Well, I was having more discussions with more people about more things. And I was struck by just how narrow-minded highly educated people really are. And it may be that education has little to do with openness to challenging your own world-view. Education may be, to paraphrase some wise philosopher, just a way of buttressing your own prejudices. By the way, so no one thinks I'm holier than thou, I include myself in this as well - most of my reading supports hypotheses I already accept.
But the main difference between me and most academics I encounter is this: my willingness to present data and to dig deeply into data presented to me. I won't simply gather data to support my current argument. I gather data about the entire issue and let those data tell the story. Yes, the data may be flawed or incomplete. The data about various elements of the issue may simply not be available. But that means for those elements the appropriate mind-set is: "I don't know. We need to investigate further."
In our policy making, we need to be data driven and move slowly and without prejudice. And if the discussions I participate in and observe are any indication of peoples' thoughts regarding policy making, ideology trumps data and that is very very dangerous.