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comment by OftenBen
OftenBen  ·  1190 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Some thoughts on discussion, opinion and spaces

A question:

Let's assume you understand the other's viewpoint. Through discussion, research, what have you, and you have a steel-man understanding of their position. That is to say, you can formulate the strongest possible case for their given opinion/position. Let's say that they also have a steel-man understanding of your position/opinion.

And you still disagree. You understand each other and still cannot find a common ground or consensus. What kind of value, if any, is there in continuing discussion at such a point?

There are several issues like this that come to mind with contemporary public policy in the United States, but I think that discussing this in the abstract is best.





oyster  ·  1190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Sometimes the goal of debate is just to deepen our connection with the other person not necessarily change their mind. I think the arguing happens when neither person in the discussion is willing to let the other person in. I had a FwB who I probably spent more time talking too than sleeping with and it was almost always about something political or something we disagreed on. We have a great connection and respect for each other despite disagreeing on a number of things. I've also dated guys who I could never have that deep of a conversation with and it's not because we didn't both have good arguments, it was their refusal to let the conversation go anywhere. Like when you debate with somebody on the internet and they sound so impersonal, like a robot spitting out lines that give you deja vu of other internet debates you've had before.

Half the time our opinions on social issues are just lies we tell ourselves to cover up our real feelings. Believing immigrants are the reason your life didn't turn out as you were told it would is just as much of an emotional crutch as alcohol or binge eating. In order to change that opinion we need to connect with somebody on a deeper level outside of the debate, the debate itself is kind of useless. Every good opinion changing debate connects with something in the other person.

OftenBen  ·  1189 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Sometimes the goal of debate is just to deepen our connection with the other person not necessarily change their mind.

I wanted to keep this discussion abstract and I find myself incapable. Excuse me.

To use a stupid example, what do I gain from a deeper connection to a flat earther?

To use a not-stupid example, what do I gain from a deeper connection to someone who has taken a principled stand against women's access to safe, legal abortions? This hypothetical person understands the public health argument, understands that if abortion is made illegal more people end up dying in back rooms, and doesn't care because they see abortion as a violent moral wrong. What benefit is there in connecting more with this person when all relevant information on the topic has been exchanged?

oyster  ·  1185 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    To use a stupid example, what do I gain from a deeper connection to a flat earther?

Well, the one I've met in person did a great job fixing my friends watch. The debate ended up being fruitless for both of them when he denied the existence of gravity but writing him off wouldn't have been very kind. People aren't one dimensional and when their entire person gets written off as not worthy they tend to start disliking the people doing it. Enter all those angry statements about liberal elite.

I've got friends who believe in conspiracy theories, they are still people worth having in my life for their many other qualities and maybe one day I'll figure out why they need that belief. Another friend believed women were more important to a child growing up and for that reason didn't support gay men being married with children which is a really convenient belief to have when your kid was moved across the country. In that scenario it's not easy to be the gay man and see them as worthy of knowing. It's also not easy for Daryl Davis to befriend members of the KKK who hate him. Derek Black would have been pushed farther into white supremacy had he not been invited to have dinner with acquaintances. The reason this stuff worked is because there is more to changing a persons mind than sharing all the seemingly relevant information.

I get that on a larger stage we sometimes need to push against more than we try to get to know because stakes can be higher. On a personal level though we don't need to write people off for their positions. I also know it can backfire, I'm not going to go try and befriends a bunch of guys who frequent the same forums as the guy who plowed a truck into pedestrians in Toronto because that would only cause problems. Other men could help, but unfortunately the ones doing that are largely toxic while the others just write them off. Fair enough, I would like to write off anybody who spreads toxic shit that affects myself as a woman, but it doesn't solve anything. I try to be open about my experiences because most people pick a side without really knowing what goes on in somebodies day to day life. I think that's a way we connect with people and I think it's also a way to talk about this stuff while the other person doesn't have their defenses up.

I'm rambling, but to get to the point I think there is more to changing somebodies mind than just exchanging all the relevant information. I think people hold their beliefs for a reason and that reason is more loosely related to the facts presented than anybody wants to admit.

OftenBen  ·  1185 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I think there is more to changing somebodies mind than just exchanging all the relevant information.

I think so too and it nauseates me almost as much as my actual GI problems.

oyster  ·  1185 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Ya, but the people who don’t want to see that in others more likely don’t want to see it in themselves. Juuust saying.