...2. When someone offers a bumper-sticker sentiment as a deep thought on some issue of the day, ask “Do you study that closely?” in a mild manner. Most often, there will be stunned silence followed by a hasty change of topic.The ensuing conversation at the site, including especially some suggestions by Occam's Beard (a wonderful online name), is valuable.
3. If someone wants to rant on after #2, just keep asking questions about where they get their information, their views of the implications of their position, how they do the cost/benefit analysis, their response to some authority’s (particularly some liberal authority’s) criticism of their position, etc. Force them to clarify their points. In most cases they start embarrassing themselves within about 45 seconds. Very few come back for this treatment twice.
Notice that both Oblio and Occam's Beard have stepped away from much confrontation and arguing, back into the teaching of logical discourse itself. What constitutes evidence? How is disagreement handled among rational people? What are the elements of a carefully considered opinion? What is polite? As OB is a science or engineering prof at some Ivy League school, I take his advice on How To Talk To A Liberal more seriously than I would Ann Coulter.
I often avoid confrontative political, religious, and social arguments in live conversation, a fact which may strike those who know me only me as AVI as odd. But I don't like to pick on fragile people, or kick folks when they are down, or duel with the unarmed. Well, not as much as online, that is. I do have a reputation for stirring things up at Bible study and adult Sunday school. But those are mostly people who are not unarmed. When we have had visitors, younger people, or earnest but not-very-thoughtful people, I am usually fairly mild. I will often even defend them against more forceful speakers.
On the internet, no one knows you're a dog, or if you're a tender plant, either. If you come aggressively, I am going to assume you know what you're getting into. If I heard you live I might not think so. The social cues and insecurities I pick up on might tell me you're pretty marginal emotionally, or outgunned intellectually, and I might back off.
And progressives, I find, are pretty easily wounded people. Not all, by any stretch. But those where I work pretty clearly use political comments as icebreakers and sign/countersigns in conversation. The cynical humor attempts to create an impression of what sort of clever person they are. It's like birds chirping out their location or ants releasing pheromones. The comments are not usually all that connected to the topic at hand, just reflexive in-group statements delivered when chance phrases come up. Even the mildest challenges at these times strikes them as amazingly rude. They were just saying, you know, that Dan Quayle once said he had to brush up on his Latin before going to Latin America. The fact that he never said that is just so...so irrelevant to this nice conversation they were having before I came and left a turd in the punchbowl.
Neo links to a similar article from American Thinker by Bookworm.
Completing the series, she links to the struggles of Robin of Berkeley trying to find conservative friends in that true-blue area, and the recent defection of Spiegel editor Jan Fleischhauer from liberalism. Fleischhauer makes observations about the circles he moved in until quite recently that will seem awfully familiar to readers here.
I would hazard to guess that many are to the left because others are.I know, I know, that's four articles, plus neo's surrounding commentary, but it's all worth it.
Man’s tendency to assimilate, though well-documented in experimental psychology, is a trait routinely underestimated in everyday life. What we call conviction is often nothing but adaptation in an environment of opinions…No one wants to be the only person in an office who isn’t asked to join the group for lunch.