Listening to Contrarians

Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of listening to a conservative talk radio show on my drives home from work, and I think that I’ve found it beneficial.  I am rather leftist, so we don’t really agree on much, but I believe that it’s training my mind.

If I listen to or read those with whom I agree, I’m unlikely to notice the flaws in their arguments or the leaps in their logic.  I either supplement it with my own knowledge or simply believe claims to be axiomatic, requiring no logical proof.  I believe in it, of course it’s right.  I believe that Arthur Schopenhauer, whom I’m currently enjoying a great deal, said that men consider him wisest who most agrees with themselves, and generally, I think that’s true.  It’s also logical, as, if you thought someone wise but disagreed with him on everything, you would presumably change your beliefs until you agreed with your superior.  The problem, of course, is that first we see their beliefs, and then we judge their wisdom.  Ideally, we would seek out the wisest and then consider their beliefs against ours and change our own where it makes sense to do so.

Back to the topic, though.  When I listen to this show, I find it far easier to notice his logical fallacies and non sequitur (non sequintur?).  My hope is that, by training myself to better recognize such flaws, I can better discern them in all arguments, not only those with which I disagree.  Just as one trains their accuracy against a bull’s eye, in order that its obviousness and clarity allows one to better see where they’e hitting, so too is it useful to practice against arguments you dislike, in order to more easily learn how to dismantle faulty logic in general.  To this must be added the benefits of expanding ones views and experience, as well, but even if these other reasons didn’t exist, I would recommend this practice for the former benefit alone.

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