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How do you debate with fools?


Argus

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This is  thought which I'm sure occurs often to people on this site, because we have lots of them here. I use the term fool as a sort of kindly catch-all for the conspiracy loonies, frenzied ideological kooks, and reality denying cult followers of the Trump persuasion. I've been on this site for a long time. For at least the first ten years the only person I ever had in my ignore list was the propaganda guy from China who spouted party nonsense about how free and wonderful China was compared to the West. Now it seems like half the regular posters here are in my ignore list. 

A column by Andrew Coyne touched on the problem for me. 

Among the many challenges Donald Trump’s presidency presents — to liberal trade, to international order, to constitutional government — perhaps the gravest is to reasoned discourse and rational inquiry; to our ability to debate matters from a common base of facts, or even to agree that facts matter; to the very notion of truth as the touchstone of public discourse.

So how do you engage in public discourse with people who live in a strange fantasy world where facts don't matter? Or at least, where facts are whatever they want them to be? Where the fact the entire world believes one thing, but some crummy wacko blog that says the opposite becomes, to them, the authority? As Coyne says, even famously conservative sources like the Wall Street Journal and the National Review are now routinely dismissed as 'the liberal media' in favor of Brietbart or Alex Jones here. And of course, for those on the Left all mainstream media are simply corporate mind control and nothing they say can be believed. How can such people be engaged in anything resembling reasonable discourse when they don't live in the world of reality and accept no common base of facts?

How do you argue 'respectfully' with people who don't deserve any respect, and who are too self-deluded and dishonest to accept reason? And where is this site headed when so many of the members now fall into this category of 'fool'? Because the number of reasonable people interested in discussion is in inverse order to the number crazies those people find on a site. I find the crazies are growing while the reasoned people are leaving. Is MapleleafWeb going to become just a site where Alex Jones followers breathlessly debate how aliens from Alpha Centauri are controlling Kim Kardashian's brain and the Illuminati is the guiding hand behind every government policy?

 

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I guess the first step is to never assume you are not a fool to someone else.  I understand your frustration with those who don't seem to be able to see DT for the person he is, but remember, there are those on here who think that Islam is a religion of peace.  That people should not have autonomy over their bodies, for abortions or suicide.  That shutting down the oilsands will solve the problem of AGW.  That celebrities are to be taken seriously.  That women want to wear a burka. 

They all think I'm a fool for supposing otherwise.

What do you want this forum to be other than a distraction from the daily grind?  Arguing with a fool is just as much fun as arguing with a sage.

Edited by bcsapper
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14 minutes ago, bcsapper said:

I guess the first step is to never assume you are not a fool to someone else.  I understand your frustration with those who don't seem to be able to see DT for the person he is, but remember, there are those on here who think that Islam is a religion of peace.  That people should not have autonomy over their bodies, for abortions or suicide.  That shutting down the oilsands will solve the problem of AGW.  That celebrities are to be taken seriously.  That women want to wear a burka. 

They all think I'm a fool for supposing otherwise.

And they're all idiots.

14 minutes ago, bcsapper said:

What do you want this forum to be other than a distraction from the daily grind?  Arguing with a fool is just as much fun as arguing with a sage.

Arguing with a demented fool is, as the saying goes, like wrestling with a pig. All you accomplish is to get dirty and annoy the pig.

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1 minute ago, bush_cheney2004 said:

 

No.....as the saying goes....the pig likes it !

 

Frank: Oh, what about the pig sty we live in? My part in neat and tidy, but the other two parties, who shall be nameless, live like swines.
Hawkeye (turning to Trapper): Pierce
Trapper: McIntyre
Both (shaking hands): The Swine Brothers.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/58/0c/84/580c84c8ccc7b8badee066f7dea8163e.jpg

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1 hour ago, bcsapper said:

...there are those on here who think that Islam is a religion of peace. 

and some say all Muslims are going to kill you...   I think some of your examples have some room for debate.

 

Quote

That people should not have autonomy over their bodies, for abortions or suicide.

Like this one.   There are actual reasonable positions against abortion and/or suicide...   and then there are the religious nuts who can be dismissed immediately.  But this comparison, and others in your post, are not very good.  These aren't the same as believing Breitbart is a good source for the truth.

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21 minutes ago, The_Squid said:

and some say all Muslims are going to kill you...   I think some of your examples have some room for debate.

Who says that? Or are you simply exaggerating?

Quote

Like this one.   There are actual reasonable positions against abortion and/or suicide...   and then there are the religious nuts who can be dismissed immediately.  But this comparison, and others in your post, are not very good.  These aren't the same as believing Breitbart is a good source for the truth.

I didn't make the comparisons. I didn't use any specific instance, and I'm talking mostly about positions which have no logical defense, like say, people who insist that Donald Trump had the most people at his inauguration or people who insist that George Bush blew up the World Trade Center, or people who think the Illuminati controls the world. And basically, anyone who uses the term 'MSM" with a sneer, as if only 'sheeple' would believe what the MSM says.

Edited by Argus
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1 hour ago, The_Squid said:

and some say all Muslims are going to kill you...   I think some of your examples have some room for debate.

 

Like this one.   There are actual reasonable positions against abortion and/or suicide...   and then there are the religious nuts who can be dismissed immediately.  But this comparison, and others in your post, are not very good.  These aren't the same as believing Breitbart is a good source for the truth.

I wouldn't know, not being able to pick him/her out of a lineup.

What other people think of Muslims is irrelevant to my point.  Anyone who thinks Islam is a religion of peace is a fool.  As much as anyone who watches/listens to this Breitbart person, at least, I would imagine.

Anyone who wants to keep me alive when I don't want to be alive, or force me to undergo medical procedures I do not want to undergo, is worse than a fool, but what the hell, I included them anyway.

There's always room for debate, that was my point.  It doesn't have to be sane on both sides.  Just more fun than not debating.

Edited by bcsapper
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1 minute ago, Argus said:

I didn't make the comparisons. I didn't use any specific instance, and I'm talking mostly about positions which have logical defense, like say, people who insist that Donald Trump had the most people at his inauguration or people who insist that George Bush blew up the World Trade Center, or people who think the Illuminati controls the world. And basically, anyone who uses the term 'MSM" with a sneer, as if only 'sheeple' would believe what the MSM says.

I know you didn't.  I was responding to bcsapper.  

Debating abortion policy and debating how many people were at the inauguration are not the same thing.   One has room for debate on ethics, morals and science...  the other is simply a factual matter where one side backs their claims up by lies.  However, if one were to say "cuz God" in the abortion debate, then they move into the same type of debate.  

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2 hours ago, Argus said:

Now it seems like half the regular posters here are in my ignore list.

I never pegged you for someone with an ignore list.

I haven`t been around MapleLeafWeb long enough to notice the changes you describe, but I have participated in discussion groups (e.g. Internet newgroups) since the late 80`s, and maybe another 5 years on private corporate ones. Certainly the emergence of on-line news has changed the dynamics of political discussions, there is a much more present participation of those who consider it a spectator sport and not a forum for real discussion. Many people wear earplugs and just shout the same slogans just to drown out the real discussion. Partisan politics have become just like team sports, and the only beneficiaries are the team/party itself. None of this is however new, only the numbers of people participating has changed.

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Funny, I was just reading this article:

http://www.livescience.com/57590-why-americans-deny-science.html

 

Quote

"Beliefs are difficult to budge, because people don't act like scientists, weighing up evidence in an even-handed way," Matthew Hornsey, a psychologist at the University of Queensland, wrote in an email to Live Science. "When someone wants to believe something, then they act more like lawyers trying to prosecute what they already want to be true. And they cherry-pick the evidence to be able to do that."

 

 

 

Quote

 

Changing minds

When someone's self-image or social acceptance is at stake, badgering them with facts isn't likely to change their minds, research has shown.

In fact, a 2010 studyfound that when people were shown incorrect information alongside a correction, the update failed to reverse their initial belief in the misinformation. Even worse, partisans who were motivated to believe the original incorrect information became even more firm in their belief in that information after reading a correction, the researchers found. For example, conservatives who were told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq war believed that claim more firmly after reading a correction.

So researchers are suggesting more-subtle ways to change people's attitudes toward accepting scientific facts. Hornsey said he and his colleagues call this "psychological jiujitsu," in reference to the martial art that teaches people to use their opponent's own weight against them. [Best Supporting Role: 8 Celebs Who Promote Science]

In this approach, people who accept scientific facts might try to get at the root of the disbeliefs held by those who don't, and then address that basis, rather than addressing the surface denial. Campbell and his colleagues have found, for example, that if free-market solutions to climate change are presented as an option, self-identified Republicans become less likely to deny climate science.

Using this jiujitsu approach is challenging, Hornsey and his colleagues wrote in an article soon to be published in the journal American Psychologist, because people's underlying motivations are not always clear. Sometimes, the people themselves may not know why they think the way they do. And no single message will fit all possible reasons for disbelief, the researchers warned. [Evolution vs. Creationism: 6 Big Battles]

"A two-tiered strategy would be optimal: messages about evidence and scientific consensus that should be sufficient for the majority, and a jiujitsu approach for the unconvinced minority," the authors wrote.

There's another trap to watch out for, though, Campbell warned: smugness. If a message from a science-accepting person comes across to a denier as being holier-than-thou, or as judgmental of a person's whole character, it's likely to backfire, he said.

"I like to say, 'Tell people they already are the people you want them to be,'" Campbell said. For example, "don't go to somebody and say, 'You don't care about the environment enough.' Point out all the ways they do care about the environment."

From there, Campbell said, there is common ground to work from. Successful persuasion, he said, finds common values without triggering people's self-protective instincts.

 

 

Quote

"The general thing I think is important to say is 'I like and care about you,'" Campbell said. Once respect is established, he said, "any criticism is very much tapered, and is not a holistic admonishment of who you are."

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Argus, I understand where u r coming from BUT u would have been proven,  wrong if we went back to 9/11 and if someone had post they thought an attack was going to happen in a America  or Canada, u probably thought they were crazy. I'm not quite sure what a person has to say here  for u to think they are a fool but that's your view and I'll respect it , even if I disagree, isn't that what debate for ?

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2 hours ago, ?Impact said:

I never pegged you for someone with an ignore list.

I have been here since 2004.  I didn't put anyone on the ignore list except the Chinese guy for at least ten of those years. Some of these people are so mindless in their claims that I simply have no interest in even reading them, much less responding. They're on the ignore list because their inane blatherings get in the way of other posts I might want to read. Most of the others make such preposterously stupid claims that if I don't put them on my ignore list the level of my contempt grows to the point that Charles or Michael H, who are always laying in the tall grasses, suspend me for displaying it too clearly.  I have to admit, the moderators are the main reason for my ignore list. I think I got about a dozen warning points in the first ten years, and then three times that in the last two - mainly since Michael H became a moderator.

2 hours ago, ?Impact said:

I haven`t been around MapleLeafWeb long enough to notice the changes you describe, but I have participated in discussion groups (e.g. Internet newgroups) since the late 80`s, and maybe another 5 years on private corporate ones. Certainly the emergence of on-line news has changed the dynamics of political discussions, there is a much more present participation of those who consider it a spectator sport and not a forum for real discussion. Many people wear earplugs and just shout the same slogans just to drown out the real discussion. Partisan politics have become just like team sports, and the only beneficiaries are the team/party itself. None of this is however new, only the numbers of people participating has changed.

I wouldn't disagree with your characterization of some of these sites. But I like a more intelligent sort of discussion, where possible, the likes of which I see less and less often here since the emergence of rabid wack jobs - on the Left and the Right.

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58 minutes ago, Topaz said:

Argus, I understand where u r coming from BUT u would have been proven,  wrong if we went back to 9/11 and if someone had post they thought an attack was going to happen in a America  or Canada, u probably thought they were crazy. I'm not quite sure what a person has to say here  for u to think they are a fool but that's your view and I'll respect it , even if I disagree, isn't that what debate for ?

If someone suggest there will be an attack, gives logical reasons I'm fine. It's when someone looks BACK at one of the most deeply and intensively analyzed and investigated world events - like the WTC, and then eagerly makes statements which have no basis in reality, then refuse to allow themselves to be shown how nonsensical those claims are, that I think them fools. I feel the same about those who deny the Holocaust. Too many people were there, on both sides, for anyone but an idiot to deny it happened. The Trump inauguration fooforaw is of the same order. Too many people were there and too much evidence exists for anyone but a fool to deny the numbers were lower.

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1 hour ago, Goddess said:

Funny, I was just reading this article:

"Beliefs are difficult to budge, because people don't act like scientists, weighing up evidence in an even-handed way," Matthew Hornsey, a psychologist at the University of Queensland, wrote in an email to Live Science. "When someone wants to believe something, then they act more like lawyers trying to prosecute what they already want to be true. And they cherry-pick the evidence to be able to do that."

http://www.livescience.com/57590-why-americans-deny-science.html

I think almost all of us are guilty of that at times, including me. For me, though, the breaking point becomes when the evidence is simply too obvious and glaring to deny, even if it goes against what you want to believe and even if it makes a politician or political party you support look bad. To go on denying it then is sheer idiocy, as far as I'm concerned. I have never had an enormous amount of respect for any politician or party because in my honest assessment no politician or political party in my lifetime has ever deserved such respect. I support a party generally because I think it's the least worst option. Maybe that's the difference between me and some of these people.

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8 minutes ago, Argus said:

I think almost all of us are guilty of that at times, including me. For me, though, the breaking point becomes when the evidence is simply too obvious and glaring to deny, even if it goes against what you want to believe and even if it makes a politician or political party you support look bad. To go on denying it then is sheer idiocy, as far as I'm concerned. I have never had an enormous amount of respect for any politician or party because in my honest assessment no politician or political party in my lifetime has ever deserved such respect. I support a party generally because I think it's the least worst option. Maybe that's the difference between me and some of these people.

Me, too.  :(

I generally don't argue too much with ones who already have their minds made up:

"A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still."

I just state what I think and try to understand their point of view.

Argus, I hope you don't leave.  I don't always agree with everything you post, but I respect your views and I would miss your posts.

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26 minutes ago, Argus said:

the breaking point becomes when the evidence is simply too obvious and glaring to deny, even if it goes against what you want to believe

A perfect example of this is quantum physics, it goes against everything we understand from traditional physics. I think we would be all better off without it, none of these modern electronic devices have brought us any more happiness anyway. Nothing beats cuddling up to an old tube radio on a cold winter day.

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1 minute ago, ?Impact said:

A perfect example of this is quantum physics, it goes against everything we understand from traditional physics. I think we would be all better off without it, none of these modern electronic devices have brought us any more happiness anyway. Nothing beats cuddling up to an old tube radio on a cold winter day.

I wasn't sure if I agreed with you so I asked Siri whether I did or not.

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1 hour ago, ?Impact said:

A perfect example of this is quantum physics, it goes against everything we understand from traditional physics. I think we would be all better off without it, none of these modern electronic devices have brought us any more happiness anyway. Nothing beats cuddling up to an old tube radio on a cold winter day.

 

I miss the glory days of AM radio...worked at a few over the years. Loved those big ol' tube radios as well...

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2 hours ago, ?Impact said:

Nothing beats cuddling up to an old tube radio on a cold winter day.

Agreed. And I built a chassis for one as a project in an electronics course I took back in the day. I cuddled up a bit too close while confirming I had the correct voltages. 350V is not fun!

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