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The Discipline of Happiness

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reason_on
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I first attribute it to a misunderstanding, then to an honest mistake, then to some emotional state - and only finally I understand that this is pure, unadulterated, vicious irrationality.

Yes, that is the rational and just way to go about it. Who would want to spend much time around a person who went around arbitrarily jumping to the conclusion that people are irrational without giving them a reasonable benefit of doubt?

I find I have a tendency to be over forgiving, however. It takes me a long time to recognize consistent irrationality.
Sometimes it takes a while before one has enough evidence to reach such a conclusion about someone. But there are occasions where a person's behavior or viewpoints are so outrageous that it is possible to come to such a conclusion very quickly, if not instantaneously.

If someone attempts to be an apologist for mass murderers such as Hitler or Stalin, if someone tells me that they have nightly conversations with Eleanor Roosevelt, if someone clearly and consistently refuses to acknowledge and address highly relevant and important points I have raised and instead attempts to evade and change the subject, if someone tells me that he considers Janet Reno to be sexy and the concretized essence of femininity - well, I will almost immediately conclude that the person is beyond the reach of reasoned argument. But that does not mean that I have taken any sort of short cut as far as the steps you identified for giving them the benefit of the doubt. All it means is that I have previously encountered or contemplated such views and patterns of behavior and have already considered the possibility of them being the result of honest error.

Obviously, every person is an individual and every set of circumstances is unique - but that doesn't mean you can't draw on the lessons learned and conclusions reached from your past encounters with similar individuals and circumstances. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt does not mean that you have to necessarily re-invent the wheel when it comes to the principles of judging people.

After you have encountered the same form of irrationality enough times, I think you will find that it won't take you as long to recognize it. On the other hand, the possibilities for irrationality are virtually endless so there will always be some new variant that will come along and, as a result of your benevolence and sense of fairness, it is very possible that you will give it more benefit of the doubt than it deserves. But that's ok - it is certainly better than allowing oneself to become a jaded cynic.

BTW - Dismuke, I'm currently listening to your radio station. Keep on the good work!

Thanks! I am glad you are enjoying it. B)

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After you have encountered the same form of irrationality enough times, I think you will find that it won't take you as long to recognize it. On the other hand, the possibilities for irrationality are virtually endless so there will always be some new variant that will come along and, as a result of your benevolence and sense of fairness, it is very possible that you will give it more benefit of the doubt than it deserves.

Oh goody! The world is full of surprises! ;)

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Oh goody! The world is full of surprises!  :)

Indeed. But once in a while someone comes along who proves to be more than worthy of the benefit of doubt that I extended - and that is always a very nice surprise.

In the end, being able to judge others accurately yet fairly is an absolutely crucial skill for reasons other than the obvious ones of simple justice and being able to take the appropriate course of action with regard to the other person. The fact of the matter is that we, in turn, are judged by the way we judge others - and this is especially true in professions such as management where making such judgments is an essential part of one's job responsibilities. It is important for a person to earn the reputation of being fair-minded, objective and rational yet decisive verses the alternatives of being arbitrary, rash, petty and indifferent to justice on one hand or being an indecisive, morally timid pushover on the other. People sometimes forget that, when they are passing judgment on others or are trying to evade the necessity of passing judgment, they, too, are being judged. B)

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