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Back when I was smaller and people were taller the ability to change your mind was considered a sign of maturity and wisdom. If you connected the dots you were wrong about something you were adamant was ‘true’ you were either sheepishly or  matter of fact admitted you were wrong.  Either way you moved on with your new and improved state of being.  If your hypothesis was incorrect you discarded it for something better – and you were looked upon as good for doing so.  I’ve been trained in the scientific way to test hypothesis and if they fall flat to reject them even if “I really wanted them to be true.”

Or so I remember.

Perhaps this openness and plasticity of the past wasn’t so stellar as I remember. My recollection is probably colored by the human propensity to make the past a more ‘golden age’. All the same the 180-opposite direction approach people have these days is refusing to admit they were wrong and let alone change. Presented with data that challenges paradigms makes people dig further into their convictions. Changing your mind is looked upon as a sign of weakness.* What was once considered a sign you were being pig-headed is now admired as a sign of strength. Oh the horror.

In my profession (medicine) new stuff comes up all the time. There is a continuous parade of “Everything you know is wrong” findings that oblige me to discard cherished beliefs to what work with what the data actually supports.  My specialty has so many turnovers it makes my eyes cross. Public Opinion may say this is a bad sign but I see it as quite good – and proper.  I want to throw out the rubbish. Otherwise I’d still be prescribing psychoanalysis for the treatment of OCD (which is caused by suppressed anger towards your parents) and sending ‘perverts’ to conversion therapy.  Oh the embarrassment.

You will be shocked shocked shocked to hear doctors are no better than anyone else that when confronted with data telling them to think and do differently they often than not just keep doing what they have always done.  “Time-honored treatments’ don’t bow readily to ‘evidence-based medicine” I am sorry to say.

And of course, thems who want things to stay status quo don’t take kindly to thems who challenge things  Just think of Galileo, Corpunicus, Darwin to name a few.

I will continue to be open and welcome changing my mind as needs arise and see this as a virtue not a sign of spinelessness. Thems who are recalcitrant in their beliefs in are not ‘strong’.

“You see, the point is that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.”
Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People

 

 

*I have a vague memory of a candidate running for public office being ridiculed on TV for changing his mind on something. The ad conveyed he was therefore not to be trusted and he was ‘weak’ for being so. I recall thinking he ought to be elected as a sensible fellow open to new ideas and self-correction.  I believe he lost.

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