Shiti Rastogi Manghani

@shiti.rastogi

Where does the Internet go to ‘Change its mind’?

maybe it’s the reddit thread treasure trove Change my View (CMV)

It is human to hold beliefs. Superhuman to be able to change them. Photo credit — Raj Eiamworakul

On February 16th, 2018 when comedian Steven crowder tweeted a picture of himself with the sign ‘Male Privilege is a myth. Change My Mind’ , chances are little that he knew what was coming. Internet took to photo-shopping various versions of this photo and in a matter of hours the ever so mysterious deity of all things viral took over and birthed tens of thousands of children of the image; also called memes.

But, it got me thinking about the lost art of changing our minds. In today’s age, it is only to human to have opinions, but superhuman to be able to change them . I asked myself, when was the last time I said ‘This changed my mind’.

Do we consciously hunt for opportunities to even say that.

Allowing oneself the sweet discomfort of molding one’s views or better still shape them with facts from the other side of the fence — easier said than done.

But what really is the downside? Facebook echo chambers have answered that quite demonstratively.

“Facebook should introduce ‘this changed my mind button’ in addition to like”

contends Sam Harris, the famous neuroscientist & philosopher in conversation with Walter Issacson, the biographer of Leonardo da Vinci, known to write about creativity.

Truer words haven’t been spoken. There is a strong need to cross-pollinate the calcified ideologies that with their own dedicated followers have turned into echo chambers that do nothing but amplify their own hardened position be in politics, economic or business.

There is an active reddit thread Change my View (CMV).

People like you and me converge to have civil discussions with open minds. IIt is also a good testament to the fact that internet too can be a great place to exchange ideas decently if we have the will to.

Here are the Top Scoring posts of all time. I highly recommend binging on them if you feel like a workout. It is good for your mental muscle, you know.

Some of the ones worth a mention (not all are from the top ones) :

  1. Social Media

CMV: Social Media is the worst thing to happen to the developed world in this century, and there is nothing we can do about it

2. Abortion and diseases

CMV: the disappearance of Down syndrome in Iceland through abortion is not inherently evil or bad

3. Alcohol

CMV : Alcohol would be illegal if its use began today

4. The American Politics

CMV: The biggest problem with American politics is viewing people that we disagree with as “the enemy”.

You may not agree with everything, you may not get all the answers, but isn’t it better to ask than not. At a recent discussion on AI, philosophy and our spirit of inquiry, Prof Max Tegmark brilliantly closed with this punchline

“ I would rather have questions that I can’t answer than answers that I can’t question.”

and the hall erupted in applause.

So what do we do?

An active need to monitor our information diet. It helps with the Quantum Thinking. And be open to challenge received wisdom just like Da Vinci did! According to his biographer he was no born genius like Newton or Einstein — he was unbelievably hungry for knowledge, constantly challenging the status quo.

Because the last time we cared to check, we discovered that earth wasn’t flat after all. We owe it to ourselves and to those that come after us.

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