Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Opposite Game Again

 A favorite complaint of mine is people saying always, never, obviously, without question, undeniably, 100%, zero and other statements of extremity.  I saw a new one over at Althouse, of Rob Reiner saying "Let's be clear..."

Whenever someone starts by saying "Let's be clear," they are doing the opposite.  They are taking a chancy speculation that they can't prove and hoping to bully any possible disagreement into submission by asserting it overdramatically, using words like "worst," and phrases like "one thing and one thing only." People are overdramatic for personality reasons, even to the point of personality disordered ones. They treat their opinions as facts because they cannot see the difference.  I acknowledge that they may be able to do so in theory, and likely can do so about less-emotional issues.  Yet as soon as they care, often for reasons of protecting a world-view, they cannot draw back.

The intent is to obfuscate, not clarify.

8 comments:

Texan99 said...

If someone starts with "Let's be clear," I hope he's proposing to stop beating around the bush or using euphemisms. Disappointment usually follows.

Unknown said...

I had an insight recently that I use the falsus in uno, falsus in ombibus principle in my news consumption -- the moment I see something in an article that I know from evidence to be untrue, my reaction is "I'm done here, if I need to find out more about this news I'll seek another source".

Needless to say, this has become impossible lately, and I've had to employ the "Reading between the lines in Pravda" technique on many controversial issues.

Those listicles of the governor's every misdeed? They always contain calumny. They never are completely truthful.

Texan99 said...

An Althouse comment: "I don't know about you guys, but I love being lectured to by vain, hypocritical plutocrats in the entertainment industry. It's not only very persuasive, but it's also unifying."

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Well yes. He is a bully in professional and artistic dealings as well, which should eliminate his being attended to on any moral issues whatsoever. One can be right about ethics or theological issues even if one is a raging hypocrite, but moral observations descend only from the insight of having some marbles of your own to shoot.

David Foster said...

"A favorite complaint of mine is people saying always, never, obviously, without question, undeniably, 100%, zero and other statements of extremity.


Professor Dietrich Doerner (in Germany) studies the mental tendencies that lead to *failure*, largely by using simulation studies. In the fire simulation, the subject plays the part of a fire chief who is dealing with forest fires. He has 12 brigades at his command, and can deploy them at will. The brigades can also be given limited autonomy to make their own decisions.

The subjects who fail at this game, Doerner finds, are those who apply rigid, context-insensitive rules...such as "always keep the units widely deployed" or "always keep the units concentrated" rather than making these decisions flexibly. He identifies "methodism," which he defines as "the unthinking application of a sequence of actions we have once learned," as a key threat to effective decision-making. (The term is borrowed from the great military writer Clausewitz.) Similar results are obtained in another simulation, in which the subject is put in charge of making production decisions in a clothing factory. In this case, the subjects are asked to think out loud as they develop their strategies. The unsuccessful ones tend to use unqualified expressions: constantly, every time, without exception, absolutely, etc...while the successful "factory managers" tend toward qualified expressions: now and then, in general, specifically, perhaps,...

Assistant Village Idiot said...

One more reason why everyone should listen to me. The first part you put in is along the same idea of what I said, of not thinking in absolutes, but that second part really brings it home. When one thinks in absolutes like that one has stopped processing new data, considering alternative approaches, or thinking much at all. In an emergency, this might be useful, to be able to act with some kind of effectiveness without freezing. But few situations are emergencies.

Grim, I would be interested what the special forces balance points and tradeoffs are on that in their initial training, and then in later development.

Thos. said...

I think your observations here are pretty good, especially "They treat their opinions as facts because they cannot see the difference."

Of course, as I'm reading this, I keep thinking of times that I can remember someone speaking this way. All kinds of people say things like "let's be clear" in relation to all kinds of things, of course; but in the last decade or so, President Obama takes the trophy walking away. "Let me be clear" is pretty much his signature phrase.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I think you are right. Surely it must have been true at least some of the time? It's hard to bat .000

I think it was Nixon who would say "Let me be perfectly clear."