Time To Pick A Side
I’ve been hearing a good deal of binary thinking from the usual quarters, saying things like it’s time to “pick a side” and fight for it. My friend Paul Loebe has pushed back against this sort of thinking using two analogies of Imperial Republic (one drawn from Star Wars and another one from the Bush Era America).
After giving it some thought, I have to admit that perhaps there really are two sides here. There is the side on which people choose a firm position and stick with it regardless of what evidence comes in, putting group allegiance first and foremost. We could call this side “Loyalists” or “Groupthinkers” and put in this group anyone who will back the opinion leaders of the Horde or the Pit (or any such memetic monoculture) on any given question of fact or value so much of the time that we may as well write them off as non-player characters.
Then there is the other ‘side’ where people feel free to gather as much evidence as they require and make up their own minds, based on their own values, in their own good time. For the sake of convenience, and in line with historical usage, I’m going to call that side “Skeptics” or “Freethinkers.” These people are invariably more interesting on comment threads and usually more surprising at parties.
Time to pick a side, indeed. If you never find yourself wondering whether the loudest voices on your side might be wrong, you’ve already made your choice. It’s never too late, however, to start thinking for yourself.