The Evil and Fallacy of Open-Mindedness

A blog critic described by a former Facebook friend as “professional troll” accused me of being close-minded and a “bully” for criticizing and rejecting the “statist”, “collectivist” advocacy and social causes of some people and groups like the pro-RH bill camp and those who support and favor more economic controls, regulations and government welfare.

This critic codenamed GabbyD says:

“… you believe that you are the only source of wisdom. their ideas/ideology have nothing to teach you. its intellectual closedmindedness, and bully-ism.

Here’s my updated reply to GabbyD:

There’s right and wrong in every issue, and sometimes we have to make a moral judgment.

Personally, I believe that I have nothing to learn from leftist/statist ideas and ideologies. However, that doesn’t mean that I have to ignore every idea or ideology that’s opposed to mine. Yes, every collectivist idea or theory is of no value to me, but this doesn’t mean I don’t have to study such an idea or a theory.

Here’s what I stated in a previous blog post:

Ayn Rand taught me the cardinal value of honesty- first honesty with one’s self, and second honesty with others. This is consistent with her virtue of selfishness. A person who is not honest with his own self cannot be honest with others. Before one takes on any issue, one has to take upon himself to study the matters involved. One has to have an adequate knowledge of an issue before one can make his own moral or intellectual judgment. This is the reason why I only deal with issues that I am very much familiar with. Familiarity with or having sufficient knowledge of any issue or matter saves one’s self from committing any act of dishonesty or betrayal of one’s self, such as lying, plagiarism, smearing, and the like.

… In effect, she taught me not to rely on and use baseless and unfounded accusations against anybody. She taught me to seek evidence and proof first before making a moral judgment. Any smear or accusation not founded on concrete, solid evidence is a zero; it’s nothing but an anti-intellectual, anti-self mechanism designed to smear and discredit any person or entity. If you blackened the reputation of anybody by using baseless, unfounded claims and assertions, it is only your own self that you had betrayed. What does a dishonest person get from spreading false, ill-founded stories? The answer is artificial happiness or satisfaction, thus smearing is a cunning way to deceive one’s self and to fake reality.

I might reject the value or non-value of every theory, ideology or dogma that’s opposed to reason, individualism and capitalism, but this does not mean that such a theory, ideology or dogma does not deserve my most scrupulous attention. For how is it possible for me to make an objective criticism of socialism or communism without understanding the theory and teachings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels? How can I make an objective, facts-based critique of Kant’s metaphysics, epistemology and ethics if I don’t have proper understanding of his philosophical theory? How can I possibly criticize the Reproductive Health bill without exposing myself to possible public ridicule and humiliation without reading and properly understanding the provisions of the anti-population measure? How can I objectively, factually debunk the illogical, anti-intellectual defense of some schooled RH bill’s dogmatic supporters without properly understanding their arguments?

For strongly rejecting some of the country’s statist political measures like the RH bill, animal rights legislation, and pro-welfare programs, many illogical and malicious critics like GabbyD called me “close-minded”. These people want me to be open-minded by simply surrendering my convictions to their whims and caprices, by making a compromise, and by accepting their moral code. In other words, open-mindedness simply means surrender and submission to the whims and desires of anyone who employs this anti-intellectual method of deception.

The problem with GabbyD, and the people who possess this kind of mentality, is their incurable ignorance. It’s not about close-mindedness. The opposite of it- open-mindedness- means we have to accept other people’s ideas no matter how evil they are- that we have to make a compromise. No, we cannot compromise basic moral principles. Do we have to be open-minded with the policies and the advocacy of the leftists and statists? What do they mean by having an open-mind? Do they mean that when a group of people seek to abrogate property rights and individual rights, I have to be open-minded? That I have to be open-minded with the RH advocacy of some pro-population control statists?

I don’t believe that open-mindedness has any inherent value at all. But I believe in the value of an “active mind”. I don’t believe that I have to be open-minded when it comes to issues and ideas. I believe I need to have an active mind. This is what these people missed… and that’s because of their ignorance.

Here’s an excellent line that critiques the openmind-closemind dichotomy:

[There is a] dangerous little catch phrase which advises you to keep an “open mind.” This is a very ambiguous term—as demonstrated by a man who once accused a famous politician of having “a wide open mind.” That term is an anti-concept: it is usually taken to mean an objective, unbiased approach to ideas, but it is used as a call for perpetual skepticism, for holding no firm convictions and granting plausibility to anything. A “closed mind” is usually taken to mean the attitude of a man impervious to ideas, arguments, facts and logic, who clings stubbornly to some mixture of unwarranted assumptions, fashionable catch phrases, tribal prejudices—and emotions. But this is not a “closed” mind, it is a passive one. It is a mind that has dispensed with (or never acquired) the practice of thinking or judging, and feels threatened by any request to consider anything.

What objectivity and the study of philosophy require is not an “open mind,” but an active mind—a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them critically. An active mind does not grant equal status to truth and falsehood; it does not remain floating forever in a stagnant vacuum of neutrality and uncertainty; by assuming the responsibility of judgment, it reaches firm convictions and holds to them. Since it is able to prove its convictions, an active mind achieves an unassailable certainty in confrontations with assailants—a certainty untainted by spots of blind faith, approximation, evasion and fear.

Also, I never thought there’s a novel “fallacy” related to type of dichotomy. It’s called appeal to be open-minded. This source states:

All skeptics have heard this from someone at some point in a debate: “You need to be more open-minded” or “You’re too closed-minded”. This is presented as though it is actually a valid argument. In reality it just shows they have run out of arguments. They hide behind it to disguise the complete lack of any rational reason for you to accept what they are telling you. It’s the last resort of someone who has nothing – if they had evidence they would obviously present it.

Even so, it can seem compelling, since calling someone closed-minded is pejorative. But it’s fallacious rhetoric: doubting something is not necessarily closed minded. In fact, the closed minded ones are the believers who insist some fantastic story is true despite a complete lack of evidence to support it. They are too closed minded to accept that their fantasy might be false.

There are things that we cannot compromise, such as our rights, freedom, basic moral principles, and rational personal convictions. Observe that most statists/collectivists employ dishonest, malicious cognitive methods of deception in order to subdue their opponents and to impose their whims, desires and caprices. If die-hard Marxists or communists had the naturalistic habit of employing dirty tricks and fallacious arguments like appeal to emotion, ad hominem attack, among others, most ‘mild statists’ usually commit the fallacy of ‘appeal to be open-minded.’ Now is the right time to expose the evil of this fallacy.

However, it is very ironic that the very people who deceptively urge others or their ideological opponents to be ‘open-minded’ are usually the ones who have shut their minds off, as they refuse to properly study and understand the very ideas and ideologies that are opposed to theirs. Observe that when these people, who are mostly leftists or statists, attack capitalism, individual rights and freedom, most, if not all, of their arguments are based on baseless claims, myths and fallacies.

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