The content on this blog is my personal opinion and does not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the US Navy in any way.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Issues and Causes

I'm writing this one mostly because I'm getting very tired of reading Facebook posts that read: "OMG Obama is destroying our military power!"

Or for that matter because I'm getting tired of reading gun advocates making points about the murder rates of various countries versus the gun ownership rates.

Or because I'm tired of reading all the one-liners and talking points about how people are reacting to Obamacare and its impact on the economy.

Or... well I think I've made my point.

There are a lot of issues that share the same problem I've been seeing... and it's not necessarily that I think the conservatives are probably wrong on most of those issues. It's seeing these complicated issues reduced to short blurbs with a simple cause and effect. Really, that's probably an artifact of wandering through my conservative friends' Facebook pages; that isn't really an environment that encourages well thought out debate. (Unless I start getting involved in the comment threads... and even then it's hit or miss. Sometimes I get well-reasoned replies, sometimes I just get rude dismissals.)

Still, it's a little depressing to see. I hate to see ignorance and stupidity spreading without any resistance... and if I try and provide resistance, endless amounts of my time start disappearing into a black hole of researching issues, writing and rewriting my posts to express my points right, and then impatiently refreshing as I wait for a reply. It sparks some good discussions when I take the time, but for every post which I do take the time to respond to, I leave two others alone for lack of time or interest.

That seems like a problem to me. I have to ignore simple one-line memes that take a minute to type because I don't have the hour I need to reply? Why is that not a problem for anyone else... say, the person who posted the meme in the first place? Basically, I tend to accept the burden of proof rather easily, and I don't like just shoving it off on someone else. Their one-line, oversimplified meme isn't being proven... it's just their claim, and they're not bothering to prove it. Whereas I go to more trouble when I'm trying to disprove it.

Which is both good and bad. When it works, it makes me look that much more trustworthy and makes my debate opponent look like an idiot. When it doesn't work... well, I already mentioned how many things I ignore. It probably would be useful if I just told some of these people to actually prove their point and then get back to me, and I have done that on some occasions. The problem is that a simple claim tends to get dismissed with a request for more evidence, even if I'm only arguing that their unproven claim is false. Trying to point out that they made the first evidence-free claim turns the argument into an argument about where the burden of proof should lie, which usually just takes more time. Unfortunately, it seems that almost any claim can be stated in such a manner that makes it seem like the default true claim.

That's not something I think I can change, though. Frankly, I think we need more people that are willing to search for arguments and counterarguments themselves, rather than people that trust the validity of their own point until someone hits them in the face with a powerful enough counterargument. Unfortunately, human nature shows few signs of changing... so I'll just keep doing what I can.

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