There is a question that I like to ask when I am debating or discussing certain topics with people:
What evidence would you need for you to change your mind?
Or, in simpler terms, what would need to be true in order for you to feel that you were wrong and then change your opinion.
For some people, the answer to this question is very simple. They might say something like “I would need evidence that X is actually true” or “I would need to see data that shows Y.” But for others, the answer is much more complicated. They might say something like “I would need someone to convince me that my way of thinking is wrong” or “I would need to have an experience that changes my perspective.”
In any case, I think it’s important to consider what evidence would be required for you to change your mind on a given issue. After all, if you’re not willing to change your mind even when presented with evidence that contradicts your beliefs, then you’re not really open-minded, are you?
So, what would it take for you to change your mind? What evidence would you need to see in order to convince you that you were wrong about something? Take a moment to think about it and be honest with yourself.
I’ll start by sharing what it would take for me to change my mind on a few topics. For example, I am very skeptical of astrology. I don’t believe that the alignment of the stars has any bearing on our personalities or lives. However, if someone could show me convincing evidence that astrology is real and accurate, I would be willing to change my mind.
Similarly, I am not religious. But if someone could show me evidence that there is a God who created the universe and controls our lives, I would be willing to change my mind on that too.
Finally, I am a firm believer in the scientific method and the power of empirical evidence. So if someone could show me evidence that contradicts what we know about the world through science, I would be willing to change my mind about that as well.
These are just a few examples, but I think you get the idea. It’s important, to be honest with yourself about what it would take for you to change your mind on various topics. Only then can you truly say that you’re open-minded.
Often, this catches people by surprise because they have never really spent a significant amount of time considering the positions held by the other side of any debate. This is somewhat inevitable, especially if you don’t go out and purposefully seek out counter-arguments to your own positions.
We all live in our own little bubbles, and it is preferable to watch videos or read books that showcase similar views to the ones that we hold, then to try and understand the opposing arguments well.
After all, it is easier to reaffirm our beliefs than it is to critically examine them and potentially have them shattered.
But if you want to be a truly open-minded individual, then you need to do the hard work of understanding both sides of every issue. You need to put yourself in the shoes of those who see the world differently than you do and try to understand their point of view. Only then will you be able to fairly consider the evidence and make an informed decision about which side is right.
What is interesting, is that in some ways this very much follows the scientific method. You need to have falsifiable views. You believe something to be true, so you have a hypothesis, you can then go out in reality and test that hypothesis. How should the world be in what you think is true, is true?
What type of experiments, especially easy ones, can you create that could prove you wrong?
This is harder than it looks because you need to have a very humble approach to knowledge. You need to have strong opinions, held gently. After all, it just requires one piece of evidence to shatter a theory.
If I saw that all swans are white, it doesn’t matter how many examples of white swans I can find, just one black swan will prove me wrong.
I have extremely strong convictions about evolution — to the point where I believe it is a fact beyond any reasonable doubt. But, if someone digs up a bunny rabbit in sediment that belongs to the Cretaceous period, and the geological age matches perfectly, then I will need to have a long think about what I believe.
This is the power of falsifiability — any view can be shattered by new evidence. This is what separates science from non-science. If you want to have an open mind, then you need to embrace this philosophy.
You should always be willing to change your mind in the face of new evidence. This doesn’t mean that you should believe everything that you hear — far from it.
But it does mean that you should be willing to update your beliefs based on new information.
There’s an important distinction to make here between changing your mind and being indecisive. It’s perfectly fine to not have an opinion on something or to change your opinion frequently. What’s not okay, is to hold onto a belief even when it’s clear that it’s wrong.
You should always be willing to update your beliefs based on new information. If you’re not, then you’re simply being stubborn.
It can be difficult to change your mind about something, especially if you feel strongly about it. But if you want to be truly open-minded, then you need to be willing to do just that.