Sunday, August 19, 2007

Groupthink and the Other Thing

Groupthink is probably always to some extent a danger for everybody, but I find myself to be less susceptible to it than most people. When everybody in a given group agrees about something, I find myself inclined to question the orthodoxy.

On the other hand, when I find myself arguing with dogmatists, I find myself becoming more dogmatic myself. When I was frequently discussing creationism with hyper-dogmatic creationists, I found myself becoming dogmatic in defense of evolutionary theory. Similarly with the radical lefties back in grad school--the more I had to be around them, the farther to the right I found myself moving. Oh, and Wittgensteinians--cripes, those people can be insufferable.

Now, of course, it's the Bush dead-enders. I've started trying to avoid them because their irrationality is starting to rub off on me. I find myself slowly becoming more anti-Bush in part simply as a result of the willful refusal of so much of the right to be at all reasonable about the man and his mistakes. In academia, it's mercifully easy to avoid them...but, of course, the blogosphere is lousy with 'em. I used to try to make sure that I read a lot of righty blogs, but these days I find that I'm actually better off not reading them.

Is it just me, or is this going around?

Anyway, I certainly hope that other liberal bloggers aren't as susceptible to this effect as I am, or we're all in trouble.


Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Is Kevin Drum still OK?

8:00 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Exhibit A: Tom van Dyke...

This comment is only marginally relevant to the topic at hand, though.

I don't care to discuss this again. You can look at any of our past discussions in which I cleaned your clock on this one.

It's very clear that the administration cooked the data on Iraq. In fact, it was so painfully clear that that's a major reason why I changed my position on the invasion, despite believing that it'd be good for Saddam to go.

Drum and Mr. Hawk are both confused. Yes, there was good reason to think that Saddam had WMDs (I, for example, said to a friend of mine (quoting): "There's no doubt in my mind that that SOB has biological and chemical weapons.")

But this has nothing to do with the cooking of the data. They both mistakenly presuppose that if it seemed clear (on the basis of prior evidence) that Saddam had "WMDs" (a made-up term. What he actually seemed to have were biological and chemical weapons), then the administration didn't cook the new evidence. But that conditional is false.

Both of the following are true:

(a) Before 9/11, there was good reason to think that Saddam had bio-chem weapons.

(b) The administration cooked the evidence after it decided to go to war. (Beginning on, like, 9/12)

Please, please, please, don't bother me with drivel like this Tom.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Drum is drivel now? OK, one more for the list.

1:23 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

I like how you constantly quote other (wrong) people to back up your claims, but you never make your own arguments.

And THEN you go "Oh well *sigh* I see that you don't like THAT person either.." as though it's some failing on WS's behalf that he doesn't care for people who he can demonstrably show to be wrong.

The thing is, you do all the easy, little things. You go "You're wrong - and this is why!" and then you link to something. The something you link to is either:

a) Irrelevant
b) Citing "facts" that are incorrect
c) Making horrendously illogical arguments
d) Some of the above
e) All of the above.

You make poor WS do all the work. He has to pick through your links and show you why each is wrong, and then you disregard what he says, pay no attention to logic, and throw out things like "I guess he's not on the epistemologically approved list", refusing to address the fact that he's (or whoever it is you're referencing this time) obviously wrong.

If you want to post useful commentary, why not post some well organized argumentation? You know, show us the premises all nicely numbered out and then the conclusion - maybe that'll make it easier to discuss these issues since you don't seem to be getting what we're often saying and perhaps we often don't get what you're saying.

Does that sound reasonable? Instead of just continuing on like we have been which CLEARLY doesn't work, maybe try something new like this.

ALSO, I'd like to note the following:

I've seen both of the following happen on this blog:

1) WS admitting he's wrong
2) WS asking a question about someone else's post for clarification.

I've NEVER seen either of these things happen on this blog:

1) TVD admitting he's wrong.
2) TVD asking a question about someone else's post for clarification.

Doesn't that tell you something? I'll give you a hint, Tom: it's not that you're always right and always understand what other people are saying.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm sure he appreciates it, but how can you type when you're always holding WS' coat?

As for bringing my arguments or someone else's, you wave away them both, so what's the difference?

As for your own original arguments, they are conspicuous by their absence, your efforts concentrated on delegitimizing mine. Tom does this, Tom doesn't do that, Tom changes the subject, Tom argues dishonestly.

Get a life, or at least get an argument of your own. This mascot routine isn't cute anymore.

4:15 PM  
Blogger tehr0x0r said...

Good Lord Tom are you kidding me? Look disagreement is a good thing, without it we would never become better more intelligent people because we would never be forced to think about why we justify our positions. That said what you do doesn't help in that process. Whenever someone says that a Republican has done something wrong you run to one of three options...

Option A- It is OK for the Republican to have done this because Clinton either did the same thing or did something worse.

Option B- Point to some Conservative writer who disagrees with what the the post says and follow that with "but you won't listen to them because they are not a leftist" then you proceed to claim that we think that anyone who isn't a wacko leftist isn't worth listening to. Stop projecting on us on this one OK? Thanks.

Option C- Point to some totally irrelevant topic and build a huge argument about how we are wrong and then claim that you have won. When it is pointed out that you have done this you say that we are making personal attacks against you.

Tom this is my last intelligent post I will make to you. I have better things to do then to point out the flaws in your methods. If you made logical arguments I would love to debate you but you never do and thus it is a waste of my time. Thus in the future my only response will be grunts if I even take the time to do that.

5:05 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

lol I like how pointing out your many, many flaws is insufficient to qualify as having a life when it comes to blogging.

Man, I was so close to having a blogtastic life, but I guess I don't.

And you know, showing your flawed logic to be what it is when you post is something that you require me to do in order to try to get ANYTHING out of the comments sections that you rule over with your ridiculous assertions and horrendously irrational posts.

You say that I need to have "original arguments" or that it's somehow bad that I don't make any because my efforts are "concentrated on delegitimizing" yours.

There are two issues I take with that statement. For one, I'm not trying to "delegitimize" you, as you so love that word. It's not about you so much as it is about the bad argumentation methods you utilize. I'm showing that your arguments are flawed, and that's not equivalent to "delegitimzing" you, by which I can only guess that you mean I'm somehow trying to remove your credibility as a person for no good reason.

I don't need to bother with that, however, as you do a fine job by yourself.

Unfortunately, the second issue I take with that statement is that there is a reason I'm forced into criticizing your posts so frequently. By your omnipresent, intensely partisan BS, you require me to spend the majority of my time on this blog exposing your flawed reasoning in order to make the comments thread move in a productive direction.

You derail all progress on the blog and then criticize others for spending their time showing your reasoning to be poor in order to get the comments thread back on track. That's really bad.

It also says something that you'd even venture to suggest that it's a bad quality to not have "original arguments". That might be why you can't be quiet - you feel a strong compulsion to produce a new argument and that compulsion overrides your need to find the truth.

The fact that you've never admitted that you were wrong..ever.. and you never even ask questions about other people's posts for clarity indicate to me that you're not really interested in what others are saying. You're more about being right than about knowing what IS right.

So don't criticize others for criticizing you for derailing the blog with red herrings and bad reasoning.

I was simply suggesting a method that might help us all to understand one another (and if you're looking for a contribution to the blog on my behalf - if a lack of contribution rather than a lack of "original arguments" is what you were criticizing me for, then consider that one of mine).

Are you entirely against trying something like that? A more methodological procedure by which we post our arguments might help us all understand why that which is said on this blog is said.

It'd give us better direction, maybe, and maybe we'd make some progress instead of bickering.

Whaddya think? Next time you think something that is posted on this blog is incorrect, how about a nicely organized (premises made obvious and easy to understand, obvious logical movements towards a concise and clearly stated conclusion) argument to the contrary?

It'd be good for all of us. I think you should at least be willing to try it if you really think we're all entirely wrong and you're so clearly right. It is either you or us who need the clarity, and I think this would help clear that up.

6:37 PM  

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