Sometimes a reasonably intelligent anti-vaccine troll will show up to an internet discussion. Although they’re filled with various logical fallacies, like cherry picking, they will often say “you should be open-minded about vaccines causing autism.” The thing is my vaccine open-mindedness is the precise definition of what should be open-minded.
People conflate “open-mindedness” with “you should accept everything stated, because of insert logical fallacy here.”
Let’s use my favorite example, sasquatch, the mythical ape-like creature that inhabits everywhere, as far as I know.
A close-minded person would say, “sasquatch exists, damn the evidence.”
A pseudo-open-minded person would say, “sasquatch exists, because the Federal government is suppressing the evidence. Furthermore, just because we don’t have evidence today, we know we’ll find it tomorrow.”
A real open-minded person would say, “sasquatch does not exist, because of the utter lack of evidence. However, if someone brings irrefutable evidence, I will reconsider my position.”
In other words, a really open-minded person doesn’t have to be open-minded to the hypothesis proposed, just open to the evidence. I am pretty certain that sasquatch does not exist – that’s not being close-minded. Because what I would actually say is that “I reviewed the highest quality evidence, and I found nothing that would support the hypothesis that sasquatch exists.”
As someone once said, “keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.” In fact, scientific progression is utterly dependent upon open-mindedness.