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The impulse to win, rather than understand

Chiu on This
A short and regular opinion blast from Stephen Chiu

I’m not interested in politics. From what I’ve seen as an outside observer, it seems to breed a kind of self-righteous delusion that you are always right or barring that at least not wrong. This forces a mindset where I must prove I am right and I am the winner. To be fair, that could just be the human condition rather than politics itself and maybe the arena of politics just creates more situations where that attitude becomes prevalent.

The problem with that mindset is that that every argument or debate is no longer about an exchange of ideas but a battle. In that arena there is a clear winner or loser and the objective is to win. And the fastest way to victory in such debates is by ad hominen. Once you’re able to label a person as a racist, bigot, stupid, misogynist, etc. the argument is over as those are argument ending terms. The problem with this is that whether that is true or not, censoring these people or marginalizing them doesn’t help yourself or public discourse. You can never understand the root of other people’s arguments if you refuse to engage in dialogue.

We’ve seen this become more prevalent in the last few years with SJWs, the election and life itself.  So yes, you could win an argument if you successfully get someone to be called a racist, but does this change the other person’s mind, does it solve the underlying problems, does it address directly their arguments? Basically, if your purpose is to understand another’s problems or try to convince them of a position, trying to close off the arguments with insults may not be the best way to go about things.

All you’ve done at best is let them fester on their rage without convincing them of anything. If you listen, you could be surprised to and see points that make a lot more sense than you’d previously think.


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