Saturday, January 8, 2011

On Being A Fan While Not Being A Fanatic

The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity - William Butler Yeats

I want to talk about passion, fandom, and fanaticism.

Often passion and fanaticism are confused, but they are very different. When someone is passionate and feels strongly about something, often they are written off as a fanatic or crazy. While passion can morph into fanaticism, I do not think they are interchangeable.

Fanaticism is the stalwart support and defense of a person or idea. The person usually is unwilling to change their mind in the face of evidence that contradicts their views. They may be hostile when challenged and refuse to consider the possibility that they are wrong. A lot of religious people fall into this category. Most conspiracy theorists especially are fanatics. Anyone who argues against them must be in on the conspiracy and the evidence that disproves them was obviously planted or false.

Passion is the strong support of a person or an idea. It means someone feels strongly about something and is willing to defend it. However, the person is willing to consider contradictory evidence or views, and accept that they could wrong. Scientists tend to fall into this category. They may fiercely defend their view, but if the evidence that contradicts them is solid they are willing to change their minds.

Obviously, I prefer passion. I think any position worth holding is worth defending, but one should always be open to new evidence.

Too often, someone who is passionate is confused with being zealous or unreasonable. And they can be, which is when they cross the line into fanaticism. But that's not necessarily the case. For instance, a couple months ago, I bought a Macbook. I had previously owned an HP notebook that was very touchy and had a lot of idiosyncrasies. But I just kind of dealt with them until it really crashed the weekend before a Physiology test. All of my note, diagrams, study materials, gone. And it happened on a weekend, so the place I usually took it to was closed, and other places said they couldn't do anything. So I had to study from scratch and somehow passed the test. But that was the last straw. So I decided to do a 180 and get a Mac, which I'm glad I did.

It hasn't been completely smooth sailing, but it's a lot better than the HP. But I don't think Macs are the BEST COMPUTER EVAR and anyone who disagrees is a Windows shill. I still use Windows on a different computer almost daily. So, I'm trying to be a Mac Fan but not to be a Mac Fanatic/Fangrrl.

Same thing with horse training. I personally think that Parelli is the best way to train a horse, but I don't think non-Parelli people are horse abusers. Pretty much every horse person I've run into deeply loves their horse and wants the best for them. And I can't disagree with that. I will recommend Parelli, but I won't push it. As long as people love their horses and treat them well, I'll support them.

Plus, I'm a terrible proselytizer.

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