Monday, August 29, 2011 Filed in: Techniques & Training
Rob Pincus asked one of his favorite questions on the (members only) U.S. Concealed Carry forum last week: "what have you changed your mind about?"
It's a simple question, and it's amazing how many people couldn't answer it. The most common reply sounds like something from a cookie-cutter PR firm: "Of course the world is in a constant state of change, and the prudent man, woman, or transgender individual is best advised to take note of such change and incorporate that which is applicable to his or her current situation to prepare for the future." Reading some of the responses reminded me of the old joke about the politician talking about prohibition: "some of mah friends are for it, and some of mah friends are against it. I tell you here and now, that I stand forthrightly behind mah friends!"
The question isn't concerned about what's changed around you, but rather in what has changed inside of you.
We all make decisions and adopt opinions based on any number of inputs, including raw evidence, our emotional reactions to factual information, and (all too often) what someone else thinks about those things. The problem is that we tend to treat those opinions and conclusions as static even as the world around us shifts. At some point our original positions are likely to become outdated, and some will be downright wrong. It's whether - and why - we make a conscious decision to amend or replace those positions that's important. If we're observant and engaged, we change our minds about things. If not, we persist in beliefs and practices that may not be congruent with the current realities.
Prejudices are like that. My late father grew up in a time and a place where anyone with white skin was deemed to be of lesser intelligence, honesty, and motivation. ("Stupid, lazy liars" in the vernacular.) Over the years he would be put into contact with one ethnic group after another and be forced to change his opinion of that group. Unfortunately he wasn't able to extrapolate those experiences to cover all ethnicities, but he was at least able to find common ground with Japanese, Hispanic, American Indian, and Chinese people. He changed his mind based on his first-hand experiences.
That kind of change is hard for some of us because it means admitting that, in some way, we're wrong about something. That might be because we misinterpreted something along the way, or it might mean that new facts or evidence were uncovered. It might mean that we relied too much on others to shape our opinions for us, or it might simply mean that we've grown up. We might have been right at one point, but the growth of the rest of society rendered our original position untenable.
Whether we changed or the universe changed is irrelevant to this discussion; what's important is how we ourselves adapt to that change. Can we accept new facts and evidence, or are we going to bury our heads in the sand?
Case in point: for a long time I've held an opinion about Taurus revolvers that is now evolving, based on their increasing levels of quality. Am I ready to put them on the same level as the market leaders - S&W and Ruger? Not quite, but I am willing to admit that perhaps they are making headway in product quality. I'm revisiting my opinions in response to what's going on around me, and I look forward to the day when I can say I've changed my mind about them.
Don't assume that I'm talking only about physical things (people, guns.) I'm also talking about concepts. How and what we train is subject to the same dynamic of change. For instance, I used to practice and teach one-handed shooting with the gun canted strongly toward the centerline. The idea is that it straightened the wrist (which it did) and increased recoil control (which it also did.) The problem is that it's much harder for the eye/brain combination to correctly align the gun on target when both the x- and y-axis are in abnormal positions. This is especially true when shooting quickly, as it significantly degrades one’s balance of speed and precision. The increase in recoil control, which enables the shooter to get back on target faster, is negated by the increased time required for the shooter to recognize and apply the necessary deviation control.
My opinion was wrong because I focused on an overly narrow aspect of the shooting task. I changed my mind based upon a broader understanding of what I was trying to achieve, and as a result no longer teach or practice that technique.
What specifically have you changed your mind about? What do you consciously believe or practice today that's different than, say, a year or two ago? Why?
-=[ Grant ]=-
I have a bad habit of picking something up, walking around with it, then putting it down in an inconspicuous place and forgetting about it. Causes no end of problems around my house!
For instance, yesterday I was working on someone’s S&W. I picked up a tool, then remembered something I needed at the other end of the shop. Instead of putting this tool down on my bench - which is where it came from - I carried it with me. Somewhere between my bench and my destination I managed to lose the thing!
It’s in there, somewhere, but after an hour-and-a-half of searching yesterday I still hadn’t found it. Today I’m going to tidy up the shop (a task I’m not at all fond of) and see if that doesn’t turn it up. If not, I’ll have to get another one.
This is why I have two of everything. I only know where one is at any given time, however.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Yes, I know I didn't have a Surprise for you yesterday. I'd intended to present instead the latest installment of the Self Defense Thoughts, but fell asleep.
I write most of my blog articles in the evening, then finish them up and post them at breakfast. On Thursday evening I fell asleep, and Friday I had to get up very early (and miss my breakfast!) so that I could be somewhere first thing in the morning. The blog got ignored in the rush that ensued.
The latest installment of the series follows. Enjoy!
-=[ Grant ]=-