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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Arguing like a liberal, Part II

I got the following comment last night on the Arguing like a liberal post:

Is there any liberal politician you do not consider a "sociopath", mr. Craig?

You seem to be obsessed with handing out these diagnoses, despite your obvious lack of qualifications. Yet no prominent GOP politician ever gets characterized as such. Why is that?

I replied:

Mr. Anonymous Liberal --
You haven't been reading the blog for very long. I've characterized James Traficant, Joe Arpaio, and Newt Gingrich as sociopaths. Type those names into the subject line and you'll find the posts.

And of course there are plenty of liberal politicians who aren't sociopaths. When did I ever say there were not?

Why is is that there are so many liberals like you, however, who need to put words into other peoples' mouths in order to "win" an argument?

This fellow touches on several liberal memes in his comment. First, he makes a false accusation, saying that I've never characterized a conservative politician as such. As I pointed out, I've written about Newt Gingrich, Joe Arpaio, and James Traficant (who although nominally a Democrat, often voted Republican and is probably most famous for having defended a supposed Nazi).

Secondly, he suggests that I consider all liberal politicians to be sociopaths, which is equally ridiculous: I've never suggested any such thing. I've named a total of five prominent liberals as sociopaths: Bill Clinton, Wendy Davis, Richard Blumenthal, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson. (And characterizing Sharpton and Jackson as politicians is actually a bit of a stretch, as neither has ever held elective office.)

I've also written paeans to a pair of liberal politicians, George McGovern and Jimmy Carter. But the liberal assumes that I think like a typical liberal, whose judgment of personality is determined solely by political outlook.

Third, he says that I am "obsessed" with handing out such diagnoses; this is also a common liberal meme, trying to suggest that anybody who disagrees with them must be mentally unbalanced. (I suspect there is some projection there.) 

And fourth, he says I have an "obvious lack of qualifications." Liberals tend to subscribe heavily to credentialism. I could point out that I have a degree in psychology from Harvard (though in fact I graduated not knowing a thing about sociopathy). My interest in sociopathy stems from my personal experiences with sociopaths, starting with this one; it has turned into a lifelong interest. I've read most of the books on the subject, and am far more familiar with them -- on both a personal and academic level -- than most professional psychologists, many of whom are remarkably unversed on the subject.

Conversely, I could point out that I do have an MBA - unlike Carlos Slim. But I would never claim that I know even a fraction of what he does about business. (However, in liberal credential-land, I do.)

I suspect that the commenter knows -- or at least senses -- that I am right about Sharpton, Clinton, et al, so he doesn't want to argue about them. But he doesn't like the fact that I point out their sociopathy, so he attacks me

Anyway, this is the way liberals argue -- and how ironic that this fellow would do so in on a post entitled, "Arguing like a liberal."

(I've been told by several people that I should not respond to trolls, but it's just too much fun to point out their dishonesty and hypocrisy.)


Steven said...

Anonymous liberal messed with the wrong guy.


John Craig said...

Steven --
Thank you very much.

Unfortunately, I don't think this fellow will feel devastated, as trolls rarely come back to see the response to their comments. And even if this one did, judging by his first response, he's be immune to logic or facts anyway.

But thanks.

Steven said...

He got his ass handed to him on a silver platter. (or she, I can't tell).

Remarkable work. :-D

Another good example re credentials, Elon Musk has no formal qualifications in rocket science. This month, after he send some supplies to the ISS for NASA, he's going to attempt to land a first stage rocket for the first time ever. This would be a revolution in space travel. Imagine the cost of air travel if you had to discard the airplane after every journey.

How did he learn rocket science? A rocket scientist he hired lent him some text books. lol

How much you can learn and understand has more to do with your natural cognitive ability than anything else.
If anything, the smarter you are, the less you need a formal learning situation and the more capable you are of picking it up yourself.

Personally, I consider you an expert on sociopathy. You probably have a better grasp of it than most psychologists and clinicians.

If this reasoning does not convince, a psychology degree from Harvard is credentials anyway.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Thank you, again.

Yes, Musk has no degree in automotive engineering, either, yet he founded Tesla. And he has no degree in computer science, yet he co-founded PayPal.

Obviously, he's not qualified to do any of those things.

Spychiatrist said...

Go on the offensive and kick em' when they're down. These prog-trolls don't understand rationale, logic or truth. They will argue with the Allmighty on Judgement Day--let me assure you.

They can't be reasoned with, at least not in my experiences.

I deal with these smarter than thou lib-progs all the time and they are insufferable to intolerable. I'd rather spend my time watching paint dry than debate these people.

John Craig said...

Spike --
That's pretty much been my experience, too.

"Insufferable to intolerable." Perfectly put.

Anonymous said...

*advance apology for the long post - I have a lot to say on this*

I enjoy arguing with people like these in a perverse sort of way. I like watching them lose their tempers unprovoked and resort to projection, red herrings, ad hominem attacks and straw men. I had one accuse me of having an "angry outburst" the other night after I calmly refuted her point. The level of academic integrity on my part was too much for her so she became angry, and projected her anger onto me (I couldn't see her from behind my computer screen, but I'm guessing that that's what happened. Why else would she accuse me of anger when I hadn't displayed any?)

This transcript of a Twitter conversation between Christina Hoff Sommers and a radical feminist (@shanley) is a classic:

Shanley: in case you thought that like these things don't affect the way women work. i literally make decisions around the misogynist threat climate.
Sommers: Are you certain you don't create a threat climate of your own?
Shanley: what are you talking about
Sommers: To use a phrase like "misogynist threat climate" suggests to me you might have a chip on your shoulder.
Shanley: Seriously go fuck off you aren't fucking welcome in my mentions or anywhere the fuck near me go fuck yourself.
Sommers: You just made my point.
Shanley: your face made my point
Bystander: Christina, I think you've just had "social justice" dispensed to you.

I've had many similar conversations on the Internet over the years. I've had an intersex person block me for using the term "chromosomal abnormality" and then publicly request for others to block me too (apparently, biology-textbook terms like "abnormality" and "mutation" are offensive now). About nine months ago I was kicked out of a Facebook group for saying that patients should listen to the doctors who ask them to lose weight, after someone obese posted that he was going to complain about his doctor for offending him with this request. Everyone else were egging him on to complain with their "poor you, fat people are so oppressed" messages, so I thought I'd inject some sense into the discussion. The 40-something y.o. administrator wrote me a furious PM, telling me I had "no empathy" and that the "sheer volume of complaints" against me meant he had "no choice" but to throw me out of the group for that.

There was a time when I was baffled by this sort of behaviour by people who are supposed to be grown adults. Now I just fetch the popcorn, and thank Heavens that I'm not like that. Watching irrational people has become a hobby of mine.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
Thank you for that, no apologies necessary. Yes, more and more I think that people on the Left tend to be childish and immature. It shows in, as you point out, their projection, their temperamentalism, ad hominem attacks, and putting words in other peoples' mouths. And even more telling, the ideology of the Left seems to be tailor made for these people. The absolute negation of personal responsibility, the hiding behind identity politics, the easily taken "offense" at any argument they can't refute, are all perfect for narcissistic personalities.

Anyway, great summation, and I love the exchange between Sommers and Shanley.

Anonymous said...

Sommers is an all-around good egg. I've read her book 'Who Stole Feminism?' and occasionally watch her YouTube 'Factual Feminist' series, where she refutes the ludicrous claims made by radfems (she's made videos on the rape-culture myth and on Gamer Gate). Of course, instead of trying to earnestly unpick her arguments, all the radfems do in return is scream about what a "misogynist" she is and about how much they hate her.

Regarding what you said about qualifications: I've seen it used the other way too. I saw a doctor (who has practiced for 30 years) tell an ex-heroin-addict on Facebook about the dangers of weed, after the ex-addict claimed weed was totally safe. Instead of listening, she started berating the doctor: "just because you have all these fancy qualifications does not mean you know more about drugs than me". It ended up with name-calling and her deleting the doctor from her page. It goes to show that it doesn't matter whether you have qualifications or not because they'll use it against you either way.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
I haven't followed her closely, but have always had a positive impression of Sommers. She does seem to radiate common sense, unlike her adversaries.

I hate to say it, but I actually agree with the heroin addict in your anecdote, I don't think weed is all that dangerous. But, yes, people have ridiculous attitudes (and inconsistencies) about what constitutes "qualifications." What it boils down to to me is that an argument should be judged on its own merits, not on the resume of the person advancing it. (And in my book, IQ is far more important than the amount of time you spend in school; there seem to be an awful lot of twits with PhD's.) I'll admit, though, that once I've heard someone advance illogical arguments and resort to ad hominem attacks in lieu of intelligent argument, I'll tend to dismiss everything they say after that.

Lucian Lafayette said...

The liberal quickly resorts to the ad hominem attack because of two factors: 1) They live in a largely emotionally driven world. Notice how often they will say "I feel" as opposed to "I think". More often than not when presented with empirical evidence, they will respond with anecdotal evidence. They also often favor the straw man argument or appeal to emotion in debate. 2) They project this emotional approach onto others. "I hate those who disagree with me so, since you are disagreeing with Mr. X you must hate him." This is one reason why perfectly rational debate or the statement of documented facts is called "hate speech".

Whether it is the result of poor education or, as Thomas Sowell has suggested, actual differences in thought patterns, many liberals do not think like conservatives and therefore we will often find ourselves unable to have what we would consider a "rational" discussion with them.

Of course, I am talking about the true believer, the zealot, not the self serving opportunists who are elected to office or act as community organizers.


John Craig said...

Luke --
Well said. And you're so right about the projection, it's why they call others "haters." I never seen the kind of jeering, taunting ill will from conservatives that I do from liberals.

Hmm… organizers. Now whom might that possibly be a reference to….Ah, it'll come to me later.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, the "hate speech" argument drives me nuts. It wouldn't bother me if it were used appropriately, but it's often thrown around when the speaker hasn't displayed any hatred at all. A prime example is when gay people question the need for gay marriage legalisation because they already have civil partnerships. That's a legitimate opinion, not hate speech.

As for dismissing speakers altogether after they've said illogical stuff, I do the same. If someone's wilfully using the same argument after it's been debunked then I never debate with them ever again. Epictetus recommends refusing debate with irrational people, just to prevent yourself becoming angry. I used to think quitting a debate abruptly meant you'd "lost", but now I realise wise people do it to save time.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
What's particularly choice is when liberals refer to facts or statistics they don't like as "hate speech." How can a statistic be hateful?

I should take Epitctus's advice, but I'm not mature enough.

Marie Curie said...

Marine Le Pen - sociopath?

Does "go on the offensive /kick 'em when they're down" constitute a very empathic mentality? Just curious.

John Craig said...

Marie Curie --
Honestly, I know nothing about Marie le Pen personally other than that she is the head of the National Front.

Who are you referring to who exhibits that mentality?