Thursday, December 15, 2011

Arguing with stupid people: channelling your inner Richard Dawkins

Maybe it's a coincidence that I'm staying with my parents for Christmas and I decided to write this post, maybe it isn't. It obviously isn't but I was thinking maybe some people also feel this way at the dreaded close-familial-proximity time known as December.

So - arguing with stupid people! Fun fun! Right? WRONG. It is fucking soul destroying. We all know those times when you're talking to someone who literally doesn't understand logic, and so uses arguments against you that have no basis in reason. It is really, really hard not to lose your shit. For example:

Stupid person: I have this stupid opinion.

You: Really? I don't share that opinion, here's mine.

Stupid person: GOD, everything you think is so simplistic/apathetic/leftist/extreme/ridiculous/WRONG. NOT EVERYONE (insert something you didn't mention.)

You: I wasn't even saying that, why are you getting so angry about it?

Stupid person: (condescending "quiet" voice) I'm not angry, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Not everyone has your opinions and That's Ok. You need to stop trying to control everyone. You need to have more respect for people's beliefs.

You: Ha, ok. (Head explodes)

The reason I mentioned good old Dick Dawkins earlier is because whatever you think of him and his opinions, he has definitely been in a lot of recorded debates which go a lot like this. Stupid people will just use words - any words, familiar words, words that sound like they're to do with the topic, and all the other stupid people think it's a logical argument. Everyone claps, Richard facepalms, the end. I've seen him in these situations time and time again and his patience is preeettty admirable. I would be red in the face and anger-crying by then. That's because I haven't learnt to channel him.

Today, having a similar argument to the one above, I found myself almost in the anger-crying phase and knew I had to do something about it.  It's like a zen mind control game where you're trying to meditate while someone is constantly insulting you, loudly. There's only so much "Calm ocean, calm ocean, calm GO FUCK A TREE. LITERALLY FUCK A TREE RIGHT NOW." that you can take.

Where am I going with this? Basically, today during that conversation I realised that although nobody in the room could see my point of view, and everyone in the room was being ultra superior, I knew I was still right. And I thought about Richard, in his debates, and I knew that the stupid people were all clapping for each other, but that still didn't make them right. They were using words the only way they knew. And perhaps I should just leave it this time and save my brain power for a conversation in which people have brains.

DISCLAIMER: It may seem like it, but I am not talking about all religious people when I mentioned the debates Richard Dawkins had. He's had a lot of debates with intelligent people too, religious or not. I was talking specifically about the stupid people, who are from any and all belief systems and whatever.

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