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Penn Jillette’s advice for Joe Biden

 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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20 November 2020 00:02
 
weird buffalo - 19 November 2020 06:49 AM
Poldano - 19 November 2020 12:10 AM
weird buffalo - 16 November 2020 06:23 AM
Poldano - 16 November 2020 12:09 AM

You are correct that I did not take an audience into account. I was focusing on political contests and how to erode the opposition. If not everyone has made up their minds already, then my suggestion for a matter-of-fact rational approach still works. I don’t think ranting wins as many adherents among the unpersuaded as carefully constructed arguments.

This implies that religion and Trump have been unsuccessful in convincing people of anything… which is already patently false.  Ranting and emotional arguments have and do convince millions of people of things, and for you to dismiss them as ineffective when the evidence clearly indicates the obvious is literally already proof that we aren’t convinced by rational facts.  To restate that, you have failed to be convinced by the rational fact that rational facts have failed to convince people.

Ranting and emotional argument convince only those who are already tending toward the argued position. They tend to anger or disgust those who hold contrary opinions. Trump’s rants didn’t convince anyone who didn’t already have a negative opinion of the people and positions he ranted against. No one converts to a religion because of a ranting preacher. Most religious people were brought up to value religion, and converts change religions because of feeling some lack in their prior religions. Those recruited by radical religious cults or political movements have underlying psychological reasons for doing so, and those nearly always include anger.

What I’m talking about is what’s effective at getting enough people to change their minds about specific issues to be able to get some political change done. If you read my response to mapadofu right after my response to you, you will know my reasoning. There are some other people who might disagree with me. For instance, the current issue of Scientific American has several articles about fighting misinformation. One of them regards any lengthy discourse as relatively ineffective. (Fair warning, that article was written by admirers of the original, left-leaning misinformation pranksters.) If they are correct, then tactics using tweets, sound bites, and satire may be effective. I continue to believe that the content and delivery, especially the negative forms like satire, have to be carefully constructed to avoid unintended implicit insult to the people you are trying to convince.

It’s hard to take someone who is arguing for rational discourse seriously when they repeatedly try to rationalize away evidence they don’t like.  The hole in the logic is too big to get past.

Do you have actual evidence you can refer me to, or is the evidence just your own opinion?

It seems to me we’re both using only opinion, and making different interpretations of commonly assumed theses. To the extent that I’m explicitly relying on evidence, it is recent research about belief and the difficulty with changing it, and recent research about the effect of strong emotion on success at convincing people to change their beliefs. I have not made copious notes about the sources. Since you have not bothered to cite your evidence, only your opinion, I have not chosen to spend time tracking down references that support mine.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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20 November 2020 06:41
 

My evidence that people are more susceptible to emotional arguments than rational arguments:

2.3 billion Christians exist
1.9 billion Muslims exist
1.1 billion Hindus exist
500 million Buddhists exist
340 million traditional Chinese religionists exist

Since religions provided logically unsound arguments for why they are true, that means that people aren’t being convinced by rational arguments supported by evidence and facts, but rather are being won over with illogical arguments and emotional arguments.

As the current US election results stand, 73 million people voted for Trump.  Trumps arguments for his presidency are either based on lies (that he did good things for people) or illegitimate beliefs (like white supremacy), that means that millions of Americans are capable of being convinced by lies, emotional appeals, or appeals to their previously held illegitimate beliefs. None of this is to imply that those who voted for Democrats aren’t doing it based on emotional arguments.  As people have shown in other threads, people can believe things like BLM for bad reasons.  They can support it for largely emotional ones and completely disregard true facts or rely on false facts to bolster their belief.

Amongst what convinces these people are emotional arguments.  This is evidence that emotional arguments are effective.  Not just somewhat effective, but actually highly effective.  Emotional arguments can effect change at a global level, not just a political level nationally in the United States, but across the whole world for centuries even.  You tried to dismiss this with a handwave, but it doesn’t change the fact that emotional arguments are more likely to have a larger impact on the world than rational arguments.

In the marketplace of ideas, emotional arguments routinely (but not 100%) beat rational arguments.

 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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20 November 2020 09:46
 
weird buffalo - 20 November 2020 06:41 AM

In the marketplace of ideas, emotional arguments routinely (but not 100%) beat rational arguments.

I think there is truth in this, but positive emotional arguments are also rational – appeals to brotherly love, kindness, desire for fairness and justice ...  There is real power in such ideas and ideals.

Love is the strongest force the world possesses.
The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.
In a gentle way, you can shake the world.
Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will.

–– Mahatma Gandhi

 

 
 
Poldano
 
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20 November 2020 22:57
 
weird buffalo - 20 November 2020 06:41 AM

My evidence that people are more susceptible to emotional arguments than rational arguments:

2.3 billion Christians exist
1.9 billion Muslims exist
1.1 billion Hindus exist
500 million Buddhists exist
340 million traditional Chinese religionists exist

Since religions provided logically unsound arguments for why they are true, that means that people aren’t being convinced by rational arguments supported by evidence and facts, but rather are being won over with illogical arguments and emotional arguments.

As the current US election results stand, 73 million people voted for Trump.  Trumps arguments for his presidency are either based on lies (that he did good things for people) or illegitimate beliefs (like white supremacy), that means that millions of Americans are capable of being convinced by lies, emotional appeals, or appeals to their previously held illegitimate beliefs. None of this is to imply that those who voted for Democrats aren’t doing it based on emotional arguments.  As people have shown in other threads, people can believe things like BLM for bad reasons.  They can support it for largely emotional ones and completely disregard true facts or rely on false facts to bolster their belief.

Amongst what convinces these people are emotional arguments.  This is evidence that emotional arguments are effective.  Not just somewhat effective, but actually highly effective.  Emotional arguments can effect change at a global level, not just a political level nationally in the United States, but across the whole world for centuries even.  You tried to dismiss this with a handwave, but it doesn’t change the fact that emotional arguments are more likely to have a larger impact on the world than rational arguments.

In the marketplace of ideas, emotional arguments routinely (but not 100%) beat rational arguments.

What emotional arguments would you use to convince people of the need to act on climate change if those people believe it is a hoax?

In any case, my argument for rationality does not exclude appeals to emotion or emotion-backed belief, but to being very analytical and deliberate about the ways emotion is appealed to. Ranting as a style, I’ve found from personal experience, did not work well from me, even when I had facts on my side. On the other hand, more subdued appeals to emotion may be more successful. For instance, one of the bases of my risk-mitigation-based argument for action on climate change is that the welfare of others should be a concern of ours. This also happens to be a tenet of Christianity. So, Christians may be good targets for an emotional appeal for climate change action, but only if they admit at least the possibility that the scientific findings are correct, and not a hoax. On the other hand, anyone of any religious persuasion (including the most rationally inclined of atheists) who does not care at all about the welfare of others will be very difficult to convince of the necessity to contribute materially to mitigate climate change, because his own wants are foremost.

Furthermore, although this is a tangent, it is not necessarily true that all people who voted for Trump did so because of his emotional appeals, or even his personal appeal. Some no doubt did it because they like the policies he implemented and plans to implement. Among them are people whose actions are dominated by rational self-interest in their own well-being, exactly the people whom I referred to in the last sentence of the previous paragraph. If such people can be persuaded at all, I assert that it is only by showing factually and rationally that there are risks from climate change that do threaten their own well-being. I suppose this could be considered to be an emotion-based appeal as well, since even rational self-interest has some kind of emotional basis (e.g., greed or fear). The style of an effective appeal to such people would not be what I consider blatantly emotional, but much more matter-of-fact.

Ask yourself, what kind of appeal would get you to change your mind on something? Would the kind of appeal depend upon how deeply you held your opinion, or on whether your opinion was emotionally-based or based primarily on facts and empirical evidence?

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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21 November 2020 13:44
 

Thanks Penn. I guess.

Note that the communication from Biden was as conciliatory and compassionate as it could have been. And the response from Trump and his most prominent supporters is that the election was stolen and the Democrats are irredeemably corrupt, by definition. Many Trump supporters are openly threatening violence. When confronted about this Trump and his associates either deflect to BLM and Antifa or else give a wink and a nod to the people who think the only good democrat is a dead democrat.

This is about the most worthless advice I can imagine. We can kiss them and bring them presents. It doesn’t matter.

 
weird buffalo
 
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21 November 2020 14:54
 
Poldano - 20 November 2020 10:57 PM

Some no doubt did it because they like the policies he implemented and plans to implement.

My contention is that all of the major policies he implemented were not rationally sound, nor is support of them backed up by reason.  For example, the child separation policy was not an evidence based rational policy, and support for it is grounded in racism.  Yes, it is rational for someone with racist beliefs to support a racist policy, but that fundamentally relies on the person holding an irrational belief in the first place (ie, racist beliefs are not rational or reasonable beliefs to begin with).

I guess you could be talking about his tax cuts.  The uber wealthy who supported his tax cuts do have a rational reason to support him.  That accounts for what… 0.5% of electorate?  Since everyone else is getting a few bucks or nothing.  Some people who are assuredly within Trump’s demo (white, non-college educated) actually are seeing higher taxes after Trump’s “tax cut” because it eliminated multiple working-class deductions.

 
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22 November 2020 01:17
 
weird buffalo - 21 November 2020 02:54 PM
Poldano - 20 November 2020 10:57 PM

Some no doubt did it because they like the policies he implemented and plans to implement.

My contention is that all of the major policies he implemented were not rationally sound, nor is support of them backed up by reason.  For example, the child separation policy was not an evidence based rational policy, and support for it is grounded in racism.  Yes, it is rational for someone with racist beliefs to support a racist policy, but that fundamentally relies on the person holding an irrational belief in the first place (ie, racist beliefs are not rational or reasonable beliefs to begin with).

I guess you could be talking about his tax cuts.  The uber wealthy who supported his tax cuts do have a rational reason to support him.  That accounts for what… 0.5% of electorate?  Since everyone else is getting a few bucks or nothing.  Some people who are assuredly within Trump’s demo (white, non-college educated) actually are seeing higher taxes after Trump’s “tax cut” because it eliminated multiple working-class deductions.

The tax cut is the most obviously rational, and the one that inspired my claim. There are others that are more obscure. Efforts to sell and lease federal lands for exploitation or development are rational goals for the exploiters and developers, for example. Even racist policies are rational for true-believing racists. Racism is unfashionable nowadays (and I use the term with intended sarcasm), but it wasn’t always so, and probably will become fashionable again in some way.

We’re venturing tangentially into deeper philosophical territory now. I claim that all desire is irrational at its base, and that rationality only comes into the picture as a way to maximize the satisfaction of irrational desire. Start a thread in the Philosophy sub-forum if you want to continue in this vein.

 
 
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22 November 2020 01:23
 
Brick Bungalow - 21 November 2020 01:44 PM

Thanks Penn. I guess.

Note that the communication from Biden was as conciliatory and compassionate as it could have been. And the response from Trump and his most prominent supporters is that the election was stolen and the Democrats are irredeemably corrupt, by definition. Many Trump supporters are openly threatening violence. When confronted about this Trump and his associates either deflect to BLM and Antifa or else give a wink and a nod to the people who think the only good democrat is a dead democrat.

This is about the most worthless advice I can imagine. We can kiss them and bring them presents. It doesn’t matter.

Wishing them well is what love means in this context, I think. Cutting off ties is one way to avoid further anger on both sides. I actually have some dear close relatives who are Trump supporters. I don’t know if any of them believe the election was stolen or rigged. Whatever the case, I’ll probably try to avoid talking about politics except in very neutral terms with them, and try to suppress any urge to retort back at them opportunistically.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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22 November 2020 09:12
 

The reluctance to speak honestly to Trump supporting friends and family members is what allowed things to get this out of hand.  It passes the buck to the people who are willing to have difficult conversations when no one else will.  Even with people who threaten their lives.  I don’t see why strangers should be expected to take them on.  This isn’t about politics anymore anyway.  This is about escaping the captivity of lies by learning to question what you believe when it doesn’t make sense.  And avoiding the cult mentality of tribal warfare.  That sort of thing starts at home.  It would be like expecting folks to change a religion from the outside.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
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22 November 2020 10:24
 
Poldano - 22 November 2020 01:17 AM
weird buffalo - 21 November 2020 02:54 PM
Poldano - 20 November 2020 10:57 PM

Some no doubt did it because they like the policies he implemented and plans to implement.

My contention is that all of the major policies he implemented were not rationally sound, nor is support of them backed up by reason.  For example, the child separation policy was not an evidence based rational policy, and support for it is grounded in racism.  Yes, it is rational for someone with racist beliefs to support a racist policy, but that fundamentally relies on the person holding an irrational belief in the first place (ie, racist beliefs are not rational or reasonable beliefs to begin with).

I guess you could be talking about his tax cuts.  The uber wealthy who supported his tax cuts do have a rational reason to support him.  That accounts for what… 0.5% of electorate?  Since everyone else is getting a few bucks or nothing.  Some people who are assuredly within Trump’s demo (white, non-college educated) actually are seeing higher taxes after Trump’s “tax cut” because it eliminated multiple working-class deductions.

The tax cut is the most obviously rational, and the one that inspired my claim. There are others that are more obscure. Efforts to sell and lease federal lands for exploitation or development are rational goals for the exploiters and developers, for example. Even racist policies are rational for true-believing racists. Racism is unfashionable nowadays (and I use the term with intended sarcasm), but it wasn’t always so, and probably will become fashionable again in some way.

We’re venturing tangentially into deeper philosophical territory now. I claim that all desire is irrational at its base, and that rationality only comes into the picture as a way to maximize the satisfaction of irrational desire. Start a thread in the Philosophy sub-forum if you want to continue in this vein.

Racist ideology itself is not rational.  Once we start with that base, it doesn’t matter if something “logically” adheres to the racist ideology, because the policy and support for it is at it’s foundation irrational, it does not fit within definitions of rational.  Unless we’re just changing the word “rational” to mean all behavior that people think they should be engaging in.  By that definition, literally all human behavior is rational, which would seem to make it a pretty useless word to describe human behavior.

 
Poldano
 
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23 November 2020 02:28
 
weird buffalo - 22 November 2020 10:24 AM
Poldano - 22 November 2020 01:17 AM
weird buffalo - 21 November 2020 02:54 PM
Poldano - 20 November 2020 10:57 PM

Some no doubt did it because they like the policies he implemented and plans to implement.

My contention is that all of the major policies he implemented were not rationally sound, nor is support of them backed up by reason.  For example, the child separation policy was not an evidence based rational policy, and support for it is grounded in racism.  Yes, it is rational for someone with racist beliefs to support a racist policy, but that fundamentally relies on the person holding an irrational belief in the first place (ie, racist beliefs are not rational or reasonable beliefs to begin with).

I guess you could be talking about his tax cuts.  The uber wealthy who supported his tax cuts do have a rational reason to support him.  That accounts for what… 0.5% of electorate?  Since everyone else is getting a few bucks or nothing.  Some people who are assuredly within Trump’s demo (white, non-college educated) actually are seeing higher taxes after Trump’s “tax cut” because it eliminated multiple working-class deductions.

The tax cut is the most obviously rational, and the one that inspired my claim. There are others that are more obscure. Efforts to sell and lease federal lands for exploitation or development are rational goals for the exploiters and developers, for example. Even racist policies are rational for true-believing racists. Racism is unfashionable nowadays (and I use the term with intended sarcasm), but it wasn’t always so, and probably will become fashionable again in some way.

We’re venturing tangentially into deeper philosophical territory now. I claim that all desire is irrational at its base, and that rationality only comes into the picture as a way to maximize the satisfaction of irrational desire. Start a thread in the Philosophy sub-forum if you want to continue in this vein.

Racist ideology itself is not rational.  Once we start with that base, it doesn’t matter if something “logically” adheres to the racist ideology, because the policy and support for it is at it’s foundation irrational, it does not fit within definitions of rational.  Unless we’re just changing the word “rational” to mean all behavior that people think they should be engaging in.  By that definition, literally all human behavior is rational, which would seem to make it a pretty useless word to describe human behavior.

That opens up a much larger discussion than this thread is about. I’ll be looking for further discussion in the Philosophy sub-forum, if you want.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
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23 November 2020 07:41
 

If you want to defend it as being rational, go for it.

 
unsmoked
 
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23 November 2020 12:08
 
LadyJane - 22 November 2020 09:12 AM

The reluctance to speak honestly to Trump supporting friends and family members is what allowed things to get this out of hand.  It passes the buck to the people who are willing to have difficult conversations when no one else will.  Even with people who threaten their lives.  I don’t see why strangers should be expected to take them on.  This isn’t about politics anymore anyway.  This is about escaping the captivity of lies by learning to question what you believe when it doesn’t make sense.  And avoiding the cult mentality of tribal warfare.  That sort of thing starts at home.  It would be like expecting folks to change a religion from the outside.

Suppose one of your dear relatives bought a lemon auto from an unscrupulous used-car dealer.  He or she drives it every day and experiences one break-down after another, one expensive trip to the repair shop after another, and tells you they’re happy with it and are glad they bought it.  What can you say?

Trump was elected after the Billy Bush tape was released.  He was elected after he refused to release his tax returns.  He was elected years after the Trump University scandal and lawsuits.  He has 73 million supporters after 250,000 Americans have died from a pandemic that he continues to mismanage.  He has 73 million supporters after he claims to have won an election that he lost by 6 million votes.

What can you say to reach accord with the relative who bought the rotten car and continues to tell you what a great deal it is?  Is this the secret under the hood?  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-30/u-s-billionaires-got-1-trillion-richer-in-trump-s-first-term

Or . . . they love the lemon because it helps the country disenfranchise minorities?

quote:  “Voter fraud is exceedingly rare—but not in the headlines or in the mind of Donald Trump. In 2012, Jane Mayer published a profile in The New Yorker of Hans von Spakovsky, a Republican lawyer who would go on to serve as a member of the Trump Administration’s voter-fraud commission. Spakovsky has created a cottage industry out of stoking fears about illegitimate voting. He has also been instrumental, Mayer observes, in insuring that narratives about widespread voter fraud have become part of Republican orthodoxy, despite the scarcity of documented cases. (One scholar notes that, in 2005, the government charged more Americans with violating migratory-bird statutes than with committing election fraud.) As the late congressman John Lewis put it, Spakovsky and other voter-fraud activists are “trying to create a cure where there is no sickness.” The supposed cure also often amounts to efforts at disenfranchising minorities.”  -  New Yorker, Nov. 23, 2020

[ Edited: 23 November 2020 12:15 by unsmoked]
 
 
LadyJane
 
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23 November 2020 13:08
 

The Socratic Method.  A person may not know why they are defensive about something until they are actually called upon to defend it.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
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23 November 2020 13:58
 

I do agree that reason and logic are useful tools in this.  They’re mostly going to benefit people on the edges who have not bought into an ideology.  They’re also effective on people who are not specifically being targeted.  A public debate with good reason and logic can expose the limitation of an ideology to those who adhere to it but are willing to listen to questions.  Most likely that will not be the person on the stage.

It’s a fraught method though, because if the person challenging an ideology has a bad performance than it will be confirming to the targeted audience.  A lot of that performance will have nothing to do with reason and logic.

 
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