From climate change debates to electric cars to vegan vs carnivore diets.
Most people sit on one end of the spectrum, but what’s in the middle?
The mark of first-grade intellectual is the ability to hold two opposing thoughts simultaneously. - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Failing to Notice the Nuance
There’s more nuance in these debates than we would like to believe.
Whether we hold on to our beliefs and opinions because of pride or sheer ignorance, there is often no clear-cut answer, and very few of us are in a position to give expert advice or opinions on a topic.
So why do we take an extreme position and hold on to it?
When a belief of mine is challenged, I often catch myself refusing to hear what the other person has to say because I have already made my decision.
There’s an element of fear that arises when your beliefs are challenged and you are presented with evidence that suggests you may be wrong.
Taking on an unnecessarily strong identity closes you off from becoming more informed.
If you tell yourself, “I am a vegan because this is the healthiest diet”, and are presented with evidence showing small amounts of animal products can benefit you, it will be very difficult to accept this and may result in a lost opportunity.
The same goes for climate change. If you believe that all oil and gas is bad and renewables or nuclear energy are better options for everyone - without an advanced understanding of the global energy system and all its complexities, why would you hold on to such a strong opinion?
The Power of the Media
This makes me think about modern media and how powerful it can be. Polarising headlines that bend the truth spread faster than the alternatively “truthful” headline would.
My strategy to deal with these complicated situations is always to keep an open mind and listen to what people have to say.
You only know what you know, until you are presented with new information that proves otherwise.