Moving Beyond Disagreements

Sorry that I’ve been away from the blog for a while. As it always seems to happen, when I get on a roll, real life suddenly steps forward and smacks me in the face.

No, nothing bad, just things that I needed to take care of and we all know how that happens. I’ll try to be better in the future as to posting here.
It’s not as if there’s really nothing to post about either. There’s the whole issue with whether the United States should punish Syria for it’s use of chemical weapons on it’s own population. I actually have a lot to say about that, some of which might surprise you. I’ll leave that for another post though as I am really interested now how the proposal by Russia plays out.
I don’t know how many of you follow Twitter on a regular basis but there’s been some interesting discussions I’ve been attempting to follow and occasionally drop into to make a comment.
I find Twitter to be a great source for potential blog posts. I don’t have a great number of followers and I follow about the same. There are folks out there in the Twittersphere that are concerned about a great many issues within the atheist/skeptic world and even though I might not always agree with what one or another is saying, I always find it interesting reading. Thought provoking.
Just because I happen to disagree with someone’s comment does not necessarily mean I dismiss it out of hand. I attempt to take a careful reading of that person’s comments, make sure I understand the context of the comments, and try to place the most charitable interpretation I can on the comment(s).
Going through this process doesn’t mean that I won’t end up determining that the person is an ass, but more about trying to understand another’s point of view. Let’s be honest here: most of us on Twitter don’t actually know any of those people that we follow or follow us. If we’re lucky, we actually know a very small number of those people so it’s easy to misinterpret and even later, misrepresent another person’s point.
We should all be careful in our assessment of others online. Some people are just being sarcastic, but sometimes sarcasm is not as easy to identify. Other’s are just being silly. That doesn’t mean however that in that frame of mind they’re not making a point that might need consideration.
We seem to want to label people. Let me just say that in general, I hate labels, even though this blog is the “Conservative Skeptic”. I know there’s probably a lot of you out there that see the word “conservative” and immediately jump to a conclusion about me or what I’m going to say on a particular subject. I believe if you’ve read this blog with any regularity, you’ll know that’s not true. Just as I can’t say that “Liberal” or “Progressive” mean something specifically, neither does “Conservative”.
We’re all amalgams of how we were raised, our schooling, and our social interactions. These don’t mean we can’t modify ourselves. As skeptics, we are evidence based. Or should be. Those that refuse to recognize evidence that is against a position they’ve held for a long time are either paddling against the current in that river in Africa, or they hold “beliefs” that are no different than religion.
Personally, I fight my inclination to dismiss another’s point of view. I don’t care how the person labels themselves or even if they do carry a label. As a skeptic first, I want to listen to other voices. I want to evolve my level of knowledge in as many subjects as I am able. This doesn’t mean I am just going to accept a-priori any argument, but I will look at what is being said, and try to investigate the evidence presented to come to my own determination. Even if the evidence is dubious is nature, I can still learn from what I’m presented.
My bottom line has always been that all of us in the atheist/skeptic community need to take a second look at what another has said. Make sure we understand the context of what the other person is trying to communicate and, above all, at least at first, be charitable in our interpretation. It’s hard to write a blogpost and even more a Twitter comment and be able to convey what might be a pertinent point.

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