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Thread: Have You Ever Stopped and Thought It All the Way Through?

  1. #71
    Junior Member
    Sep 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Wonderer View Post
    Sorry - for the semi-vague thread title, but I'm just interested in throwing this out for discussion. Seems as though a significant portion of the energy expended on this board (and many like it) is directed toward discrediting "the other guy." Whether it's questioning the source(s) linked, or playing the "whatabout" game, or pointing out the perceived hypocrisy of those on "the other side." So...just wondering...what, really, is the end game?

    If the "other side" is discredited, does that mean we don't have to consider what they're saying? I do realize some comments/positions are so extreme as to perhaps not warrant a substantive response. But I do sometimes get to wondering what we (most of us) are actually doing? Hoping to persuade? Hoping to dissuade? Seeking internet points?
    I used to post on forums like this with the idea that I could convince the "other side." I thought that if I could just produce enough irrefutable evidence with a clear enough argument, people would be won over. But I gave up on that a few years ago. Even when it came to very clear-cut issues with a vast preponderance of evidence on one side, there was no combination of well-worded arguments I could offer that would make a dent in the opinions of the other side. Ultimately, their positions were driven by the emotional appeal of such views, rather than by logic, so I was arguing right past them.

    At this point, my posting is more selfish than that. I'm really just using it as a way to understand issues better myself. By making arguments in forums like this, I'll generally stir up the best professional talking points against what I believe, as people in the forum scramble to find and then copy-and-paste material meant to rebut what I'm saying. Sometimes that results in my own opinion changing, as I consider an angle I hadn't thought of. Usually it's not a 180-degree reversal on an issue, but it's a meaningful shift of the periphery of my view. And other times the disputes make me more confident about what was originally a tentative view -- if one opponent after another kicks the tires on my argument, and nothing falls off, it makes me less apprehensive that I missed anything obvious.

    The other thing it does is causes facts to stick in my head better, because when I've deployed a fact in my own argument, I'm a lot more likely to retain it than if I just encountered it passively in my reading. For example, without even looking it up, I can tell you that the NBER declared March 2001 the peak of that business cycle. Why do I know that by heart? Well, because I repeatedly deployed that fact when arguing against conservatives who claimed that Bush's first recession started on Clinton's watch. If I'd simply read that business cycle date in passing, it wouldn't have stuck. I've got thousands of facts like that, right now, that are burned into my brain accurately and durably for no better reason than that they had utility in an online argument I made -- or because they're facts that once tripped up one of my arguments, and so I had to learn to account for them. I think that helps me to understand the world better than I otherwise would, if I were just relying on vague, half-remembered notions.

    The amusing side effect of this is that in my real life people regard me as some kind of freak savant when it comes to political information. I'll deploy a fairly obscure statistic or fact in a real-world discussion, off the top of my head, like knowing that the longest growth cycle in American history was 120 months, or that the Russians have only one aircraft carrier and it's called the Kutznetsov, or the Clinton appointed a former Republican senator (William Cohen) to be his Defense Secretary, and people will be amazed I've got such details at my fingertips. But it's because I've deployed such facts multiple times in online arguments, and that makes them stick pretty well.
    Thanks from Wonderer

  2. #72
    Ignorance Is Virtue BitterPill's Avatar
    Dec 2015

    Quote Originally Posted by bajisima View Post
    Skepticism is a great thing. There sure are crazy sources out there but just dismissing news out of hand is indeed lazy. I recall that attack in Paris (Bataclan) where the shooters went in that music hall and shot nearly 100 people there. For whatever reason FOX was the first source with that info online and someone posted it as breaking news. Immediately we ended up with 4 pages of "FOX news really??" or "dont believe it." Then it broke on all the other sources. It really made people look foolish. Its that silliness that makes me nuts. If its truly breaking news, just wait a second and it will appear everywhere.
    I blame Fox 'News' for that reaction. The only things that save Fox 'News' from being in the gutter are sites like Breitbart and WorldNetDaily and DailySignal are already there.
    Last edited by BitterPill; 3rd May 2018 at 07:48 AM.

  3. #73
    Veteran Member bajisima's Avatar
    Mar 2012

    New Hampshire
    Quote Originally Posted by BitterPill View Post
    I blame Fox 'News' for that reaction. The only things that save Fox 'News' from being in the gutter are sites like Breitbart and WorldNetDaily and DailySignal are already there.
    The thing is, all the cable news networks gets news from the same sources. Then they add their headlines and spin to fit their particularly angle. So while the basis of the story is true, there might be exaggerations and crazy headlines. It just take a bit more time to read it through and get the gist. Not just dismiss it out of hand.

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