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Witty and insightful video on open-mindedness

Space Goat

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As an atheist, I've been labeled close-minded on several occasions by religious believers. And the same charge is often leveled against prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins.

The video below shows the absurdity of calling someone close-minded just because he's skeptical of fantastic or improbable claims.


I especially like the narrator's point that excessive receptivity to ideas, without rational evaluation of them, can make the believer more close-minded than the skeptic because it leads him to accept ideas too quickly without considering alternatives.

The illustration the narrator gives is adept, but consider also the run-up to the Iraq war. Excessively trusting people accepted the Bush administration's claims regarding Saddam's WMD, whereas more skeptical individuals didn't just accept the president's word but also pondered other explanations. Of course, history vindicated the cynics.

Fusing together these strands of thought about irrational beliefs and public policy: I've ruminated in the past about how blind faith could affect political views. I'd think the deviation from reason that faith encourages wouldn't often confine itself to spirituality. Through religious faith, which usually serves as the bedrock of people's worldviews, many individuals would likely assume faith in general serves as a useful method of cognition. After all, how easily could a person think one way about an important subject, and then think in a different way about everything else?

I wonder how an American people that embraced rational skepticism more than blind faith -- i.e., that was more open-minded -- would have reacted to the Bush administration's poor case for war.
 
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