Problems in modern discourse

“For many it is bewildering that someone of reasonable intelligence, good will, and good faith could reach diametrically opposing conclusions. Thus arises a need to ascribe contrary views to idiocy or bad faith.”

It’s dissonance on display. Can We Talk (about Guns)? takes a look at the recent brouhaha about gun control and tries to figure out “why so many of his ideological compatriots are driven to fits of rage” and why a reasoned debate seems so far away.

“It seems increasingly rare in political discourse for either side to consider that the other may be arguing in good faith. Why is this?”

“Ideological cocooning” and “a decline in the understanding and appreciation of tolerance as a virtue” and internet forcing and differing world views are posited but basic human nature seems off the table. What are the driving emotions that instigate such behaviors? What do we know about how people deal with ideas that they do not like or want?

What to do? Perhaps first on the list is to get a grip on reality. So many of the points at debate fail on agreement about the ‘fact check.’ The gun control arguments illustrate just how statistics can be distorted to promote a false reality fitting with ideological fantasies. Mann’s hockey stick shows the same phenomena in climatology. What that is saying is that one needs to look at the manner of the measure. For instance, Hoffman is quoted with a ‘both sides do it’ argument and there is no question raised about the validity of this presumption. In making that presumption, Hoffman also gets into the ad hominem. That is a double dose of logical fallacy on parade yet it passes without comment.

When the debate gets honest and reflects intellectual integrity without obvious logical fallacies and distorted definitions and other well known and objectively observable phenomena, then perhaps the debate will be more productive and constructive.

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