This is also known as devil’s advocacy. It isn’t meant to be a pejorative. Emerson said consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Once we open our thinking to critical reflection we can establish perspective.

E.g,, can one be pro-life and for the death penalty? Yes, but only once we recognize we don’t embrace either position from the value ‘sanctity of life.’

Can one be pro-choice and support gun control? Yes, but first we must accept that ‘choice’ is not the operative value.

Can one be pro-choice and against abortion? Absolutely. But first we must distance ourself from our beliefs and scrutinize our values, our motivations and what kinds of support we look to when we embrace an idea.

This is what I was taught. Sadly, most of our teachers’ lessons have since been challenged by their successors, better tools for reaching answers, and shifts in political and educational paradigms (all of which will be overthrown by the next generation of teachers and scholars.)

It’s common sense (i.e., it’s obvious). If it was truly common sense, we’d already be on the same page.

I could go on.

Brains are like fingerprints. No two are the same and they change with each new piece of information and decision. They forget, they make mistakes, and they break down. They lose cells and some of those cells contained ideas. They’re easy to deceive. (Doubt me? Look at a picture of you wearing your coolest outfit 20 years ago.) In other words, they’re imperfect and malleable.

So it’s all the more important to shake out our brains and sort through our ideas and make sure that ideas we treasure hasn’t turned into moldy blue lemons since we put them there. How do we recognize blue lemons? By examining other lemons we have been ignoring because we already have this one.

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Living metaphor. Follow me @stephens_pt.

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