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How to not be an idiot

I loved how this professor opened and closed his talk. It was given in 2012. It’s hard to imagine that sentiment being presented much in Universities today. 

It is a principle I hope is evident in my life. I know how hard it is to foster. I am as guilty as anyone of bolstering my own opinion by listening only to those who hold my opinion!

How I need this humility.

That was a really moving and powerful talk. Those of you who know my classes will know that one thing I will own to believing – and there isn’t much since I conceal my beliefs – is a belief in the difference of points of view and the value of hearing points of view other than the ones you’re familiar with.
I’d like to quote John Stuart Mill’s comment that “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.” It’s important to hear a point of view you don’t agree with from someone who actually is willing to defend it. Not, let’s say, finding out what the other side thinks by reading what your side says it thinks which i think is something like letting the prosecutor present the defense’s case at a trial. And so in an environment where at least on the faculty I never hear a point of view like Professor Right I was absolutely delighted to hear it

That line of John Stuart Mill – “he who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that”… if one could be humble enough to realize that no matter how convinced one is of one’s opinion its opinion – and there are intelligent, well-intentioned people on the other side. And don’t look for the stupid people on the other side, any idiot can find idiots on the other side. Work by the rule ‘There is as many fools and knaves on your side of the aisle as on the other side of the aisle.” Look for the best people on the other side. That’s what humility and knowledge consists of. And then you become smarter and more empathetic. I don’t see how one can go wrong starting with empathy.”

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