In dealing with ideologues, it makes one wonder what makes some people so strongly trapped in a worldview. Plenty of people are passively stuck in all kinds of assumptions, belief systems, and reality tunnels. That is normal human behavior, but others take it to a whole new level. It becomes an active defense of dogma.
Being a skeptic and a freethinker doesn’t mean never falling into various cognitive biases and ideological blinders. It simply means constantly climbing back out of the holes one constantly falls into.
I was thinking about myself, in this context. These past years I’ve come to question and doubt so much that I held to in the past. When I grew up, I learned many things from my parents and other authority figures, from public education and mainstream media. I didn’t think to question most of it at the time, for I didn’t even understand that there was something to question and alternative perspectives from which to question.
What forced me to change my mind so much over these past decades?
Take genetics, as an example. In high school science, I was taught a hereditarian view of genetics, not unlike what many HBDers and other race realists hold. I wasn’t taught much, if anything, about environmental influences, gene-environment interactions, multiple gene interactions, epigenetics, etc. Public education didn’t give me a great preparation for scientific understanding. But I can’t blame just public education. That hereditarian view was a fairly dominant view of our entire society for a long time. Much of the most challenging research, especially about epigenetics, is relatively recent.
I had to study on my own to realize there were other views and other evidence. But I had to be motivated to do so. What makes some people motivated and others not?
I could say that I’m just more intellectually honest or more curious. That would be self-flattering. The truth is more psychologically fundamental. I’m a basically dissatisfied person. I have a way of seeking out or otherwise attracting data that contradicts what I think I know and people who disagree with what I believe. I climb out of holes of my own bad thinking, if even just to to climb into new holes to find out what it looks like from there. I couldn’t imagine spending my entire life sitting in the same hole.
I like to blame this on my depression. I’m simply an unhappy person. My restless mind precedes any expression of intellectual curiosity. My mind was always restless, long before I took up intellectual pursuits. I feel incapable of being an ideologue, not for reasons of internal strength and inherent honesty, but because I lack something many other people possess. It is a weakness, as far as it goes for being successful in this society. A permanent state of dissatisfaction is not a blessing.
I’m not the smartest person in the world. I’m not the most learned. The main thing I’ve got going for me is dissatisfaction, for whatever its worth. Given enough time, I will question and doubt anything and everything… sometimes to the point of cynicism and despair. It isn’t a pleasant fate. If I must suffer this dissatisfaction, I will force ideologues to suffer along with me by constantly challenging them. It is only fair.