So I occasionally engage in political debate on the Hubpages forums, but as I do, I wonder if such things aren't partly to blame for the state of our political culture.
The forums are fun, if you don't take things too personally, but they do nothing for healthy debate. Most people have no interest in being open minded or considering other opinions and most people are not good enough writers or debaters to sway other people anyway. Facts are not presented nor are good sources for the opinions that are being presented.
I find myself wanting to listen to the other side, but rarely find anything less than and ill-informed opinions. I'll give an example: wanting to give people the benefit of the doubt, I engaged in a debate on Obamacare. I looked up two of the participants hubs. One wrote a lot of self-sufficiency stuff, so I gained respect for him even though I don't agree. The other had a hub on the scientific legitimacy of radiation poisoning - actually questioning whether scientists are trying to put one over on us. How can I take anything this person says seriously after seeing that?
It's one thing to have an opinion. It's another to base those opinions on misinformation or conspiracy theories. People who are educated have a certain foundation for their beliefs and opinions. People who are not, have an educational foundation that is open to all sorts of corruption.
As somebody who is politically left-of-center, I tend to find that those who are right-of-center and way right-of-center wth educational foundations that are highly corrupted.
Interesting perspective. From someone who is not left-of-center, I see your comments as almost identical to what you are portraying conservatives to be.
As for quality of writing and swaying people's opinions, forum comment boxes frequently appear to be poorly written, as few commenters take the time to proof read or preview their comments before hitting the submit button.
Take your post for example;
"...but rarely find anything less than and ill-informed opinions..."
didn't you mean "more" where you wrote "less"? What is less than an ill-formed opinion, no opinion? And how does the underlined "and" fit in? But I knew what you meant and understood it was a forum comment - so it did not affect my opinion of your writing abilities.
As for swaying people... I think forum discussions are workable for correcting the incorrect in factual instances. And for illustrating the error in poorly formed opinions, but I doubt there will be much swaying going on. I do not think this is a forum negative as much as it is an over-expectation.
And while I agree that you may find many ill-informed folks offering ill-formed opinions here, you will also find plenty there are extremely well-informed with very well-formed opinions.
As for the use of sources or facts being offered, perhaps you are new here, or haven't participated in enough conversations, but I have frequently found posters in discussions that typically posted authoritative links, (but true, you will also trash authority links too), and re-posted facts to back up their comments.
But admittedly, sometimes someone's response is so obviously out of wack that it would be fruitless to try to convince them will actual facts and authority links - perhaps that has been the case for your experiences?
And speaking of facts and well-informed opinions...
you wrote this in another discussion...
"...What's ridiculous though, is all this outrage about these plans being cancelled. The plans that are being cancelled do not meet the standards set out by the act. In other words, the plans that are being cancelled suck. They're bad insurance plans. They rip people off and provide inadequate coverage. Arguing that they should not be cancelled is ridiculous."
No facts, links, or backup validation at all.
And from my perspective, that is just an ill-informed paraphrasing of the democrat party talking points vilifying the insurance companies to try to substantiate Pres. Obama's "you can keep it" claim.
A discussion of who is right here is a topic for another thread, but I am confident I can prove that statement to be just an echo of a party line that cannot be factually validated.
So, in my opinion, that makes you guilty of what you are decrying about the other "side"
As for you reference to who is more educated... that is such an elitist statement that it does my debunking for me. Are you really confident you are so much smarter? Or that your opinions are so much better and more informed? I haven't seen such evidence in any of your posts yet, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you have yet to put forth your best effort.
And isn't it a given that someone who thinks of themselves as you do would consider any opposing opinion to be weak, shallow, and ill-informed?
In my opinion shallow and ill-informed opinions based on corrupted educational foundations can be found on both sides of the coin, you apparently feel otherwise.
Since you can't read emotion or inflection in a text comment, let me assure you I intended none of my remarks as sarcastic or derogatory. I am just trying to politely point out that I think you are the pot calling the kettle black.
I completely hear what you are saying and I meant what I said to apply to me as well. The forums frequently boil down to one person simply believing one thing and another believing another and each simply spouting his or her rhetoric ad nauseam. I am as guilty of that as anyone.
The reference to education is really just a reference to how people form their opinions rather than a commentary on one group being smarter than another. However, I will say that I personally value science and data and was raised to respect those things, so it's hard for me to respect anyone who doesn't and I tend to consider the GOP the anti-science party. So when somebody claims to be on the right, it's hard not to consider them anti-science.
So right there is a definite bias that I hold, though it seems to be backed up by considerable evidence and it clouds my ability to give Republicans the benefit of the doubt.
Now you got me. A reasonable response such as this takes all the fun out of baiting chuckleheads.
But, while I will concede that too many of the far right fit your paragraph referencing education and its value in forming sensible opinions, I think it is enough of a minority to keep me from painting with a brush as broad as you used.
But #2... I too value science and data, but I also recognize both can be twisted to suit an agenda. Of course I am not talking "flat earth" extremes, more like the global warming science - just look at the controversy surrounding that subject.
An enjoyable conversation, thanks
Thanks for the lack of vitriol. I appreciate the reasoned response.
As somebody on the right who values science and data, how can you stand to be lumped together with people who advocate for things like abstinence education teaching instead of sexual education, folks who want to rewrite high school textbooks to include creationism and eliminate evolution. That's just the tip of the iceberg. I have no problem with fiscal conservatism at all. In my personal life, I am much more fiscally conservative than most. I think conservatism has become more of a social agenda than an economic agenda.
And as for climate science, I don't think there's that much controversy among climate scientists. That controversy is largely media driven. Ask a climate scientist about it and they'll tell you that 97% of them generally agree about the conclusions that are being drawn. How do we know this? Well, I'm not a climate scientist myself, but if you look at conferences on climate change, they are filled with climate change scientists. If you look at climate change denial conferences, they have some scientists, most of whom are from other fields, and a bunch of pundits and politicians. The media has brewed this "controversy" through the talking head style of journalism where they feature one talking head who believes in climate change and one who doesn't, thereby creating the impression that the two opinions are of equal weight when they are not. In terms of presenting expert opinion, fairness would dictate that 97 climate change scientists be featured with 3 climate change deniers.
I don't have a problem being "lumped," as I am not the one doing the "lumping" and those that do usually find themselves to be mistaken.
I find valid expressions on both the left and the right. I don't worry about party loyalties, or liberal vs. conservative lines. I just call out bullhockey when I see it - regardless of "the box" it comes out of.
One of the worst mistakes anyone can make is the under-estimation of another, If you think I am a dummy, and I am not, then I already have the advantage of you - metaphorically speaking of course - that was not directed at you, or this discussion.
It appears you are once again using a very broad brush to paint all non-liberals with the paint you dipped from the very conservative and religious right - which I deem to be a highly vocal and representative minority, but not a majority.
As for the climate change discussion - I am only knowledgeable enough to know there appears to be valid controversy. I do not know enough to take a side on the issue.
Perhaps the media is responsible for painting the right as a collection of crazies because it's easier for them and creates better television. I'm glad you don't view that end of the party as your representation. I definitely am affected by what I read in the newspaper and see on television with regard to right-wing politics.
I am not a climate change scientist either, so it's not for me to interpret the data. So I can only read or ask climate change scientists what they think and there doesn't seem to be much controversy. It is the nature of science to reveal inconsistencies and things that don't fit the model, so a good scientist will do that. I think many of those things have been jumped on by the media and blown way out of proportion. There's only a controversy in the same or similar way there's a controversy with Holocaust deniers. Perhaps that's a bit of a rhetorical flourish, but it's pretty close.
Climate change - the controversy (to me) seems more similar to Piltdown Man, not holocaust deniers. Both are 100% false (Piltdown and holocaust denier) but one is outright fraud. A hoax. A completely, intentionally fabricated lie.
And when "top" scientists do that, they whole thing loses a great deal of credibility to me - something very, very hard to get back even though it is different individuals taking up the cause.
Piltdown man is a better analogy. I agree.
In any human effort where many people are involved, you are always going to have dishonest people or people trying to further their careers by manufacturing evidence. Academia is always going to have that problem - people making up data.
However, just because such things happen doesn't invalidate the rest of the good science. This is what people have been doing, and what many people do in general, take a counter-example and use it to prove their thesis. A simple example I hear often is "oh, look how cold it is in Buffalo. So much for global warming."
Well, as a scientist might say: we're talking about climate, not weather.
Yes, there will always be the liars, those too lazy to do it right and those putting considerable effort into making a hoax. Money (research grants) almost guarantees it.
Add in the web, where all that nonsense is instantly promoted worldwide, and the problem is huge. It's not that it takes too much time now to find the studies, it takes too much time to separate the truth from the lies! And, just as your Buffalo example, far too many "scientists" use such "logic" because it sounds so reasonable and people just won't think about what is being said. They do not have the background knowledge to spot the lies.
I know it's often wrong (like the climate thing) to just give up and quit listening, but that's my response anyway. I can only watch so many "scientists" make an idiot out of themselves before I just give it up as a total hoax or fraud and don't listen to anyone on the subject any more.
So climate change is like that for me. The conspiracies around 911 is like that. The Kennedy shooting is like that. There will always be someone willing to shout out lies over the net, but I don't need to listen to them.
Ok, using climate change might be as much an example of the left vs. right controversy as it would appear to be off-topic.
To me it is another example that proves every coin has two sides - or it would not be a coin.
Left, pro-climate change logic - look at the overwhelming scientific data and scientists support
Right, anti-climate change logic - what about the accepted scientific evidence of cyclic earth climate changes before man, or the adulterated "scientific data" recorded from "parking lot" weather stations, or the agenda-driven funding-seeking proven false scientific papers heralded as proof - before their fraud was exposed?
So back to the original discussion... there appears to be valid support for an opinion either way. So those opinions would make for good discussions. Probably profitable to all.
Better yet, what if both sides were "almost" right, and the real answer was somewhere in between? Like, of course man is contributing to climate change, but no he is not the cause of it? (that would take a bit of hubris, don't you think?)
But, an opinion spouted as an echo of either camp's position, merely because of a label - would be bull hockey, and subject to a rabid curmudgeon attack.
Oooh! Can I be the rabid curmudgeon? I LOVE attacking such echoes.
I generally assign probabilities to my political, societal, philosophical beliefs; as opposed to making final, adamantine decisions. Keeps me always open, curious, observing, analysing. Life is so much better that way.
What annoys me is when I think I am having a discussion but the other person thinks it is an argument and the only way they can 'win' is to shout you down.
I'll be happy to debate any subject with you in the future, crankalicious. So nice to hear someone who values an open mind.
Open forums are not the right space to find Old School debates. They allow in all the whackjobs and rubber neckers and before you know it, no matter the subject, there's a blood feud.
Now if you are serious about this I have a better suggestion. Find a closed group of people with varying opinions, capable of actual debate based on actual facts, and have a closed invitation-only discussion. There's nothing wrong with letting other's read it to decide for themselves but you shouldn't let the peanut gallery steal the limelight. Good luck!
Both parties need a wake up call. I think it's time for an Independent president. I am Democrat and believe that in order to make money you need to spend money. However, we are spending way too much way too quick!
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