Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I'd Like to Have an Argument

So, we're all probably aquainted with the Internet.  What's possibly the number one past-time of its denizens?  Arguing.    If it were face to face, it might look something like this:



Edit: wtf video appeared in my preview but not in actual post...sorry about that.





I touched on it last post, but people just are not made to debate or even argue in any constructive way it seems.  Look at the legal system (and I'm talking about the US here because that's what I have experience with).  It's designed to be an antagonistic system, with 2 sides debating the merits of their positions based on rules of logic and evidence-ideally.  This is the true essence of debate.  Two sides passionately advocate for their point of view using codified rules of logic, verified impartial evidence, and the whole matter is presided upon by an impartial party. 

This artificial system evolved/was created because otherwise we'd be stuck in a situation like the above: just constant contrarian NO/YES battles with no real end or resolution of any import.  An impartial judge is tasked with making sure the parties streamline their arguments, stay on topic, use evidence and logic appropriately, and to arbitrate minor decisions.  In a debate like one you would participate in at school, this is what a moderator does.  I'm not a big fan of emotional appeals during debate, but I also recognize that humans are emotional creatures and that every moment has some emotional content to it for us.  

This emotional context is what makes a good debate so difficult.  Conflict can be inspiring and enjoyable, but it's also somewhat against our nature.  Generally, people want to get along.  We're social animals.  We want people to like us.  Telling someone they are wrong, then spelling out how they are wrong is not how you go about making nice with others.  Internally, conflict causes a biological stress response that gets you ready for action, the "fight or flight" response.  The more worked up you get, the harder it is to function with your logical mind.  Psychologically, conflict can be a threat to your ego.  Most people like to think they are good, intelligent, reasonable, whatever other positive attributes you can think of.  Being faced with an attack to your "rightness" throws you into a defensive mode.  And what's worse about all of this is that it's discouraging to you admitting you are wrong because it will cause you to a)look foolish  b) show you were wrong  c) make you look weak  d) make you look inconsistent. 

So when you think about this, it's really amazing that we can ever accomplish anything.  When I say this I mostly have politics and science in mind.  However, with scientific debate there is a little more structure and the scientific community, and subgroups of specialities are pretty good at policing themselves.  But with politics, look at what happens any time a politician changes their stance on anything.  They become a "flip-flopper."  This phrase defeated John Kerry, and has become a skillful political weapon to assassinate anyone who-for right or wrong reasons-decides to change.  Why does change have to be so bad?  Can we intellectualize away the stigma of "flip flopping?"  We all know that circumstances can change.  Why should we be locked into a single course of action forever?  What's so wrong with growing? 

31 comments:

  1. That video was excellent!! I love Monty Python!!!

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  2. Yeah Monty Python was really good.

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  3. Video was awesome, but yeah I would have loved to have seen a real "argument"

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  4. I try never to argue on the internet. Ya never win. lol.

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  5. Funny video! Haven't seen that in awhile! And an excellent post in general.

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  6. No it's not. Also, I used to love getting into debates with classmates and roommates in college, it was pretty fun and you usually pick up some new knowledge.

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  7. Arguments doen't have to be a yelling competition, they can be quite entertaining if the head keeps cool

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  8. Monty Python is the best. And yeah, lots of arguing abound. I agree with Mercurio, they can be interesting and maybe even fulfilling if everyone keeps their cool.

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  9. Lol the Monty Python clip is epic and rage arguing is the best hahaha

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  10. It takes a great person to admit they're wrong in an argument.

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  11. >So when you think about this, it's really amazing that we can ever accomplish anything.

    I know, right? I avoid arguments for the reasons stated in the above paragraph. I'm simply too insecure~

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  12. hahaha the video was so funny

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  13. Monty Python are the best ever! it's crazy that it's like 50 years old now!

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  14. I have debates/arguments with a friend of mine all the time. We both pretty much agree with politics/music/culture, etc but when we really start discussing things our slight differences come out and then, EPIC RANTS for hours follow.

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  15. Classic. Palin & Cleese = best combo. (No they don't. Yes they do!)

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  16. God bless Monty Python, one of the few comedies to age gracefully. Still funny after all of these years.

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  17. >Being faced with an attack to your "rightness" throws you into a defensive mode.

    That's why I usually start noting and cause noting even though this is also bad for my well being.

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  18. Personally what I really hate about arguments is that I always realize what I should've said way after the argumentation is over...

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  19. i'm sorry, i couldn't read your post over the awesome of that monty python vid. ;)

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  20. Getting hit on the head lessons. Lmao. Thats fucking rich.
    I think arguing is healthy. I like it
    Anyways its been too long since I've said this to anyone here on blogger but, much love and support to ya bro.

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