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"When people are unaware that convictions can seem principled while actually being blind, they are helpless in the face of the conviction machine," writes Michael Patrick Lynch.

‘Always sticking to your convictions’ sounds like a good thing – but it isn’t

Lynch is a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut.

There is nothing wrong with strong opinions. They are healthy in a democracy – an apathetic electorate is an ineffective electorate.

But a curious fact about American society's supercharged political culture is that even the most humble debates (think: Which fried chicken sandwiches are best?) turn a tweet into matters of conviction.

The result is that many of us come to see criticism as intolerable and disagreement with our opinions as a mark of moral inferiority.

That's a problem not just because it can lead to incivility; it's a problem because it can lead to dogmatism, and when it comes to matters like climate change or immigration, even violent fanaticism.

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