Wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply discount all kinds of dissent with a simple hand wave and a scoff? Wouldn’t it be grand if any upstart could be mocked and ridiculed until submission?
Whelp, welcome to today.
Following from the recent mess that was the Google Memo (and I am sure that given two weeks, no one will even recall what this was about), I have seen a number of responses that say something along the lines of:
Not all opinions are created equal.
What a lovely, haughty sentiment. We can’t have the commoners thinking that they have any critical thinking skills, can we? We shouldn’t even engage with their arguments because to do so would be to legitimise their concerns – which are unequal.
I cannot fathom a more arrogant approach to any topic, let alone one concerning politics. It’s an attitude that not only smacks of arrogance, but also treats the population at large as incapable of thought. The notion that people broadly cannot discern honest debate from trolls and ignorance does not give people (or at least the people who matter) enough credit.
When I see someone say something ignorant, I can easily discount them. However to have someone else tell me to discount someone is another barrel of shit. If someone says something that is clearly wrong and have no backing evidence for their views – or they speak in roundabouts and broad sweeps – then I will know the weight of their argument.
For instance, someone says, “Men are physically stronger than women, therefore they are better at x”. I discount this argument because it offers nothing. No rational link. No definite conclusion. The argument lacks nuance and does not account for outliers, broad spectrums of people, and also personal drive. The statements proves nothing and I reject it. I don’t need someone to tell me to reject it.
However, present a more nuanced argument with more considered statements that account for variables, and supplies links to research, then I would review their argument differently. I may disagree with the argument, but I will consider it. If someone has offered enough effort and time to submit something, then I should do a courtesy to review it.
Back to the infamous Google Memo, the author offers a lengthy explanation, makes no rash and blunt conclusions, attempts to attach some research and even offers alternative solutions to the current trajectory, and I see people in certain circles state (and I paraphrase), “The argument does not warrant acknowledgement. It is an unequal opinion. To engage with it would be to legitimise it. So we should mock and bury it.”
This is not how to win people to your side. If something is argued simply, then it can be dismissed simply. It would take no effort and no energy.
If you definitely have truth on your side, then you should fear no debate.