“When the facts change, I change my mind…”

“…What do you do?” That statement is attributed to Keynes. Whether he said it or not, it’s a great riposte to criticism of changing one’s views in light of new evidence.

The argument against inconsistency over time (rather than at a point in time) is so overused it makes me sick. I mean, if someone wasn’t inconsistent over time, they wouldn’t be learning much, would they? At first, holding a new viewpoint is awkward. I think it was Auden who said that “all change begins with affectation.”

An opinion piece in Seed nails it:

In the present cultural climate, altering one’s beliefs in response to anything (facts included) is considered a sign of weakness. Students must be convinced that changing one’s mind in light of the evidence is not weakness: Changing one’s mind is the essence of intellectual growth. By forcing students into evidence-based debates with one another, this mode of interaction, like any other, can become habitual. After being consistently challenged by their peers, most students eventually see that attempts to free themselves from facts are a hollow, and fundamentally precarious, form of ‘freedom.’

From Scientific Literacy and the Habit of Discourse in Seed. Read the whole thing.