Here’s one of my favorite quotes  concerning that all-too-common closed-minded attitude that prevents people from pursuing the truth:
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance: that principle is contempt prior to investigation.
Contempt prior to investigation
The practice of rejecting or ignoring an unwanted, unwelcome, challenging, or offensive idea outright – with no serious contemplation whatsoever – is sadly a common reaction for us humans. Some may cease listening upon hearing talk of subjects like:
- Beliefs/ practices other than Christianity
- Religion in general
- A political party
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- Folks of other nationality/origin; racism
- Agnosticism, freethought
In truth, the act of discrediting or scoffing at an idea prior to performing meaningful, objective research about that idea is truly ignorant. Surely most folks realize this on some conscious level. The refusal to honestly consider such ideas will certainly prevent growth, learning, acknowledging truth, and achieving enlightenment for as long as the mind remains closed. The blind desire to conform is not a generally positive trait, IMHO.
With enough repetition, closed-minded attitudes can and do result in lifelong ignorance of reality and dedication to various forms of superstition, zealotry, or religiosity. It’s sad but true… and it seems to be alarmingly common in the United States, where Christian fundamentalism is considered "normal" in some parts of the country.
You might say an absolutely closed mind isn’t empty. It’s full of inalterable stuff. I’d argue that a closed mind isn’t really a mind any more than a computer is a mind. It’s a machine, a set of predetermined habits playing out. Minds by definition change. Some people think minds are like elaborate computers, but I’m from a school of thought that says that minds are more like computer programmers. Their openness enables them to evolve new computer-program-like habits. So a closed mind isn’t really a mind.
(Source: Psychology Today)
Willful ignorance, a strong desire to conform to others, and the fear of honest, difficult, reasonably objective study happen to be prescriptions for potentially dangerous fundamentalism of all kinds: not just a wide range of religious fundamentalism, but also political fundamentalism, a.k.a. partisanship… alarmingly common, indeed.
The refusal to closely examine a particular idea in an intellectually honest and forthright manner is almost always based on faulty preconceived notions learned from biased, bigoted, or prejudicial influences – and quite often, those influences are rooted in fundamentalism and/or political hyperpartisanship. (Search for Truth)
At its root, all closed-mindedness is born of fear — along with most other emotions and habits typically considered to be negative. (The fact that fear itself rests just beneath virtually all negativity is a primary spiritual teaching that managed to elude this writer until his 30s.)
Do I sense some readers grumbling, and perhaps making faulty assumptions about this article? (Most assumptions are faulty, which is exactly why not making assumptions is excellent advice — another basic spiritual practice taught by the fantastic spiritual teacher Miguel Ruiz.)
It would be wildly inaccurate to conclude that this writer, or the Search for Truth blog in general, is "against" religion and "for" die-hard skepticism. In truth, a militant atheist might be just as closed-minded as a "hard right" religious fundamentalist – and in some cases perhaps more so.
However, we do strongly encourage everyone to help themselves and those around them by choosing to do the responsible thing: Learn enough to back up claims, beliefs, and opinions with reality instead of superstition. Please consider emphasizing the practical over the supernatural by embracing the basic spiritual principles that are universal in nature… the spiritual principles taught throughout history by a wide range of great spiritual teachers.
A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. (Source: Dale Carnegie)
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. (Source: Proverbs 18:13)
Close-minded vs. closed-minded
This is a bit off topic, but it came up during my research on the subject of closed-mindedness. A mind can be open; a mind can be closed. It sounds silly and improper to describe a mind as being close; therefore, I suggest the term close-minded be altogether dropped in favor of the more accurate, more grammatically correct (IMHO) closed-minded.
Quote about contempt prior to investigation
 Inerrancy is the condition of being inerrant, or completely devoid of errors. Biblical inerrancy is the belief that the Bible is perfect and free of discrepancies and errors of any type. People who hold this belief – and many still do – are called inerrantists, or Biblical inerrantists. (Whether the Bible is errant or inerrant is a hotly debated subject; however, when examined objectively, it’s really not so difficult to determine the truth about it.)
- William Paley, a British Christian apologist
- Herbert Spencer, English philosopher – WikiQuote
- Absolute open- or closed-mindedness: Beyond a shadow of a dot – Psychology Today, 2009
- The Nature of Closed-Mindedness, Mike Blume – Although I agree with what the author says about closed-mindedness in general, I strongly recommend against using only one book – any book, including "The Good Book" – as the sole source of one’s knowledge and wisdom, even of one’s spiritual views or religious beliefs. I also like the Bible verse he points out in this article. (If our ancestors had read only one book, we’d not have most of the technological advances we enjoy and often take for granted today.)
- ‘Closed-minded’: the phrase that loses every argument – Freethought Blogs — So this is a general post, both for the benefit of skeptics and believers, as to why the dumbest and most futile thing you can say in any argument you conduct is to tell yMartin Wagnerour opponent they have a “closed mind.” And while it may seem somewhat ironic that I am saying this while, in the same breath, talking about people you can’t reach with a rational argument, you will see what I mean below… (Martin Wagner)
- Dealing with Closed-Mindedness – Steve Palina
- Everything at Amazon having to do with closed-mindedness
- Closed-minded in The Free Dictionary
- Are you closed minded? How I finally learned how to get along with Parisians – Fluent in 3 Months
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Closed-mindedness of atheist movement – Washington Times – As I stated earlier, I believe some atheists, particularly the atheists described as being militant, are just as closed-minded as the groups they themselves accuse of being closed-minded; please remember that reasonable skepticism is unrelated to militant atheism
- Close-Mindedness – Weekly random rambles, musings, & writings of Mike Lee Excerpt: “Close-mindedness, to me, means someone is unwilling to look at alternatives and question the underlying assumptions of some belief,” he finally stated. “If they’ve thought it through and have formed a conclusion, that’s great. I’m happy for them. They have a conviction now. But if they reject every and any statement that may legitimately poke a hole in their argument, that’s close-mindedness. That’s going overboard. Someone can be convicted, yet still open to alternative views if a logical one presents itself.” (emphasis added)
- The Psychology of Closed Mindedness (Essays in Social Psychology) – Amazon Excerpt: The fundamental phenomenon of human closed-mindedness is treated in this volume. Prior psychological treatments of closed-mindedness have typically approached it from a psychodynamic perspective and have viewed it in terms of individual pathology. By contrast, the present approach stresses the epistemic functionality of closed-mindedness and its essential role in judgement and decision-making. Far from being restricted to a select group of individuals suffering from an improper socialization, closed-mindedness is something we all experience on a daily basis. Such mundane situational conditions as time pressure, noise, fatigue, or alcoholic intoxication, for example, are all known to increase the difficulty of information processing, and may contribute to one’s experienced need for nonspecific closure.
- Miguel Ruiz on Amazon
Snippets pushed to the bottom
When strong beliefs are adopted without honest, deep, objective research — when opinions lack any real application of critical thought — the original source of the wayward thinking is often fundamentalism: Arguably the most common cause of faulty prejudgment and closed mindedness in the United States.
I, along with other reasonable skeptics, Buddhists, Christians, Taoists, etc…
A person who has decided the answer to a question before the question is asked has a miniscule chance of being correct.
Let them believe as they wish; it’s their right. But why force the entire country to adopt fideism?
The following quote does not seem to be very popular within fundamentalist and other closed-minded circles…
…are likely to be ignored, ridiculed, or perhaps even become the victim of violence if overheard by the wrong type of ignorant persons. Ultimately harmful to all those around them, closed-minded thinking and willful ignorance appear to be ways of life for some groups.