My local running club has a listserv on which members will post various things of interest to other members of the club. Today I saw a post from a club member with a link to an article from Roanoke about a lawsuit between a cyclist and a runner.
The upshot of the verdict was a finding that a runner had negligently caused a collision which injured the cyclist, and the jury awarded damages to the cyclist. The reaction of the initial poster (and the few pile-on emails of support which followed) was one of anger and incredulity. From reading this one short news article, he now wished to second-guess the lawyers, the insurance companies, the judge, the jury, the witnesses, and everyone else who had committed untold hours of effort to reach a different conclusion.
What he was really doing was announcing a psychological blind spot: there were no facts or circumstances which could lead him to believe that a runner could act negligently to cause injury to a cyclist and be held to account in a court of law.
I learned long ago to tread carefully in other people’s blind spots. When engaged in any type of debate, if I conclude there is no set of facts or evidence which would cause the other person to modify their thinking, I end the conversation as quickly as possible.
Turning the logic inward, I ask myself the same question of my own beliefs: how do I know what I think I know? What would cause me to change my mind? I like to think that when the facts change that my opinion about them does as well.
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Mark Twain
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