May 15, 2006

The Fortress of your Mind - Or what manner of ruler are you?

You can't have a debate when 70% of the population on the internet doesn't know anything about Logic 101.

You can have an argument, you can try to persuade others of your viewpoint, but having a debate necessitates some basic fairness of environment. You can't have a basketball game when the other team is missing 4 players on the roster (total 5) , and you can't have a debate with people who don't know how to debate.

If we're talking about propaganda, which is what persuasion is or vice a versa, then repetition is one of the most useful methods. While it is the logical fallacy of ad nauseam argument, propaganda does not adhere to the fairness doctrine in debates.

This is what Newt said that Einstein said about insanity. Insanity is when you keep doing what you have always been doing, and expecting to get a different result.

This is in contrast to the one of Murphy's Laws. If it is stupid, and it works, then it ain't stupid.

I think Neo's been pretty clear about what she means by liberal and democratic, as opposed to the movement of fake liberalism going on, masquearding as open minded folks and molks.

I almost forgot, but I think one of the most pernicious and insidious aspects to people arguing on the internet has to do about self-esteem and self-confidence. If someone is not confident in their abilities, judgements, beliefs, ideas, and analysis then that person has an increased likely hood of attacking other people for challenging their beliefs, which are already shaky to begin.

I'm not refering directly to agreeing to disagree, but it's probably the closest thing to use as an example. When I challenge Jack Trainor's beliefs with my own, I don't feel a need to attack him psychologically, I just don't agree with his portrayal. However, I'm confident in my own opinions and beliefs to feel no particular hostility to learning about why Jack believes as he does.

Someone who isn't confident, would probably behave in a much more hostile manner, and extend the argument to many many comments, which eventually actually goes nowhere.

I like to know and learn stuff. In chess, I'm always looking for my opponent's strategy and seeing what tricks he uses. I use the same philosophy in arguments. I can't argue my position effectively if I do not understand my opponent's position. If there is room for additional points to be made, I'll make them. If it is simply a different prioritization and emphasis on different interpretations, like Jack's emphasis on Truman and my emphasis on Roosevelt, then there is no more debate because both interpretations are valid. I'll resign my game if it is futile to keep moving the pieces in chess, sure. But sometimes I won't, that's valid as well. But I separate the belief in victory from other motivations. For example, if I have a knight and a king with 2 pawns, and my enemy has 2 rooks, the king, and 4 pawns. I might not resign, I would keep moving, forcing my opponent to show me how to do the end game. You could resign of course, but then you would never learn. But if you already know how to do the end game, then you will only waste time by continuing an argument.

To clarify, because there are 3 different strains of thought going on in the above paragraph that is probably not exactly well constructed. The end game of chess is contrasted directly with continuing an argument on the internet past the point of usefulness. I didn't choose to continue the argument with Jack Trainor because he said his piece and I said mine, and I chose not to continue the argument because it is useless to try to convince people to emphasize one group of true facts over another group of true facts. If someone's interpretation is wrong, that's one thing, but if their interpretation is just different, then you should consider devoting your energies to something else.

Someone whose internal beliefs are unstable and who has a lack of self-confidence, will never admit that any different interpretation might be correct. That would be like a dictator allowing someone to successfully rebel against him, this would set into action a chain of events that would eventually unseat him from power. We are the commander of our minds, and every individual uses a different method of control on mental behavior.

You've seen one defense used already. Fanaticism. Believe so strongly, that nothing your enemy will do will convince you otherwise. But nobody is a fanatic about EVERYTHING, that's not possible. You'd have to go schizoid to do that. Someone who believes the light is green regardless of what anyone else says, may be a fanatic, but he is also certifiably insane.

(jeez louis, Bush just said on Fox that Mexico is our friend and neighbor. Well they're our neighbor, but they're not negotiating in good faith. People who want to send people to the US so that they can produce a higher GDP than Mexicans in Mexico, are interested not in friendship but in exploitation for their own greed, like Fox is.)

Someone who has a shaky internal belief system, will adopt more and more fanatical beliefs. Simply because they don't know of any other way to strenghten their beliefs than that. This is contrasted to open-mindedness, tolerance, and diversity. Where your strength of belief is increased by its inherent superiority compared to its competitors. A person cannot both use oppressive internal mental controls and open-minded democratic internal mental controls at the same time.


Blogger Jason H. Bowden said...


I agree with you completely about the nature of the trolls over at neo-neocon. They're intellectual terrorists, and I would have no scruples about deleting their posts. I can tell the difference between a hardhitting argument that makes digs and insults, and someone who is simply on an incoherent, unhinged personal jihad.

With respect to the truth of propositions, it doesn't matter if a person is fanatic, closed-minded, or intolerant. It is possible for a fanatic, closed-minded, and intolerant person to support a true belief with evidence, and it is possible for a skeptical, openminded, and tolerant person to accept false propositions as true without any evidential basis.

That's why logic and evidence matter, and people don't. Now, being skeptical and openminded and so forth may be psychological qualities that may increase the probability of one arriving at justified beliefs, or justified true beliefs, but such qualities are not a necessary condition for having them.

18 May, 2006 04:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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20 May, 2006 07:09  

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