Thought Vomit #22: ft. Mind Changing

You’re allowed to change your mind.

Equally, changing your mind doesn’t make you a hypocrite. I’m a big fan of The Daily Show, but they use a technique that is disingenuous at best, and unjust at worst. It makes for good telly, but when a Senator says something one week, is it really fair to pore over a dozen old excerpts and pick out moments when they seem to contradict themselves?

Changing your mind is a good thing, if you have balanced up the evidence and decided that it alters your opinion on a matter. Of course, you can be wrong and change your mind and still be wrong. You can be right and change your mind and then be wrong. You can be right and change your mind and still be right, and obviously you can be wrong and change your mind and then be right.

But the act of changing your mind doesn’t make you automatically wrong.

I once watched a debate between the heinous twunt George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens. Mr Galloway noted that Mr Hitchens had once been opposed to the first Iraq War and was now supportive of the second intervention. Pointing this fact out seemed to Mr Galloway enough of an argument that Mr Hitchens was now wrong to be supportive. I believe he even said “You say you were wrong then, doesn’t that make it even more likely you are wrong now.”* No.

But it’s this fear of being accused of hypocrisy that drives people to cling on to beliefs that have been proved wrong. Fallibility is a good thing. I’ve been wrong about many things in the past, and I’m still wrong about many more now, I’m sure. You should reserve your right to change your mind at any given moment. If someone points out that you have changed your mind, it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “Yes, I said that at the time, but on balance, I now believe I was wrong, and that what I’m now saying is correct.”

That’s the very essence of science. But I might be wrong.

There’s no need to tie yourself up in intellectual knots in an effort to remould your old position into your new one. It doesn’t save face, it simply dilutes your own argument. It is this goalpost moving that is the essence of superstition, quackery and theology.



*Or something similar.

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