Taking Opposite Points of View

Becoming aware of the basis of your opinions or beliefs is an important step toward a better understanding of yourself and your world. Regularly consider your opinions, beliefs, and knowledge and subject them to the “How do I know?” test.

What is the evidence that your understanding is based upon? Become aware of the sources of your opinions. If your sources are shaky, then you might want to be more open-minded to the possibility that your opinion or knowledge might be incorrect. Regularly find cases in which you need to rethink your views.

Opening our minds to counterintuitive ideas can be the key to discovering novel solutions and building deeper understanding. As we certainlty are not intentionally closed-minded, how can we take advantage of those opportunities?

First, we can simply try out alternative ideas hypothetically and temporarily. For instance, say: “For the next day, I’ll pretend my opinions are the opposite of what I normally believe (even though I know it’s nonsense), and see where those new beliefs take me.”

This strategy of explore and follow ideas that you know are wrong can be illuminating. Because in following the consequences of those “wrong” ideas, you might be led to better understand why your original belief is indeed correct, or you might be led to new and unexpected insights that run counter to your original beliefs.

Summing-up: Take opposite points of view. Try not to be judgmental. You are not committing to any change. As a result, you might change an opinion, but more likely you will simply have a better understanding of why the alternative views make sense to others.

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