30.12.08

why we don't ever debate laymen

so i tried to get through a family visit without starting a fight with any of my, uh, scientifically illiterate relatives... well, i got to the last night before i lost it and ran over a verbal landmine talking to my ma and sis.

they're watching Paranormal Hunters or Ghost Hunt or Mediums Gone Wild or some such shite, with a woman who is quite blatantly cold-reading people for a hundred Euro a pop. me, i'm lying on the floor in a medically useless attempt to alleviate the eighty-year-old's spine in my twenty-year-old fucked-up body, given that neither the codeine (pretty much prescribed with no other purpose than to keep my addiction under control) or the about a half a bottle of irish cream i'd drunk by then could do shit about it, only half paying attention to the conversation. the other half of said attention span is being wasted on trying to devise a test for a real spirit medium that would both be scientifically valid, and at all comprehensible to the layman.

eventually, i get bored. "If she was a real spirit medium," i point out acidically, "she'd be able to give him the messages from his dead mother without him answering any questions. If he sat there and said nothing, she'd be screwed. These people are retarded," and i leave it at that, imagining like the autistic idiot i am that my blood relatives would have the fundaments of logic at least in their minds when considering this shit.

nope. my ma is suddenly looking a whole lot less happy. "I can't believe you're saying that," she says shakily. "Are you calling me retarded?"

see, here's where me and J. Random Neurotypical diverge. the normal thing to do, i learned, would be to go, "No ma, misunderstanding, there are too spirits," apologise, and leave it at that. that's about as far as you can get from what i did.

"Damn right I am," i said, expecting the mental ping-pong of a fun debate with educated people who can take having their beliefs insulted. good holy fuck was that not what it turned out to be.

in the ensuing heated argument, i tried to make the point that although i respect all humans, yeah even rapists and murderers, as humans, i don't have to respect anyone's beliefs. that got them so angry they started to become inarticulate, and seems to have translated into the following in their minds:

"You're wrong because you think differently to me. Ergo you are not allowed to think anything that is wrong, ergo you are worthless. CONFORM TO SCIENCE'S HEGEMONY NOW."

trying to assure them that i don't think difference is bad was utterly futile, as was pointing out that science doesn't dictate, that you can't prove that anything doesn't exist (only that it does), that i don't disagree with them because i don't like their ideas but because there is no evidence for them, etc. i could not get it through to either woman that having blind faith in X irrational concept 'just because you want to', is cognitively fettering yourself.

so i tried to compare it to religion, since they're both non-theists. "How is your belief in the spirit world any different to a Catholic's belief in Heaven?" i asked. by this point my sister, a nineteen-year-old with a hatred of academia, is shouting at me constantly that i'm an asshole and i'm never gonna get anywhere in the world, nobody's ever gonna respect me because i'm a jerk, etc. my ma doesn't answer the question, instead getting more and more upset that i used the word 'retard', saying that it's a kick in the face after all she's done for me and she can't believe i'd be so ungrateful as to call her names. by this point both are in tears, and my sis is trying to shout "It's just your OPINION! It's JUST YOUR OPINION!" over anything i say.

then i really threw the napalm at my stupid ass. "Shut up a second and let her talk," i tell her, trying to get some sort of turn system established so we can all get a fucking word in. turns out neurotypicals prefer the format of debate where the winner is the guy who shouts down all the other guys and is still refusing to listen to their first logical point. she screamed at me that i was a fucking asshole with no future who didn't have any feelings and would never have any friends, and still yelling that she didn't want to even be related to a cunt like me, stormed to her room (she still lives with my ma) and slammed the door. my ma went upstairs in tears to talk to her, still thinking i'd called her retarded and refusing outright to let me explain that i hadn't. and all i was doing was starting a mental fencing match for pocket change; it's as if they suddenly got tired of my fancy prancing, took the balls off the foils and cut the shit out of everyone in the room. nobody 'won', but everyone had to have stitches. i'm pretty much back to square one with trying to make them not hate me now.

and that is why you should never, ever debate people who don't have degrees.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good advice.

Vivienne D'Avalon said...

to pick just one off-topic aside in this post, you said something about back trouble.... I have arthritis in my neck and have been using various methods to try to keep it under control, including an electrical stim unit (that the doctor prescribed to short-circuit the pain signals to my brain); magnetic necklaces (not doctor recommended, but I found to my surprise that magnets do actually sometimes work for pain relief); opiates, etc. If I were to start bio-hacking, I would be less interested in things like a compass or magnetic fingertips, at least until further down the road. What I would really be interested in trying to do is find a way to stop the constant pain in my neck and shoulders, either with an implant or a wearable. The electrical stim unit is a pain in the neck (lit) to use, since the self sticking pads often don't stick well and then I get a painful shock when there is too much air between stim and skin. Not to mention I look fucking retarded with all those wires coming off of me to a little box! Maybe we could collaborate to try to come up with a method that would help us both? I don't have the practical electronics experience that you have, but I do have access to a father who is a brilliant electronics engineer and 2 nieces who are becoming engineers. Maybe we can come up with something together that might help us both?

Vivienne

Anonymous said...

It is not rather one has a degree or not, it is rather or not they have the ability to listen and hear (not just one or the other), learn from what they may or may not agree with (even things you don't agree with can help you understand the things you do), patience enough to listen to others opinions/facts/ideas/etc., and either have a general knowledge of the subject being debated or be willing to listen to others who know what they may not. Of course, some people just suck. I myself do not have a degree (hopefully one day) along with many others, and may or may not know more than a person with a degree. I've sat for hours debating with people who have various levels degrees in various fields, and the majority of them are stuck in the ideas that were fed to them in school and seem to be unable to branch out from them (like your family may be with their ideas). When it comes to science you have to think outside this box, like you doctors who refused to perform you surgeries, let alone even begin to fathom why you would want to. They are unable to step away from their box, even when they are only needed to look outside of it they refuse to. The same goes with education when considering a degree a box, for many it is needed, for most they can't seem to look out of it, and for many they don't need it in the first place (except for work) all they need is the information - yourself included when you look at how you are independent from the main stream medical world when you perform your own surgeries. I feel I may have gone a little astray from my point while writing, but I think I got it out. Good luck with your upgrades, looking forward to reading more on you SouthPaw project.