The Universal Experience

Feb 27 2014 Published by under LifeTrajectories

The more I wind up in disagreements with people, either IRL or on the interwebs, the more one thing strikes me. The biggest impediment to people considering an argument that opposed to their own is convincing them that their experience is not the universal experience.

We all have a world view that is a product of our surroundings, experience and path. Some of us who are more opinionated draw upon that background when judging any new scenario or situation. But when faced with opposing views people either stick to their guns, insisting they have the experience to accurately assess the situation, or consider that the views being put forth by another person could have merit even though the conflict with their own worldview.

That ability to stop and listen to a perspective that wouldn't have occurred to you is rarely instinctual and downright appalling for some to consider. I wish I did it as much as I should, but damn, does it open your eyes.

6 responses so far

  • DrugMonkey says:

    This is why I like the fact my blog audience comes from a diverse set of scientific disciplines. One gets to see the often highly significant differences in attitudes and expectations in what is arguably the same career. As you say, the people who think their experiences are the *only* experiences are hilarious but they also serve an educational purpose for those disposed to consider variety.

  • Heather says:

    The humility involved is the basis of all meaningful scholarship. It's why a foreign postdoc is often so formative. It's also why I have doubts about the approaches of scientists who are highly dogmatic and excel at rhetoric, though those doubts may stem more from my own lacunae in those aspects and desire to couch them as open-mindedness.

  • Study section in a nutshell.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Ouch, PP. Ouch.

  • @MTomasson says:

    Agree completely with you PL, but not sure I agree with Heather. I.e., most people are narrow-minded, which is sad. It's more fulfilling to fight that tendency in myself... but I know many narrow-minded successful sci's. Not convinced that, "humility..is the basis for all meaningful scholarship."

  • Catherine says:

    I like Heather's sentiment - to me it translates as the idea that everyone comes to the table with the thought that their idea might not be the best, or most accurate, or whatever, and then thinks about the evidence rather than just saying 'oh, Professor X is famous and Professor Y is brand new, so of course Professor X is right.' The problem is when some people approach with humility and others don't, and so they stomp on the humble ones who are less willing to shout their conclusions from the rooftops.

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