The ‘other side’ is not dumb

Caption: Political tribalism: Instead of assuming the “other side” is just dumb, consider the possibility that they might be right about some things.

It is an unfortunate trait of human nature that we tend to believe, absolutely, that our personal opinions are the only possible correct ones. We also tend to believe that good people, naturally, share our views. Anyone who disagrees with us is not just wrong, but a bad person.

The internet only amplifies this trait. As Stephen Crowder said, social media works to confirm our biases in the worst way. Quote:

Over time, this morphs into a subconscious belief that we and our friends are the sane ones and that there’s a crazy “Other Side” that must be laughed at — an Other Side that just doesn’t “get it,” and is clearly not as intelligent as “us.”

What is emerging is the worst kind of echo chamber. End of quote.

We divide the world into two sides: ‘us’, the good people we agree with, and ‘them’, the bad people we don’t. Quote:

To be sure, there are hateful, racist, people … I’m instead referencing those who actually believe in an opposing viewpoint of a complicated issue, and do so for genuine, considered reasons. Or at least, for reasons just as good as yours.

This is not a “political correctness” issue. It’s a fundamental rejection of the possibility to consider that the people who don’t feel the same way you do might be right. End of quote.

This is an issue for both left and right. The public sphere has become so tribal today that few people on either side are willing to even listen to one another. Quote:

What happens instead of genuine intellectual curiosity is the sharing of Slate or Daily Kos or Fox News or Red State links. Sites that exist almost solely to produce content to be shared so friends can pat each other on the back and mock the Other Side. Look at the Other Side! So dumb and unable to see this the way I do!

[This] isn’t signaling that we’re somehow more informed. It signals that we’d rather be smug assholes than consider alternative views. End of quote.

It is important to break out of our own cosy bubbles. Stephen Crowder urges his followers to read opposing media. Ben Shapiro always lets people who disagree with him go to the head of the line at Q and A sessions. As difficult and frustrating as it can be, we must listen to the people we don’t like. Quote:

We should all enter every issue with the very real possibility that we might be wrong this time … Isn’t it possible that we’re not right about everything?

Think political correctness has gotten out of control? Follow the many great social activists on Twitter. Think America’s stance on guns is puzzling? Read the stories of the 31% of Americans that own a firearm. This is not to say the Other Side is “right” but that they likely have real reasons to feel that way. And only after understanding those reasons can a real discussion take place. End of quote.

Crowder regularly walks the walk with his ‘change my mind’ sessions. He specifically asks liberal college students to tell him their side of an issue – to try and convince him that they might be right. Quote:

A dare for the next time you’re in discussion with someone you disagree with: Don’t try to “win.” Don’t try to “convince” anyone of your viewpoint. Don’t score points by mocking them to your peers. Instead try to “lose.” Hear them out. Ask them to convince you and mean it. End of quote.

In his classic essay ‘On Liberty’ John Stuart Mill wrote that the most important function of free speech is listening to people you disagree with. If they are wrong, you will have a clearer impression of why you are right. But if they’re right, well, you will learn something new. Quote:

Refusing to truly understand those who disagree with you is intellectual laziness and worse, is usually worse than what you’re accusing the Other Side of doing. End of quote.


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Who is Lushington D. Brady?

Well, a pseudonym. Obviously.

But the name Lushington Dalrymple Brady has been chosen carefully. Not only for the sum of its overall mien of seedy gentility, reminiscent perhaps of a slightly disreputable gentlemen of letters, but also for its parts, each of which borrows from the name of a Vandemonian of more-or-less fame (or notoriety) who represents some admirable quality which will hopefully animate the persona of Lushington D. Brady.

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

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