One thing I’ve noticed while writing this blog, both from discussing its content with people, and from reading comments on stories that I link to, is that people are very set in their way of thinking. It seems that no matter how much evidence there is to support something being true, people will automatically find a way to discredit it, in order to stick to their preconceived way of thinking. Usually the way they discredit it, doesn’t really discredit it at all. Rather, it just makes them feel in their own head that they have discredited it. This can be done through a number of techniques.
One technique that comes to mind is attacking the source of the information, rather than the content itself. Lets just say that Fox News was to endorse a Republican candidate for the US presidential election and gave a bunch of reasons as to why they felt he was a better candidate than the Democrat candidate. To a typical democratic voter, these reasons (no matter how true they may be) would be dismissed off hand because Fox has a reputation of being biased towards the Republicans. The fact that they all could be completely true and verifiable is irrelevant. Conversely, if CNN (a network which has a reputation of being biased towards the Democrats) gave a bunch of reasons why the Democrat candidate was better, the Democrat voter would likely believe them, as they would back up the feelings they already had. If a Republican voter was in the same situation, their reaction would be reversed. People don’t go to the news to get new perspectives. They go to get confirmation of what they already believe.
Another example is the use of Strawman arguments. Lets just say for example, I was to discuss my fears about mass immigration and its effects on the future of Europe. I might suggest that we should bring in stricter immigration controls so that we only take in people that are in some way useful to us (for example, bringing in Indian IT specialists due to the high amount of IT jobs, and small amount of skilled IT professionals in Ireland). I would suggest that we shouldn’t be bringing in unskilled immigrants when we already have so many of our own unskilled workers who are unemployed. As far as I’m concerned, they are of no benefit to us, and we have no responsibility to them. I would suggest background checks and interviews with prospective immigrants to make sure they are compatible with our culture.
I would also suggest that we should be stricter with asylum seekers. People who come from a genuinely dangerous part of the world, and who (somehow) make it to Ireland before any other safe country? No problem, we’ll do our duty and take care of you. It would be inhumane not to. Economic migrants who come here for free everything and who bypass other EU countries in the process? They can go fuck themselves and should be on the first plane back to wherever the hell they came from. The strawman argument that people might make in that case is that I’m just an “Ignorant racist who hates those people just because they have a different skin colour”. Yet, if people actually really paid attention to what I’m saying, they would see that isn’t the case. I have absolutely no problem at all letting in people who have something to contribute and who are willing to integrate with us. I just think its utter insanity to have this overly tolerant attitude of letting anyone in regardless of how little they benefit the European people. I truly believe that doing so is suicidal. Just because other people would rather risk getting themselves or their descendants raped/killed/enslaved, or their culture destroyed just for the sake of feeling good about how tolerant and enlightened they are, doesn’t mean everyone else should. As far as I’m concerned, our way of life is something worth preserving and its more important to me than the feelings of a Muslim jihadist, a Somalian pirate, a gypsy beggar/thief, or any other person with compatibility issues.
Logical fallacies are another thing that I’ve seen used in many an argument. I don’t feel like going in to too much detail, so here’s a list of what I’m talking about.
I will however highlight one that instantly comes to mind. The fallacy of the middle ground always being right. Some people have this idea that when there are two extreme views on the opposite sides of a discussion, that both are automatically wrong. Therefore, compromising is the right choice. Now imagine this scenario.
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the Rotherham scandal. 1400 young white English girls who were raped and trafficked by Pakistani men. Extreme view one would be “It was perfectly justified to rape those girls and they shouldn’t be punished”. Extreme view two would be “It was a horrific crime and those rapists and anyone who helped cover up their crimes should be severely punished”. The middle ground in that situation would be “It was ok to rape 700 girls but after that, it got a bit excessive. They should receive some punishment (not too harsh) for the extra 700”. Anyone with common sense would see that as being completely insane. Obviously extreme view two is the correct view in that situation. Thankfully enough, I’ve never seen anyone stupid enough to take a middle ground argument like that, but I’m just using it as a point to show that sometimes an extreme view can be the right one. Imagine if someone in politics was to claim “The far right calls me a communist and the far left calls me a fascist. I guess that means I’m in the middle, and doing something right then”. No, it doesn’t necessarily mean that at all. It could just mean that you are an idiot who gets everything wrong.
Now to be honest, I can understand why it can be difficult to break away from our biased ways of thinking. As I’ve said before (I think), I too used to think in more or less the same ways that I’m complaining about now. I used to read alternative views with scorn. It was only when I really took the time to think, analyse what I was reading without any biases and compare it to what I was actually experiencing and what my instincts were telling me, that I started to realise that the alternative views made sense. That’s why I would ask others to think critically about things in future and to not just fall back on what they were already engineered to believe. You might be shocked by what you realise.