Jay Rosen has a good piece on how the Bush administration treated everything said by people who were against going to war as being without value. This really goes back to Josh Marshall’s piece from last September, The Post-Modern President. The administration assumes that if someone disagrees with them, then they don’t have any good points to make. This kind of thinking has led us to failure in Iraq, but I’m interested in it as a warning to everyone. I think that just about everyone faces the temptation of dismissing the things people who disagree with them say, and justifying it by focusing on their motives rather than on their argument.
As a Java developer, my temptation is to avoid reading about .Net at all, and, when I do read them, to assume that anything good the writers say about .Net or anything bad they say about Java is just a product of their bias. Cramming a mental crowbar into your head and reading that stuff with an open mind is difficult and unpleasant, but I know that doing so will make me a better developer. When I look back at all the things I’ve believed to be true over the course of my life, my overall level of confidence in my current opinions is reduced, and I think that would be true for most people if they did the same thing.
There was a time when I thought Macintosh computers were silly little toys. There was a time when I thought that nobody with any sense would use anything but a Mac. Now I use a PC running Windows XP (but I want a Powerbook). There was a time when I thought that a software developer had to be a fool to use an IDE instead of a good text editor and command line tools. Now I think that IDEs are amazing productivity tools for developers. I’ve been both vastly more conservative and vastly more liberal than I am right now. Dismissing people that I don’t agree with would truly be an exhibition of arrogance and ignorance, and that’s how I see it in other people as well.