On changing opinions

By | June 30, 2015

I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of changing one’s opinion. It’s not an obvious process with clearly defined stages; it happens in fits and starts, sometimes making leaps in one direction and sometimes backtracking to an earlier place.  It can be motivated by education, argument, persuasion, emotion, social pressure, or even simply the passage of time — or all of those things, at different times. But (this is the key) it’s rarely a definitively bad thing for a person to have changed their opinion.

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend where a person is ridiculed for having an opinion (A), and then fifteen years later having the opposite opinion (B).  Not just ridiculed for A or B; ridiculed for both A and B.  A made-up example: “Hillary was wrong to oppose same-sex marriage in 2000; she’s a hypocrite for supporting it now.”

So, changing one’s opinion can sometimes be a lose-lose situation, even when the change of opinion is the goal of one’s detractors.

I’m not sure what to do about it. I’m not even really sure I have a point.

I am considering writing a short series of posts exploring how my views have changed on a small number of topics over the last five or ten years. I guess what I’m getting at is this — I hope I’m not treated the way people treat our politicians when they change opinions over a period of decades.  If and when I do write these posts, I would appreciate supportive comments, even if you disagree with me, or perhaps, especially if you disagree with me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *