance etc at the same time. His explanation is equivalent to:
"it's natural to think about cars without gasoline, because it would be dangerous to require gasoline to think about cars"
I think he means it would be dangerous to require sensory evidence of a body in order to think about someone intentions. But that's just parsing. You should ask him what he things, or read his books.

Does he actually make solid claims that are irrational? It sounds like he's just positing theories.

As for Galileo studying astrology, if this is true, then so what? Even now many scientists believe in some kind of supernatural god. It does not stop them getting science done.

The question was if being a member of a particular group inhibits a person's ability to think clearly, via groupthink etc.

I responded that if the group valued clear thinking then probably not. However that was a bit of a tautology, we are all human. We all have biases. Being "in" a group can affect those biases. So the real answer is "yes, but not so much with science compared to, say, Scientology. Because science values clear thinking".
 

Elfenlied

Member
I think he means it would be dangerous to require sensory evidence of a body in order to think about someone intentions. But that's just parsing. You should ask him what he things, or read his books.

Does he actually make solid claims that are irrational? It sounds like he's just positing theories.

As for Galileo studying astrology, if this is true, then so what? Even now many scientists believe in some kind of supernatural god. It does not stop them getting science done.

The question was if being a member of a particular group inhibits a person's ability to think clearly, via groupthink etc.

I responded that if the group valued clear thinking then probably not. However that was a bit of a tautology, we are all human. We all have biases. Being "in" a group can affect those biases. So the real answer is "yes, but not so much with science compared to, say, Scientology. Because science values clear thinking".
I guess what I really tried to show is that using science against ideas, beliefs etc.. instead of just for science, is more likely to create bias. Andy Thomson is trustee of an organisation that claims to promote "science and reason", but it is mainly concerned with fighting religion. And evolutionary psychology is by no means universally accepted as a true science, see Criticism of evolutionary psychology.

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, it should cover all aspects of the life of Galileo. I wasn't suggesting that it diminished his achievements in any way, just that some people don't want it covered because Galilei is considered the father of modern science and astrology is superstition. The opposite happens with people like Adolf Hitler, where you get a complete article on speculations about his sexuality and another about his possible monorchism (only one testicle).

The same occurs in skepticism, debunking of conspiracy theories or pseudoscience. The arguments become more black-and-white, and we jump on every detail, on every mistake the opposition makes. In evolution people often talk as if it is intentional, not because of misconceptions, but it's easier to talk that way, less convoluted. In a creationism vs evolution debate, it will be taken as proof that people don't understand evolution. Medical studies can talk about race and high blood pressure, but in discussions about race and IQ the first thing said is that race is an invalid concept, there are no human races.

Maybe not the best moment for an fMRI study to illustrate my point, after what I said in my previous post... but anyway:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060131092225.htm
Perhaps this happens to everyone to some extend when the topic is one they are passionate about. Whether it's as widespread as I believe? I'm always looking for bias, so maybe I'm seeing what I want to see...
 

AluminumTheory

Senior Member.
While we psychology is considered a medical science the problem is that one cannot apply the scientific method to the thoughts, emotions and motivations of human beings and the human condition. However it is important that people are trying to figure this stuff out, and for these people; logical speculation along with a small dose of imagination can be helpful. I would wager to say that the first step toward scientific discovery and invention are found using these tools.

Strict skepticism and strict scientific reasoning will ultimately lead to a black and white, over simplified perspective of the world as every aspect would only boil down to evidence vs. non evidence and not much else. The problem with that is the world is just not that simple.

For example: How do you explain the placebo effect? Is there any hard evidence? Is it repeatable? Does it provide predictive capability? How do people 'think' their way to better health?
 

Jazzy

Closed Account
A person who hasn't made up their mind about every damned thing already, once they hit 40? A person who has the ability to change their mind, even after middle-age?
Leave it out. I can't help being sixty-nine and three-quarters. :)
 

Bmead

Member
I don't know if this post is appropriate for this board, and I don't have a point, so Mick can relegate it to "Rambles" or delete it, if he chooses, I don't care.

Is there such a thing as an open-minded cynic?

  • A person who can simply say "I don't know" -- when it comes to "God" or "Something", but doesn't close their mind entirely?
  • A person who hasn't made up their mind about every damned thing already, once they hit 40?
  • A person who still has the ability to say "I don't know"?
  • A person who still has the ability to say "I never thought of that", or "I never realized that"... "lemme consider for awhile...."
  • A person who is able to dislike a good portion of what another person says or stands for, but will still agree with a few things?
  • A person who still sits around and ponders, but is able to walk away and say "I may never know."
  • A person who doesn't have the need to quote the "experts" and "authorities" -- but can speak for themselves?
  • A person who doesn't idolize the "experts" and "authorities" -- but realizes, they don't know everything, because no one does.
  • A person who dares to question the "experts" and "authorities", and doesn't take for granted every single thing they say is true?
  • A person who has the ability to change their mind, even after middle-age?
  • A person who - even still - has the ability to say that they may have pre-judged inaccurately?
(You can add your own, if you like.)

It just seems like when we grow older, our brains and beliefs and attitudes grow harder and harder. Until we grow into that hard-assed curmudgeon we swore - we would never become. (And ironically, we literally, get a hard head.)

What things have you changed your mind about - over the years?


Can we have this conversation, or is it too unfocused?
Should "debunkers" - "debunk" themselves, from time-to-time?
The answer is YES but on the basis of being cynical/sceptical properly. We most of us believe that such a term denotes being opposed to outlandish ideas. And truthfully one who professes to be either would actually be the most open minded of all. Be it a deity or an event or something else, the very idea is that one would need convincing. That one does not believe just because, but needs some evidence. Debunkers tend to think of themselves this way but this is false, they are as biased as a atheist or conspiracy theorist. A true cynic or sceptic never pre forms a belief. They look at evidences presented and form their belief based on weight of evidence.

I personally try to look hard but fair but am biased by belief so try to be extra detailed in seeking evidence. And i have admitted error in beliefs and even been back and forth in beliefs as i examined more of the material on a subject.
I think that we would be best if all of us were true cynics and sceptics and then required hard evidence to base a firm belief on rather than making our minds up then being sceptical or cynical of an opposing view. Especially since, it has been psychologically proven that repeated exposure effectively familiarises and makes us most comfortable with something and we then adopt these things as truth, which then gives rise to the effect of cognitive dissonance when presented with a view that breaks the beliefs we have.

This is demonstrable in religion for example where we are taught of "god" from an early age and it is this within cultures that forms the national religion of a country as many of us follow just what we are taught and find it hard to break away from the indoctrination. The same is true with conspiracy theories, we tend to believe what we are told because we are told what happened over and over and over again. If we were told nothing except a final conclusion just once, we would then tend to explore the conclusion ourselves and probably form more independent decisions
 

vooke

Active Member
Open mindedness is subjective. In fact most 'open-minded' people I have met have built-in mechanisms to cover their biases. They really work hard to appear flexible and willing to change their minds but they are quite the opposite. A good example of this is 'patriotism', allegiance to a nation. They will defend their nation's stance especially on matters international
 

Anthony Ciantar

New Member
I don't know if this post is appropriate for this board, and I don't have a point, so Mick can relegate it to "Rambles" or delete it, if he chooses, I don't care.

Is there such a thing as an open-minded cynic?

  • A person who can simply say "I don't know" -- when it comes to "God" or "Something", but doesn't close their mind entirely?
  • A person who hasn't made up their mind about every damned thing already, once they hit 40?
  • A person who still has the ability to say "I don't know"?
  • A person who still has the ability to say "I never thought of that", or "I never realized that"... "lemme consider for awhile...."
  • A person who is able to dislike a good portion of what another person says or stands for, but will still agree with a few things?
  • A person who still sits around and ponders, but is able to walk away and say "I may never know."
  • A person who doesn't have the need to quote the "experts" and "authorities" -- but can speak for themselves?
  • A person who doesn't idolize the "experts" and "authorities" -- but realizes, they don't know everything, because no one does.
  • A person who dares to question the "experts" and "authorities", and doesn't take for granted every single thing they say is true?
  • A person who has the ability to change their mind, even after middle-age?
  • A person who - even still - has the ability to say that they may have pre-judged inaccurately?
(You can add your own, if you like.)

It just seems like when we grow older, our brains and beliefs and attitudes grow harder and harder. Until we grow into that hard-assed curmudgeon we swore - we would never become. (And ironically, we literally, get a hard head.)

What things have you changed your mind about - over the years?


Can we have this conversation, or is it too unfocused?
Should "debunkers" - "debunk" themselves, from time-to-time?
Yes ,. I believed in the moon landings, in space. My school project in the 70s was the race into space. Then I found silly people during 2015 saying the earth is flat and it does not move. I spent several months trying to prove we live on a spinning ball, the sun is 93 million miles away, but after all the NASA stuff,. There really is no evidence of any of this, unless of course I have faith in NASA is NASA supposed to be a Church?. So yes, at age 55 I changed my mind as hard as it was, to the idea that the earth does not move, it is the centre of everything and it is flat.
 

Cynic

New Member
The answer is YES but on the basis of being cynical/sceptical properly. We most of us believe that such a term denotes being opposed to outlandish ideas. And truthfully one who professes to be either would actually be the most open minded of all. Be it a deity or an event or something else, the very idea is that one would need convincing. That one does not believe just because, but needs some evidence. Debunkers tend to think of themselves this way but this is false, they are as biased as a atheist or conspiracy theorist. A true cynic or sceptic never pre forms a belief. They look at evidences presented and form their belief based on weight of evidence.

I personally try to look hard but fair but am biased by belief so try to be extra detailed in seeking evidence. And i have admitted error in beliefs and even been back and forth in beliefs as i examined more of the material on a subject.
I think that we would be best if all of us were true cynics and sceptics and then required hard evidence to base a firm belief on rather than making our minds up then being sceptical or cynical of an opposing view. Especially since, it has been psychologically proven that repeated exposure effectively familiarises and makes us most comfortable with something and we then adopt these things as truth, which then gives rise to the effect of cognitive dissonance when presented with a view that breaks the beliefs we have.

This is demonstrable in religion for example where we are taught of "god" from an early age and it is this within cultures that forms the national religion of a country as many of us follow just what we are taught and find it hard to break away from the indoctrination. The same is true with conspiracy theories, we tend to believe what we are told because we are told what happened over and over and over again. If we were told nothing except a final conclusion just once, we would then tend to explore the conclusion ourselves and probably form more independent decisions
Good article evidence should be the most important thing but we all have some form of belief,it is very hard not to have,but I think everything should be questioned,doubt is good it makes you look again,but eventually a mind has to be made up otherwise no decisions would ever be made at all
 

cladking

New Member
Now days there is an immense amount of specialized knowledge and everyone must normally defer to the experts. Obviously we each still have the responsibility to think for ourselves and recognize the experts can be wrong about even the most fundamental things.

It never really occurred to me ten years ago that we're all essentially wrong about everything. It never seemed possible that we misunderstand science, history, and our own nature yet this is exactly what I discovered when reverse engineering the great Egyptian pyramids. It turns out people used to be scientifically oriented and the great heroes were scientists, metaphysicians, and those with command of language. The implications are staggering.

To put it simply homo sapiens became extinct at the "tower of babel" and were replaced by us; homo omnisciencis.

It was complex language which created humanity but the original and natural complex language failed because it was metaphysical and became too complex. Today we use a new and confused language.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
Yes ,. I believed in the moon landings, in space. My school project in the 70s was the race into space. Then I found silly people during 2015 saying the earth is flat and it does not move. I spent several months trying to prove we live on a spinning ball, the sun is 93 million miles away, but after all the NASA stuff,. There really is no evidence of any of this, unless of course I have faith in NASA is NASA supposed to be a Church?. So yes, at age 55 I changed my mind as hard as it was, to the idea that the earth does not move, it is the centre of everything and it is flat.

After all the NASA stuff? What NASA stuff?
 

Apple

New Member
Yes ,. I believed in the moon landings, in space. My school project in the 70s was the race into space. Then I found silly people during 2015 saying the earth is flat and it does not move. I spent several months trying to prove we live on a spinning ball, the sun is 93 million miles away, but after all the NASA stuff,. There really is no evidence of any of this, unless of course I have faith in NASA is NASA supposed to be a Church?. So yes, at age 55 I changed my mind as hard as it was, to the idea that the earth does not move, it is the centre of everything and it is flat.
You don't always need evidence to prove an idea wrong. The idea that the earth is flat or that there isn't anything in space can be proven wrong on the bases of how many people who have to be in on the conspiracy or promoting the false belief and humankind focus over the centuries and the motivation of the people keeping it alive.

Since millions of people throughout the history of mankind have studied the earth and the stars and thousands continue to do so. So reason would follow strong evidence proving the conclusion that earth is flat or that their isn't anything space would of logically surfaced by now, but it hasn't.

You could logically conclude that there a group of people with a lot of power who are able to destroy evidence to prove the conclusion, or who are silencing those with evidence as to explain to the lack of evidence to support it that exists from the past and the present. But that begs the question, why? What does a person have to gain from maintaining a lie that would be almost impossible to maintain and that doesn't benefit people much. Maybe being able to maintain careers that are built on lies. But that hardly gives the funds for power that is almost god like to control information.

Then we have the fact that their are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people world wide who study the earth and outer space and if the fact that there wasn't anything or the fact the earth is flat. You would think we have someone leaking details that it's all a lie and then people who just report news for clicks would of dumped it out to the max for the money.
 

cladking

New Member
what people?
Animals use a natural language that is logical. 40,000 years ago all of these natural languages were quite simple but then a mutation occurred in a human that gave rise to complex language. The original human language was an elaboration on this natural language. Natural language was employed by beavers to transform their habitat and by termites to invent agriculture and air conditioned cities. Unfortunately natural languages are metaphysical in nature and they become increasingly complex as knowledge accumulates and human language cause a huge amount of knowledge to accumulate. By 3200 BC some individuals were losing the ability to speak the ancient language so modern language was invented that used the same vocabulary but was formatted differently. Since modern language means something different to each listener they invented writing to try to preserve meaning.

As time went by fewer and fewer individuals were able to speak the ancient language until by 2000 BC there were no longer enough to operate the state and modern language was adopted worldwide as the official languages. This event is dimly remembered as the story of the "Tower of Babel".

Ancient language can't be translated into modern language. Virtually no writing survives in ancient language simply because no one could understand it and no one thought anyone would ever be able to understand it. No attempt was made at preserving it.

are you saying you think Kim Kardashian will be featured in future history books?
I don't know who that is but I seriously doubt it.
 

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