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laureth's avatar

Why is it that the person with the facts is considered to have lost this exchange? (details)

Asked by laureth (27184points) March 2nd, 2010

This question is inspired by this article:

It goes like this: Person A says “Black is white” — perhaps out of ignorance, although more often out of a deliberate effort to obfuscate. Person B says, “No, black isn’t white — here are the facts.”

And Person B is considered to have lost the exchange — you see, he came across as arrogant and condescending.

Why would it be better to be wrong than to be right (yet seen as condescending), especially in the context of the article, which is American politics? Why would we look more favorably on someone who either doesn’t know, or who aims to hoodwink, rather than the person with the correct information?

And furthermore, is there any way to insert facts into conversations that desperately need them, and not be seen as a condescending loser?

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20 Answers

Bellumbri's avatar

Because we consider contradicting someone as rude, even of the said person is completely correct. And we value etiquette over the truth.
Thus, being polite is everything. People like the velvet glove, regardless if the fist is iron or flesh.
You just have to be gentile about it, even if your really not.

laureth's avatar

@Bellumbri – It would seem, of late, that even polite insertion of fact is seen as, at best, condescending. Too gentle, and the point never makes it across the divide. Too harsh, the sympathy of the observers lies with the wrongheaded one. Is there a good way to insert fact?

Trillian's avatar

And the answer is: “Inevitably, then, such people react with rage when they’re shown up on their facts or basic logic — it’s an attack on their sense of self-worth.”
People are stupid. When you point this out to them they get defensive. Allow me to paraphrase the bible, from the book of proverbs; When you correct a wise man he says “Thank you”, a fool says “You have offended me”.
I’ve been person B so many times that I cannot begin to tell you and have been accused of arrogance for exactly that reason far too many times.
The only solution I’ve been able to come up with is to not go near stupid people. And at the risk of sounding arrogant, I’ll gently tell @Bellumbri that a gentile is a non-jewish person, and the word in question should be “gentle”.
Lurve to you for taking it like a Jelly!

Blackberry's avatar

Everyone is caught up in that fallacious belief respect crap. People cry when their beliefs and faith are questioned, they are get flustered and confused when they are shown facts and revert to defense because they can’t handle knowing they’ve been wrong for so long and don’t want to take the time to learn something new. Geez people are so dumb…’s overwhelming. (I know I’m dumb too, but at least some of us make an effort to not be so damn dumb)

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

There’s no logic in these political discussions.
It all boils down to the following exchange:
“I think this is good for people”
“You’re a republican/democrat! Fuck you!”
“No, Fuck you!”
It doesnt matter what theyre arguing about at this point. It all ends the same.
Yet we keep electing them.

Bellumbri's avatar

Forgive me, Trillian. I have become too reliant on Firefox spell check. You fascist jerk.

Blackberry's avatar

@Captain Fantasy is right, but this still applies to other facets. Politics is just a clusterf*ck.

laureth's avatar

@Trillian – I agree about the part you quoted being the reason for Person A’s angst, but I’m still wondering about why the audience of observers would still side with Person A in this regard.

I’d say, “If only stupid people didn’t vote!” – but then I’d be seen as arrogant and condescending.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

There is an allergy to facts in this country – and this allergy is remedied by the underdog/simple joe/‘regular’ person..why? because that’s who most people identify with – because thinking about facts hurts their heads. This is a good question, I think about this all the time as well – it seems counter intuitive that a person who presents the facts is more condescending than the person who didn’t even want to hear about them. Maybe it’s all because people don’t want others to claim themselves the experts – but that’s now what’s being done when well known facts are presented and it’s not like they’re offering any good alternatives. Its like talking to my ex husband about veganism which goes like this

Ex husband: I don’t want my son to be a vegan!
Simone: Why not?
Ex husband: Because it’s not healthy!
Simone: Actually, it is healthier than eating a meat filled diet because of x, y, z…
Ex husband: Don’t tell me what to think! I will not be told what to do!
Simone rips hair out

laureth's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – yeah, when did “fact” become synonymous with “opinion” anyway? Le sigh.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

In politics, facts are not enough. They are a vital part of it, but the politicians need to interpret the facts correctly, and build an appropriate policy from that to combat the problems posed by the facts. The one who sounds like they have a plan, and have the moral fibre to put it in place is usually the one who gets the votes. Of course being outright wrong is not advisable, but the issues in politics are rarely black and white, so the general public makes assumptions on a person’s capabilities without doing the appropriate research because they are too preoccupied with other matters.

ninjacolin's avatar

it really isn’t a good idea to respect an ignorant belief.

SeventhSense's avatar

Ideas and attachment to ideas has a much more psychological foundation than some of us rational types here care to admit. Even in the simplest exchanges here on Fluther we can see it in the exchanges of otherwise quite intelligent people devolve into inanity. At a distance it seems silly until of course you’re locking horns yourself.

I think it has to do with cognitive dissonance.
I remember as a teacher of grade school children having caught a young man in an act of some sort or another against another student. When he turned around I was literally feet away from him and staring at him and asking why he did it. He immediately set about denying it and basically saying he didn’t and when I assured him that I was staring directly at him when he did it he continued to deny it. After about 5 minutes of direct confronation he eventually just broke down and started crying his eyes out. I of course assured him that everything would be okay but you can’t throw things at, hit or attack another student. But it was a powerful lesson to me how primal it can be to be “in the wrong”, outside of the group or if one’s very nature is in question. In this case he wasn’t truly a bad boy of course but the shame he felt was overwhelming. And it made absolutely no sense logically considering that the offense would carry no serious punishment.

“A powerful cause of dissonance is an idea in conflict with a fundamental element of the self-concept, such as “I am a good person” or “I made the right decision”. The anxiety that comes with the possibility of having made a bad decision can lead to rationalization, the tendency to create additional reasons or justifications to support one’s choices.”

I think that we often discount how powerful this anxiety is and how strange a disconnect in self concept arises when new information is truly embraced. I think we need to honor those who are willing to be admit wrong or fault much more than we do in society. Even in this there there can be again a shaming! Like “oh how pathetic”, “look at the groveling”, “the meek and the repentant one”. And rightfully so at times since this is a PR move quite often with no real sincerity. But if we ever imagine that people are to adapt new ideas we have to allow for space to change. We tend to reward those who convince us in a “legalistic sense” regardless of the truth and treat “the mistaken or the wrong” as a disease to be avoided at all costs. But those who admit error should be honored in changing their mind and thus allowing others similar lenience. These are trailblazers and bridge-makers. Admitting defeat, error, culpability would then be among the highest ideals and not as something to be cleverly avoided. Maybe when we smooth this road and approach different opinions with a more cool objectivity devoid of charged emotions it will be more common.

davidbetterman's avatar

I can most definitely relate to person B.

“Why would we look more favorably on someone who either doesn’t know, or who aims to hoodwink, rather than the person with the correct information?”

I don’t look favorably on the hoodwinker. Do people actually favor the idiot?

“And furthermore, is there any way to insert facts into conversations that desperately need them, and not be seen as a condescending loser?”

I do it all the time and never see myself as condescending or a loser. I don’t concern myself with how others perceive me.

ninjacolin's avatar

That’s it, @SeventhSense I’m buying the next few people who admit an error something nice. (in real life, i mean. sorry flutherites)

liminal's avatar

@SeventhSense, GA! I have been thinking about this very thing these past few days. I see in my children a budding tendency towards thinking being wrong is, in and of itself, wrong or bad somehow. We are figuring out the best ways to turn being wrong into an opportunity for learning and strength.

Trillian's avatar

@Bellumbri that’s Ms. fascist jerk to you!~ ;-)

laureth's avatar

@davidbetterman – Yes, some people would rather believe some beliefs, even if they are being fooled. Take this example: In Texas, where barely two-thirds of the population have full health insurance and over a fifth of all children have no cover at all, opposition to the [health care] legislation is currently running at 87%.

Personally, I don’t care all that much what people think of me when I insert facts, either. What’s more important to me is that they recognize that it’s important to act on the facts rather than fallacy, but when the bringer of fact is seen as “arrogant and condescending,” both the factbringer and the facts are often thrown out in the same bathwater.

SeventhSense's avatar

I like this from that article:
For Mr Westen, stories always trump statistics, which means the politician with the best stories is going to win: “One of the fallacies that politicians often have on the Left is that things are obvious, when they are not obvious.
I think that to many of us left of center things are painfully obvious but to many voters they kind of get lumped together as a bunch of political issues.

And again I remember as a teacher that I always had to break it down even further than what I imagined. Invariably whatever the grade, whether it be Kindergarten or 12th, my lessons were always too ambitious and assumed too much and I was always surprised how much I had to break it down to bite size chunks or else I was just met with blank stares. And I don’t think it’s because people can’t think but most don’t want to work too hard and will just like you more if you make it simpler for them. You’re not asking too much of them. People like to buy but they don’t like to be sold. Ironically I think people like to think sometimes but don’t like to be taught!

And there’s just the charisma factor as well.
In politics take a look at the last 30 years. The most successful candidates on either side of the fence I think you’d agree were Clinton and Reagan. Both of them had an affable nature that just put people at ease when they talked. Even when they were being confrontational. Almost anyone could imagine having dinner with them. Now if you bring in a Michael Dukakis or a Bob Dole and it would be like wow this is awkward. Look at that guy. Is that a smile or a scowl under those brows? I can’t even see his eyes…..And why is that guy clinging to a pen? He’s kind of creepy.
“Check Please”.

laureth's avatar

@SeventhSense – well said. I know what you mean about the blank stares when I give information or assertions based on information where I thought the underlying premises were obvious. I used to blame the educational system – they just don’t teach ‘em like they used to when I was in school – but it sounds like I can’t do that anymore, eh?

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