Monday, December 06, 2004

the closing of the american mind?

QF45 pays homage to (a certain type of) closed-mindedness. i reproduce it here:

I had a conversation about the DaVinci code yesterday. I was unabashed in denouncing it as a pile of pseudo-scholarly garbage. The girl I discussed it with wasn't so sure. She thought I should at least be open to the possibility of its being correct, and found its implications fascinating. She didn't say it outright, but there was an air of presumption that I was being close-minded.

And so I have come to a conclusion: there is such a thing as being too open minded, and it is a pervasive form of intellectual shallowness. Almost every patent falsehood that presents itself is possibly true. It is not impossible that crystals cure cancer, that astrology is valid, and that 'true' Christianity is an eroticist mysticism.

But a mind with true depth isn't seduced by mere possibility- it demands probability, plausibility and evidence. A mind with depth is closed to most of the noise and clatter that pretends to bear the mark of truth. A mind with depth doesn't welcome in anything that cannot stand up and prove itself worthy of belief.
In other words, intellectual depth demands that one be close-minded to a substantial degree. Ideas do not have an inherent right to be taken seriously. It is a privelege- they must earn it first. To be an egalitarian in the world of ideas is to become the shallowest and most pathetic sort of thinker in the world.

discuss. any thoughts?


David said...

"closed-mindedness" is the epithet heaped upon us by those who never did quite get that "critical thinking" think down. It's basically the response of an 'intellectual agnostic' who doesn't recognize that they themselves have 'closed the door', but they're on the other side of it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that there is such a thing as being too open-minded, although I prefer to use the word "gullible", and I agree that gullibility is a sign of a serious lack of critical thinking skills. But I also believe that sometimes gullibility is a result of out-of-control optimism, or an inability to cope with the fact that some things in the universe truly are finite. Ineffable, incalculable, perhaps unknowable, but still finite.

My apologies for posting anonymously, I have no Blogger account.

Constance Reader,
Austin, TX

eric said...

thanks for the comments, folks!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like he's trying to rationalize wanting to ask her out and being afraid to. Kill the anaphora, anyway, why doncha?

eric said...

um, ok. i'm not sure the ad hominem business is all that helpful, or accurate. but there you go.