Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's OK If We Disagree

Phew sorry about that little absence guys! Almost managed to land myself in the emergency room, but I’m back and no worse for wear (you’re not getting rid of me that easily!)

As I’m sure you have gathered by the content of this blog, I get into arguments with a variety of different people quite often. Consider also that, due to my rather busy schedule all of the arguments that I have posted here have been initiated by people that have contacted me directly in search of a discussion, I haven’t started any of them myself. You can only imagine then how many arguments I get into in the “real world”, where points of contention will normally spring up in conversation with people that I don’t know, or don’t know well. It is my rather argumentative nature that has people exasperated with me at times, and I am frequently accused of being arrogant, in that people “have to agree with me”. It is a common accusation thrown around by people that are not willing to defend their positions, and one that I would like to address.

No, we don’t have to agree. I am fully aware that we as human beings possess a variety of different opinions and points of view, and this heterogeneity is something that makes us so interesting. I love meeting someone that has a different perspective from my own because I want to know all about it, how they reached that conclusion and what logical thought process brought them to a different endpoint than my own.

I don’t just say things or repeat what people I like say around me, I overthink pretty much every position I have to death. It is because of this that, if someone around me has a belief or an opinion that my logic has previously discarded, I want to know how they got there. If I find a logical fallacy or a source of inconsistency in their thought process I hammer on about it. Easy examples could be how can you call yourself a fiscal conservative, wanting to cut social programs for people that need them the most, while supporting tax cuts for the super wealthy that actually cost the country more than the social programs do? How can you laugh and scoff at people who believe in chemtrails or AIDS-denialists, but don’t laugh and scoff at anti-vaxxers?

These questions are meant to point out inconsistencies in a person’s thought process, and can bring to light either

  1. That they never noticed that there is an inconsistency
  2. That they are unaware of the facts, or lack thereof, that support a certain belief they have
  3. That I am the one with the fault in logic because I was unaware of a different aspect of the topic that this person can inform me about.

I do not want hypocrisy or fallacy to influence my conclusions, so I assume that others feel the same way. Of course, there are many people who don’t overthink their positions the way that I do, that don’t want to get into detailed conversations about why they believe what they do, they just want to be able to tell the world about them without any pushback. Once I realize that the person I am talking to does not actually have any more to contribute to the conversation because of the lack of thought behind their opinion I usually abandon the conversation, at least after I am certain that they are not curious to know more about the facts they were unaware of. Despite this I still am accused of needing everyone to agree with me because unfortunately abandonment of the conversation is usually how the argument ends (or, incidentally, with the person actually agreeing with me), but I want to clarify.

If we disagree, it’s OK. I have no problem with people who have different opinions than my own. If you tell me that you think that the super rich should get tax breaks because they deserve it fine, that is your opinion. If you tell me that you think that the state should fund religious institutions fine, that is your opinion. All I ask is that your opinions be based on the facts.

Don’t tell me that you think that the super rich deserve tax breaks because they are disproportionately picked on in society, that’s just untrue. Don’t tell me that you support the death penalty because it is cheaper and a better deterrent than life in prison, that is untrue. Don’t tell me that you think that abortion should be illegal because a zygote can feel pain, that is simply ridiculous.

We don’t have to agree, if anything our not agreeing can lead to a very interesting discussion. The only thing that I insist on agreeing on is what the facts are, what is reality.

And with that, I leave you with a video of someone who seems to have the same problem I do in this regard

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