- Jan 29, 2013
To me, it is the thought-process that is toxic, not the topic. We humans have a strong tendency towards an unconsidered, dogmatic, often illogical, and response when aspects of our world-view or identity are challenged. I see this tendency as the evil root from which many of our social and organizational problems come from. This is where you get the 'if was good enough for Chesty..." line of 'reasoning'. It is also the (a?) source of organizational inertia.
In my former unit I was an instructor at a marksmanship and tactics course. While I was there, we conducted a serious review of the TTP's we were teaching, and found that many of them were outdated, based on wrong information, based on nothing, or had been distorted over the generations. So, caring about the proficiency and safety of our students (going beyond their time at the course) we began to research improvements and then implemented them. I am still amazed by the strength and violence of the reactions that older guys had to our proposed changes. It seems to me that this came from what they perceived as a personal assault. I am convinced that so many of these guys had based their sense of self-worth on being good at their job - not entirely unreasonable. But being good at their job was really how good they were at specific tasks. So a guy who has 5 shooting packages under his belt (all taught more or less identically since the last curriculum update in the early nineties) feels that he has mastered his craft because he can 'combat glide' (the most outrageously non-ergonomic way to walk imaginable) like a boss. When we whippersnappers began teaching that not only was that not the best technique, but that it actually held back their skills, they felt as though they were personally under attack.
Getting long winded here...
To sum it up, orthodoxy is one of the greatest forces in the world that prevents us from fulfilling our human potential (in whatever field). And my favorite quote yet from a professor:
"Curiosity is the antidote to orthodoxy" When we respond immediately, that is a good indication that we are responding emotionally, which means that we are nor (and often not even capable of) engaging rationally.