I hate being wrong about things. I so hate being wrong about things that most of the time I can’t bring myself to care about controversial stuff because I fear being contradicted or disproved on some point by someone who takes a position opposite me. I don’t want to look stupid. This is one reason why I don’t play chess.
On some things, I feel more certain and do take a stand. For example, I think the biblical story of creation is not science and shouldn’t be taught as such. I think the metric system is far superior to the traditional system and having two measuring systems only prolongs the agony and danger. These I feel pretty safe about.
But there is other stuff, like global trade policy and the current war in Iraq, that I don’t feel confident enough about to take a stand on. My friends are roughly even in their division on these issues and I myself have taken to reserving judgement until historical distance arrives. Maybe a hundred years from now, people will look back and see Bush’s war or the WTO as terrible failures or unprecedented successes. I do know the however the current war in Iraq turns out, folks on the left or the right will engage in massive revisionism in order to explain why things failed or succeeded when they predicted the opposite.
Frankly, I don’t want to expose myself to such mistakes. There are plenty of others who are taking stands one way or the other on these issues and they don’t need me to settle their scores. I am a coward but at least I admit being such.