The Bridge to Nonsense

Over at Captain Capitalism’s site, I commented on why I don’t like using studies when debating with lefties, but I did so in the midst of chaos surrounding my computer screen, so I don’t think I did so adequately.  This is my attempt to do so.

Commenter heresolong elaborates on his frustration:

Case in point.

Canadian friends: Why do you need guns? They should be banned.

Me: In Britain they banned guns and the violent crime rate skyrocketed until it was higher than the US.

CF: That’s not true.

Me: Yeah, it is, here’s the stats.

CF: The stats are wrong because of the way crime is reported in different countries.

Me: Here’s evidence that they aren’t wrong

CF: The crime rate skyrocketed because of demographic issues, not because of guns.

Me throwing up my hands in disgust

And this is how most conversations go with lefties.  It’s what we see on Hannity’s “Great American Panel” every night we find ourselves having forgotten to change the channel in time.  This is how they operate.  It’s what they do.  Hopeless?  Almost, but not quite.

First, one of my maxims is as follows (maybe I’ll number them sometime like Roissy):

Rarely is it more advantageous to refute your opponent’s point than it is to refute the belief that allows her to make her point.

Heresolong did what we almost always do, we fight them with facts.  Facts are great.  Facts are reality, and reality’s supposed to win.

Unfortunately, fundamentally, we’re not just having fights about facts, we’re having A Conflict of Visions (as Sowell describes so well in his book).  We rarely change our visions to fit the facts; far more often we twist the facts to fit our visions.

Facts are the building blocks of our conclusions.  We remember the facts that fit our narrative and forget those that don’t.  If we’re forced to confront a fact that doesn’t fit, we either find a way to make it fit, forget about it, or assume it must be a lie.  Whatever comes into our brain, if it’s allowed to stay, it must fit the vision.

Stats and studies have their role, but they’re of little use in persuading others.  When you hear about a study that claims to prove that an increase in the minimum wage has no effect on employment rates (and such studies exist), what do you think?  You assume it was conducted with an agenda, that it focused in on an industry that for whatever reason doesn’t respond as directly to the cost of labor, or that it was conducted in the mid-90’s when we were at full employment and the market dictated that you had to pay burger flippers more than minimum wage if you wanted your bugers flipped.

This is exactly what a leftie does when they hear our stats and studies.  It was taken out of context.  Creepy people with an agenda paid for it.  The oil companies or the NRA or a bunch of religous nutcases are trying to trick us!

Some studies reflect reality, and others don’t.  Unfortunately, aside from a specific area of expertise, it’s really hard to keep track of who paid for what study, what they did or didn’t control for, how extensive it was, etc.  And to your opponent, $50 grand from oil companies will always be more corrupting than $75 grand from environmental groups (or green energy conglomerates).

Anyone who’s ever watched Rachel Maddow knows she LOVES her studies–they’re PROOF that whatever she believes is TRUTH.  To me, they don’t prove squat.  If you make hiring people more expensive, fewer people will get hired.  Farmer Earl is far more likely to turn in his banned shotgun than Thug Clarence, so the increase in violent crime in Britain, Australia, and Canada after they banned guns makes perfect sense to me.

My vision is more accurate than hers.  Studies often reflect that, but even if they didn’t, reality is reality and I don’t need a bunch of social scientists to prove it.

The key is to go just a bit deeper than they’re going.  Don’t attack what they say, attack what enables them to say it.  Go after the vision.  The lefty vision of gun control assumes that banning something means we can wipe it out, which is easily disprovable by the failed Drug War.  It assumes that incentives don’t matter, that a rapist is just as likely to attack someone if he suspects she might be packing.  It violates the long (and often noble) leftist tradition of mistrust in authority, assuming that the police can be trusted to adequately look after the welfare of poor blacks who have no legal means to defend themselves.  It assumes that we’ll take as many guns out of the hands of criminals as we will out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.  It assumes that a monster reading “Gun-Free Zone” on a sign will dissuade him from carrying on with his horrible crime.  It assumes that the government can be trusted to respect our rights as citizens (don’t use this last one until we have a Republican president).

That’s only a brief description of what works a bit better, but without proper framing it can be hard to pull off (I’ll go into much detail on that later).  I try to avoid the conversation hersolong describes, but it happens.

So here’s what I would have done if I found myself in heresolong’s predicament.  The Canadians eventually accepted that crime skyrocketed after guns were banned but insisted it was due to demographics (and it was impressive on his part to know the “evidence they aren’t wrong”).  Of course, this is because it contradicts their vision that “less guns=less crime”.  Instead of trying to keep them from twisting the facts, I recommend calling them on their beliefs:

CF: The crime rate skyrocketed because of demographic issues, not because of guns.

Martel: But if fewer guns means less crime, then the crime rate should have gone down no matter who moved in.

CF:  No, you’ve got to consider poverty.

Martel:  But those poor people didn’t have guns, so crime should have still gone down.

CF:  It’s more complicated than that.

Martel:  Golly.  I guess so.  If such fantastic gun control policies can be negated by the wrong immigrants moving in, then you don’t seem to favor open borders very much.  Seriously, if gun control reduces crime, then it should reduce crime.  It didn’t.  Your policies failed.  (continue to push on this point, diverting only occasionly to imply that they’re racists).

CF:  I’m bored.  Let’s talk about something else.

Martel:  That’s fine.  I just want to make sure you know that absolutely every time I talk to somebody who sees gun control your way, they change the subject just like you did.  I win again, which must mean I’m right.  Anyhow, so what’s up with those brushes in curling?


Does this win their hearts and minds and convert them to Hayekianism?  Not necessarily, but it leaves a chink in their armor, it plants a seed of doubt.  In the mind of a lefty, that’s hard to do.

I’m aware that conversations don’t go exactly like this and that there are ways they can escape.  In person I face these as they come and prevail, but you can’t hit ’em all in a blog post.

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6 Responses to The Bridge to Nonsense

  1. I don’t know what practical value Jedi mind-fucking of a lefty progressive drone will have for me, noting the unknown degree of nature not nurture and the residual cost of ‘re-nurture’ becoming more and more prohibitive, but that I now consider verbal headway is even possible in one simple conversation is a change of vision for me. Their dogma is woefully inconsistent, so with the right mindset, maybe it’s easy pickings. This parallels economics. Now is not the time to be constructive, like don’t plant seeds in the winter. Don’t defend you logical beliefs to the illogical; highlight the absurdity of their fun house constructs by feigning they are logical. I think that boils it down to the essence. You might be some contemptible lawyer lately doing good works, Martel. Have you held political office perchance? (rhetorical:-) I’m thinking you could have identifed which category of lefty would be worth the conversation per your framework, leaving the details to the post you already made. It all fits together or it is difficult to learn.

    • Martel says:

      There’s a point because conservatives/libertarians have done a downright awful job at expressing our views. The left has taken over every cultural institution excepts small parts of the church and country music, so our minds are loaded with tons of unexamined leftist premises. I’ve found that when you effectively frame yourself as bold-but-caring and can point out how nonsensical leftist premises are, the Benighted respond.

      The category for whom this best applies is the Benighted, the third group listed here: The most effective preliminary frame applies to all three categories (I operate from the assumption that somebody is Benighted until I get evidence to the contrary), and I’ll be describing that soon. For the technique in this post, it applies to all three categories, but with Anointed and male Benighteds you can be more aggressive, whereas with female Benighteds I recommend a more gentle tone, consistently affirming that you really, really wish that some of the ugly truths weren’t true. You admit the ugly truths NOT because you like proving her wrong, but because you CARE and recognize that the only way to actually solve problems is to know what they actually are. Sometimes human nature sucks, but if you pretend it doesn’t, it sucks even more.

      • So what you are saying is that I can talk politics AND get laid. lol I mean turn this thing around so everybody lives happily ever after. I’ll start with me. Whenever I can. Any day now….

      • Martel says:

        Yes, you can. Both require proper framing, and it’s the same skill. Some aspects of the two frames overlap (being Alpha), but some aspects don’t for just short-term lays.

        There’s greater overlap between the political and making her fall in love with you. If you get a lefty chick to have sex with you AND change her political views (in either order), you’ve literally opened up a whole new world for her and she’s likely to get very attached.

        I therefore recommend getting political only if you’ve framed it properly (probably my topic in two days or so) AND you see her as either having LTR potential or not being too into her politics. If you get political and then break her heart, she’ll associate your political views with her pain and be a lefty for life.

  2. Pingback: I + A = Guns | Alpha Is Assumed

  3. Pingback: You Say You Wanna Devolution? | Alpha Is Assumed

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