Reality versus feelings
I had a conversation recently. We had a minor disagreement over something – the details don’t matter – but it evolved briefly into a discussion over debate methods and why he didn’t like to debate against me. We dropped it, but it got me thinking, and I realized it brought back a memory from a conversation I had a long time ago (~25 years or so) at an SCA event.
I was talking with a gal I knew and spent some time with (not a girlfriend, just a friend that was female), and she had gotten angry with something I said. The ensuing conversation went something like this (paraphrased):
Her: You are so arrogant! It makes me angry to hear you say things like that!
Me: Was I wrong?
Her: That’s irrelevant! You made people feel bad!
Me: But was I wrong? What facts were in error?
Her: I don’t know the subject as well as you, so I don’t know if they were or not, but you make people feel bad when you say things like that!
Me: Like how? You mean like I actually believe what I’m saying is right?
Her: Yes! You are so cock-sure about it all!
Me: Well, I DO think I’m right. Was there an error in logic?
Her: I didn’t see any, but that’s irrelevant! You can’t talk to people like that.
Me: So my facts and logic are correct as far as you know, you admit I know much more about the subject that you, I have confidence in my position, I can clearly state my assumptions and values, and you think that’s the same as arrogant?
Her: Yes, precisely! You can’t make people feel bad about having a position on something they know less than nothing about just because you are sure they are wrong and can prove it.
Me: But was I wrong?
Her: I don’t know, but that’s irrelevant!
Thinking about some more recent conversations, it seems that being fact-driven, logical, well-informed, and speaking with a clear voice that argues for a clear course of action (or at least explicitly acknowledging the trade-offs in the choice being made, and one that may be contrary to received wisdom or is uncomfortable in some way) is roughly equivalent to some sort of feel-badz hate-crime because it makes others uncomfortable.
Well, to my mind, being wrong damn well should be uncomfortable. If that makes me a bad person, well, I don’t want to have any part of your Eloi hell. If I’m wrong, fine, show me the contrary facts, the logical flaws, the false assumptions, and I’ll be happy to consider your side. Really, I mean that. I’d be happy to learn something new and correct an erroneous position; I’ve done that from time to time. Reevaluation in light of new data is part of what makes a rational person rational.
If it comes down to different values, then we can simply agree to agree to disagree. If it comes down to you want to deny reality, act in ways that are ultimately self-destructive, and demand I follow your self-contradictory dogma blindly off a cliff rather than objecting, then NO, most emphatically NO!!! I will not do so.
They can’t win on the field, so they want you to surrender preemptively to prove you care. Or something.
Some things just don’t change. As Vox Day might say, you can’t debate with thinking dialectic with those only able to feel rhetoric.