“I’m having trouble understanding why so many ideologically driven folks seem really not to *want* to understand the beliefs that other people hold. It would appear to me that if you have confidence in your own beliefs, you would wish to spread those beliefs effectively, and a refined comprehension of the complexities of opposing opinions would thus suit you well. It would also serve to bolster that ideological confidence to consider your own ideas in light of a thorough recognition of the alternatives. And, on the other hand, if you don’t have confidence in your own perspective, would it not also benefit you to try to apprehend the contours of what other people think, so as to either give more support to what you believe, or to challenge it more effectively toward the development and possibly the adaptation of your own ideas so they better correspond to reality or obtain greater consistency or otherwise qualify as beliefs more worthy of your confidence?
This is not mere rhetoric. I want to know why it is people don’t want to understand what other people think. Do people simply hold doubts in their views and they don’t want them challenged by an opposing approach, and so they would rather caricature such opposing ideas than recognize the sophistication and seriousness these different ideas might possess? That would seem to explain it, but such an explanation delves into psychology, of which I know close to nothing.
I believe we should not only aspire to pass the Ideological Turing Test, but also to become so adept at understanding opposing viewpoints that we could pass an even more rigorous test, one that would demonstrate a person’s ability not only to fully emulate the views of intellectual opponents, but to help those opponents refine and understand their own views better.