In the present cultural climate, altering one’s beliefs in response to anything (facts included) is considered a sign of weakness. Students must be convinced that changing one’s mind in light of the evidence is not weakness: Changing one’s mind is the essence of intellectual growth. … The responsibility for fostering scientific literacy of this sort — that is, literacy construed as an ongoing commitment to evidence over preconception — falls upon all of us in our discussions both formal and informal, both public and private.
Observing the bias and animosity common in political debate, the Irish philosopher John O’Donohue stated that we need more legislators, media, etc. who are not already loyal to one side or the other. It has been said that to practice philosophy, and also science, is to follow the question wherever it leads. This was the important loyalty for O’Donohue, which he called “loyalty to the voyage of the question.”
Although the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have made mistakes, the value of science is that it works over time to self-correct. Ideology functions only to defend its group.
Moreover, historian Timothy Snyder asserts: “It is your ability to discern facts that makes you an individual, and our collective trust in common knowledge that makes us a society.”
Let’s hold ourselves and others to higher standards of truth-seeking.
MinnPost welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Interested in joining the conversation? Submit your letter to the editor. The choice of letters for publication is at the discretion of MinnPost editors; they will not be able to respond to individual inquiries about letters.