Ideology and Skepticism Don’t Always Go Together

I see a lot of ideological tweets in my Twitter timeline everyday. If I had to put a percentage of what I see being liberal(progressive?) versus conservative or even (!) libertarian, I would say that 90% of what I read is ideologically liberal.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being liberal, or conservative, or any other political persuasion. The bone I’m here to pick are those people that cannot see anything outside their ideology; those people that will take for granted anything they read or hear that happens to agree with their worldview. Sadly, some of these people believe they are skeptics.

A quick (hopefully) example from today. There’s a clearly left ideologue that published on his page The DailyBanter quotes from Republicans about the recent repatriation of a soldier ostensibly captured in Afghanistan in 2009. What he shows is what the Republicans said in 2009, right after the news broke about his capture, and what they’re saying today.

Not only is this blatant ideological dishonesty, it’s also intellectually dishonest. No one knew any of the alleged facts of this soldiers capture. No one. As far as I recall, people from every political stripe were “praying” for his safe return. But this blogger only chose to tell what Republicans said then and are now saying.

The point is I saw this retweeted in my timeline at least 3 times. No one stopped to think that at that time no one had any idea of the circumstances of his capture. No one really knows now. Everything we read in the news or see on television are alleged. If you hate Republicans though, it’s impossible to look at the situation rationally. Bad Republicans.

When a person’s ideology is so entrenched that they cannot stop for a moment and even attempt to see a different side – whether they agree with the other side or not – that person is not a skeptic.

That’s not to say that people should give up their views; Just be aware that allowing a particular ideology to cloud reason and create an unwillingness to think beyond that ideology will inevitably pigeonhole you to the point that no one will ever believe anything you say.
I’m also not saying you have to consider every opinion on every subject. Me? I walk away from racists and homophobes. I also turn off when some of those generally referred to as Radical Feminists speak and immediately assume I’m a raging misogynist or rapist. But those people with differing opinions on politics, economics, religion, even science, I am willing to listen and exchange ideas with. Maybe I’ll learn something. Maybe the other person will as well.

If you’re the type of person that cannot do that, that’s fine. Just don’t call yourself a skeptic. Call yourself what you are: an ideologue.

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