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Excerpt from Conversations for tiny minds

Updated on March 9, 2011

A sort of logic... maybe...


From my new book on, Conversations for tiny minds

2. The castration of conversation

The total demise of conversation dates back to the 1980s, in which polarities and other circus routines were used to prove intellectual superiority. This was a pecking order mechanism which real chickens for some reason didn’t evolve.

The technique was simple:

Method A

  1. Statement
  2. Response as an assertion, requiring denial or clarification
  3. Original speaker gets tangled in own statement
  4. Proof of superiority for respondent

Pretty simple, and utterly pointless. A great way of wasting time, too.

Method B

  1. Assertion
  2. Response in negative
  3. Browbeating exercise
  4. At best, disagreement, at worst, a sheeplike acceptance of assertion.

That’s conversation? It’s more like Peer Mechanics For Apes.

Method C

  1. Talk across speaker, defusing content
  2. Use selective listening to dilute content into minor points
  3. Create issues about minor points
  4. Conversation neutered

So a few thousand years of “civilization” has done wonders for the ability to actually process information in any form. Imagine Socrates trying to get a word in, in these environments. It’d be impossible.

The evolved response to these Stone Age verbal tactics was equally simple:

  1. Cite reference to source before opening mouth on any subject to avoid Method A process and embarrassment
  2. Hide behind reference and don’t express any new ideas
  3. General agreement

From conversation to parroting information, in 3 steps. It’s not even information, let alone a productive exchange of views.

In effect, the modern environment for conversation is basically hostile and self-serving. The peer mechanics environment can reduce any simple statement like “Your house is on fire” to an argument about interpretations based on peer group status.

The likely development of a conversation like that is quite interesting:

“Your house is on fire”

“Are you saying I don’t know what’s going on in my own home?”

“No, I’m saying there’s smoke and flames and the roof has fallen in.”

“Mind your own business. You don’t have any right to tell me how to run my life.”

“The fire brigade is here.

“Well, I didn’t call them. How dare these civil servants get paid to interfere in people’s lives. I can manage my own affairs”

“The police have arrested an arsonist.”

“After the event, as usual. This is what I pay taxes for?”

This works in politics, economics and civil administration with a sort of ruthlessly obsessive stupidity. Any implication of an issue which reflects on the recipient of information turns into a self-positioning exercise, purely for the benefit of that person.

As you can see, the practical logic isn’t too strong, either. Should the arsonist have been arrested before starting the fire?

The book is available on


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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      I think the last bit of your comment, in my mind, is correct.

    • Paul Wallis profile image

      Paul Wallis 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      My hope, Bob, is that the current generation will take one look at this disgusting failure of communication, learn the lessons, and avoid making the same mistakes. The incumbent set of idiots haven't even learned that you can't use old logic on new problems, and I think the sheer mediocrity of the current situation will drive people to better options. Either that or the human race is in serious trouble.

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick

      It is indeed, Paul. What does this bode for society's ability to solve the complex problems confronting it?

    • Paul Wallis profile image

      Paul Wallis 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Bob- Yeah, scary, isn't it?

      SheZoe- First time it's ever happened, if it's honest, too.

      Joie- Yes, endless, timeless, fascinating, important, texting... forever, apparently...

      Lady Wordsmith- The art of non-communication on forums is really interesting. Worthy of pickling in alcohol and sending to a coroner.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Sounds like every internet forum I've ever been on, very accurate indeed.

    • profile image

      joie 6 years ago

      and then there's texting....

    • SheZoe profile image

      SheZoe 6 years ago from Idaho, USA

      lol! so sadly accurate. someday maybe we'll all learn how to actually communicate.

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick

      This sounds eerily like far too many conversations I ahve had over the past years.