I was speaking yesterday about political and economic versions of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. Namely, that someone who brushes off any criticisms of their pet theory by saying “that’s not pure X” while trying to blame real-world examples of Y for the problems of the world can be considered True Believers, who are not primarily driven by logic, but by emotion…faith. Now I’ve never met anyone who didn’t do this (I take human equality on faith, for instance, and think that everyone really makes their decisions about this on emotional rather than logical basis. I’m just willing to say that out loud.)
If it is emotion, arguments are precisely the wrong way to “change someone’s mind.” When you’re in a fight, as long as the other guy is throwing punches, it would take an extraordinary person to consider the opponent’s reasons and rationales for swinging. That’s not normal human behavior. We consider our deep beliefs when we feel SAFE, NOT WHEN WE ARE CHALLENGED.
So yesterday I interjected this perspective into a political/economic argument, with the conclusion that we had emotion masquerading as logic…a point at which I personally disengage. One of the participants asked:
“At what point do we just acknowledge that we’ve hit that point of diminishing returns with the discussion?
Some people really really need to believe in these structures.
It’s not like I sought him out, but I think his need to believe far exceeds the joy that I would get by challenging his belief system.”
Let’s look at this from the perspective of that five step process for conscious political/philosophical communication and action.
- Love yourself. So…care enough about yourself to take NO action that is counter productive or useless. ALWAYS know what you stand to gain or lose from an action. Don’t get all Limbic Monkey caught up in “I have to win!” when there is no real definition of “winning.” Even worse: when there is nothing to win. In such situations, you lose just by playing. What is the point? EVERYTHING you do, I do, everyone does, is about moving away from pain and toward pleasure. You may have ignored the fact that the cheese is not in that particular maze. Incels make that mistake. Don’t be an intellectual Incel.
- Love another person. Learning to expand your sense of Self gives compassion. It also teaches you that sometimes being “right” is less important than increasing the net amount of joy in the world. Which leads to dropping your guard, which CAN lead to moments of consideration and insight. But try to see things from the other perspective. Why are you hammering at them? What do you stand to gain? Are you playing a game where, if they admit you are right, they will experience greater pain? If so, they will NEVER admit you are right. Never.
- Understand history without guilt, blame or shame. Have your theory of human development and anchor it to anthropology or primate studies, without needing to believe “the others” are evil. If you can’t, you are more like them. Not seeing the humanity of your “adversaries” is one of the primary flaws in perception. It may be useful to turn farmers into bloodthirsty shock troops, but the usefulness of that blunt tool diminishes as you rise up the decision chain. Be a leader.
- Nurture your own tribe, avoid trolls. And sleepers and snakes. Some of the people you are arguing with online are simply fighting for the sake of fighting. They love it. Others are ignorant of entire ranges of information and experience, and don’t have the same data base to pull from, or delete wide ranges of data because it doesn’t match their beliefs, and mistake emotion-based arguments for logic. In NONE of these cases do you stand to gain more (on average) by arguing than by simply supporting the people who see the world as you do.
- Win, with integrity. And this is an important step: YOU MIGHT BE WRONG. Remember that. You’ve been wrong in the past. You will be wrong again in the future. You may be wrong now. So…treat others as you would wish to be treated. With respect and consideration. Remember that they are probably thinking the precise same thing about YOU. And they may be correct. So…when you sense that this is a Faith-based discussion masquerading as logic, step peacefully away, and spend that energy supporting someone who accepts your love and nurturing. When you encounter someone who holds that opposite belief who can discuss it without emotion, who has no or little dog in the fight…have a polite discussion.
But if you go over the same point three times and get nowhere? Disengage.
If fear or anger come into the conversation? Disengage.
If you see them applying different standards to others than they accept for themselves? Disengage.
Its easy to see, if you move backwards from the awareness that the purpose of life is to find joy. Avoid pain. Things get so clear.
I found that realization to be so useful that I started talking about it to others, many of whom agreed, and found it valuable. It was one of the engines driving the “Hero’s Journey”–the need to avoid pain (slay the dragon) or gain pleasure (win the princess. Or prince. Whatever floats your boat).
That was the core of my own coaching practice. The rest was a matter of building a professional structure, and then finding potential clients.
I promise you: it wouldn’t take me an hour with ANY of you to find something about your life that people would pay to learn. And if you learned to present it properly, you could monetize it. Do you know anything a younger you would pay to know? Something that helps you avoid pain or gain pleasure? Of course you do. That would be a valuable gift to someone who lacks clarity in that arena. And if you can help them, it is perfectly reasonable to ask them to exchange some of THEIR time and energy for yours. That’s called “money.” Get it?
I promised that I’d have a special free offer for you, and you’ll get it tomorrow, a chance to listen in on a conversation with a lady who has earned millions just helping people, using her life experience and studied skills. Listen to her, it is the key to “Earning 100k a year in 25 hours a week.”
This is real. And free. And coming tomorrow.