Discussing facts

There was time, probably less than 10 or 15 years ago, where people used to present an idea for discussion. In articles, a particular point of view would be presented using a variety of supporting points, for example:

  • Facts — statistics show that X is greater than Y
  • Emotions — this young girl died because of such-and-such wasn’t implemented
  • Values — people should not swear in general conversation
  • Priorities — the life of one person is worth more than the cost of X

And so on. There are many ways of making a point and a good opinion is based on a number of factors. The idea that all arguments get down to facts is simply childishness as we don’t all have the same priorities or values.

However, nowadays there is a different type of article. This type of article is polemic and is devoid not only of facts but of any substantiating points. As an example, lets take a random article (which I’ll keep anonymous). The writer (W) dislikes a particular viewpoint (VP). VP is an old-fashioned view held by people with old-fashioned ideas. People with modern ideas reject VP. W dislikes a prominent supporter (PS) of VP. He tells us that PS has other views that he doesn’t like. In fact PS is associated with other prominent people and organisations who he also does not like. People support VP because they have some kind of personality defect. Real examples of this are that religious people need the security of the belief in a higher entity, or people are against gender changes because they feel insecure and so on.

Interspersed in the article are some quotes and mocking ridicule. The article is devoid not only of facts but of any supporting arguments. The arguments are not discussed because the writer assumes that the reader is making the same assumptions as the writer is. These assumptions are never questioned because the writer sees no reason to question them. After all, don’t all intelligent people hold these views? In other words, if you don’t hold these opinions, you are not intelligent and there’s really no point in attempting to argue with you. The writer has never questioned their own views and is therefore incapable of expressing any ideas to support them. In fact, many universities nowadays would consider that you were intolerant if you attempted to question some of these views.

If you agree with the viewpoint of the writer you will feel good. If you disagree, you may be left with a feeling of having wasted your time. It’s like seeing a spoilt kid losing their temper and shouting how they don’t like something.

By Philip Braham on .



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