In my last year of high school we touched briefly on the Great Wall of China. The first emperor of the Qin (Ch’in) dynasty had it built as a defense against nomadic raids. The Chinese started the wall about 246 BC and finished it about 209 BC. In succeeding centuries, chiefly during the period of the Ming dynasty (AD 1368-1644), they repaired the Great Wall and extended it. The fortification finally reached a length of about 2400 km (1500 miles).
Our teacher mentioned that in spite of its strength, the wall was, in part, crumbling. He asked what material could the Chinese have used at the time? Cement was not discovered until 1850. I answered by saying, “Maybe they used dirt and rice.” The teacher seemed shocked. “What a stupid answer,” he said, dismissing me, then explaining to the class that China had many hungry people who need the rice as food. I hated the teacher for belittling me in front of the class. Being labeled as stupid I didn’t raise my hand again. Recently, research has shown that the bricks were partially made with rice flour, which gave them even more pressure resistance than cement.
I would have loved to go back to the same teacher and tell him how wrong he was. Unfortunately he died years ago. And he wasn’t open to another explanation. Many people are like this. They just can’t open their minds to new possibilities.
This bias also extends to the mental health profession as well. I once consulted a psychiatrist who could not get beyond her theories. I think this damaged me in many ways. Besides spending time and money, I did not make any progress in the many sessions. My feelings of guilt increased, leaving me feeling hopeless. Her question to me…”Which theory fits you?”
I believed I had to live with depression.