Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Being Argumentative

I have been accused of being argumentative.  Some people thing that I will argue just for the sake of arguing.  And as unfair of a judgement as this might seem, I actually agree.

This is the way I am.  I like to argue.

Unlike some people, I think this is a good thing.  I think it keeps my mind sharp, and I get to challenge my own ideas as often I argue positions that I don't actually support.

Today, we have stopped teaching logic to our children.  In its place we are teaching cognitive dissonance.  Or the holding of two conflicting ideas in our heads at one time.

But for the sake of arguing, let me take you the long way around the barn.

     Once upon a time, I watched a movie involving chimpanzees that had been taught to sign.  The teacher was showing this students the chimps.  During the demonstration, one of the chimps takes the professor's pipe.
    Well the professor wants it back, and tried to tell the chimp that smoking is bad for him.
    The chimp then reasons that if smoking is bad for him, it is also bad for the professor and breaks the pipe so that it can't be used.  The professor then observes that the chimp cannot only communicate, it can also reason.

Here is my point.  I have met and heard people who can't make this simple logical connection in their own lives.  You see a group of people that love the iPhone.  And they go out and attack corporations that make lots of money as evil.  Lets walk through this.

  1. Corporations that make money are bad for us.
  2. Buying, using and loving products from Corporations that make money makes them bad for the country.
  3. Therefore, I should not buy products from these corporations, use them, or love them.
How about this one.
  1. Burning Oil and Coal is bad.
  2. Energy companies provide most of our electricity from these fuels.
  3. Therefore, I should stop using electricity and all other sources of power that come from fossil fuels.

Let me throw in one that people should all relate to.
  1. Hitting my thumb with a hammer hurts.  (Hurting = Bad)
  2. When I close my eyes while using a hammer, I hit my thumb a lot.
  3. Therefore, I should not close my eyes while using a hammer.
Instead, we have people that are taught to think like this:
  1. Corporations that make money are bad for us.
  2. Buying, using and loving products from Corporations that make money makes them bad for the country.
  3. Therefore, I should picket and protest and tell my lawmakers to punish them.  But it is okay for me to buy their products and use them.
Or.
  1. Burning Oil and Coal is bad
  2. Energy companies provide most of our electricity from these fuels.
  3. Therefore, I should picket and protest and tell my lawmakers to punish them, but it is okay for me to use their products as long as I am protesting them.
These are just like:
  1. Hitting my thumb with a hammer hurts.  (Hurting = Bad)
  2. When I close my eyes while using a hammer, I hit my thumb a lot.
  3. Therefore, I should picket and protest and tell my lawmakers to get rid of hammers.  But it is okay while I have a hammer, to keep using it with my eyes closed.
Am I being argumentative?  Not at all.  I am trying to be instructive.  I like to sharpen my mind against good strong arguments.  These work like a wet stone and hones my ideas to a sharp edge.

But arguments based in cognitive dissonance are like trying to sharpen a knife by rubbing it with butter. It doesn't make the blade sharper and only creates a mess.

So if you get into a discussion with me, and I get a funny little smile when you make your case.   Odds are we are about to change topics.