What it means (and doesn’t mean) to be “open minded.”

April 5, 2009 | By | 9 Replies More

What does it mean to be “open minded?” This excellent video gets right to it. Simple, straight-forward reasoning with entertaining animation. I’ve never seen this topic better-discussed.

The video is by Doug, “Qualiasoup,” who puts this quote on his youtube site:

“It is not acceptable to have a religion where the alternative to faith is punishment — that’s how you train dogs, not develop people.”
– Deng Ming-Dao

Consider some of his additional videos, such as this one on the basics of evolution.


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Category: Education, ignorance, Psychology Cognition, Religion, Science, scientific method

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (9)

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  1. Margaret says:

    Or how about this for bigotry. People who believe in God are deluded bigots incapable of being openminded. Interesting that your cartoon shows only religious people being incapable of being open minded.

    I've met plenty of opinionated atheists and scientists who use name calling and disdain rather than open discussion with those who disagree with their point of view.

    • It's not justified coming from either side, but in the case of science, statements can be proven or disproven—in the case of religion, it's all just assertion.

      Try this: instead of religion, insert UFOlogy. People who believe in alien abduction exhibit the same close-minded traits as the narrowly religious, with the same net result that anyone who dares questions their claims receives the blunt of a shut out.

      As well, over time you end up developing a thick crust, to the point where the instant you hear certain key phrases, you lose patience and shut it down. Sad but true.

      But this is statistical—people who embrace the undemonstrable as a primary component of their personalities and their lives tend to be more close-minded than those who embrace open investigation, healthy skepticism, and reason. Tend. Bigotry is unjustified at any level, but it seems to be worse in people who hold that everlasting damnation is in store for those who doubt and question.

    • TonyC says:

      Way to miss the point, there, Margaret.

      Anecdote does not an argument make.

      I've known lots of 'X' who say/do 'Y' does not imply causation nor effect!

      However it is demonstrably true, with many many billions of bits of evidence, that fundamentalists of any stripe are essentially closed-minded (as the little video says).

      It is really, really hard to be simultaneously closed minded and open minded. However, humans are nothing if not adaptable, and (again) our theistic scientific brothers & sisters demonstrate how easy it is for humans to hold mutually contradictory views – it's called 'compartmentalization'.

      As the video states correctly: Open minded does not mean "Open to all manner of unsubstantiated drivel". It means "Open to persuasion through introduction of new evidence".

      Debate is not evidence.

      Point of view is not evidence.

      Discussion is not evidence.

      I'm happy to 'discuss' this further, if you have some new evidence that you're willing to share beyond some 'my friend is a bigoted scientist, angry athiest' anecdotes.

      thanks for sharing 😀

  2. Danny says:


    You know what I'd really like to see on this site? A bullet-point list of what does and does not count as an instance of knowledge/evidence and rate them hierarchically, from strongest to weakest. Erich, can that be added to the comments and email policy? Don't you think that would go far?


    So many of these arguments are lost from the start because we all have different notions on what counts as evidence and what doesn't, as well as differing definitions for key terms. Also, most comments have more straw man arguments than you can shake a stick at.


    I want to ask one straightforward question and depending on the answer it will tell me a lot about the people who post/read and help me decide whether debate is worthwhile here:

    Is there such a thing as a reasoned, non-bigoted theist?


    There are so many assertions dropped here you can't keep up. Mark T, "in the case of religion, it’s all just assertion." That's a loaded statement with no evidence given here (and I understand there are mountains of arguments so perhaps you chose brevity to avoid rehashing arguments ad nauseum).

    Also, comparing the close-mindedness of religious zealots and alleged UFO abductees doesn't not prove that both belief systems are fiction. The only way anyone can get away with saying something like that is by creating cartoons of the opposing view.

    Let's create a UFO scenario that is comparable to the gospel accounts. How differently would we feel about UFO sightings if hundreds of localized people claimed to have walked with and talked with an alien, and this alien was so kind and humble that hundreds of these people that witnessed this alien decided to abandon their former way of life to pattern their life after this alien's teachings? This would be a comparable example, and of course you know that there is no real parallel to the gospel story, hence the straw man. Now, if one wants to demean the eyewitness accounts or commit "chronological snobbery" by dismissing ancient citizens as brutish and superstitious, then that would be reasonable and fair.

    • "Is there such a thing as a reasoned, non-bigoted theist?"

      Yes, my friend Joe. Extremely smart. Extremely fair. Accepts scientific explanations for the universe around us while also deeply believing in a Supreme Being and has no problem whatsoever reconciling the two.

  3. Karl says:

    Danny asks

    "Is there such a thing as a reasoned, non-bigoted theist?"

    Jesus, and those individuals who other people say certainly try (and to some degree are successful at) living like Jesus lived.

    Certainly not those who claim to be agnostics or atheists because nothing improper can be pinned on them until they massacre or scandalize innocents who happen to have the unfortunate lot of thinking theistic points of view have any value what so ever.

    Living as if there were nat any sort of a God to which people are responsible to, makes every man's ideology and values absolute in their own thought process.

    • TonyC says:

      Karl: Certainly not those who claim to be agnostics or atheists because nothing improper can be pinned on them until they massacre or scandalize innocents who happen to have the unfortunate lot of thinking theistic points of view have any value what so ever.

      Maybe you missed Danny's point about unwarranted 'straw men'.

      Slow down there – you'll be saying atheists eat babies, next.

      (ok, we do – but only for breakfast, and only on weekends and holidays)

      regarding reasonable, non-bigoted theists: Ken Miller is well known (and respected);Scott Hatfield (a regular commenter at Pharyngula)

    • Danny says:

      Karl, you're babies for breakfast made me laugh aloud… thanks.

      And, thank you for the sincere answers. I believe sincere questions warrant sincere answers. The reason I ask is because the close-minded bigot is quite fun and easy to deflate, I do it myself. However, I sense that some people believe that defeating these people's arguments are the same as answering more thoughtful and intelligent people's arguments, which is not the same to me.

  4. Tim Hogan says:

    I assert that I am reasonable and non-bigoted, and I am a theist. Some might disagree with my first two assertions.

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