This blog has many opinion posts buried among other poorly read — and probably poorly written — posts. My fiction still holds the record for least-read offerings, but my opinion pieces are a close second.
As mentioned before, I write not only to clarify my thoughts but also to keep track of my changing views.
Sometimes a person’s view changes without them realizing it. Worse yet, they’ll suppress memories of what they previously believed about a subject.
It’s true; I know people who insist they never believed the opposite of what they do now and even argue that we never debated topics about which we now share a common ground.
Perhaps I’m the one who misremembers!
A valid point — except that I document my views, and I can go back to the ’90s and sometimes earlier to revisit my thoughts about things.
One thing I’ve noticed about my opinion pieces — and possibly the reason for the limited readership — is their sweeping scope. I follow a formula of laying a foundation, establishing a premise, giving examples, defending assumptions, anticipating counterarguments, restating the premise, and … well, you get the picture. By the time I ask for feedback or invite readers to discuss the matter, well, by that time, most, if not all, readers have left.
These days, I consume a variety of podcasts touching on varied views about many topics, processing things on the fly:
- Does what I’m hearing make sense?
- Is it plausible?
- Does it conform to what I know about human nature and the world?
- If I don’t agree, why don’t I agree; what’s my basis for disagreeing or dismissing it (aside from the fact that maybe I don’t like hearing it)?
- If I agree with what I’m hearing, is it possible I’m wrong?
I often pause the podcast and use the note-taking function on my phone to leave myself reminders; reminders about objections I might have, reminders to research what I just heard, reminders to give it more thought at a later time.
These reminders often come about because the interviewer or podcaster fails to ask questions I have, or they fail to follow through on a line of reasoning.
I also write down new lines of thoughts for me to explore later.
That’s why I listen to opposing views; I want to understand the basis for those views.
I want to know enough about an issue to express the arguments of both sides just as well as people who champion them. If I’m discussing something with someone, I want to remove the “you just don’t understand!” argument as a reason to dismiss my opinion.
None of this guarantees that I arrive at what anyone will consider “the truth” — if such a thing even exists. Instead, it ensures that I understand arguments for and against something well enough to repeat them accurately in my own words, often going in more depth than what I’ve read or heard.
I’d love to engage the people I listen to in a discussion about what they said, and in my younger and more naïve days, I did so in the comments of podcasts or blog posts.
Anyone familiar with the cesspool commonly referred to as “the comment section” knows why I no longer engage. Not only because the other commenters — often fanboys and fangirls more interested in appearing loyal to the podcaster than to intellectual integrity — but also the hosts themselves (when they even bother to acknowledge the questions, let alone answer them) hate being challenged.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment I had was at the hands of Massimo Pigliucci. An exchange brought into question his ability for rigorous, unbiased thought and made me wary of anything he says. Not dismissive, but I question the motivation behind his supposed insights. (OK, OK, I don’t respect the man, so I’m not even listening to whatever he says.)
One other reason for publishing my thought in this forum: as rare as it might be, someone reading the post might offer illuminating insights to which I’m not privy. Understand, it’s not rare that others have insights; it’s rare that people engage.
Anyway, this is a long-winded notice about a new feature I’m starting that I call Tiny Thoughts. It’s opinions and thoughts about stuff I’ve pondered, heard, or read.
I’ll keep them short, and even the long pieces won’t go past 500 words (unlike this introduction which stops just shy of 750 words).
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