The assumption that when two opposing points of views, people, groups of people or philosophies meet that one is right and one is wrong (or what I call binary thinking) is almost universal among orthodontists. As career students it’s easy to see why the idea that there must always be a right answer and that we have access to it is appealing to the point of blinding us to the much more likely alternative. Think about residency or whenever a group of orthodontists get together. Any time there is a difference of opinion the options we know about are put to the group and the majority almost always rules. Same goes for deciding who is good and who is bad when ideas or people disagree. I’ve talked about the fact that Democracy has no Dominion over Truth before but it’s more than that. In any situation where one or more people or ideas in opposition vie to be considered “right” or “good” there are multiple possibilities including but not limited to:
  • None of the options are correct and we don’t know the right option. We only know what we know and there is a huge subset of people and ideas hidden to us.
  • None of the options are correct and there is no “right answer” for the situation or topic. In some situations there is not an option that will resolve the issue or solve the problem and/or both people are bad though they are in opposition.
  • All of the options are correct (to some degree and/or about some aspect of the topic) and both people are “good” though they are in opposition.
  • One option is objectively the best solution (and thus can be proven correct with real scientific method) but those opposing this option will never agree to and/or understand it for any number of reasons.
  • We are asking the wrong/irrelevant questions and even if a correct solution is found it’s irrelevant or meaningless so not worth the effort.
Whats my point?
In orthodontic terms this is a plea for us to consider why we believe what we believe about those with whom we agree and about those who we consider wrong. Most of the time we believe what we believe or we do what we do because we always have and because our local peer group reinforces that. Of course we usually choose our peer group carefully to align with our core beliefs and local is a relative term these days… This is not useful or healthy.
When is the last time you really, seriously considered views that are opposed to your core beliefs and tried to understand/internalize them? How can you expect to change, grow or improve in any meaningful way without doing so? In a day and age when the orthodontic establishment not only opposes anyone who disagrees with the party line but also tries to silence dissent, I’m afraid the future of our profession is lining up to follow Prosthodontists and Periodontists onto the waste heap of irrelevant professions that didn’t change with the times! It doesn’t have to be that way, does it? It’s up to each of us to decide. How do we change the orthodontic profession for the good? That’s easy! One orthodontist at a time!
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