Changing an opinion after thinking the wrong way is hard. So is sticking to correct beliefs in the face of opposition. Both actions take courage. The challenge is knowing when to concede or dig in, especially when confronting deep personal biases intertwined with feelings.
I faced my own struggle to separate emotion from reason while growing up in Mumbai, where the test of right or wrong had more to do with group reputation than anything else. The phrase drilled into me was log kya kahenge, which means: What will people say?
What will people say if I wear Western-style clothes, choose my own boyfriend or get a job outside the home? How will my behavior reflect on others? Your actions are unbefitting for a woman, and you bring us shame, my parents and extended family members would tell me.
Many authority figures wielded terms like community and society as weapons of guilt to force compliance. Eventually I learned to push back. But the negativity associated with the collectivist tenets stayed with me for decades, even after I crossed an ocean and started a new life in the United States.
As an economist, I cared about free market principles, and studied innovation and entrepreneurship in the for-profit realm of introducing new products and services. I had little thought for social innovation, even dismissing it as not worthy of study. That was then. Over time my views changed, as I compared new information to prior experience.
One breakthrough came when I realized that the founding principles in my new country represented a profound type of social innovation. The grand documents on individual liberty that inspired my youthful resistance were not commercial products or services. They were the principles upon which individuals could freely engage in enterprise and create win-win outcomes.
Today I study many other contributions from leaders without a profit motive. As I describe in a previous column, my recent research with Sonali K. Shah and Steven T. Sonka at the University of Illinois confirms that private, public and social sector organizations all have roles to play in driving upward mobility.
Some people would say I have an open mind because I evolved. The contrast would be a closed mind, unwilling to consider alternate viewpoints. Neither option in this false dichotomy is good. When venturing forth in the world, having either an open or a closed mind can sabotage growth.
The flexibility of an open mind is necessary to a point. But those who bend too quickly to new ideas might give up correct beliefs ormore likelyswap one set of flawed notions for another. They are like impressionable children, inclined to trust the most recent message they hear from adults without thinking for themselves. Such people never stand firm on principles because they dont have any.
On the flip side, the rigidness of a closed mind has advantages when trying to lock in cherished values. But those satisfied with their level of knowledge lose all sense of discovery. They assume their beliefs are true and complete, ending the need for further inquiry. No amount of information will convince them otherwise. Such people show strong convictionsright or wrongbecause nothing else exists in their minds.
I prefer a third alternative. Philosopher Ayn Rand calls it an active mind. The concept has less to do with whether you change your opinion, and more to do with how you form your opinion. People with active minds focus on learning, and on thinking critically. In other words, they emphasize the journey, not just the destination. They put process ahead of outcomes, pursuing growth in three stages.
Having an active mind starts with active listening. People who value learning seek diverse viewpoints from multiple sources. They read things that offend them. They talk to people from different backgrounds. Then they repeat back what they think they heard to ensure understanding.
I did this during my project with Shah and Sonka, two trusted colleagues. I listened to what the facts were telling us in the researchthat nonprofit engagement and social entrepreneurship were critical in market creation, especially in developing regions with limited infrastructure.
Closed-minded people build strawmen instead. They distort or misrepresent facts, creating easy targets to knock over. They also engage in whataboutism, a type of psychological deflection. Rather than refuting an opposing argument, they ignore it and charge the other side with hypocrisy.
Open-minded people simply agree with new information. They can hold multiple contradictory ideas in their heads at the same time, and never reconcile the differences. Rather than debate, they appeasesometimes because they fear conflict or commitment.
Once people with active minds listen, they synthesize. They compare old and new information, exploring how different ideas fit together. They distinguish between broad principles and the details of particular cases, which are not always representative.
In my own case, I caught myself focusing on concrete notions of social innovation, ascribing a narrow meaning based on my negative experiences in a collectivist culture. When I synthesized new information, I could see the shared basic principles underlying both social and for-profit innovation.
Many times when people confront an opposing viewpoint, the exchange produces win-win outcomes. Both sides move closer to the truth. Yet people with active minds are not confined to the linear distance between two viewpoints. By engaging in dialogue, active thinkers can jump beyond the continuum, often arriving at new ideas not previously considered by either party.
Closed-minded people avoid the journey. The more they clash with opposing viewpoints, the more entrenched they become in their original position. Open-minded people have a different problem. The more they hear new ideas, the more rudderless they become. They trade one position for another like musical chairs.
Once active thinkers synthesize old and new information, they test their emerging ideas in the real world. When they confirm a correct belief, they stay the course until better information comes along. When they detect an error, they update their thinking and try again.
People dont need a science degree to do this. Italian researchers Arnaldo Camuffo, Alessandro Cordova, Alfonso Gambardella and Chiara Spina at Bocconi University confirm that anyone can use the scientific method. Their field tests specifically focus on business settings during periods of uncertainty, but the scientific rigor works anywhere.
What active-minded individuals dont do is beat themselves up for honest mistakes. Instead, they celebrate every course correction and move forward without shame. This is what I have attempted to do.
I now embrace my role as a social entrepreneur in a nonprofit education setting, espousing the value of for-profit enterprise and markets for upward mobility. I find no contradiction in doing so, thanks to the course corrections I made.
Closed-minded people remain blind to the evidence of failure. Being wrong would jeopardize their entire belief system, so they reject the possibility. Open-minded people, meanwhile, never know they are wrong until someone else tells them.
While they wait, they miss opportunities to make discoveries for themselves. They also miss opportunities to share their ideas with others. Having an active mind engenders both creative activities.
People with active minds are flexible and firm at the same time. They adjust based on the evidence. The key is not being learned, but being a learner.
Go here to read the rest:
- Will the Democrats Trust Me? - Splice Today - June 4th, 2021
- Nothing to See Here - The American Prospect - June 4th, 2021
- The bill was never introduced, but Sisolak's Blockchains concept is still alive - Nevada Current - June 4th, 2021
- Step inside Ram Gopal Varma's office, where rooms are named after Donald Trump and Dawood Ibrahim - Hindustan Times - June 4th, 2021
- ALL CREATURES GRATE ON FOX'S 'HOUSEBROKEN' - The Republic - June 4th, 2021
- Congress Is Trying to Give Jeff Bezos's Space Firm $10 Billion of Your Tax Dollars | Hannah Cox - Foundation for Economic Education - June 4th, 2021
- My Turn: To those who fear non-leftists - The Recorder - May 29th, 2021
- The GOP Cant Be Savedand Neither Can Paul Ryan - The Nation - May 29th, 2021
- Army of the Dead mashes a heist flick with zombies - New Times SLO - May 27th, 2021
- Nepal Is the Boat of Democracy on The Road Ahead - IDN InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters - May 27th, 2021
- Video Games That Are Based on Novels Film Daily - Film Daily - May 27th, 2021
- Wisconsin Examiner Kids are getting their shots so should Ron Johnson - Wisconsin Examiner - May 16th, 2021
- Kids Are Getting VaccinatedSo Should Ron Johnson - Progressive.org - May 16th, 2021
- Reverential and referential: A review of the Hebrew Bible for Shavuot eve - The Jewish Standard - May 16th, 2021
- People Share the Book Titles That Would Make Them Walk Out of a First Date - Newsweek - May 11th, 2021
- Zack Snyder Has Delayed The Fountainhead Because He Thinks It Will Freak Everyone Out - MovieWeb - May 11th, 2021
- Rushs music taught me that I could grow, that I could change - The Globe and Mail - May 7th, 2021
- These COVID-19 patients coped with isolation and anxiety in their own uplifting ways - The Hindu - May 7th, 2021
- Climate targets must be realistic -- and demand the impossible - The Harvell gazette - May 7th, 2021
- Emily at the Edge of Chaos Peering over the precipice [MOVIE REVIEW] - Easy Reader - May 4th, 2021
- THE TEACHER'S DESK: We're almost there | Columns | thetimestribune.com - Times Tribune of Corbin - April 11th, 2021
- Allison Hanes: Laissez-faire fatalism seems to have infected Legault - Montreal Gazette - March 31st, 2021
- Letter: Re: Ethan Orr's Article on the Middle Class - Arizona Daily Star - March 31st, 2021
- Reaching Active Minds: Ayn Rand and the Ford Hall Forum - New Ideal - March 25th, 2021
- In Mosaic's darkly funny 'Inherit the Windbag,' an epic bickerfest (ep. 3) - DC Metro Theater Arts - March 25th, 2021
- Ralph Nader on Corporatism's Threat to Democracy - Progressive.org - March 25th, 2021
- There is such a thing as society: it has overcome Covid and restored the truth - TheArticle - March 20th, 2021
- Letter to the editor | UPJ nowhere to be found on Outlier site - TribDem.com - March 20th, 2021
- Talks of replacing Woody Allen in Ann Arbor mural reignited after new documentary - MLive.com - March 20th, 2021
- We wince; therefore, we are | Our Readers Speak | register-herald.com - Beckley Register-Herald - March 20th, 2021
- Why We Need Shakespeare and Beethoven - The Dispatch - March 20th, 2021
- B1G tourney preview: After 20 wins in NCAA regular season, Gophers still have something to prove in playoffs - Brainerd Dispatch - March 20th, 2021
- The Worst Ted Cruz Moments in History - Dallas Observer - March 20th, 2021
- The Books That Shaped Tina Howard and Teas to Pair With Them - Fort Worth Magazine - March 7th, 2021
- Are You Bullish or Bearish on America and Wall Street? - Stock Investor - March 7th, 2021
- Satire: Why two beers is the perfect amount - The State Press - March 7th, 2021
- Elon Musk and Amber Heard: How Did the Two Celebrities Meet? - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - March 7th, 2021
- CPAC Exposed the GOP's Fight for the Working Class as Just Another Culture War | Opinion - Newsweek - March 7th, 2021
- An Excerpt From 'Peter and the Wolves' by Adele Bertei on the Brief, Brilliant Life of Peter Laughner - Cleveland Scene - February 10th, 2021
- Our nation has never fully agreed on much, but it hasn't always torn itself apart | TheHill - The Hill - February 8th, 2021
- Paul and Romney embarrass themselves by lashing out at trans athletes - Outsports - February 8th, 2021
- Why Telling Students to 'Trust the Experts' Is Poor Advice | Caroline Breashears - Foundation for Economic Education - February 8th, 2021
- Liz was Isolated as a Felon on the Run, Transitioning Alone: Nick Cammilleri and Zackary Drucker on Their HBO Docuseries The Lady and the Dale -... - February 8th, 2021
- Letter: Pleased that Newhouse defended Constitution | Letters To Editor | yakimaherald.com - Yakima Herald-Republic - January 29th, 2021
- The more I practice, the better my luck - Las Cruces Bulletin - January 29th, 2021
- Geddy Lee on the Genius of Neil Peart - Rolling Stone - January 29th, 2021
- The Lady and The Dale | Review - The GATE - January 29th, 2021
- Ayn Rand on Morality and the Misuse of Political Power - New Ideal - January 27th, 2021
- 'The Lady and the Dale': TV Review - Hollywood Reporter - January 27th, 2021
- Closer to the park: St. Catharines commissions artwork to honour Rush drummer Neil Peart - The Globe and Mail - January 27th, 2021
- No more echo chambers: the internet's best left-wing thinkers - Spectator.co.uk - January 27th, 2021
- Currencies get back to the task at hand - FXStreet - January 27th, 2021
- Wikipedia is the last bastion of idealism on the internet Prospect Magazine - Prospect Magazine - January 27th, 2021
- article image Op-Ed: Investors making big money, but where are the trillions going? - Digital Journal - January 19th, 2021
- Unmasking the Deceased Programmer Who Donated 28 Bitcoin to Capitol Hill Rioters - Crypto Briefing - January 19th, 2021
- An Expert Explains the US Capitol Hill riot: anatomy of an insurrection - The Indian Express - January 15th, 2021
- PERRY: Mayor Coffman's mock-homeless close-up highlights the danger of unreality TV - Sentinel Colorado - January 15th, 2021
- The Meaning Of Work For A Happy Life (And New Year) - Forbes - January 15th, 2021
- Is It Selfish to Never Wear a Mask? - New Ideal - October 22nd, 2020
- Ayn Rands power isnt dimmed by the collectivist age of the pandemic - Telegraph.co.uk - October 20th, 2020
- What Tech Calls Thinking: Book Review | by Joshua Adams | Oct, 2020 - Medium - October 20th, 2020
- Welcome to Dystopia: 45 Visions of What Lies Ahead - Morning Star Online - October 20th, 2020
- The Dictatorial Impulse Behind the Shaming of PPP Recipients - New Ideal - July 21st, 2020
- Big problems with the Paycheck Protection Program? - The Week - July 21st, 2020
- Finally: Diamond and Silk are releasing a book - The Spectator USA - July 21st, 2020
- Tagore's Gora to Krishnamurthy's Ponniyin Selvan: Add these regional language books to your reading list - India Today - July 21st, 2020
- When MGM and the FBI Chased 'The Father of the Atomic Bomb' - WhoWhatWhy - July 21st, 2020
- What's Wrong With Ayn Rand's Philosophy? - The Objective ... - July 13th, 2020
- In sign of the times, Ayn Rand Institute approved for PPP loan - Reuters - July 13th, 2020
- 'We Took PPP Funds and Would Do It Again' - New Ideal - July 13th, 2020
- Auchter's Art: The confusing narrative of Betsy DeVos - Michigan Radio - July 13th, 2020
- Wisconsin school board member asked to resign after posting that 'George Floyd is drug free for 2 months' - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - July 13th, 2020
- St. Joseph reaps short-lived cash infusion - News-Press Now - July 13th, 2020
- Tips and Murmurs: Ayn Rand Institute gets government handout - Crikey - July 13th, 2020
- Local anti-tax groups find even they need big government aid sometimes - Seattle Times - July 13th, 2020
- Climbing aboard the PPP train | Opinion | citizensvoice.com - Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice - July 13th, 2020
- Prominent and politically connected Austin firms among those getting bailout loans - Austin American-Statesman - July 13th, 2020
- Indiana PPP loan recipients: See the full searchable list of who received them - Courier & Press - July 13th, 2020
- Mississippi PPP loan recipients: See the full searchable list of who received them - Hattiesburg American - July 13th, 2020
- Paycheck Protection Payouts Give Taxpayers Plenty To Ponder | K. Lloyd Billingsley - The Beacon - July 13th, 2020