Ever spent an hour beating your head against a rock? No? Neither have I. At least in the literal sense. Figuratively, it’s something I deal with on an almost daily basis.
A couple weeks ago I was having dinner and drinks with a couple friends when they launched into the “great debate” over whether humans were meant to be vegetarian or not. Arguments were exchanged based on our genetic make up and the evolution of the man-made tool. It showed signs of being a solid debate. Then it went horribly awry.
After each side presented their first argument, the other would respond with, “Fine, but…”. On and on it went with no evidence of one side taking away anything from the other. An hour later, the opening arguments were still being presented. I, on the other hand, had found myself the bottom of a pint at glass, thanking any god I could think of for not letting these two attempt to involve me in their intellectual debauchery.
In this day and age, your average schmoe can be a self-proclaimed expert on absolutely anything. From theoretical physics to the best jerk chicken this side of Dufferin, anyone can know “everything” about anything. Of course, the discerning gentleman or lady will realize that a predominate portion of information found on the good ol’ interwebs is poorly contrived bullshit.
The problem with this is not that a complete ignoramus has easy access to information he or she knows nothing about. It’s a wonderful thing that information is so readily available. The problem, my dear cynics, is that once these people have done their so-called research, what they have garnered from the canals of Google is so ingrained in their heads as pure fact that they become unable to accept relevant counterpoints made in conversation from what could very-well be more reliable sources. Further disappointment comes from these people rarely keeping their knowledge up-to-date, arguing statistics that haven’t been accurate since the Wikipedia page was last updated. This very quickly invalidates anything they say, regardless of how well formulated their opinion is.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with someone disagreeing with my opinion regarding any given topic. Debate is healthy. I welcome it as an opportunity to expand my knowledge-base and/or increase someone else’s. What kills me is when the know-it-all, or Joe, simply refuses to consider the validity in your opposition.
Have your opinion and your “facts”, but when striving to be knowledgeable about anything (or everything, as the case may sometimes be), accept that you’re going to be wrong on occasion.
Debate is pointless if no one is considering the arguments being presented. New information isn’t processed, which is a great travesty to what could be a vast wealth of shared personal knowledge. Even though Joe may, in fact, be wrong in his assumptions, do him a solid and use your presumably statistically accurate facts to disprove his argument as opposed to simply stating your position over again. The intent being to show that you’re listening through comparison.
Suck it up. Any thinker should be ready to accept valid arguments when they’re presented with them, Joe! There’s a lot to be said for humility. That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t stand up for their beliefs, opinions and ideas. Just be sure to back yourself up with proven fact and sound logic when attempting to educate someone. Keep your arguments fresh. Remember, an opinion is not fact and shouldn’t be used to prove anything besides your personal preferences. It’s scientifically proven that Albert’s is the best damn jerk chicken this side of Dufferin. Obviously!
If you’re going to ignore my thoughts and ideas, you may as well be beating my head against a rock.
… But please don’t.
About the author: Incapable of keeping his thoughts about how the rest of society should be behaving in any circumstance to himself, Alex constantly finds himself on the wrong side of opinionated. In order to stave off physical violence, he’s decided to find a new outlet for his cynical views of life, love and sunshine.
You can read Alex’s other posts on PP [here]