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Don’t Fear Wrongthink

March 1, 2017

“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
– The Litany Against Fear

The most important behavioral skill for an aspiring intellectual is teaching yourself not to fear exposing yourself to wrongthink. Don’t be afraid to read the writings of people who disagree with you. Don’t be afraid to learn subjects that seem wrong or unappealing to you. If you find yourself thinking “I don’t want to learn X” or read a certain author, look inside yourself and ask yourself if it is because you fear what you might find out, or if you fear the discomfort from reading something that you don’t agree with. It is a difficult undertaking to expose yourself to things which go against what you believe, but it’s the only way to expand your horizons.

The wrongthink might be have a kernel of truth. There are very few totally false ideologies, and even those that are contain some insight into human behavior and beliefs. Understanding how it is that someone could believe wrongthink will let you recognize those mental failings in yourself and others more quickly. Understanding the kernels of truth will allow you to integrate those kernels into your own thinking.

You can’t refute something you don’t understand. Even if your goal is purely combative, if you demonstrate ignorance of your opponent’s position, they will dismiss you as an idiot. Try your best to pass Ideological Turing Tests.

You learn to use your own arguments better and more persuasively. Knowing what others say about your position will allow you to evaluate and correct your weaknesses, even if they are purely rhetorical.

If the wrongthink is wrong, you should have faith and confidence in your own morality to be able to reject it, even when you are exposed to it. Step back, take stock of your morals and beliefs, and have the courage of your convictions not to be afraid that they will be easily swayed by being exposed to other ideas.

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