17 mai 2012

Art of Argument

Carol Tavris (Social psychologist and author) video 30'51"
TAM 14-17 July 2011 Las Vegas 

Hahaha. This is the history of the widdening, entrenched rift between anti-intellectuals and intellectuals ! LMAO

People who cannot fathom they ever be wrong speak confidently the most ridiculous bullshit, and when they're asked to revise their judgement and aspire to higher standard, they cling to conservative values and start rejecting anyone disagreeing with them, in complete denial of being in error. Rather than admitting to being wrong once, they unconsciously (in the best case) repress this process of redemption and reparation to indulge in their wrongdoings, self-justifying everything necessary to keep a straight face and carry on pretending they're right and everyone else is out to persecute them, while all it takes is to correct oneself, be grateful for learning something new and move on to a more enlightened life. 

This is especially true for people who hold important offices, like newspapers editors, leading journalists, famous critics, scholars... They prefer to surround themselves with yes-men who agree to anything they say and pat them on the back all day long (what's an "intellectual" without a good ego-massage?), rather than having to publish a correction that would put a dent on their shiny armor, and virtually question their legitimacy for being there in the first place. Futher down the line, they evolve to adopt trivial errors and defend them with aggressive energy, making a passing comment (which they didn't care enough for to think it through properly) become the unassailable core of their belief. From then on, it's impossible to discuss anything rational with them. They've become totally immune to reality, fact-checking, science, statistics, books, reasoning and philosophy. That's the price to pay for being overtly proud once (saving face for the occasion) and failing to seek truth instead.

Intellectuals we could look up to are ones who have the humility to accept corrections, suggestions, recommendations and don't feel insulted (or like their world is shattered by it). Casually striding along their merry intellectual ways by acknowledging mistakes is part of the learning curve and makes you stronger.
Justifying your mistakes wins you a verbal joust (in appearance, if at all) on the short term, but makes you weaker on the long run. 

I feel sorry that the ones in the wrong have no sense of humour or self-derision to deal with confrontational arguments more casually. As Carol Tavris says, you have to treat people who make mistakes with special attentions to the point where you have to apologize for pointing out to a mistake or concede that their bullshit may not be entirely deceptive... And this happens at the highest levels of society, in politics (political debates), in religious factions, in scientific arguments, as well as film criticism of course. Oh! the unwavering self-righteousness of those in the wrong. 

Handle stupidity with respect and devotion, or else... they throw a fit and threaten to refuse to welcome corrections. Very mature. Is that what we've come down to? Treating like precious divas the people who corrupt culture and constantly degrade the level of intellectual discourse, otherwise stupidity wins and we're not allowed to win an argument. Riiiiiight. Babies must have their ways. Always. That's very mature. Idiots have the easy life I see, and nobody cares for the damage they do to reason and culture. This is the evil of blissful "Positive Thinking", where everything must be positivized, where any position (even the ones proven wrong or the offensive ones or the self-contradictions) can be justified by any means necessary, and should be respected for that. Where "Freedom of expression" becomes "Legitimacy of non-sense". Sorry, but that's not the same thing. You're allowed to EXPRESS everything you like, but it doesn't mean that whatever you say IS RIGHT. Some positions are debatable amongst intellectually honest people, as a matter of taste disagreement or in the case of multiple compossibles. BUT. There is also such a thing as a universally recognized error that anyone intending to participate to an intelligent debate can agree on. And these are position that no-one may duck behind.


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