Debating reality

Reality versus feelings

Score: 1-0

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!

Me: ….

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.

3 thoughts on “Debating reality

  1. You can be right and still be wrong. In certain situations it’s better just to be quiet and not draw ire. In speaking terms, “it’s calling someone’s baby ugly.”

    In this season don’t ever point out to a native born, patriotic IT worker, Sad Puppy leader, and Star Wars fanatic that Disney treats their IT workers like crap, outsources their jobs and forces them to train their replacements. The cognitive dissonance is amazing.

    I need to go re-read my Dale Carnegie…

    1. True. I’m getting better at biting my tongue at work and elsewhere. But when someone’s delusions and counter-factual decision-making is becoming self-destructive or when they intend to infringe on my life in counter-productive ways then saying something is justified.

      Calling someone’s baby isn’t necessary, and doesn’t need to be said. I agree.
      Pointing out a potential medical problem that doesn’t seem to be noticed is an entirely different matter; it may be uncomfortable, and tact would likely be appropriate, but saying nothing might be like failing to call 911 because it is not MY house on fire. example: I remember when my mom looked at my daughter, her first grandchild, and asked “is she… cross-eyed?” I looked closer. Sure enough, one eye wasn’t quite lining up with the other. Strabismus. We caught it very early because she saw something and called it out. It became a non-issue. My wife and I were so low on that sleep we were not noticing anything less obvious than a forest fire.

      Perhaps. But also totally appropriate.

      But is it always impolite to have a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent? *shrug*

      1. There’s always a point in most debates where feelz is greater than realz for one party or both.

        When you ask a person that has indicated that they have a moral higher ground than others about ethical conduct in the creation and consumption of entertainment where actual they draw the line personally for themselves and they won’t answer, dodge the question or attack you, then the conversation has become uncomfortable.

        You are forcing them to self reflect on a subject that they may have not examined in great detail or they don’t want to admit that they may have some of the same flaws as those they have attacked in the past.

        It’s not that any of us is perfect in all aspects or we should demand perfection or others. That is absurd. But if you allow exceptions to your rules you should be able to explain them or at least admit they are deviations from your stated standards.

        I wonder if a large part of the conflict I see among the creators in this field is that they must entertain to make their bread. In do so they are saturated in the genre and culture to the point that they have been captured by it in some aspect. It becomes such a part of their life and thought, that it’s difficult to step aside and critically examine their state of being in the fullest.

        As for myself, examination has become difficult. I must flee to the firm ground of physical facts and pastimes more rooted in truer realities and leave the fantasy worlds to others to consume. And not be too critical of those trapped as I am.

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