Getting Rid of Stupid Ideas – Daryl Davis Model



"Racism is like cancer. If you choose to ignore it, it metastasizes." - Daryl Davis

If you ignore stupid ideas, they metastasize into stupidity.

Charlie Munger often talks about pounding in old, stupid ideas and how most people’s problem in life are not getting rid of them quick enough. We can look to Charles Darwin for inspiration on killing ideas, he was one of the best, however, who else can we emulate?

I think I have one of the best examples of killing old, stupid ideas and a great model for us to remember/emulate. I recently watched a documentary called Accidental Courtesy on Netflix. In it, an African-American happened to stumble on changing race relations in the United States; his name is Daryl Davis. Instead of calling for increased segregation, which is proposed by the extremes of both racial sides, he is doing his part in killing the bad ideas held by the KKK. It all started with curiosity.

His way of killing their cemented ideologies, one at a time, is exactly what Charlie talks about: getting properly acquainted with the opposite side. Anyone who is racist often has never had the experience of knowing the race they hate. In other words, Davis wisely states “ignorance breeds fear. If you don’t keep that fear in check, that fear will breed hatred. If you don’t keep hatred in check, it will breed destruction.” They learn from a young age, and pound it in for years, many misconceptions.

What Daryl has done is to meet upper klans members and established an open dialogue. Daryl says he doesn’t respect most of what they say, but he respects their right to say it. By Daryl listening to the KKK members and understanding their why and how, they eventually want to hear Daryl, hear his views and hear his why (Reciprocity working here). The mutual respect allows Daryl to challenge many of their beliefs. As those KKK members get to know and respect Daryl, they find it more difficult to maintain their prejudices and become his friends.

Daryl Davis has famously befriended former Imperial Wizard Roger Kelly. “I would go to hell and back for that man. A lot we don’t agree with, but he respects me and listens to me,” Kelly said of Daryl. After Kelly got to know Daryl, he would leave the top spot and the whole club. Davis has befriended 25+ top klans members who have eventually gone on leaving the organization. Davis also was instrumental in breaking up the Maryland KKK group.

So if Daryl Davis can get KKK members, who have pounded in racist hate speech their whole life, to change their stupid ideas, then we can all change any closely held, stupid idea. All we need to do is constantly seek out opposing viewpoints, respect them, listen and be open.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Befriend opposing viewpoints.

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