Would You Rather Judge Or Understand?
Would you rather judge something or understand it? I don’t mean to imply these things are mutually exclusive — they aren’t. You can do them independently, or together. You can combine them linearly, or in a complex manner — allowing your judgment to affect your understanding or vice-versa.
But if you had a choice in a given situation, which would you rather do?
I am willing to bet, and I think this would make a fantastic series of social experiments, that most people would say that they would rather understand, but that given a forced choice and not knowing they were being watched, they would choose to judge. I’m basing that on my own experiences in reading and conversation — I think for every interaction I have where both options are on the table I hear someone strive for understanding about 1 out of 100 times. It doesn’t seem to be a casual choice either — if you push a person towards a conversation which does not demonstrate judgment, they will at first resist you, and finally accuse you of opposing their judgment and assume that you occupy the polar position to it.
By itself I think this is fascinating (if it’s true) — because it seems to me that understanding is far more useful than informing another person of your opinion on the matter. I can see that some issues, such at the existence of God, are far beyond any conversations capacity to determine, but there are questions of fact that pertain to the over all question — why would it be unimportant to be able to consider all the questions of fact as fact? And the answer to this is NOT that considering facts would make everyone an atheist. Because the conversations that I have had with atheists have been just as fact averse. In either direction what appears to be most important is to assert to a third party, present or absent “I believe that God exists.” or “I believe that God does not exist.” and I think this also is true for global warming, fiscal policy, tax strategy, weather or not we are in a recession and what constitutes good music.
In fact it seems to be true of everything.
And what makes it even more fascinating is that if you ask someone (once they trust you) if they would rather judge something or understand it, they will mostly say “I would rather understand it.” — not in an argument of course, where they will think you are trying to trick them. But I think that most people really believe that understanding is better, and believe that they would prefer to have it — but behave in exactly the opposite manner. And I think this is true irrespective of political or religious affiliation or educational level.
I routinely hear scientists do this with regard to questions of science.
So here is a challenge for you — can you recognize this behavior in yourself? If you could, what would you be willing to do about it?
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