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a career in emergency medicine and
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By Kevin Pezzi, MD


Arguing both sides of an issue

by , MD

A tip to improve brainpower: Take both sides of an issue and argue as forcefully as you can verbally or, preferably, in writing. If one position comes natural to you (such as pro-choice), arguing against it will be very challenging. That's the point of this exercise. People gravitate toward thought patterns that minimize deep thinking. Fitting into that mental groove gives you a crutch that helps weaken your mind.

To maximally benefit from this tip, considering both sides of an issue must become part of your life. Do you take a vitamin pill once and expect enduring benefits?

Incidentally, if you do this, your opinions may change. I was an inveterate conservative, but I now agree with liberals on many (but not all) issues. Note that changing your opinions for substantive reasons is not the same as flip-flopping, which implies that the change was motivated by political expediency.

Being consistent is highly overrated. In my blog, I explained why I never attempt to be consistent.

Taking both sides of an issue helps you step into the shoes of others, which is one of the keys to truly harmonizing with them, not just (often barely) tolerating differences.

Arthur H. R. Fairchild said:

“The most distinctive mark of a cultured mind is the ability to take another's point of view; to put one's self in another's place, and see life and its problems from a point of view different from one's own. To be willing to test a new idea; to be able to live on the edge of difference in all matters intellectually; to examine without heat the burning question of the day; to have imaginative sympathy, openness and flexibility of mind, steadiness and poise of feeling, cool calmness of judgment, is to have culture.”

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