Sunday, 30 June 2013

How to be contrary: A lesson in obstinacy

I was looking through old folders when I came across a school of report of mine from when I was in reception (ah, the lovely stage between nursery and year 1...year 1 being the third year of school, what does that say about the UK education system, hmm) and it was quite the interesting read. It stated that I was a disobedient, unruly child who led the other children and provoked them, using only words, to fight each other words, at 4-5 years of age, I was the Devil in the classroom, and I guess, certain parts of that have never really left my being. The disobedience thing I found to be funny (it was a Church of England school, very religious, so I'm glad to see that even at a young age I was against that) but it was the making others fight thing that I found to be really interesting...see, that doesn't really sound like something I'd do. I love arguing but I like to be the one doing it, watching other people argue can be interesting (insomuch as it reveals aspects of their personality that they would normally conceal) and a lot can be learnt from it, but if I am doing the arguing myself then I can direct it, in a sense, make it follow the paths I want it to follow....which is bias, I know, but fun! 

One of the things is that I am often contrary, that is, I will argue view points that I don't believe in, hell, that I may even find to be abhorrent, just to see how well people can back up what they are arguing against....the thing I've discovered is that people tend to be very obstinate but without much reason behind it. A couple of examples, arguing with a friend about the benefits of vegan-ism, he mentions a bunch of studies that prove it to be beneficial, I mention studies on evolution (humans started eating meat to gain easier access to energy = bigger brains), he disregards it out of hand. Next example, friend argues that the Christian God is real, and has all the traits attributed to Him, namely that he is all powerful, all knowing and all good. I counter with the Epicurean Paradox, friend responds with "no, you're wrong" "why am I wrong? How so?" "because God is" blah blah blah. 

The first example is something that I am not completely at odds with, I like vegan-ism as I hate animal cruelty though the second...well, for most of my childhood I was brought up as a Christian, so I can't entirely shake the belief in some form of over-watching God-like figure however much I would very much like to...but my main point is that the arguments they present are flawed. They can't adapt to any new information that discredits them, they can't overcome any apparent contradiction or paradox that disproves them but still they argue the point, still they remain obstinate and use circular logic (i.e. I am right because I am right) and it really annoys me. I don't mind the stubbornness so much as I hate the refusal to acknowledge the merit of any view that opposes their own....I know, it's hypocritical, but there it is.

I guess the thing I really hate is "isms", because you can't really argue against them because they're almost exclusively based on faith and belief and so are subjective to the person expressing that view point. It doesn't matter what you present against it because they're not looking to be proven wrong, only that their "ism" is correct, and so will disregard anything that goes against it.

This is actually starting to depress me, just thinking about how fucking obstinate we all are and how we create all these divisions and definitions of each other....I think next time I'm just going to talk about video games again. later days. 

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