February 28, 2017
Updated July 19, 2021
For many it may seem a useless exercise. I can personally account for several breakthroughs achieved by the miracle of threaded online debates. Still it is difficult to get past the gates of carefully guarded opinions. Let’s discuss why.
Near everyone self identifies as a “logical” and “rational” thinker. Reflexively anything that betray’s an individual’s understanding is at least initially dismissed as “illogical” and “irrational.” The powerful elites that govern have a vested interested in managing the kinds of thoughts since it is the key ingredient to all power wielded that isn’t enforced by hard threats of dire and even mortal consequences for individual or collective expressions of defiance.
Whereas many modern thinkers take pride in rejection of religious dogma, the human brain is very much hard wired to collect and respond to dogmatic beliefs. So whatever beliefs they might dismiss as “old fashioned” or “religious” are most often replaced with equally dogmatic replacement beliefs.
Certainly there are deep thinkers breathing in the air around us, but by and large these are the exceptions to a rule that most cling to whatever religious or areligious beliefs that are strongly connected to and motivated by emotions.
And so the collection of understandings that make up an individual attitude become a security blanket and all the marbles contained therein are rigorously protected for emotional reasons and seldom defended in open discussion.
Much to the delight of the powerful, rigorous debate is permitted and encouraged only within a narrow spectrum. The masses are well trained and conditioned to aggressively shut down any communication outside of their comfortable range.
The more intelligent and free thinking an individual, the wider the spectrum of comfortable conversation. And of course the less cognitively gifted will keep the bookends on “acceptable communication” in closer proximity.
Academia has long been a primary tool to indoctrinate new generations to be conditioned to receive the latest updates and revisions to the ever-changing game delivered by the master chess players that continuously reach for more power over individuals.
In the early going they teach “open mindedness” as a means to break down preexisting habits of thought and common sense that might challenge what’s invariable presented as the “superior wisdom” of the ruling hands pushing pieces on the big chess board that few can even see. But obviously it was really part of a 3 step process.
- OPEN MIND
- SCOOP OUT BRAINS
- CLOSE THE WOUND
All designed to send countless college graduates off with an inability to perform critical thought, a strong reluctance to seek out and debate with different minded opponents, and extreme intolerance of even the most superficial exposure of notions that aren’t neatly aligned with their College “understandings.”
Whenever discussion treads outside of their range, they’ll fire back with programmed conversation-stopping responses to justify the the childish retreat with ears covered and mouths engaged in the classic “La la la…I’m not listening!” antics.
Among the favorites are “That’s conspiracy theory!” And that catch-all deserves some attention of its own.
ARE “CONSPIRACY THEORIES” UNIVERSALLY UNWORTHY OF EXPLORATION?
If the appropriate mistrust of government as recommended by Thomas Jefferson makes one a “conspiracy theorist” then it ought to be worn as a badge of honor.
One might ask what kind of a mush head would think some government on Earth conducts business less any “conspiracies” and cover-ups? Are you that naive?
Should we honestly think folks maintain control over populations by full disclosure and true transparency? Do they really believe those in charge place public interest ahead of their own, and that there are no agendas pushed without first campaigning for public awareness and majority consent?
The anti-“conspiracy theory” crowd have been programmed to believe the smaller percentage of folks that read “too much”, pay closer attention, blow a few whistles and connect a few dots are the real problem. And so they’ve unwittingly become one of the Borg that’s been conditioned to decry any questioning at first listen on the basis that it registers as example of the ominous catch-all of “conspiracy theory!”
They’ve played into the game of keeping that “lively debate” within the permissible range of topics. And invariably, like the child that runs covering their ears, they place a hard barrier between themselves and discovering any truth as would result from the superior practice of following all leads.
Not all “conspiracy theories” are correct, nor are they all “incorrect.” And as long as there are groups of two or more that make plans that work better without full public disclosures, conspiracies happen. And as long as someone dares speculate what might lay beneath public disclosures, there will be “conspiracy theorists.”
Children of all ages will read mystery novels that are complete fiction. Many see it as a way to exercise their minds as they attempt to connect a few dots and solve a plot initially shrouded in secrecy. Why should they not take more interest in following the twists and turns of a scenario that might actually relate to the real world and the power structures that largely manage their lives? Only one of two things will happen. They’ll either find something to be more plausible than they might have expected, or they’ll learn enough to find flaws and possibly even debunk a bad one.
And knowing the details of a theory proven wrong puts them in a better position to help any “crazy” friends allay any ill placed concerns and focus on whatever else in their world is more real or at least plausible. Certainly this is more useful than solving a who-done-it fiction which still a brain-game but one that delivers no discernible new understandings.
One thing that is interesting, is the crowd of liberals that were so ready on the trigger to dismiss any “conspiracy theories” are now wearing their own best foil hats to promote the absurd #RUSSIANHACKING expression of #LIBTARDCONSPIRACYTHEORY which they believe fits well with all the dogma they embrace as part of their #DEMOCRATRELIGION.
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS A BAD DEBATE?
Many think of debate merely as “a fight” and their aversion to engaging may be solidified by countless bad experiences where they left with uncomfortable and lingering feelings after a lost argument, or a more devastating loss of a valued friendship over an unfortunate exchange became overly emotional.
Many will shy away from future engagements and take measures to avoid discussion with, or even proximity to anyone they might identify as operating outside of their ideological “safe space.”
The Eastern view of Debate declares the person proven wrong the “winner.” This is based on the wisdom that this is the participant that would be presumed to have gained the most from the exchange. And even by this definition, the what the Western view would call “the winner” still gains a superior understanding of his own position, since the very act of defending one’s own understanding forces introspection on the underlying assumptions and fractals of reasoning upon which they are built.
I have long believe debate to be an elevated expression and that the best debates are achieved by seeking out difference of opinion and not avoiding it.
Much like with static electricity, the wider the difference between two positions, the greater the “voltage” to fuel meaningful discussion, and by extension the rich rewards in both teaching and learning.
WHAT MAKES DEBATE WORK BETTER ONLINE?
I personally achieved great breakthroughs in online threaded conversation.
Many of the tricks and tactics deployed by the special needs “debate” crowd are eliminated when there’s a running sequential record of each participants contributions. Barring removing of individual comments or whole threads as some of us may have encountered, there’s really no way to “cheat” nor otherwise derail online debate by shouting over another’s comments, of fancy maneuvers in subject to avoid a feeling of having “lost” at the expense of the integrity of the discussion.
The thread provides a history. And each can type full and rich responses to every challenge without any risk of being “typed over” by another party.
Of course there’s still emotional investment in one’s own motivation to “win” and avoid the embarrassment and possible lingering doubts about core beliefs upon which past guilts are absolved, and future plans permitted.
I had established my own Debate Group that allowed a close circle of 70 friends with different backgrounds and attitudes to exercise their common interest in meaningful debate.
One particular friend, a Sociology Major was originally expressing deep disagreement on my own views concerning structured immigration, and anti-Socialist attitudes.
Only after months of exchanges did she surprise me with a post that showered me with praise for helping her “see the light.” She now embraces Libertarianism and rejects Socialism along with unstructured immigration. Whereas such major breakthroughs might be rare, there are countless more exchanges that plant seeds of doubt that will linger in even the most dedicated liberal ideologues.
THE ROLE OF INSULTS AND MAN-TALK IN DEBATE
I once bought into the commonly accepted notion that debates are “lost” as soon as one resorts to ad hominem and name calling. I later came to realize that men are valuable participants and so the elegance of allowing some man-talk can be both fun, and attract higher-value participants to a discussion.
Now obviously the vast majority of liberals spend much if not all their time with what I’d call bottom-triangle activities. And nothing seems to upset them more than a the friendly reminder that debates are not by any means “won” by those committed to name calling and ad hominem as a substitute for reasoned arguments.
Whenever I deploy the above chart I can expect the liberals to circle the drain towards the bottom with more ad hominem and more name calling. Many will declare “you don’t know what ad hominem even means.” One was especially funny when he first called me illiterate with an accompanying comment suggesting only he could be counted on to fully comprehend the meaning of “ad homonym.” This ironic but not uncommon misspelling owed to the combination of illiteracy and spell-check automation that often improperly resolves feeble spelling attempts as separate words.
When it becomes clear that an opponent is simply incapable of anything transcendent of contradiction, I’ll often often a parting gift in the form of a flow chart so that they can continue in their own style of “debate” without having to work so hard.
Anyway, in the adult world, debates can happen with or without manners. And whereas it’s true that debates are not WON below the contradiction line, they are not necessarily LOST at the first sign of fun either.
I certainly appreciate when the focus is on the the top three tiers, but I can’t remember many interesting conversations that didn’t indulge at least some “man-talk” and other expressions of bottom triangle shenanigans.