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How to Stop Yourself from Becoming a Caricature of Your Views.

July 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Politics, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.comAs a rule, we all tend to enjoy thinking of ourselves as enlightened, insightful, and able to perceive the truth, particularly when it comes to things like politics.

But, with many people being more and more worried about echo chambers and biased reporting of the news in recent years, it’s always useful to ask the question — whatever side of the political divide we might fall on — “am I becoming a caricature of my views?”

We can all think of people who have become caricatures of their views, after all. People who seem only to be capable of speaking in the same political slogans that everyone on their side of the discussion turns to.

Here are some steps you can take to stop yourself from becoming a caricature of your views.

Avoid speaking with certainty on issues you haven’t investigated thoroughly

One of the key features of someone who has become a caricature of their views, is that they will speak with absolute certainty on every issue, all the time, regardless of whether or not they’ve thoroughly investigated the subject.

Intellectual humility is the understanding that there’s a lot of uncertainty and nuance out there in the world. It’s the acknowledgement that even if you have done your research, there may be details you’re missing, and that your opponent may actually have some information that you don’t.

Having a bit of intellectual humility doesn’t mean that you have to give ground constantly. But it does mean saying things like “it seems to me that…” rather than “this is the way it is, period.”

Don’t avoid information or arguments that go against your beliefs (but don’t blindly accept them either)

People who have become a caricature of their views will typically avoid all information and arguments that go against their beliefs.

There are various reasons for this, but some of the most straightforward ones include that such people are often disgusted by their opponents and find their views tainted by default, and also that they fear that being exposed to contrary ideas might shake the foundations of their own belief structure.

It is, in fact, possible to entertain an idea without accepting it. When you expose yourself to the views coming from the other side of the aisle, you can dig deeper for nuggets of truth, and you can refine and improve your own arguments and ideas.

Assume that your ideological opponents have reasons for their beliefs and views

When we disagree with people very strongly, it can be very easy for us to fall back to the default assumption that they are all just morons and monsters.

Morons and monsters exist, but you should assume that any ideological opponent you encounter has reasons for their beliefs and views. These may not be reasons you consider valid, but they do seem valid to the person you’re talking to.

Understanding that most people are just doing what seems right to them, you can begin to address the deeper issues in any discussion. What are your opponent’s concerns? Is there any way they could be addressed without violating your sense of right and wrong?

Staff Writer; Greg Short

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