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Against Certainty

We are surrounded by certainty. After a lifetime of finding out how wrong I can be about things I used to be sure of — including myself — I am amazed by the tub-thumping certainty of people around me. From politicians to pundits to preachers to — well, everyone — people seem incapable of entertaining the possibility they may be wrong. No wonder the Talmud tells us “teach your tongue to say ‘I don’t know.’”

The wisest among us have absorbed this lesson. In the midst of the constitutional debates, Ben Franklin said: “I confess there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure that I shall ever approve them. For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.”

- David Wolpe, Off the Pulpit for 4/12/12
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