Do You Really Believe What You Think You Believe?


When is the last time you challenged your beliefs? In the current polarized political climate it is easy to get locked in to the talking points of your chosen echo chamber. Have you thought them through? First, do you understand the full implications of your beliefs in the current political context? If so, then ask yourself the following question. Do you really believe what you think you believe?

I ask the question because I’ve fallen victim to this myself. A family member accused me of moving to the left. I asked for an example. He cited immigration. However, I had to confess that I didn’t fully grasp the political implications of what I was saying 5 years ago. What was that? “I’m not opposed to immigration, I’m just opposed to illegal immigration.”

Seems simple enough, right? To me that meant “I’m not trying to stop anyone from coming here, I just want them to come in the legal way.” That’s what I meant when I said it. However, flash forward to the generally accepted policy stance today of the people who were saying it then. “I’m not opposed to legal immigration, except…”

Legal immigration opposed by Trump:

  • Assylum seekers
  • Refugees
  • Visa lottery
  • Family reunification (chain migration)
  • People from Africa, Haiti, and other “s…hole countries”
  • Anyone who might potentially need government assistance in the future

When I said it, I meant that I would welcome the people who were coming here illegally, as long as they did it legally. Apparently, everyone else meant that they support legal immigration after reform to prevent most forms of currently legal immigration. On this issue I haven’t moved left. Either the Republican Party was lying, or they’ve moved right. Alt-right.

I tell that personal story to make it clear that I’m not trying to degrade the person in this next case. The name has been covered to protect the innocent. However, it’s a case study in another person not believing what they claim to believe.

Do you really believe what you think you believe?

Gun control is the issue. Moreover, gun control laws leading to more gun violence. That is the argument that this individual was trying to make on Facebook. However, the argument fell apart when their point revealed that they don’t really believe it. Take a look.

Do you really believe what you think you believe?

If this individual truly believed that strict gun control leads to increased gun violence, Mexico should have been their case in point. Instead, they laughed at the notion that Mexico could have strict gun laws specifically because of their high gun violence rate.

How to avoid this dilemma.

Don’t accept something simply because it comes from a trusted source. Research the argument. Challenge it before you accept it. This isn’t a partisan thing. Here’s what the right wing libertarian think tank Heritage Foundation has to say on the matter.

There is no clear relationship between strict gun control legislation and homicide or violent crime rates.

Of course, they are referring to studies of domestic jurisdictions in the United States. Thus, this fact can be used 2 ways.

  1. Since gun control has no relationship with lower crime rates it would be pointless to implement more. Or…
  2. We need more effective gun control legislation that will reduce the violent crime rate.

You don’t have to reject your beliefs. Simply challenge them. In doing so you may find that you don’t really believe them after all. Perhaps your research will lead you to a new opinion. Alternatively, it might strengthen the old one. Either way, you will be armed with facts. Thus you will become a better debater.


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