September 16, 2010

What Is Educational and Why Ideas Can't be Immune to Evaluation

"Respect my views," I often hear people saying. By now my reaction is, why ?

Let's not confuse the right of everyone to believe and say anything they want. It's called free expression. But, as much as people need rights, ideas don't. I don't think I have to respect any idea without examining it--including applying critical thinking. Of course, this makes people uncomfortable having to discuss something that they haven't really thought about or something that is part of their identity.


Yet, by discussion, inquiry, rational thinking, and the ability to revise, we can learn.

It's upsetting to hear that the superstitious, the invalid, and the fictitious are promoted by so many Americans nowadays. I have no patience for willful ignorance and for the peddlers of it.

2 comments:

ghassan karam said...

George,
I believe that I understand what you are arguing for but I am not sure that I agree with the way that you have expressed it. Since individuals have the right for free expression then by definition their views are to be "respected" i.e " to refrain from interfering with ".
To respect another persons idea does not mean that one has to agree with it. On the contrary I respect an individuals right to make a fool of himself by disagreeing strongly with his arguments. To respect another persons views is in no way synonymous to accepting such views.Actually, I would tend to argue that my opposition to a certain point of view will be stronger and more effective if I demonstrate respect to the other side.

George said...

I just meant that respect for their right to free expression does not extend to respect of the point they're making. That point has to be evaluated.

Purposely I stated it the way I did, because I'm fed up with 1. people claiming immunity for their ideas, and 2. (even more importantly) that all arguments should have the same respect when they're brought to the table.

You certainly don't mean that the flat earth theory should be given the same respect or footing at the discussion table, are you?

We both agree that respect for free expression is fundamental, where we may disagree is how we treat claims with no proof. I'm sure you've summarily dismissed certain points of views during conversations you've had. I'm certain that you won't waste your time debating someone whose views (and his freedom to express them)claim that there's no climate change or that human activity has little effect on the environment.

In short, I respect the right of free expression not necessarily the product of it. Yes, fools have foolish ideas not worth respect. Ideas have to earn this respect.

Legally, of course anyone has a right to make a fool of himself.

Are you saying we should offer respect first and then evaluate (which may discredit a view)? Or, should we evaluate and then confer respect?