Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The worst argument against anything

People don't like to change their views, even when confronted with good evidence or arguments against their positions. Our minds are skilled at using various tricks to comfort us when we resist the urge to change with new information.

Of course, it's extremely aggravating when other people use those tricks in front of us to shrug off our brilliant opinions. The one I find most frustrating is the idea that yes, my complaint is legitimate, but I shouldn't bother talking about it because there's another issue that is more important.

For example, I recently wrote about a false story that Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson was trying to block fracking near his home, or block water extraction intended for fracking near his home, and a far-left friend responded on social media that I should ignore this topic and only talk about Exxon receiving tax breaks.

So pointing out lies and disproving bad arguments is only something we should do when it hurts things we care about? Does anyone actually believe that?

I hear it when someone criticizes police and prosecutors for letting false rape accusers escape criminal charges (We should be talking about real rapes!) or wants to stop welfare abuse (Corporate Welfare is a bigger issue so let's not talk about that!)

This isn't a liberal vs. conservative thing; it's a universal bogus tactic. One could be arguing against the abuse of American prisoners and be told that that they should instead focus on the treatment of crime victims. We can care about feminist issues in America and the treatment of women in backwards poor countries, and not pick one over another.

Talk is cheap, and having a conversation about a topic doesn't have to pass a cost-benefit analysis. We can all make an infinite number of complaints. Prioritizing is for solutions, and when you want to actually focus resources on solving a problem that's when the cost-benefit analysis comes into play.

Until then, gripe away.

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