Changing One's Mind

Changing One's Mind

Consistency is not a virtue, although many, knowingly or unknowingly, behave as if it was. Being consistently wrong is nothing to be proud of, and yet, we give each other and ourselves pats on the back for being consistent even when we are wrong. Consistently is also not one thing. Given a premise, you might be totally consistent, in terms of logic, accuracy and/or fairness, but that does not mean or imply that your original premise is correct or universal. We all have a tendency to unconsciously resist changing our "prior premises", even when our premises are challenged by facts. We become attached to our past assumptions about the world, especially when they have contributed to our experiences. And, changing our basic premises implies that we have rebuild a consistent framework from scratch.

Changing one's mind is especially difficult for non-fiction writers of all genres who've already put their ideas out in the public. Most continue to adhere to and defend their original positions, fearing the backlash associated with changing one's mind. The public is generally very critical of flip-floppers. And their peers on either side are handed ammunition for their criticism. The author who flip-flops becomes vulnerable. That is why, "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof" *. Those who are able to, and have the courage to, change their positions to reflect their new-found knowledge are admirable. Still, most writers do not survive flip-flopping.

However, the capability to change one's mind is not always a noble thing driven by rationality and the truth. In fact, most people change their minds to rationalize their interests or their misdeeds. There is always a market for contrarian writers and experts; A black author who blames African Americans for race issues; A climate scientist who denies climate change; Contrarians steal the limelight. A handful of contrarian climate change scientists get almost as much coverage as 97% of the scientific community. And even more coverage when they flip-flop.

Sincerity is not something you can put in a resume. Even if you could, employers, governments and people in a position of power frown upon the idea - They always value loyalty and tight-lips over sincerity. That's why a good writer can never be a good employee, even if he or she earns a living through writing. A good writer has no choice but to be sincere. He or she has to develop and hold positions driven by the truth - not predetermined ideology or pure self-interest. Simply put, there aren't too many good writers out there. Lots of clever ones, but not many good ones.
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