How to Avoid Foolish Opinions
[00:08.38]To avoid the various foolish opinions
[00:18.64] to which mankind is prone,
[00:20.73]no superhuman genius is required.
[00:23.26]A few simple rules will keep you,
[00:25.98]not from all error,
[00:27.41]but from silly error.
[00:29.17]If the matter is one that can be settled by observation,
[00:32.99]make the observation yourself.
[00:35.49]Aristotle could have avoided the mistake of thinking
[00:39.56]that women have fewer teeth than men,
[00:41.62]by the simple device of asking Mrs. Aristotle
[00:44.80]to keep her mouth open while he counted.
[00:47.20]He did not do so because he thought he knew.
[00:51.35]Thinking that you know
[00:54.21]when in fact you don't is a fatal mistake,
[00:57.15]to which we are all prone.
[00:58.80]Many matters, however,
[01:01.09]are less easily brought to the test of experience.
[01:04.61]If, like most of mankind,
[01:07.22]you have convictions on many such matters,
[01:09.85]there are ways in which
[01:11.69]you can make yourself aware of your own bias.
[01:13.78]If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry,
[01:18.48]that is a sign that you are subconsciously aware
[01:21.54]of having no good reason for thinking as you do.
[01:24.17]If someone maintains that two and two are five,
[01:28.44]you feel pity rather than anger.
[01:31.27]The most savage controversies are those about matters
[01:36.10]as to which there is no good evidence either way.
[01:39.92]Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic,
[01:43.64]because in arithmetic there is knowledge,
[01:46.49]but in theology there is only opinion.
[01:49.33]So whenever you find yourself getting angry
[01:53.15]about a difference of opinion,
[01:54.91]be on your guard; you will probably find,
[01:59.38]that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants.
[02:02.77]A good way of riding yourself
[02:05.79]of certain kinds of dogmatism
[02:07.69]is to become aware of opinions
[02:10.10] held in social circles different from your own.
[02:13.16]Seek out people with whom you disagree,
[02:15.80]and read a newspaper belonging to a party
[02:18.66] that is not yours.
[02:19.51]If the people and the newspaper seem mad and wicked,
[02:24.32]remind yourself that you seem so to them.
[02:27.62]In this opinion both parties may be right,
[02:30.67]but they cannot both be wrong.
[02:33.28]This reflection should generate caution.
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