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Challenging thinking

(53 Posts)
grannyactivist Sun 20-Oct-19 15:16:51

I may have to put on my tin hat and hide behind the sofa, but I sincerely hope not as this is a genuine question.

Would you say that you actually challenge your thinking and if so, would say that your views are evolving because of it?

Let me give you an example: in my much younger days, I was married to a member of the armed forces, I read only the newspaper that he bought and listened to people (primarily his friends) whose views mainly mirrored his. I didn't expose myself very much, certainly not deliberately, to contrary views and yet at the time I could have given a rationale for what I 'believed'.

Later I went to college and was exposed to a range of different views and I tried to teach myself to really 'listen' to others rather than react by 'defending' my own opinions and in doing so I found that my own thinking not only changed quite radically, but continued to evolve.

Now I read widely, I try very hard not to demonize others' points of view, I seek out the opinions of people who hold views that are antithetical to my own - and I try (not always with success) to find points of commonality or mutuality.

Gemini1789 Sun 20-Oct-19 15:27:51

Oh yes ! I grew up with a fairly traditional set of ideas. My own children opened my eyes and challenged my thinking in ways I did not dream of. For me acceptance was the key. I might not choose some of their ideas for myself but I now accept that it is ok for others to think differently. I have certain deal breakers but mostly I like to try to understand why people feel the way they do.
I dislike posters on here who seem to wade in with fixed ideas and won’t shift. I prefer people who think a bit first.

grannyactivist Sun 20-Oct-19 16:49:08

Just been discussing this with The Wonderful Man and he suggested I listen to this podcast, which gives a very interesting take on the complexities of holding views that don't 'fit' with one particular political party.

Eglantine21 Sun 20-Oct-19 17:00:58

Probably in everything (politics, religion, child-rearing, diet, whatever) my touchstone is does this make sense, will it work

I find it really hard to understand people who cling to a viewpoint against the evidence. I don’t find it at all hard to change my own point of view if someone can argue a cause in a factual, evidence based way.

In fact I have changed my opinion and actions over the last few weeks because of a well argued thread on Gransnet!

grannyactivist Mon 21-Oct-19 00:16:55

Eglantine21 I suppose one of the problems we have now is that there is an overwhelming plethora of information to be sifted through before 'facts' and 'evidence' can truly be established. 'Evidence' can be countered by the production of contradictory findings and it often takes doggedness - and time - to separate fact from from fiction.

The things some people regard as 'self-evident' are obviously not, otherwise no-one would be in disagreement.

Feelingmyage55 Mon 21-Oct-19 00:37:34

My views on many things have evolved, with more knowledge and with age. My AC have frequently had very cogent discussions which have altered my views, not often drastically, but with a new slant. My core values and beliefs remain pretty much the same, only one or two that have changed due to meeting and understanding new groups of people. I hope I am more tolerant with age, not less.

M0nica Mon 21-Oct-19 20:14:02

I was born challenging the views of all around me, so learned fairly quickly to think my views through and examine other people's

I have changed my views on so many things throughout my life that I cannot begin to ennumerate them.

I find it difficult to understand anyone who isn't constantly questioning and evaluating the views put to them by other people.

This is why DH insists that we read the DM as well as the paper of our choice, currently the i. He says you cannot understand other peoples views if you do not read what they read. (the DM does also have excellent medical and money sections).

Callistemon Mon 21-Oct-19 20:39:11

Yes, constantly.

I don't understand people who claim that they only surround themselves with friends and family who have the same views that they themselves hold.
That makes me believe that they refuse to think or read about and understand any alternatives, are resistant to change and blinkered in their views.

Greenfinch Mon 21-Oct-19 21:36:48

I totally agree with you MOnica.A friend of ous who is also a pastor used to tell his congregation of mainly affluent middle-classers that they should read The Sun as that is what most people read.

lemongrove Mon 21-Oct-19 21:47:56

Agreed Callistemon👍🏻 So many people will only mix with others who are identical to them, be it devout Christians, followers of a political party, you name it.
It’s natural to want to fit in as human beings, but more intelligent to mix with others who don’t always think like you.
Accepting the status quo without thought is a mistake.
It’s an interesting OP, and although demonising the other point of view outright, without thought is wrong, it’s also a mistake to become so wishy washy on our own behalf that we end up with no real views because we see both sides.It’s tricky.

Oopsminty Mon 21-Oct-19 21:52:57

Totally agree, Callistemon. I mix with people who have wildly differing views on many things. We get on well. We may not share the same politics/religion/beliefs etc etc.

Why anyone wants to only communicate with people who hold the same views is bewildering to me.

How dull!

I had friend on FB who wanted people to unfriend them if they read The Sun. If they had voted Conservative. If they'd voted to leave the EU.


BradfordLass72 Tue 22-Oct-19 06:32:17

An interesting concept, challenging your own thinking.

My grand-daughter is 26 now and I have always told her, as I have with my own sons, "question everything; take nothing at face value."
They have all mentioned this (later as adults) how useful a concept it has been when growing up.

Of course it can be seen in an entirely different light.

My father often called me, in exasperation, 'a bloody awkward bugger' because I did not hold the same view as he.

When I was old enough (not quite from birth like MawB, what a precocious little newborn she was grin) I argued with him. I don't think I ever changed his mind about anything.

I am also emersed, from choice , in two very different cultures, neither of them the one in which I was brought up.

There are similar traits in both; racism for instance which I deplore and find very hard indeed to accept and by-pass.

Sometimes I just let it (and the racist), be but if I am drawn into the situation I will voice my views honestly, sometimes forcefully, whilst adding that I have no intentions of trying to change theirs.

I have, on many occasions been wrong about something or someone and it has never bothered me in the slightest to revise my opinions once my error was pointed out. On the contrary, it's a learning curve I welcome.

I still don't understand racism though.
To me it is one of the core evils in this world and no amount of persuasion or self-evaluaton will ever change my mind on that.

suziewoozie Tue 22-Oct-19 07:53:51

Some issues are far more fundamental than others - I could never be friends with or choose to mix socially in any meaningful sense with someone who was racist. My next door neighbour ( dead now) was a racist - I couldn’t avoid him obviously but I never sought his company and did my best to keep conversations very superficial. I was always polite and helped him out in a neighbourly way eg signing his passport photo, lending our ladder but friends no.

GrannyGravy13 Tue 22-Oct-19 08:01:25

I always keep an open mind, listen to other people, read lots of different viewpoints and watch different to news and current affairs programs.

I am constantly amazed that two or three commentators can be at the same "event" and interpret what happened totally differentl.

Our friends are from all walks of life, some we have known for nearly 50 years at gatherings there is much laughter, no animosity, but then again politics and religion are not routinely discussed.

suziewoozie Tue 22-Oct-19 09:10:36

Yes GG it’s very much context dependent isn’t it? We all mix with people in a huge variety of situations in a wide variety of ways . I used to work with different groups of people for anything from a day to several weeks at a time. Conversations at break times would vary enormously but the majority would not be on political/ religious subjects.

GrannyGravy13 Tue 22-Oct-19 09:30:54

suziewoozie I think that we all know each other's views and political persuasions, but long term friendship is far more important.

suziewoozie Tue 22-Oct-19 09:37:07

Your example is different from mine of course - when working intensely in a small group, good relationships have to be established very quickly and almost certainly introducing a contentious topic over coffee would not be the way to go to achieve this. For one thing, it demonstrates poor judgement and that’s the last thing that’s needed in a work situation.

Callistemon Tue 22-Oct-19 09:39:07

Interesting point, suziewoozie.

We are/were friends with two different couples (although we rarely see either now having moved).
I would say that each couple were 'racist' and despised each other but we never discussed the issue in any depth.
That was their problem between themselves.

Both couples were of Asian origin and had different religions.

Gonegirl Tue 22-Oct-19 09:43:12

God! I must live a much simpler life than the people on this thread.

How long do you have to give over to all this thinking? confused

Gonegirl Tue 22-Oct-19 09:45:12

Don't most people know what they think about the important things, whether its personal stuff or world affairs? Why would you be swayed by other people's opinions?

suziewoozie Tue 22-Oct-19 09:47:07

Anyway, back to the OP. Like others, I find conversations with my dd and sil certainly make me think and have, if not changed my views, have sometimes introduced more nuances or caveats.
I know social media is often ( with good cause) demonised but I find judicious use of it and avoiding the bubble, has introduced me to a range of views and evidence I wouldn’t have accessed on my own.

I would say however over the years, my views haven’t shifted in a seismic way - more shuffled a bit one way or the other, with the odd exception. Some have become firmer, some more complex and nuanced. I think in the first category I’d put my views on abortion and trans issues. With the latter, I’ve learned an enormous amount from all shades of opinion.

Eglantine21 Tue 22-Oct-19 09:47:14

I get your point grannyactivist. There a mountain of false information out there. I try to access what I hope is disinterested information and also viewpoints and arguments from opposing sides. Then sift it in the light of personal experience.

Then there’s adding in that what has been my experience of a situation might be quite different to somebody else’s.

And ultimately, always for me, does it work. Does it do what it says on the tin. If not, it really doesn’t matter how good the idea or intentions are. It doesn’t work!

Callistemon Tue 22-Oct-19 09:47:45


I think I have been over-thinking a few issues lately as I've been surrounded by fairly robust opinions on a couple of current issues which has made me listen and investigate.

For every point there seemed to be a counter-argument from all (not just two) sides.

Callistemon Tue 22-Oct-19 09:48:15

That was to Gonegirl

Applegran Tue 22-Oct-19 10:43:52

What an interesting thread! Thank you OP for starting it.
Here is a web site which is really good in this context. It is called Clearer Thinking
It helps you step back and reflect, see biases in your thinking, take better decisions and lots more.