Saturday, April 16, 2011

What it's Like to Argue With Leftists

If, like me, you are extremely argumentative, and enjoy debating various things, you might be tempted to venture onto a left-wing blog and make some comments. After all, it isn't as interesting to argue with people who already generally agree with you. When I comment on left-wing blogs, I try to restrict myself to very specific points, knowing that I am dealing with people who are operating under radically different fundamental assumptions. Since many on the left live in an echo chamber, I think it can be useful to point out that others do not share their views, and to do so in as calm and logical a fashion as possible.

When it comes to atheist blogs, I expect that most atheists value logical reasoning, since even leftist atheists often apply excellent logical skills to debunk religious arguments. Sometimes you can generate a reasonable debate, even if the ultimate result is to agree to disagree. But then there are times when you get the usual left-wing responses to anyone that dares challenge their assumptions: an onslaught of strawmen, intellectual dishonesty, false analogies, ad hominem attacks, and a general lack of reading comprehension. For a prime example of what I'm talking about, see this post and the comment thread.


  1. I've always said that atheism isn't a golden ticket to being reasonable. Atheism is only a protection against ancient prejudices.

  2. Holy jeebus. I didn't have all morning free to read the whole thread, but I got far enough that I question your sanity for even bothering to argue with those self-righteous, fact-inventing, reality-denying nitwits. Why would you engage in such a miserable waste of time? There are pockets of the Internet where the sane should never set foot, and that, my friend, is one of them. Do yourself a favor....

  3. PS: You know you're arguing in the wrong place when you are the only one of several people employing the slightest bit of logic, common sense, or intellectual honesty. If it feels like you're stuck in a "Twilight Zone" episode, then get OUT, man.

  4. I just read through the whole debate.

    I've been having frequent discussions over facebook with my cousin regarding American politics, the budget, debt and deficit, and I've noticed the frequent appeal to emotion there too.

    ME: "But the overall concern of Tea-Partiers is fiscal responsibility. Listening to Sean Hannity on talk radio, there's a LOT of people who are just so sick and tired of the wasteful spending in Washington, and how it's ballooned under Obama. Most of them are equally critical of, and disappointed with the measly "cuts" the Republicans achieved last week.

    But Barack Obama doesn't care about that; slandering your opponent is a quick fix to having to seriously look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if what you're doing is wrong or bad for the country."

    My Cousin: "Thats bullshit, the main concern of the Tea party is Abortion and gay marriage under the disguise of fiscal responsibility. shit, the government almost shutdown because they wouldn't agree on a budget that funded Planned Parenthood.

    Im all for Fiscal responsibility, I dont believe that elderly people have the right to live till they are 90, its unnatural. But if your stance is to cut domestic spending used for the benefit of your people, before you would cut defense in case the red army parachutes over to america to steal our gold and claim to be fiscally responsible, you can go fuck yourself."

    -- This, despite his multiple viewings of charts which compare deficit spending under Bush v. Obama. And yet somehow military spending is what has ballooned, and needs to be cut.

    It's is so incredibly frustrating to argue with people who have no conception of what mounting debt will do, and are clueless to the disaster ahead, and how if entitlements are NOT reformed, there won't be any in the future - unless we're all taxed for nearly all the money we make.

    Anyways, that's just my two cents. I could be wrong in this.

  5. Addendum: I had never made any case that the military needs to defend America from "the Red Army parachuting" into the country to "steal our gold".

    Heck, you should see some of our other "debates". It's scary, so I'll spare you.

  6. expecting civility and logical thinking on the Internet is a bit of a stretch, no matter where you are.

  7. I have a difficult time resisting an argument, even when it's in my best interests to just be quiet. And once I do engage in an argument, I have an even harder time letting it go without some sort of resolution.

  8. I have the same general policy that you do, and I get about the same results: Narrow focus, make your points clear, wait for the irrational responses to flood in.