Monday, September 15, 2008

JMO - Useless arguments II

I wrote a post on myblog about useless arguments. That post was originally drafted about 6 months ago and has been sitting going through rereads and rewrites, but mostly staying in tact, sufficiently to post it today. And over the weekend I ran into another variation of that same theme.

I was watching a movie when one of the characters said, "I don't need proof. I don't need the truth. I have my certainty."

Well, that's hard to beat, to say it any better. In the face of truth and reality, everyone does occasionally ignore the facts, but many people do it all the time. It's not hard to see the George Bush did that with Iraq. Besides his staff filtering and manipulating the information, he clearly used his religous view and faith to wage a war we won't and can't win, and the next President will be stuck trying to find the best exit.

This is not unusual. Nixon did it with Vietnam, a war started by Kennedy and exacerbated by Johnson. And it's clear we simply left despite the death of over 50,000 Amiericans and permanently disability of several hundred thousand. Iraq won't be as bad for us, maybe a tenth as severe in terms of deaths and a quarter in terms of disabled. But still it will be a loss, and spun like Vietnam to be a win without victory.

And almost every argument or issue has it's extreme zealots who deny the opposing view. They often like to say they like to hear opposing views, but the truth is they don't listen. Hearing isn't listening. And after hearing they'll reaffirm their view in ways that either dispels the opposing view or simply changes the argument into tangential ones which aren't related.

You can see this with the discussion over Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate. Despite all the evidence of her experience and record in Alaska supporters either cite her character or criticize opponents as attacking her character. That was seen in the Obama comment about lipstick on a pig. They missed his reason, let alone the fact it wasn't about Palin, not even McCain, but some of McCain's view over the issues.

Almost anything now said against Palin is an attack on her and her character. But this also misses the point they fail to notice. Sometimes it is about her and her character. She is a vindicitive, revengeful woman who uses power to attack opponents and help friends. That's her record. That's not lipstick on history, but the truth and reality.

But her supporters have their certainty she's a good women, wife and mother. That alone doesn't make any qualified to be VP, but they are certain it does. Her experience and record are there for everyone to see, and no matter how you spin it, you can't change the results of what she did as mayor and governor.

And the same can be said for the "Drill, baby Drill" campaign rhetoric, which I wrote this post. It's about changing the argument away from the truth and reality, and hide the facts. Everything is there about drilling in the off-shore lands and in Alaska, especially ANWR is known, which clearly shows it won't help beyond a trickle to the consumer but provide huge public land leases to oil companies for huge profits.

But they can hide that and wrap it around a slogan. But they have their certainty.

It's the same with the creationists. It's always funny to me when these folks cite the Bible, forgetting the Bible has gone through so many translation and interpretations, it's not literal anymore beyond general ideas. I'm not saying it's a bad book, but only as one Biblical scholar called it, "It's the best historical fiction ever written." It's not the end of any idea or issue but simply something saying, "Hey, have you thought of..." and telling a story.

And despite all the arguments by scientists to show evolution is the truth and reality, they still say it's wrong and the Bible is right, and creationism should be taught along side in science classes. But creationism, and they've shown, can't be tested or proven, something every scientific idea can be. You can't verify if God existed and Jesus wasn't more than a really great religous leader with good ideas.

But they have their book and say it's the truth. "Yeah, right", or "Whatever." are often the most appropriate response.

My point? Well, when I begin to listen to someone who talks like the movie statement, I simply finish my coffee and leave. Why ruin a coffee drink with a miserable person who can't see beyond their own faith and values? And while it's fun sometimes to challenge them, to find and show the flaws in their arugment, it's all too often spending energy for nothing. They won't change and you've spent hours spinning your mental and verbal wheels.

In the end the only certainty is their closed mind.

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