Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The right to believe vs. the responsibility to doubt

We are quick to claim our rights. We are not so swift in owning our responsibilities. I am reluctant to suggest that there be a moratorium on any particular belief, any brand of belief or any style of belief. I agree that some beliefs will land you in a padded room but no belief should land you in jail.

Behavior. Actions. These we not only may police but we must police them. It is very nearly the definition of belonging to a social group. We have rights as individuals but we also have responsibilities to the group, at least if we are to be part of the group.

But beliefs... Erroneous belief is but a symptom. Unqualified belief, likewise. It is the process of thought (or lack thereof) that allows and leads to faulty and/or unqualified belief that is the underlying issue. We (humans) are quick to claim superior knowledge, quick to defame conflicting opinions and information but reluctant to meticulously verify the evidence and lay out a case. That's hard work. No wonder so few people make the effort. And many of those who appear to make the effort use erroneous or subjective evidence, faulty reasoning and fallacious premises. Trusted "thinkers" often jump to ostensibly solid, often predetermined, conclusions.

We have the right to speak. We have the right to hear. We have the right to draw conclusions. But do we not also have the responsibility to think clearly, rationally, logically, rigorously, deliberately, diligently...?

We are quick to claim our rights but slow to own our responsibilities.

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