I wasn’t able to get three Extradimensional Cephalopod Comments of the Day up yesterday as I said I was trying to do. Sorry. This is the intended #2: EC’s excellent outline of how to have a rational discussion with someone who is gratuitously calling people and groups he or she disagrees with “fascists.”
I strongly suspect that most people one would have this conversation with are too far over the metaphorical moon to respond in an encouraging manner, but the theory is sound, and as many have said in many ways, you never know unless you try.
Here is Extradimensional Cephalopod‘s Comment of the Day on the post, “Keep Talking And Tweeting, Sam: Eventually Almost Everybody Will Figure Out That You’re Ridiculous…Won’t They?”
As one of the tiny percentage of competent philosophers on this planet, I recommend that we start asking people to explain what fascism means to them–after putting them in a calm frame of mind, that is. It’s part of the deconstruction method: 1) make them comfortable; 2) make them think; 3) make them choose. In this case, we don’t have to make them choose. We can just gather information.
Step 1: Make them comfortable.
“I know why I reject fascism, and I know how I would recognize a fascist according to my understanding of the word.” (First make sure this is true; step 1 of the reconciliation method is to understand one’s own values.)
“However, sometimes people use the word ‘fascist’ in ways that confuse me. Although I may not like a person who is described as fascist, sometimes the use of the word to describe them differs from my understanding of what fascism is. There might be something I’m missing.”
Step 2: Make them think.
“Based on your understanding, what is it that a fascist person does that makes them fascist? Perhaps most importantly, what sorts of problems are you concerned that a fascist person would cause? For example, would they build popular support by rallying people against a common enemy who could very well be just an unpopular cultural group used as a scapegoat? Would they seize power and control and unilaterally implement policies that hurt people? Because those things definitely worry me, and I want to prevent them from happening. Could any of those problems also be caused by non-fascists?”
You can wait for the answer to each question before asking the next one; no need to overwhelm people with questions. There’s no need to make them choose at this point. This is just an example of how you might hold a conversation with someone by making them feel safe. It will help you complete step 2 of the reconciliation method: understand the other person’s values.
Once you understand the values in play, you can move to…
Step 3: Frame the situation constructively.
You can figure out things to do that oppose fascism even if the two of you don’t agree on which politicians are fascist.
The neat thing about ideologies is that you can counteract their spread without having to even talk about who you think embodies them in modern politics. A policy doesn’t become a good idea or a bad idea based on who proposes it. (Who implements it is a different story, but that’s not necessarily an ideological problem.)
And when you make people think about the functional definitions of ideologies, and how to recognize them, instead of arguing over who represents what, we will take one step closer to a world where people don’t tweet about whether the color of the lighting behind a politician means they’re the next Hitler.
(“I mean, how does anyone even know what color Hitler’s backlights were? All those pictures and film clips were in black and white!” the philosopher wrote facetiously.)
29 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Keep Talking And Tweeting, Sam: Eventually Almost Everybody Will Figure Out That You’re Ridiculous…Won’t They?””
This is everything.
I call it seeing with eyes of compassion and seeking to understand first.
Kind. Loving. Caring. Effective.
Going to war with each other just widens the divide.
Then once that’s done you let them know they are the rotten society destroying fascists themselves.
They will realize that on their own when they see there was a better way the whole time. No need to rub it in people’s faces that they were all set to run with a bad idea because they couldn’t think of a good one. It happens to the best of us.
I didn’t have the energy to deal with the shaming bullshit.
It’s a joke.
Ah, that makes more sense. Sorry, I failed my Detect Irony check on that one.
You’re welcome! If you’re looking to teach more people how it’s done, just let me know. I’m happy to share!
One toy soldier maker decided to do a whole Nuremberg 1937 scene. It had everything: the great gilded eagle, the red Nazi banners with the swastika prominently displayed, rank on rank of guys in the black and silver of the SS doing the Nazi salute and sculpted with their mouths open like they are shouting “Heil Hitler,” and a dais with all the personalities. Yep, all of them, Goebbels at the microphone, Göering in his oversized overcoat, bespectacled, sinister Himmler all in black, with modern black knight Reinhardt Heydrich and the villainous enforcer Sepp Dietrich close at hand, and of course at the highest level, all in khaki with peaked cap and swastika armband, is you-know-who himself. Hitler usually stood against the red of the Nazi banner, and seeing it in color, even in 54mm, could bring on a shudder.
Sound like a collectible!
I know you are too widely experienced to be shocked at what people will collect. One of my neighbors collected marbles and actually kept some of the very rarest in a velvet pouch that he kept in a locked cabinet and only brought out to show his closest friends.
I’m also a collector of figures, but in my case mostly of knights. I read that there were 33 orders of religious knighthood in Europe during the Middle Ages (everyone knows the big three, the Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic knights, but there were many more) and I toyed with the idea of trying to get or commission an example of each. Unfortunately, the war in Ukraine has resulted in most of the Russian artists who produce these figures being suspended from selling in the United States, so that idea is on indefinite hiatus.
I completely agree with all of that.
I recently had a really interesting a productive conversation with EC about how to how have conversations with these people that have these kind of very deeply held beliefs regardless of actual fact, it’s almost religious or cultish in nature. EC has lots of valid suggestions that I believe could work well in controlled environments like small groups or one-on-one sessions but won’t work in real world because these people feed off of each other like a mob of cult members.
One of my points that I think also applies to this discussion is this…
You have to get these cultish people away from the support system of other cultish true believers or the cultish mob mentality takes over.
Step 1: Make them comfortable.
Step 2: Make them think.
Step 3: Frame the situation constructively.
Again; that will work well in controlled clinical environments but it simply won’t work on the street corner.
Outside of isolated controlled environments…
#1 Making cultish people comfortable is pandering to them and one of their cultish goals is to make you uncomfortable so you won’t confront them with any of your lies and misinformation that might contradict their hive mind.
#2 They will not think individually in public they either do what I’ve noted in #3 below or resort to sic’ing their mob on you.
#3 Trying to frame the situation to something you think is constructive is destructive to their cultish hive mind and the ideological dikes that these hive minded mob thinking people have built are very effective at doing the equivalent to putting their fingers in their ears and yelling na, na, na.
Rats, bad ending tag in the first blockquote.
I’ll repost and Jack can delete this one messed up one.
Jack, I sent you an email with the corrected comment contents to edit the messed up one above.
Finally got it up. Sorry for the delay.
I’m not into instant gratification and I certainly don’t expect it from others.
(Posting here just in case Steve’s original post is removed for formatting.)
Steve, I agree that many people have developed insular cultures/cults to which they instinctively retreat if they feel themselves reconsidering their dogma. The deconstruction and reconciliation methods as described generate a force that tugs people towards critical thinking regardless of where they are on the “brainwashed” spectrum, so it’s invaluable as a basic tool and you virtually can’t go wrong if you apply it everywhere. However, different people require different approaches to be made comfortable and influenced to think, and people can indeed have triggered responses to defend against critical thinking.
Cults will be easier to deal with the more people we draw away from the “brainwashed” side of the spectrum using the regular method. More allies in critical thinking will allow us to get fancy with our approaches, such as sending tricksters and jesters to infiltrate cults and subtly introduce conundrums, the Socratic method, satire, et cetera, until the cults either dissolve calmly or become so paranoid that they drive people away and implode as an ideology.
I should clarify that deconstruction step 1: “make them comfortable” does not obligate you to do anything that you find unacceptable. It is important to show people that you will respectfully but firmly assert boundaries for how much they can expect you to accommodate them.
For example, there is no need to lie about how much common ground you find with people. You can tell them that you share their desire that everyone be healthy, but if you don’t believe everyone should receive free healthcare, you don’t have to say you do.
Best of all, the more people who learn and actively use these methods, the more we create a healthy meta-culture that actively recognizes and counteracts the effects of cults. Right now the only defense against cults people have is a vague heuristic sense of when people are getting too emotionally invested in an idea. To most people, cultishness is subjective. We can help people not only recognize dogma, but also give people something constructive to replace it with.
What do you think?
EC asked, “What do you think?”
What do I think? I honestly think I’ve already stated what I think about this approach, I think that “that will work well in controlled clinical environments but it simply won’t work on the street corner.”
Here’s what I see as being wrong with this approach, even though the approach would work in small groups or one-on-one; you are fighting one-on-one with a ideological dogma that’s fighting on a massive scale. You want to train others to be like you and drop lots of pebbles into the pond creating ripples of change. Well EC, this essentially this becomes a numbers game; the cultish ideological dogma is fighting for their viewpoints by targeting thousands and thousands of people with massive propaganda and intimidation campaigns from every angle in their lives and you want to target small groups or one-on-one for deprogramming. An analogy would be that you’re thinking that your efforts could be the pebble in the pond to inspire individual change when the opposition has already dropped an asteroid in the pond and effectively already changed it – maybe permanently.
We don’t have the social or cultural time required to implement what you’re talking about to employ trickle changes, that’s not to say that people should also do what you’re suggesting, but the moment is now and we must put the social conflagration out with a tidal wave because a squirt gun simply won’t work.
I think there is some misunderstanding about the scale of these methods. As far as I can tell, any tidal wave must use the processes I outline, or it will look identical to another conflagration. The reconciliation and deconstruction methods are what make the difference between fighting fire with fire versus fighting fire with a blizzard of dry ice.
You don’t have to just speak to people one-on-one. You might do so at first, using these methods on people to learn what misconceptions are used to brainwash most people and what questions, concepts, counterpoints, and stories are most effective at dispelling those misconceptions. However, then you can turn those approaches into large campaigns that tear apart dogma. And you will have much more success getting apathetic people on board with your efforts if you stand for specific constructive values that can replace unhealthy values, instead of just the hollow value of “not being a cult”.
That was my plan, anyway. What sort of tidal wave did you have in mind?
EC asked, “What sort of tidal wave did you have in mind?”
I don’t know but at this point in time I don’t think it will be pretty or civil.
On the contrary. For a cultural tidal wave to work, it must be respectful. Assertive. Dignified. Constructive. Otherwise you’re just talking past them and convincing them that they are right. If you want to get people to rethink what they’re doing without them labeling you an enemy, you must express not contempt, but disappointment. They could have been so much better–and they still can, if they make a responsible choice. But they’re not going to care about your disappointment until they respect your opinion. To show your opinion deserves respect, you must demonstrate that you are capable of understanding their people’s feelings and perspectives. People don’t listen until they feel heard.
This is intermediate-level conflict resolution, here. Many of Earth’s famous historical figures have used it. There are all sorts of books specifically about this topic. Why isn’t this a thing that humans know already? How on Earth have you been spending all these years?
People join cults and ideologies because there’s something important to them that they think other paradigms don’t offer. If you can find out what that is, that’s the first step towards negotiating a sustainable non-cult way to offer that value. People want prosperity, safety, vitality, and harmony. Many people didn’t find those things for themselves with Republicans. The Democrats spoke to them and promised them those things. If you want them to take you seriously, you have to show you’re willing to help them find what they need. Humans aren’t going to think twice about burning down a system that doesn’t serve their needs and blames them for it.
I can systematically equip people to participate in a constructive cultural paradigm shift. If you’d rather insult people than have them take you seriously, though, it’s a free country.
EC wrote, “If you want to get people to rethink what they’re doing without them labeling you an enemy, you must express not contempt, but disappointment.”
This conversation just surpassed absurd and went straight to delusional as in characterized by or holding idiosyncratic beliefs or impressions that are contradicted by reality or rational argument.
Get with the program EC, the cultish progressive wing that’s running the entire political left has already labeled the entire political right as enemies and all it took was for the political right to openly disagree with their cultish hive mind and you think we’re just supposed to pander them with our expressions of disappointment. Oh that’ll certainly teach them an thing or three.
EC wrote, “To show your opinion deserves respect, you must demonstrate that you are capable of understanding their people’s feelings and perspectives. People don’t listen until they feel heard.”
You aren’t paying attention to what’s happening fight in front of your face. Republicans are certainly not perfect but from the point of view of a moderate conservative I think the vast majority of Republicans have tried to shown respect for the opinions of the cult of progressives and what do they get in return, they get absolutely no respect from the cult for the opinions of the political right and they don’t give a damn about Republicans feelings or perspectives.
With all due respect for your obvious intelligence regarding clinical psychological things, I honestly feel like I’m being gaslighted and I’m done with this absurd conversation.
Oops, I know I said that I’m done with this conversation and I apologize that I somehow didn’t get this part when I copied from my word processor, so here it is with a little more elaboration to make it a bit more complete…
EC wrote, “For a cultural tidal wave to work, it must be respectful. Assertive. Dignified. Constructive.”
That’s nonsense. It’s transparently false and the evidence that it’s false is all around us right now in the USA and history across the globe for hundreds and hundreds of years also proves it’s false.
We are in the midst of a tidal wave of cultural change that’s being forced upon society by ignorant ideologically obsessed progressives and their army of social justice warriors pushing the USA directly towards totalitarianism. Other countries across the globe have faced tidal waves of cultural changes throughout the years too. Here’s a short list of a few countries that have faced massive tidal waves of cultural changes in the last couple of hundred years; Japan, China, USSR, Germany, Cambodia, North Korea, Sudan, Iran, South Africa, etc, etc and none of these tidal waves of cultural changes were respectfully assertive, dignified or constructive they rammed their cultural change down the throat of the people sometimes with brutal force. The tidal wave invasion of our culture has been so prevalent in our society that I based the entire theme of my blog on critically looking at the things that change society.
The ones that are pushing the tidal wave of change in the USA over the last fifteen years are certainly assertive but they are in no way respectful, dignified or constructive, in fact they’re outright disrespectful, undignified, and literally and physically destructive and their intimidation tactics have worked and have accelerated over the last six years. These people have an ideological core that hates everyone and everything that stands in opposition to their hive minded cult and they directly and indirectly target everything that is considered the status quo to cancel it.
These people declared a social and cultural war on everything that makes the United States what it is almost fifteen years ago and I will not pander to their feelings, I will not respect their blatant attacks on our culture and Constitution as being valid in any way, I will not be dignified (think politically correct) about my opposition to those that want to destroy the USA, they don’t respect anything that’s outside of their bubble and I don’t give a damn if they respect me, period. Let’s not white-wash what these anti-American people are trying to do, they truly want a revolution to destroy the the core that built the USA and once we are in a complete cultural chaos they will try to rebuild the culture in their image. You want to pander to their feelings like they’re toddlers but I will be very consistent at being as factual as I can, I’ll be very in-your-face confrontational and very forceful about my opposition. Sometimes you simply have to ring their bell LOUDLY to get them to hear anything you say because when you pander to the woke mob, or a subset, they know they’ve got you by the balls and they’re going to squeeze until you eventually apologize for breathing their oxygen. That said; when I run across a cultish hive minded progressives or moderate liberals that are willing to discuss things reasonably, I’ll engage them in kind every single time and when they cross the line I let them know in no uncertain terms. I will discuss but I won’t pander.
Those are my choices, you are free to make your own choices.
Again; EC wrote, “For a cultural tidal wave to work, it must be respectful. Assertive. Dignified. Constructive.”
With all due respect, that tunnel vision of the world is so far from the realities we’ve seen in history and in the USA right now that I think it’s evidence that you’re holding idiosyncratic beliefs that are contradicted by reality.
I call foul on that one. You introduced the phrase “tidal wave” and I followed suit.
You referred to destructive ideas as a “social conflagration,” and a pushback of better ideas as a “tidal wave.” I then asserted that if you don’t incorporate respect into your metaphorical tidal wave, then it’s not going to have the effect of a metaphorical tidal wave. Instead, you’d just be fighting metaphorical fire with metaphorical fire.
You can’t then turn around and say that actually, the bad guys are a tidal wave too, and so tidal waves do work without respect, and therefore I’m wrong because I said that tidal waves don’t work without respect.
Forget the fire and the water imagery. Human history is full of people who took a good idea far enough that it becomes a bad one, and then other people get mad and impose an opposing good idea and take it far enough until that becomes bad, too, and nobody learns anything. Wastefulness versus austerity; negligence versus susceptibility; decadence versus dogma; turmoil versus corruption.
I’m just telling you that if you want to break the cycle, you need to learn about people’s fears and make sure that the ideas you’re pushing can offer them a future they can believe in. If you don’t do that, they have no reason to think you have anything worth listening to.
I apologize that you feel that way. I’d like to engage with some of the people you feel are intransigent, to demonstrate the effectiveness of the process.
I have tried it your way, or at least the way I’ve observed you use. (I’m not sure I’ve seen you interact directly with people whose minds you’re trying to change.) I consider myself quite experienced in the communication style I associate with you. However, the methods I’m using now get far better results than any other method I’ve used. I can inspire mutual respect in most people I talk to even when we disagree. It’s not always sufficient to influence them to think twice about their opinions, but it is always necessary for anything else to be possible. Maybe your issue is you’re not setting the right boundaries when you show people respect?
(I feel like I’m talking to a 19th Century physician. “This is an extremely virulent infection! How could mere soap and water do anything to prevent its spread?” / “This is an extremely brainwashed point of view. How could mere respect do anything to disabuse people of it?”)
What I’m doing here is calling into question the conclusions you have drawn based on your observations. If I were calling into question your observations themselves, that would be gaslighting, unless there were a compelling reason for me to do so. (To avoid doing that to people, I usually frame it as calling my own observations into question. I’m epistemologically secure enough to function with an organic brain which I know from experience doesn’t always notice details or remember them correctly. I have no problem acknowledging that if our observations or memories of objective events differ, the fault may be mine. This is a large tool in my de-brainwashing kit as well.)
Specifically, I’m introducing the possibility that you might be wrong about people. What you feel is the chilling notion that you might be one of the reasons why people don’t listen to you. That’s not gaslighting; that’s just an epiphany that threatens your self-image as one who does everything you can to stand up for what you think is right.
It turns out you do everything you can except show humility to people whom you’ve already decided have nothing to teach you. It’s your choice what you want to do with this revelation.
Go ahead and try things your way, if you want, and let me know when you get stuck.
Here are some approaches I might take for the hard cases:
If you want to justify removing an incoherent or otherwise unhelpful person from a discussion, you can point out that while you might have things to learn from them, you could learn them more effectively from someone else.
If you want to change the minds of the really brainwashed people, though, you can publicly engage with the people they take cues from. If a person doesn’t think for themselves, go after the person who thinks for them and remove their footing. Those people are likely manipulative, but I can work with that.
You can also suspend your judgment and learn about a person’s self-image, and then decide what parts need to be deconstructed first and what parts they can keep in the meantime. It usually doesn’t work to tear down a person all at once even on the rare cases they’re amenable to it, so sometimes it’s necessary to figure out what key changes will have the largest positive and sustainable impact.
I often find myself provisionally accepting far-fetched or outright ridiculous premises for the sake of argument, because it’s more effective. All I need to do is reframe the situation and the priorities to be more existential, thus rendering their mind-games and rigmarole irrelevant.
For example, there’s a QAnon conspiracy theory about Donald Trump being a benevolent time traveler or something. It would be foolish to argue against it by asserting that time travel does not exist: there’s no way to prove that, or at least none that a confused human would care about.
What I would do is point out that if a person can time travel, then becoming a mediocre president of the United States is an incredibly inefficient way to utilize such a ridiculously powerful ability for good. No competent person would try to help the world by running for political office under the guise of a normal person when they had singularity-level technology available. That would be like if Superman became a regular police officer who just happened to be nigh-invulnerable. It’s a ludicrous waste of potential.
Plot twist: I actually used this line of reasoning on someone afflicted by this conspiracy theory, and it worked. (For an encore, I introduced the question of why David Icke’s videos on how the world will soon be completely transformed start out with an ad where he tries to sell you stock tips. As if money and the stock market will still exist in the transformed world he describes. That really ought to tip people off.)
Sometimes the oblique route towards getting people to question things is much faster than the direct route.
If anyone wants some help engaging with people and leading them to rethink their positions, just let me know. I’d love to be a part of your success.
Yes, it can be and is happening all the time!
In the past week three different very progressive “friends” and I had a discussion about things and I used the seek first to understand approach.
In every instance each person confessed their friends on the left are freaking them out.
If the believe those on the right are evil, and they meet a person who isn’t left who is thoughts and kind, their fear can melt instantly.
There’s not much love on the left.
Humans need love.
And I have the exact same experience with strangers.
War and fighting is not the way to have community.
I was brainwashed before…
A loving person who DISPROVED what I believed they were got me thinking maybe I was wrong “about them.”
I was. Or I’d not be here.
Maybe as a troll lol.
Liberal’s trip to Trump rally goes viral: ‘We experienced incredible kindness’
Thanks, Jack! Glad to help.
For the record in general, there’s two separate methods here that dovetail with each other. I wasn’t quite clear on that in my original post.
The reconciliation method is as follows:
1. Understand one’s own values.
2. Understand others’ values.
3. Frame the situation constructively.
The deconstruction method is as follows. It should be started after understanding one’s own values, but can be integrated with steps 2 and 3 of the reconciliation method
1. Make them comfortable. (Learn about others’ values.)
2. Make them think. (Explain one’s own values.)
3. Make them choose. (Brainstorm and present constructive options by looking at both of your values.)
Of course, these methods become much easier when you use the Visionary Vocabularies toolbox of foundational concepts to recognize the most important aspects of a situation and the sorts of approaches it calls for: https://ginnungagapfoundation.wordpress.com/2020/12/24/the-foundational-toolbox-for-life-abridged-dictionary/#contents.
A potential problem is the definitions of words and concepts keep changing. If the vocabulary is ethereal then I doubt communication can be effective. Terms must clearly be defined. In pastoral counseling, I often come in contact with folks who prefer to speak the veiled language. It takes a great deal of work for someone to concretize their understanding of reality. E.G. “My father likes his drink” can be he has a beer with dinner or it can and often means he guzzles a fifth each night. “My parents were strict disciplinarians” can mean they insisted I obey the rules or it can mean they beat me senselessly at every opportunity. The list is endless.