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The Discourse Issue

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The Discourse Issue
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LaurensSocial EditorUser avatarPosts: 2995Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:24 pmLocation: Norwich UK Gender: Male

Post The Discourse Issue

Hello,

In another thread the issue was raised about how public political discourse has become toxic, with radical elements on both sides of the left/right spectrum plunging political debate into a vitriolic farce. Whether it's factions on the right calling people "cucks" left, right, and centre, or the radical left looking for any reason to throw anyone who disagrees with their radical agenda under the bus. I feel like I don't need to prove this point, so I shall take it as given. Perhaps if you disagree with the premise that public political discourse has reached such a high level of toxicity and divisiveness then you might want to start a new topic, by all means link it here to I can argue my point more fully. I would like this thread to constitute a productive discussion about what we can do as individuals to reverse this trend.

What do you think we can do about it as reasonable people?

I'll post my thoughts in a follow up post so as not to clutter the main question of this thread.

Regards

Laurens

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Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:10 am
SparhafocPosts: 2434Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The Discourse Issue

Hi Laurens

Just to note that I did see your question posed in the other thread and was planning to answer it as soon as I have some time to set out my thoughts. I'll do so here instead.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:10 pm
WarKChat ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 1210Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:59 am Gender: Tree

Post Re: The Discourse Issue

I've came across this article recently: Cults, Cons and how to talk to someone in the conservative bubble. It discusses what strategy to use when talking to people in cults.

Personally, I just don't know. I have a guy at work who's a right wing fake news consumer. A creationist, climate change denier, racist, slavery apologist (oddly enough, claims not to be a Christian). Arguing with him is like talking to a wall. I tried a few times but decided to stop talking to him altogether. Perhaps sometimes it's good to know when not to engage the wilfully stupid.
Did you see that ludicrous display last night?
Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:06 pm
LaurensSocial EditorUser avatarPosts: 2995Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:24 pmLocation: Norwich UK Gender: Male

Post Re: The Discourse Issue

Its a really difficult issue to tackle.

I think the first thing to do is somehow to create a sensible movement that is bi-partisan so that reasonable people can get behind it and promote it. Perhaps some kind of coalition against radicals. Get a message of debate and reasoned dialogue out there, engage people on either side of the spectrum. Promote enlightened debate about the issues in society.

I think perhaps the main thing is to not allow fear to run the game. I am not sure, but I imagine that there are a lot of liberals who dare not speak up for fear of the authoritarian left coming along to tell them they can't say it, and brand them a monster. I think people on all sides of the political spectrum who aren't radical feel a sense of wanting to distance themselves from their political homeland as it were.

Perhaps its a time to be individualistic. Drop the toxic labels, and find new ways of expressing what you believe without allowing the inevitable judgement that comes from saying you are left or right wing. Maybe the term Humanist could be something we could rally behind. United against a divided society. Ignore divisive issues in favour of strongly promoting discourse and debate. We are different, we all think different things about how society should be, but we are all humans, and it is in our best interests to get along and build a society that works differences out in a reasonable and pleasant way.

I feel like I could go on. But I'll leave it there for now

Laurens
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Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:57 pm
SparhafocPosts: 2434Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The Discourse Issue

Laurens wrote:I think perhaps the main thing is to not allow fear to run the game. I am not sure, but I imagine that there are a lot of liberals who dare not speak up for fear of the authoritarian left coming along to tell them they can't say it, and brand them a monster.


I've had plenty of experiences with the authoritarian left branding me a monster when I am trying to strike a reasonable compromise on issues they are mostly preoccupied with, but then again, I've had a nearly endless torrent of rabid invective from the far authoritarian right on just about every topic they care to take a swing at. Not sure how many times I've been called a kike, a Muslim-apologist, a communist, or a queer just for countering their delusional notions with scientific or historical facts, but it's a lot! I assume I must be doing something right to cause such animosity in diametrically opposed groups of absolutists! :)

The truth, I expect, is that most people are in the fairly reasonable middle and aren't very impressed by either partisan extremist, but also don't feel as passionately about the adored chain-yanking subjects and consequently aren't heard over the braying of fools.

I think at least part of the problem is sensationalism. Any report on a statement is always going to be self-selectively about an extreme statement. No one reports that John Smith said something very reasonable and mundane, they would only report if he drooled out some nonsensical hate-speech... and then people react passionately to that thereby extending the platform of that statement. Perhaps it's just human nature?

Either which way, my first inclination is always towards education. I've been bashing on the deceased equine for years about the need for rigorous critical thinking classes in our education systems including logic and discourse. As pointless as they seem, perhaps debate societies should be more seriously promoted to give people an understanding of the nature of debate, how to frame arguments, and how to understand the strengths and weaknesses of positions both yours and your opponents. Coupled with that, of course, would be the sporting element of shaking hands at the end and congratulating the winner.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-sh ... 54401.html
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:39 pm
MatthewLeePosts: 111Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:04 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: The Discourse Issue

Is it possible that some of this is coming from a brand new form of media which is specifically designed to reinforce our biases and in a Pavlovian way make us double down on them in the vacuum of an echo chamber? Social media.

In social media we are free to see only what we want to and the apps only provide us things we will click on and connect us with people we agree with. It's like manufacturing consensus and reinforcing it with operant conditioning. It's positively Huxley-an. Or Orwellian... not sure... it seems less openly hostile to human flowering but more ambiguously so. The anonymity of the medium also lends itself to making each person far more aggressive.

In what medium before in the history of man did every single person of every single echelon of society have the opportunity to have endless debate and never have to look your opponent in the eye? I admit I have been a participant in the social media zeitgeist haunting. When I closed out all my accounts and shut down Facebook and Twitter all of a sudden I started to notice a change in my level of general angst.
Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:15 am
SparhafocPosts: 2434Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The Discourse Issue

MatthewLee wrote:Is it possible that some of this is coming from a brand new form of media which is specifically designed to reinforce our biases and in a Pavlovian way make us double down on them in the vacuum of an echo chamber? Social media.


To be honest, this is just one of a great number of examples of why we should never subscribe to the notion that the market can save us from ourselves.

From a social media perspective, this is really all just about algorithms ever more effectively tailoring content to our preferences to keep us watching and clicking on adverts.

But the impetus for it is still human psychology - a need to confirm one's biases, and dismiss evidence that doesn't match our beliefs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_bias
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

There's plenty of examples in the scientific literature, but in this case Wikipedia actually has a very good summary.


MatthewLee wrote:In social media we are free to see only what we want to and the apps only provide us things we will click on and connect us with people we agree with. It's like manufacturing consensus and reinforcing it with operant conditioning. It's positively Huxley-an. Or Orwellian... not sure... it seems less openly hostile to human flowering but more ambiguously so. The anonymity of the medium also lends itself to making each person far more aggressive.


I think for the most part it's a by-product of attention retention and consequent profit rather than an actual attempt to condition people.


MatthewLee wrote:In what medium before in the history of man did every single person of every single echelon of society have the opportunity to have endless debate and never have to look your opponent in the eye? I admit I have been a participant in the social media zeitgeist haunting. When I closed out all my accounts and shut down Facebook and Twitter all of a sudden I started to notice a change in my level of general angst.


I briefly partook in FB mostly to keep in touch with family and friends, but dropped it very soon afterwards because of a horde of worrying factors. Consequently, I've never felt the tug of social media, but I've seen close friends and family fall prey to it.


While I think you're right that this is reinforcing the situation, I don't think it's the cause.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:31 am
borrofburiModeratorPosts: 3527Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 5:27 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: The Discourse Issue

...the new world of social media... [will become] a well-tuned machine optimized to search the world for the most controversial and counterproductive issues, then make sure no one can talk about anything else. An engine that creates money by burning the few remaining shreds of cooperation, bipartisanship and social trust.


From: http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/17/th ... a-of-rage/

What can be done? Nothing aside from getting a better human. Maybe we'll get lucky and the next generation, having grown up with this stuff, will somehow be inoculated against it.

But as things currently stand, our media (including social media) are incentivized to bring us the content we will pay attention to, and it turns out the things we pay attention to (as a people) are those things that are controversial and divisive to the exclusion of all else. Approval for congress as a whole is at an all time low, but for a given politician their constituents are pretty happy. People chose this, and I see no reason they'll stop choosing this.
Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:27 am
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