Friday, August 01, 2008

Why I don't argue online too much anymore.

Several years ago, I used to post onto other people's blogs all the time in the comments section. I can't tell you how many arguments I had online. As someone that loves a debate, you would think that I really enjoyed it. In the end, not so much.

Arguing and debating mean different things. They really shouldn't, but in practice they do. A debate looks at facts, causes, correlations. Arguments are about slander, denigration, and attitude.

What was so frustrating about it is that you can completely prove a person wrong. You can link to fact after fact, study after study. You can decimate their entire logic from start to finish. And then they'll call you an idiot and crow about how they totally pwned you.

The fact is, most people who believe stupid things aren't capable of realizing how stupid their beliefs are.

My beliefs have been going nearly constant revision for my entire life. I discover new things every day that change what I hold to be true. There are few things I enjoy more than finding something new, or even that I was wrong about something so that I have to shift my paradigms again. That's what I consider to be the basis of intellectual growth, and I hope the process never ceases.

Most people (and yes, I do blame our school system for this, along with the MSM, our government, and bad parenting) are taught that learning is where "facts" are forcefully shoved into your brain, to be retrieved only for tests designed for some sort of advancement. As a result, they never really learn how to think - so what they think is irrelevant, stagnant, and incapable of change and growth.

It has been very, very rare that I've found somebody that can defend what they believe with logic, or historical or scientific evidence. The most amusing thing is that I very rarely issue a challenge to anybody's beliefs. Usually, I am challenged for mine. When I am told I am wrong, I clearly articulate my beliefs and the reasons for them, and wait for the challenging party to tell me where I am in error.

Yeah, it doesn't work out too well.

Interestingly enough, from the practice of defending my beliefs I have gained a reputation as being "argumentative," "quarrelsome," "belligerent," and "testy." While it's possible I am all of the above, it's amusing to have gained that reputation simply by defending my beliefs.

One person that actually debated with me online on intellectual terms was a columnist who goes by Vox Day. It was quite possibly the best argument I have ever had, and though we pretty much came to a standstill (from my perspective), in the two years or so that I have passed since then, I have come to be closer to his standpoint than my original one.

I instantly became a huge fan of his column and blog. Not because I agree with it, necessarily, but because he has logical reasons for his beliefs. He generally has history, science, and logic on his side.

And yet, though he continually trounces politically correct mantra after mantra, if you read the people he debates, every one of them thinks they won! The amazing thing is that not once have I read anyone say "You know what? You were right. I was wrong. Good job." Not once have I read anybody say "Excellent point, Vox. I may have to re-think some things."

I hate to claim any solidarity with him, because my online output is probably less than .1% of his, and he actively engages in online debates on a daily basis, where I have lost interest. But reading his posts and the reactions to them definitely makes me more sure that it wasn't an inability to articulate truth on my part.

Truth is, most people aren't looking for the truth. They're not looking for what is right. They're not looking to change what they think and believe for the sake of self-improvement.

No, most people are looking for somebody who will agree with them. And if they do, they all pat each other on the back with how smart they are. And if they don't, well, the other people are just idiots.

Sometimes I'm an idiot myself. I'm always looking to find out where, so I can stop being one. If I am, I really hope you tell me. But if you tell me I'm wrong, you'd better have logic and/or facts on your side.

Otherwise, you're just not worth my time.

1 comment:

  1. One person comes to mind with this blog..can ya guess? ;-)