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plato85

Arguing with irrationality

114 posts in this topic
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Hi I'm new here, I don't know if this question is done to death but it seems to be a an important philosophical question. Plato was put to death for arguing rationally. Aristotle fled. Ayn Rand had a mental breakdown.

I've just watched The Truth about Ayn Rand part 3. Stephan talks about Ayn Rand feeling like a failure because she couldn't get her political aims realised through rational argument. Stephan goes on to talk about how many people just don't have that rational part of their brain to argue with. Does he go further into this topic in another video?

I find the things people disagree on to be the most interesting discussions and regularly take my arguments too far for timid people. My question is how do you know when something is worth arguing? How do you know where people's limits are? When and why is truth inappropriate?

Can you ever win an argument with someone who thinks truth is relative or am I wasting my time?

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Do not argue with irrational people. If they are rational and in error, their minds can be changed. Otherwise, YOU are being irrational.

It is not rational to try and change the mind through rationality of someone who is irrational.

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You know where people's limits are if they make the same point and fail to address or bring up any new points or facts that you have brought up.

If someone believes that truth is relative, then all you can do is plant a seed that truth is constant. If truth is relative, then there is no foundation. Once the seed is planted, then there's nothing else that you can do at that point.

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Rationality is merely a tool, much like language. Do not speak rationally to someone who does not understand it. People who understand rationality are in the minority on this planet. Just looking at IQ distribution, only 40% are above 100. I get error messages in my brain arguing with people at 110. So expecting people to understand rationality would be like demanding that everyone spoke Arabic. Also noteworthy that nobody is truly fluent rational... We aren't machines.

There are however countless other ways to get a point across. Emotions, "lizard brain", idealism, sentimentalism, power, force, money, food, music...

As Mother Theresa said, "a kind word changes more minds than a smart one." This is how the world works. For good or bad, I don't know.

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1 hour ago, _LiveFree_ said:

Do not argue with irrational people. If they are rational and in error, their minds can be changed. Otherwise, YOU are being irrational.

It is not rational to try and change the mind through rationality of someone who is irrational.

But how do you know they aren't rational until you argue with them? How do you conclude after one conversation that someone is irrational? 

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1 hour ago, DaVinci said:

But how do you know they aren't rational until you argue with them? How do you conclude after one conversation that someone is irrational? 

Yes, of course. Engage them once. You should know after the first encounter. Most people you'll know after the first 5 minutes. 

 

So the answer to your question is "How do you not know?"  

 

"You" be very specific to you, DaVinci.

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I think the average IQ is 100 by definition.

 

The other way of looking at it is Myers Briggs personalities. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. People can be divided into people who value truth and those who value feelings. People who value feelings are generally better at dealing with people, and they make up around 60% of the population.

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10 hours ago, plato85 said:

Does he go further into this topic in another video?

I think this may be what you are looking for.

 

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5 hours ago, _LiveFree_ said:

Yes, of course. Engage them once. You should know after the first encounter. Most people you'll know after the first 5 minutes. 

 

So the answer to your question is "How do you not know?"  

 

"You" be very specific to you, DaVinci.

That's not a lot of time. What questions would you ask in five minutes that would convince you that they were irrational? 

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Thanks Tyler, that's what I was looking for.

Question is how do we influence people we can't argue with?

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14 hours ago, DaVinci said:

That's not a lot of time. What questions would you ask in five minutes that would convince you that they were irrational? 

I mean, you've listened to the call in shows, right?

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6 hours ago, plato85 said:

Thanks Tyler, that's what I was looking for.

Question is how do we influence people we can't argue with?

Through example. Live your principles. Be happy. Others will follow. 

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9 hours ago, plato85 said:

Thanks Tyler, that's what I was looking for.

Question is how do we influence people we can't argue with?

 

2 hours ago, _LiveFree_ said:

Through example. Live your principles. Be happy. Others will follow. 

I think those are good answers. It's a tough question.  Try and find a way to incentivize them to act a certain way, I suppose - like religion did. Although, religion tends to break the mind to the point that it is resistant to reason so it becomes this repetitive cycle...

Improving parenting is going to be a crucial. We know that people aren't just dysfunctional, they're broken by other people.  Usually it's the parents, and if it's not then it remains the parent's responsibility because they control the environment in which the child exists. We need to make it really uncomfortable for people to be shitty parents. 

Also, sometimes I wonder to what degree people just follow the herd. Take all this social justice warrior nonsense, it's a very vocal, very visible minority, but a minority nonetheless. So why do people listen? Is it because it serves the leftist narrative and so it's amplified by the MSM? Or is it that people are so... (I don't want to say dumb... complacent, unthinking?) that any appearance of a change in the social trend triggers their desire to follow the herd. Could it be that the appearance of a trend in the opposite direction could trigger a similar effect? Maybe if there are just a bunch of people going out and yelling in the streets that the initiation of force is immoral in all it's forms then there can be a shift. I don't know, I'm just speaking(writing) off the cuff, spitballing - what do you guys think?

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2 hours ago, Tyler H said:

We need to make it really uncomfortable for people to be shitty parents.

We need people to think for themselves. Can we make it uncomfortable for people to not think for themselves? It sounds ironic to pressure people into conforming to thinking for themselves, but maybe it's not.

 

3 hours ago, Tyler H said:

Also, sometimes I wonder to what degree people just follow the herd. Take all this social justice warrior nonsense, it's a very vocal, very visible minority, but a minority nonetheless. So why do people listen? Is it because it serves the leftist narrative and so it's amplified by the MSM? Or is it that people are so... (I don't want to say dumb... complacent, unthinking?) that any appearance of a change in the social trend triggers their desire to follow the herd.

The word you're looking for is amoral. Amoral sums up our age. People refuse to think; to stand up for their morals. This is an age of equality, as in all morals are equal. I've used this argument recently on a reddit post about how the Asian Olympics are going to include computer gaming as an event. I said in an amoral age gamers are equivalent to our best elite athletes. I was voted right down to the bottom, and then I found out everyone uses a different definition of the word morality. Today 'morality' is defined as 'right or wrong conduct'. The way philosophers use the word morality it is the entire set of values that people live by. You have to have an entirely different set of values to become a great athlete than to become a great gamer.

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On 4/20/2017 at 7:35 AM, plato85 said:

Hi I'm new here, I don't know if this question is done to death but it seems to be a an important philosophical question. Plato was put to death for arguing rationally. Aristotle fled. Ayn Rand had a mental breakdown.

I've just watched The Truth about Ayn Rand part 3. Stephan talks about Ayn Rand feeling like a failure because she couldn't get her political aims realised through rational argument. Stephan goes on to talk about how many people just don't have that rational part of their brain to argue with. Does he go further into this topic in another video?

I find the things people disagree on to be the most interesting discussions and regularly take my arguments too far for timid people. My question is how do you know when something is worth arguing? How do you know where people's limits are? When and why is truth inappropriate?

Can you ever win an argument with someone who thinks truth is relative or am I wasting my time?

I will take a slightly different opinion than the other posters. This is purely based on my experience.

It is impossible to have an argument with a relativist, since an argument requires making arguments.

It is not impossible to have a debate. I call it engaging in logical Jiu Jitsu: it is very easy to use a relativist's arguments against the relativist.

E.g.

Relativist: "There is no right or wrong, so don't judge. You are a racist bigot if you judge people."

You: "You are judging me a racist bigot to argue against judging?"

This tactic forces the relativist to make arguments. Why? Because this puts the relativist in a position where one of the claims must be abandoned, and the other claim defended with an argument.

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Excellent answer Erwin. I'll definitely be trying this.

The next question then - rather than wasting time arguing individual political arguments, can we go straight to the source of the relativist ideology and undermine it?

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13 hours ago, plato85 said:

Excellent answer Erwin. I'll definitely be trying this.

The next question then - rather than wasting time arguing individual political arguments, can we go straight to the source of the relativist ideology and undermine it?

Consider this:

The source of relativism is basically some variation of "everything is an opinion".

You can undermine that premise all you want, but all a relativist hears is that the premise of relativism is false "in your opinion"...

 

This makes me think of whether I should develop a Relativism Translator:

Input fact: 1 + 1 = 2

Translating... ... ...

Output: 1 + 1 = 2, in your opinion.

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On 4/21/2017 at 2:56 PM, _LiveFree_ said:

I mean, you've listened to the call in shows, right?

How is that an answer to my question? 

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On 4/20/2017 at 9:15 PM, z-byte said:

You know where people's limits are if they make the same point and fail to address or bring up any new points or facts that you have brought up.

If someone believes that truth is relative, then all you can do is plant a seed that truth is constant. If truth is relative, then there is no foundation. Once the seed is planted, then there's nothing else that you can do at that point.

How can you prove that "truth" is constant?

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Can you ever win an argument with someone who thinks truth is relative or am I wasting my time?

You can't win arguments. An argument is only benefitial if you can learn something or the other person wants to learn something. The other way they are useful is to make arguments for your side, but those arguments only win listeners not your opponent.

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15 hours ago, Meister said:

How can you prove that "truth" is constant?

What is the definition of truth that you are working with?  

If the definition is "that which conforms to reality", then to say that truth is not constant would be a contradiction. If it is not constant then that is to say that sometimes that which is true is true and sometimes that which is true is not true.  

It's important to differentiate this from the statements of truth that will change, i.e. I am inside my house is true, but changes once I step outside. I suppose you could say that the truth of my presence in the house has changed, but I don't believe this is the same as saying the entire concept of truth is relative. Statements of truth will change but not because truth has changed but because reality has. 

Am I making any sense? It makes sense in my head, but typing it out I'm not entirely sure I'm being all that clear. 

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On 4/21/2017 at 9:01 PM, plato85 said:

We need people to think for themselves. Can we make it uncomfortable for people to not think for themselves? It sounds ironic to pressure people into conforming to thinking for themselves, but maybe it's not.

Haha, yeah like all the non-conformist teenagers that conform the image set for non-conformists. I think that people who already can't think are beyond saving. They're the ones we need to pressure so their children will grow up being able to think. 

 

On 4/21/2017 at 9:01 PM, plato85 said:

The word you're looking for is amoral. Amoral sums up our age.

Yeah, I think you're on to something here. People see morality as whatever the majority of people think is acceptable or unacceptable behavior. Any way the wind blows...

Somehow we must change their perception of the direction of the wind. 

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On 4/21/2017 at 11:58 PM, Erwin said:

I will take a slightly different opinion than the other posters. This is purely based on my experience.

It is impossible to have an argument with a relativist, since an argument requires making arguments.

It is not impossible to have a debate. I call it engaging in logical Jiu Jitsu: it is very easy to use a relativist's arguments against the relativist.

E.g.

Relativist: "There is no right or wrong, so don't judge. You are a racist bigot if you judge people."

You: "You are judging me a racist bigot to argue against judging?"

This tactic forces the relativist to make arguments. Why? Because this puts the relativist in a position where one of the claims must be abandoned, and the other claim defended with an argument.

I like this strategy, in fact it's probably my favorite (being rational and all). I wouldn't be surprised if this has no effect on the irrational interlocutor but it is fantastic for attracting anyone listening who can think.  And who knows, maybe it flips a switch in the irrational person and makes them step back and reconsider their beliefs.

Though my one concern with this strategy is that if you do this to the wrong person they may attack you, verbally or physically.  So be prepared for that scenario. 

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19 hours ago, Erwin said:

Consider this:

The source of relativism is basically some variation of "everything is an opinion".

You can undermine that premise all you want, but all a relativist hears is that the premise of relativism is false "in your opinion"...

 

This makes me think of whether I should develop a Relativism Translator:

Input fact: 1 + 1 = 2

Translating... ... ...

Output: 1 + 1 = 2, in your opinion.

Lol

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6 hours ago, Tyler H said:

What is the definition of truth that you are working with?  

If the definition is "that which conforms to reality", then to say that truth is not constant would be a contradiction. If it is not constant then that is to say that sometimes that which is true is true and sometimes that which is true is not true.  

It's important to differentiate this from the statements of truth that will change, i.e. I am inside my house is true, but changes once I step outside. I suppose you could say that the truth of my presence in the house has changed, but I don't believe this is the same as saying the entire concept of truth is relative. Statements of truth will change but not because truth has changed but because reality has. 

Am I making any sense? It makes sense in my head, but typing it out I'm not entirely sure I'm being all that clear. 

The question is: What is reality?

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This is a good time for an example.

I recently lost a friend of mine to the dark side. Let's call him Milhouse - He's part Asperger, part infantile. One one level he understands the world extremely well, and on another level he's easily swayed. He always was conservative and his friends were too. Last time I saw him he was 2 months into a teaching degree and he was suddenly far left and completely irrational. I wanted to know how he came to his new views. He told me because he's a teacher and so he has to understand people as someone who has to teach. I asked him what he means and what they're teaching him. He said teaching is about empathy and if he's going to teach people to get along with each other he has to teach them empathy. I told him his job as a teacher was to teach people to think with their head not their emotion, and if you can train up rational people they'll co-operate better than people that think emotionally. From there he insisted that he was a teacher (2months!) and that my views don't count... from there it descended as I met all his arguments with reason until he was just hurling abuse at me.

It's as if he's suddenly just switched off part of his brain. Defeatists here are saying these people are beyond reach and they don't have a rational brain (Stefan included), but If someone's whole world view can be turned upside down after 2 months of a teaching degree, I wonder how easy it is to turn him back?

I know he is intelligent and he can be rational, but he's infantile and easily swayed. Maybe he was just parroting my rational arguments back?

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16 hours ago, Meister said:

The question is: What is reality?

That's when you know to stop. 

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Don't argue with irrationality. But hit them twice as hard with their own rhetoric. Make their argument look ridiculous.

example (this is from vox day i think)
Their irrational argument = "We stole this country from the indians"
Your response is = "Leave then. Go home!"

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On 4/22/2017 at 3:02 PM, DaVinci said:

How is that an answer to my question? 

Because Stef demonstrates this on the show every week. Do we really need to go over this?

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12 hours ago, plato85 said:

This is a good time for an example.

I recently lost a friend of mine to the dark side. Let's call him Milhouse - He's part Asperger, part infantile. One one level he understands the world extremely well, and on another level he's easily swayed. He always was conservative and his friends were too. Last time I saw him he was 2 months into a teaching degree and he was suddenly far left and completely irrational. I wanted to know how he came to his new views. He told me because he's a teacher and so he has to understand people as someone who has to teach. I asked him what he means and what they're teaching him. He said teaching is about empathy and if he's going to teach people to get along with each other he has to teach them empathy. I told him his job as a teacher was to teach people to think with their head not their emotion, and if you can train up rational people they'll co-operate better than people that think emotionally. From there he insisted that he was a teacher (2months!) and that my views don't count... from there it descended as I met all his arguments with reason until he was just hurling abuse at me.

It's as if he's suddenly just switched off part of his brain. Defeatists here are saying these people are beyond reach and they don't have a rational brain (Stefan included), but If someone's whole world view can be turned upside down after 2 months of a teaching degree, I wonder how easy it is to turn him back?

I know he is intelligent and he can be rational, but he's infantile and easily swayed. Maybe he was just parroting my rational arguments back?

It's not that they are totally lost, it's about the opportunity cost. You can poor x hours into this guy to change his mind, of which there is no guarantee that it will stick, or you can spend that time trying to convince people who will listen to reason and therefore be more likely to hold the position without your reinforcement. Ideally they will go out and try to convince others as well. We're not defeatists, we're economists. 

From what you've said it sounds like you're friend needs a dose of self knowledge before any dose of reason will help him. 

 

4 hours ago, Meister said:

Stop what?

Debating.  I should mention that was part in jest with reference to the earlier posts about when to stop trying to reason with people. It would be one of multiple factors I think, but if someone starts debating what reality is then you're not headed in the right direction. 

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On 4/21/2017 at 4:48 PM, Tyler H said:

 

I think those are good answers. It's a tough question.  Try and find a way to incentivize them to act a certain way, I suppose - like religion did. Although, religion tends to break the mind to the point that it is resistant to reason so it becomes this repetitive cycle...

Improving parenting is going to be a crucial. We know that people aren't just dysfunctional, they're broken by other people.  Usually it's the parents, and if it's not then it remains the parent's responsibility because they control the environment in which the child exists. We need to make it really uncomfortable for people to be shitty parents. 

Also, sometimes I wonder to what degree people just follow the herd. Take all this social justice warrior nonsense, it's a very vocal, very visible minority, but a minority nonetheless. So why do people listen? Is it because it serves the leftist narrative and so it's amplified by the MSM? Or is it that people are so... (I don't want to say dumb... complacent, unthinking?) that any appearance of a change in the social trend triggers their desire to follow the herd. Could it be that the appearance of a trend in the opposite direction could trigger a similar effect? Maybe if there are just a bunch of people going out and yelling in the streets that the initiation of force is immoral in all it's forms then there can be a shift. I don't know, I'm just speaking(writing) off the cuff, spitballing - what do you guys think?

I don't think it's a tough question. You said it yourself, I gave good answers (which were incredibly short, btw). What's tough is recognizing that when we try to convince people in our lives who are unconvincible we are betraying ourselves through self-erasure. We are saying to ourselves and the world, "I'm only worth what people give me!" When you swallow the red pill, you don't get to decide who comes with you. Everyone makes their own choice. All you can do is be there ready with honesty when they become curious. 

 

This question, when filtered through the Honesty Machine, goes like this. . .

"In my isolated world, which I do not acknowledge, I've come across information that gives me another distraction from myself in the form of a cause to fight for. But all I really want is to be close to those around me. How do I get them to want to fight for the cause, too? Then we can go on pretending we aren't isolated."

 

All you need is honesty. If you approach someone with 100% honesty (which doesn't mean you're dumping on them, just means you do not obfuscate), you will know right away what type of relationship they are comfortable having. It's really simple. Not easy if you aren't used to it. 

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8 hours ago, _LiveFree_ said:

Because Stef demonstrates this on the show every week. Do we really need to go over this?

We don't need to go over anything. You made a claim that you can judge who is irrational in five minutes with a few questions. You haven't said what those questions are. At this point I'm just trying to figure out why not. Trying to deflect to "Watch Stef's show" isn't cutting it. There doesn't seem to be any good reason why you haven't provided me with a list. It's like me saying "I know five foods that will boost your metabolism" and someone responds "What are they?" and I respond back. "Go to the grocery store. That's where the foods are." Why respond back to a question asking for clarification of info with something that doesn't clarify anything? Are we just playing a chess game now? If so, I'm not interested in that. All I'm interested in is for you to directly answer my original question.

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4 hours ago, _LiveFree_ said:

I don't think it's a tough question

You don't think how to influence people who don't listen to reason is a tough question?

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