August 4, 2006
I’ve largely stopped arguing with people. By that I mean exploring different point-of-views to arrive at a consensus or, at least, a clearer understanding of our differences. I found most people see arguments as a competitive sport, where winning is most important. A tactic I find particularly annoying are anecdotal arguments. If I state that women are on average smaller than men, many people will reply that they’ve seen some tall women. It is important for them to undermine my argument by attacking my supporting statements. I used to think people didn’t understand the difference between many vs. all, or statistical arguments vs. universal truths. Now I understand that people aren’t really interested in discussing a topic. They prefer to protect their little bubble of smug certainty. So now I try to quickly determine how someone reacts to being challenged and, if they resort to cheap debate tactics, quickly end the conversation and move on. This has radically reduced the number of pointless discussions I once found myself embroiled in. I talk about the weather much more nowadays. It sure is hot this summer, ain’t it?