Sunday, July 08, 2007

Now, What Was I Gonna Title This Thread?

One of the main problems I've observed with blogging, is the unwillingness for anyone involved with a given debate to let themselves admit the other guy has a point. That perhaps the other guy is right. One side makes an argument, and the opponent disputes it. The first guy offers some kind of support, maybe a link to an article, a book, whatever, and the second guy accuses the first of using biases materials. So the second guy offers his evidence for his argument, and the first guy questions the second guy's stuff. It never ends. What's the point?

Now, I've seen some pretty lame stuff offered as evidence, and I've seen some that, frankly, I just don't have the time to study at length. But it's hard to debate without it, with only one's own perspective based on life experience and such, because that's the least respected source of all.

It leaves me wondering, "What's the point?"

Originally, it was just fun matching wits and debating, arguing, being snarky. Now, it's just spinning one's wheels. Oh well. Gotta keep them bearings oiled.

30 comments:

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I often admit other people have points. I am more than willing to say, "You know what, I'm full of crap," and have done so. My problem, however, is that some information can be misinterpreted. Nothing wrong with that, but it does happen, and we have to be willing to listen to others who say, "You know what, you're full of crap."

As an example, in our discussion over the beginning of life, you brought up all sorts of scientific information to bolster your understanding of life beginning at conception. My contention was that you had merely reiterated my main point - a zygote is no more a human being than is a spleen - but you latched on to the phrase "first stage of human development" as if that clinched any argument. While that is certainly true, it is not a moral claim, even less a theological claim, or even a biological/developmental claim that life begins at conception. It is descriptive. It cannot be taken as proscriptive, and no scientist I am aware of would ever do so. This is a common occurrence, but in 1776 David Hume warned against confusion descriptive terminology with moral terminology - there is no link between what is and what ought to be, is usually the way it is phrased. Even were I to grant that yes, indeed, a zygote is the moral equivalent of a fully developed human being, one cannot argue from that to the claim that, therefore, abortion is murder and should be outlawed. Science describes, it never prescribes, nor does it proscribe.

I still like arguing with you, Marhsall. I even like chatting with you. Don't give up so soon. The fun has just started.

Mark said...

It's pride and arrogance. No one wants to admit they are ever wrong, and that's what makes the debates interesting. If people would give in easily it wouldn't be any fun.

There's nothing wrong with arrogance. It can be positive. Without arrogance the worlds most useful inventions may never have come to fruition.

Look at the Wright brothers for instance. Everyone told them man can't fly, and if they had listened to them we would still be traveling by land and by boat. But they were too arrogant to listen.

Keep up the good work, Art. And don't forget to title your posts.

Erudite Redneck said...

Mark is confusing confidence with arrogance.

Arrogance is misplaced pride and, as such, is not a good thing.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Here here, ER. It isn't "pride" or "arrogance" that forces me to refuse to concede the point to Marshall. It isn't as if I have never discussed these issues before, in this way, using this information. This is just a different forum.

Don't give up, Marshall. Please. We may disagree, but we still need all the voices we can get out here.

mom2 said...

I have a question for geoffrey that might help him to put our views in better perspective. If life does not begin at conception, at how many different stages along the pregnancy of his wife, would he have been willing to abort? If one personalizes birth, comparing it to the child of ones own begetting, does it not give more hesitancy to belittling the value?

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

While one might consider Mom2's question either irrelevant or highly presumptuous, the answer is simple - if my wife's ob-gyn said that an abortion were necessary to protect my wife's life or future reproductive health, at any time during the course of her pregnancy, we both would have discussed it. I would never urge her to do anything, take any action she might consider wrong. I would, however, insist she consider the option as strongly as possible. At to the point at which I would cease to see such an option as viable, my only answer would be "birth". When presented with no good options, there are rarely choices that make anyone happy.

On another point, it would seem to me that the question of how individuals would act in a given circumstance are irrelevant. In fact, I am not sure of the relevance of Mom2's question to Marshall's lament here. I thought it important that I not dismiss Mom2's question, however, and be as honest as possible. Whether she likes or agrees with the answer is neither here nor there for me.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

One more thing, Mom2. As my wife and I have already been through the whole pregnancy thing, we took this issue in to consideration, and discussed them as a live option. We took pregnancy and all that comes with it very seriously. So, while in the end we never had to confront the question, we did know it was a possibility. We were lucky enough never to have to deal with it.

mom2 said...

geoffrey, my point is...was your wife pregnant with life from conception or was it a meaningless blob to you until you thought it was developed enough to live outside the womb?

Jason H. Bowden said...

"What's the point?"

Well, people learn over time, and no one changes a position in public. During my leftwing days I lost many debates to others, especially libertarians, though I can't think of a single example where I publicly admitted that to my opponent.

:P

mom2 said...

geoffrey, I also wanted to tell you that I delivered a two lb. 6 oz. baby prematurely because I had diverticulitus. Thirty years later I have colon surgery and it was found that my colon had perforated a long time before and an abcess had formed to close the hole. I know that God is able to protect the mother and the baby. My baby was a miracle and 30 years later, I found out that I had been also. I guess that is part of the reason that I am strong against abortion. I was a very sick woman and totally helpless before the birth, but God can do the impossible. Why not trust Him?

Marshall Art said...

First of all, I don't know why blogger wouldn't allow me to title the post. I tried backing out and trying again three times. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the cursor to appear on the title line. Perhaps there's a setting I'm not finding that inhibited my intention. Finally, I decided to just post anyway.

Secondly, I thought my last two lines indicated my intention to continue. "Oh well. Gotta keep them bearings oiled." My meaning was that no matter how much wheel spinning the debates amount to, I intend to continue debating. Though some may differ on the purpose, I do hope to affect some change in beliefs, attitudes or perspectives. At some point I will be given the words that makes such a change possible in someone's mind, or barring that, that a real definitive truth will be made known to mine.

Finally, science can only provide the data with which we make our decisions regarding policy on a given issue. The data science provides clearly shows when a new human being has come into existence. To infer or imply that what has come into existence can be anything other than another human being equal to any other, is totally subjective at this point considering there has been no data offered that suggests the contrary. My only purpose in that particular thread was to provide for anyone who thinks they can do so, the opportunity present data to the contrary. As that never happened, then it goes without saying that my premise is correct, at least as far as concerns everyone who bothered to weigh in. The following thread was to deal with what followed in terms of how we deal with that basic fact. And I insist it is a fact based on the aforementioned lack of countering data.

Dan Trabue said...

One thing I've noticed (and a reason why I may sound like I never concede any points) is that my position is so often strawmanned or otherwise misrepresented.

As in...

DAN: "The invasion of Iraq was a wrong tack to take - it is promoting terrorism rather than attacking terrorism at its roots."

OTHER: "So, Dan, you'd do nothing to stop terrorists? You'd just let them go on, right - until it was YOUR head they were chopping off!"

How does one respond to commentary such as that? It is difficult to carry on conversations with people who insist on hearing something that you have never said.

On the other hand, if the responder in my example above had said:

"But we can't just ignore terrorists, can we?"

Or,

"But Saddam was a bad guy killing his own people."

THAT kind of response I would fully acknowledge as a valid point. We can't (or oughtn't) ignore terrorists or Saddam. In that discussion, there's room for me to agree fully with that person's point.

And so, I agree with your point that people have a hard time ceding ground at times. As has been noted here, people rarely change their position mid-argument and when lines have been drawn (and it's Me against that Fool!), then it can be difficult to even cede legitimate points.

I think we have a hard time having conversations - especially in the anonymous blogosphere.

I think a lot of us (like me) find it easier to be rude via blogging. In face-to-face conversations, it's much easier to cede points and, I think, much more difficult to bring up strawmen arguments and wild accusations.

But what's the point?

Well, we NEED to have conversations. We are a divided nation and a divided world (or so it seems at times) and as always, we need many little and big conversations with those who differ from us to make our democracy and world work.

Les said...

"One of the main problems I've observed with blogging, is the unwillingness for anyone involved with a given debate to let themselves admit the other guy has a point."

That's a good point.

Seriously, though - do you expect your ideological opponents to just roll over for you, Art? For the most part, there's a reason people stubbornly and often vociferously argue their own positions - they actually BELIEVE in them! Did that ever occur to you? Take yourself, for example. Your belief in your "concrete evidence" in regards to the abortion debate is no less subjective than that of your opponents, yet you don't acknowledge as much. That's fine. It proves how furiously you defend and fight for your ideals. Without such passion, these talks are just jibber jabber. Frustration is a natural result of such interaction, yet why in a million years would you want to live in a world where everyone thinks the same as you? Are some topics more volatile than others? Well, sure. That comes with the territory. Just remember - empathy is crucial here. Without it, we'd all be banging our heads against the wall.

Don't count out those Cubbies of yours just yet. Brewer Nation is a freakin' roller coaster ride.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

In response to Mom2's two responses to my one response . . .

Not a "blob" - that was a wonderfully campy movie with a young actor named Steven McQueen. What my wife was carrying each time was, from the end of the first trimester or so, a fetus. For myself, I can say that I hoped her pregnancy went with little incident. As my older daughter's 10th birthday is tomorrow, I can honestly say that I tell her that I have loved her since before she was born. That does not mean, however, that given a choice 10 years and three months ago, between both my wife and our unborn fetus dying, and the unborn fetus being aborted and my wife and I healing and trying again (perhaps), with great regret I would unhesitatingly make the latter choice.

I am glad that your body healed enough to prevent you from dying. Others aren't so lucky. I am assuming, therefore, that you believe that God kills young women who die in childbirth or from complications due to pregnancy, for inscrutable reasons to which we mere mortals are not privy.

Marshall, I would echo les's point. Even were you to present an iron clad argument, unanswerable on any grounds, I doubt that too many of us on the other side would concede your point. Not because you're stupid, or because we think we're smarter than you. Our commitment to our beliefs are as powerful as yours. That's all. For all the joking around and fun that goes on, this is serious business here. Life and death stuff.

I for one often admit that I am quite possibly wrong about almost everything. Of course, skepticism like this becomes self-contradictory and boring after a while. The spiral of reflection and argument has to stop somewhere.

Les said...

"The spiral of reflection and argument has to stop somewhere."

It does. Election day. 'Til then, game on.

;-)

Les said...

One other thing...

"Even were you to present an iron clad argument, unanswerable on any grounds, I doubt that too many of us on the other side would concede your point."

I can't include myself on that one, Geoffrey. If a theory is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, then anyone who disagrees with said theory is simply deluding him/herself. Those who thought the world was flat were wrong - plain and simple. In our case, Art believes his interpretation of science is concrete. I disagree. Unfortunately, this is an issue that will NEVER have any resolution. Thus, we talk on...

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

les, I was using hyperbole to make a point. In fact, on issues of public policy and the like, there will never be such an argument, nor will there ever be an end to discussions like this. My point, I suppose, was that our commitments are deep and strong, and as powerful as they are, logic and reason rarely conquer passion and devotion to an idea with which one identifies. Crises occur only when one's deep commitments create existential dilemmas, not when someone comes up with a better argument. That has been my experience, at any rate.

For the most part, I would agree, though. I for one, should someone build a better mousetrap, or at least present a sound argument that I found compelling, would consider changing my views. Notice I say "consider". I will not lie and say it would happen automatically.

In any event, as you say, les, the discussion goes on. Good for the discussion. By the way, election day only means the topics change, not that the discussion will end.

I try to steer clear of nasty comments myself, by the by. I will not give ground, and I will push my points home hard. I do try, however, to stay away from the general nastiness that goes on. It inhibits discussion, and, after all, we're all fallible humans. Even those with whom I vehemently disagree I would like to think of as fellow human beings, worthy of love and respect, just like me.

mom2 said...

I am assuming, therefore, that you believe that God kills young women who die in childbirth or from complications due to pregnancy, for inscrutable reasons to which we mere mortals are not privy.>

You assume wrong. I am thankful that God extended mercy to me. I have great empathy for those who do not experience the good results. I was sick 3 weeks before entering the hospital and was in the hospital 11 days before the birth. What I do though, is give the credit to God for the life of my son, his extending my life and I do not take very much of anything for granted. Why do you want to paint me thusly? Does your theology limit God and leave all the details to your life to yourself? I don't want to brag about my self sufficiency, I need God and His mercy.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

"I am thankful that God extended mercy to me" So, therefore, God does not extend mercy to others, either passively allowing, or actively causing their suffering. Do you believe this or not? It is implied by what you are saying.

I'm not sure what you mean by "limiting God" except to say that I do not wish to believe in a God who either arbitrarily or obscurely limits blessings and extends curses. This God is a monster, and I would prefer to have nothing to do with it.

mom2 said...

"I am thankful that God extended mercy to me" So, therefore, God does not extend mercy to others, either passively allowing, or actively causing their suffering. Do you believe this or not? It is implied by what you are saying.

I'm not sure what you mean by "limiting God" except to say that I do not wish to believe in a God who either arbitrarily or obscurely limits blessings and extends curses. This God is a monster, and I would prefer to have nothing to do with it.>

In reference to your first paragraph, do you enjoy taking what someone says and trying to make a monster out of them? Since the fall of man by way of Adam & Eve, all is not perfect in this world and it is not God's fault. I only meant to say that He was merciful to me and for that, I am deeply grateful.

As for your second paragraph, I am not sure what kind of god you believe in. I have a better idea of my own views, but I can see that it would do no good to try to explain anything to you because you as a 40 year old, have a closed mind and with another 40 years (if God grants it), you will probably be looking at things differently. Until then.....grow up!

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I am twisting nothing. I am ,rather, drawing out the only conclusion possible from your own words. You are glad that God Blessed you. For those who have not been so blessed - for the mother whose child was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth; for the parents whose adult child was found three days after she drowned, trapped by a sunken tree, her winter coat dragging her to her death; for the father who wakes up to find out his beloved child has died from crib death - what are we to assume? Either God only chooses to bless certain people or God doesn't. Which is it. You can't get off the hook by claiming that tragedies such as those I have outlined are somehow not the fault of God, when by your very own implications, the delivery from some similar tragedy is your own gift from God.

My mind is quite open to all sorts of possibilities, including the possibility that everything in which I believe is nonsense. That is something it appears you do not suffer from. Bully for you.

I refuse to grow up. Never liked them. Much too stodgy, convinced they have all the answers. Me, I much prefer living with the question.

The Game said...

I understand...the liberals over at my blog would NEVER admit they were wrong...they will not even admit when ANY Dem is wrong...it kind of gives me a headache...but I enjoy you coming around and bitch slapping them anyway...so don't give up!!!!

Marshall Art said...

The Game appears!! All right!! Good to have you here. Hope to see you again. (You know, Les is a cheezehead, too.)

"Seriously, though - do you expect your ideological opponents to just roll over for you, Art?"

Dude, that would make things so much easier, particularly on my fingertips.

"yet why in a million years would you want to live in a world where everyone thinks the same as you?"

I hate to argue. (What a liar!!)

"Don't count out those Cubbies of yours just yet. Brewer Nation is a freakin' roller coaster ride."

Last ten lookin' better for Cub than Brewcrew. Sox playin' better lately as well, but have bigger hole from which to see daylight. The Cub can make noise if they forget they're the Cub.

Marshall Art said...

Seriously folks, or at least relatively so, I dig the give and take greatly. Currently, I'm continuing the Libby debate at Geoff's. (I've got a lot of research to do there as I've entered the story late in the game. I didn't follow it until recently.) He's also provided me with links to supposed proofs of Bush lies. Once I peruse those, we'll be at it again (they appear to come from lefty sources---very troublesome).

But I must say, once again, and with firmness and a wagging finger, my presentation in the start of personhood debate is flawless. I've presented the data and illustrated the only logical way to interpret it. As there has been no data offered that changes the dynamic, it stands as plain common sense if not outright truth and fact. There's no subjectivity, no religion, not really any passion in the presentation of the data. My passion comes in defending the interpretation against the subjective arguments that seek to dismiss the only logical conclusion the data provides.

For example, Geoff said this: "a zygote is no more a human being than is a spleen" This is logical silly considering the data I've presented. It is subjective and ignores the reality of what each of those terms mean.

But anyhow, if the urge moves anyone, he/she can feel free to use this thread to carry on if there's something else to offer.

Marshall Art said...

But seriously, and I mean it this time, there will be some points that ARE never resolved, some issues that will always divide. This is a sad fact, but gives us the potential for ideas that one group might never have thought. Hopefully it also provokes thoughtful meditation. It does for me.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

As for my sources being "lefty", well, as I said, yes. That does not mean that they are therefore wrong, although as I also say, it is important to consider the source. The evidence presented, and I am sad to say it is rather cursory (I was short on time), is pretty thorough, and not just meaningless claims.

Part of what many on the right interpret as left-wing anger is based upon the fact that war opponents made various claims before the war - about sectarian violence, about open-ended commitments, about the dangers of reinvigorated terrorism - that have all come true, and were all denied by those pushing the war. Some even suggested that the UN be allowed to do its job. the right poo-poohed the idea, saying that Iraq was just shuffling the weapons around. Remember, Donald Rumsfeld not only said that "we know where the weapons [of mass destruction] are", he gave the information as in and around Baghdad and Tikrit. Of course, nothing has been found, because, as the UN inspectors found, as knew all along due to their years of work, there weren't any weapons of mass destruction. Before going off, it is important to remember that, while there were many reasons given to support an invasion of Iraq, the main reason was always the alleged threat of Iraqi WMDs falling in to the hands of terrorists. As there weren't any of the first, and Saddam Hussein was no friend of the second, it always seemed far-fetched to me. But, here we are, four years later, with no end in sight, and no WMDs in sight, either.

Les said...

"les, I was using hyperbole to make a point."

Certainly. Truth be told, I figured as much.

That being said, you can never be too careful. I've encountered countless yahoos in the blogospere who will find any little quote they can to bury their opponents. Most folks here at Art's site seem pretty cool, but again - you gotta cover your ass sometimes.

Peace.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I consider my ass well covered. I never go out with my thong showing. . .

Erudite Redneck said...

Re, "while there were many reasons given to support an invasion of Iraq, the main reason was always the alleged threat of Iraqi WMDs falling in to the hands of terrorists."

And THAT is the point that tipped me, and millions more, over into support for this presidnet.

And we were duped. Amnd I, for one, ewill never forgive the president or the part that for so long has supported him. I think none of them guilty of malace. I accuse all of them guilty of stupid pride and hubris.

Solomon said...

There's a very relevant essay from the WAPO on this topic.

Put politics aside (and there are some in the article but ignore them). It makes some great points about this topic.

Here's the start:
Here's who we need in Washington: Socrates. The Greek fella. We need him not because of what he knew, but because of what he knew he didn't know, which was pretty much everything. He was one of the all-time great doubters. Listen to Loyal Rue, a professor of science and religion at Luther College, describe him:

"He would say things like, 'How do you know that? What's the evidence for that? What do you really mean when you say that? Here's the implication of that claim. Here's the danger you get into if you try to generalize that claim and apply it to everyone.' "

Give Doubt a Chance: This could be a rallying cry for our troubled times.

Doubt has been all but outlawed in contemporary Washington. Doubt is viewed as weakness. You are expected to hold onto your beliefs even in a hurricane of contradictory data. Believing in something that's not true is considered a sign of character.