In Praise of Narrow-Mindedness

June 19, 2012

William M. Briggs writes

Now there is nobody as narrow-minded and as dogmatic as a mathematician. This is a man who just will not open his mind to hearing about new methods to square the circle or to show that two plus two is sometimes not four. He will rebuff, sometimes angrily, arguments which claim triangles have four sides. What a judgmental bigot! It is as if this man is in thrall to a religion, who actually has hold of Truth and believes it come what may. A truly closed mind.

We should all have minds as narrow. To possess and hold Truth—and not to be talked out of it because of faulty, frivolous insults, or because many have decided to be against you.

Just think: If you have ever been called narrow-minded then you know that your interlocutor does not want to broaden your scope, to open your mind, to make it fuller, more “accepting.” What your adversary wants is for you to change your mind, to believe differently but just as narrowly as he does, to reject what you previously believed.

(via Jerry Pournelle)

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