One thing that becomes clear is that there is always conflict. Idealist want us to aspire to a imaginary, higher, level, where we don’t have differences. That is an illusion. Conflict will always exist and as warriors understand, it is never cured, only managed.
Based on the idea of conflict or differences, we often entertain discussion, argument or verbal wars with each other. They could be in person or they are often on the internet. Modern social media, proceeded by newsgroups, chat and forums are an endless source of arguing various points of contention. The power we do have is that of linking to reference. It’s like a lawyer producing evidence in a trial. If it does not fit, you must acquit.
The concept of, “Leave your ego at the door”, is, at least in my memory, from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. For anyone who has hit the mats will understand, when you think you are better, good for you. Just be able to show it on the mat or pay the price. It is not a challenge, it is a cooperative relationship, when you “roll”, you are helping each other. Both sides win. To clarify, you either win or learn. You start with shaking hands and end with shaking hands. You respect one another. The wonderful feeling of family, the growth of the training group and the fun of physical exertion/perfection are a marvelous reward.
The polar opposite is the realm of the Master. His experience is not demonstrated in any type of physical challenge, but in diplomas, blurry photos, mystical demonstrations and ever changing tall tales. When I started martial arts in 1973, “dojo wars” were more common because lawyers had not figured out how to find fighters who wanted to sue for liability. [you kicked my butt, however my lawyer is tougher than yours]. People would claim near magical abilities with paper certificates that proclaimed them as masters. As we heard many a real fighter say, “..they can bury with your certificate”.
What am I getting to? Simply, the ability to discuss a topic using evidence has to be done with a metaphorical handshake. It has to be based on EVIDENCE and you have to understand what is good evidence and what is opinion.
When someone doesn’t have these skills, they will resort to these logical fallacies –
1. Ad Hominem. They will attack you as a person, your qualifications or simply apply morality to the some authority, such as Big Pharma, Big Gov’t, Tea Baggers, Liberals, Bible Thumpers, Monsanto, etc.
2. Straw Man. Rather than discuss the point, they will create a separate argument. Example? Tom Furman says, “I hate Latin food!” The obvious Strawman is, “Oh,…. so you hate Latins?”. My answer is usually, “No, I hate polish food too and I’m polish. I’m discussing my personal taste in food, not in cultural dynamics.”
3. Appeal to Authority. This is the golden one. Even our parents did it. When giving us chores or directions and we questioned them, the answer wasn’t a breakdown of responsibility and team work, it was, “Because I’M THE PARENT!!” A perfect example was posted on the internet recently. A writer was challenging a technical point with Deepok Chopra. This issue was brought up with Deepok and his reply was,… now get this,.. HIS RESUME. Really, that’s what he did, list his resume. I was personally faced with a Doctor who loudly proclaimed in a training session, “Well WHO IS THE DOCTOR, HERE??”. I replied, “I promise to speak more slowly”.
4. Avoid Middle Ground. Another realm of our thought process is to ignore the fact that most things end up between the extremes. If someone you know is badly out of shape, at health risk and in pain, you may suggest exercise as a powerful option. Their reply using this fallacy would be, “What do you want me to do, run a marathon?”. Of course you didn’t suggest that. All you wanted them to do was add some walking and swimming to their week.
So rather than debate evidence that has been scrutinized by peers and replicated, many online gunslingers will resort almost totally to the above tactics.
Let me relate again back to martial arts. Back in the day, you walked into a school and the greeting area was filled with plaques and certificates and diplomas. There were also blurry photos of the instructor as a younger men with exotic characters in far away lands. What was shocking that the belt he wore had so many colors on it, you wondered how it held up his stupendous belly. The students would speak of his near magical abilities, pressure points and delayed death techniques. It was very impressive, but like voodoo, it was spoken of, but never seen. He promised magic, but delivered smoke and mirrors.
Now a days it’s different. A sophisticated public is no longer impressed by martial wannabee’s pulling rabbits out of hats. They know the difference. It’s based on evidence. If you walk into a wrestling gym, the members are practicing takedowns, clinch work and applying pressure from the top position. In a Thai gym, they don’t wear belts, they get it on. Step into a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class and you will be introduced to the concept of position before submission. Evidence carries weight, there is a body count, so to speak.
In the realm of discussion of material that you are passionate about, evidence is your weapon. The second you jump into logical fallacies you have lost. Unfortunately for keyboard warriors,.. there is no knock out, tap out, takedown or submission. There is only massive ego.
My advice? Learn to spar. It’s called sparring because both guys win. Just remember to leave your ego at the door.