View Full Version : Is there a way to combat an "anything goes" attitude?

October 10, 2008, 02:32 PM
I get the impression from a lot of our opposition that they feel that any tactics are permissible from their end, because "they are right."

Hence, you see stuff like flawed/false research, voter registration fraud, etc., and -all- of it is ignored and excused with "it's being done for a good reason."

How can one work to alter that thinking?

Glenn E. Meyer
October 10, 2008, 02:48 PM
No offense and not to start a flame war in the new forum but it is common human psychology to have what is known as confirmation bias. One only seeks out information that is in agreement with your position.

So on technical issues, all political persuasions only quote what agrees with them and do not look for disconfirming evidence.

As far as fraud, etc. - all are equally guilty of such shennigans. It is confirmation bias to declare yourself a member of group A and think only group B does thins.

As far as doing it for a good cause - if one looks at a strongly held ideological belief - pro-Rutabagas or ant-Rutabaga - the zealots think that position is for a good cause and act accordingly.

A good read is Terror in the Name of God that examines how folks who propose to follow the tenets of various religions that preach all kinds of nice things - become monstrous killers.

Also, don't forget that many politicos do what they do for sheer self-interest - they have little real beliefs beyond their own venial desires and need for success. They take ideological positions to hoodwink their disciples into following and supporting them.

How to break this? People need training in empirical methods to rationally examine positions on the basis of the merits of the issue. Many folks don't - they are socialized to the emotional, playing on fears and the like.

They are taught to be self-centered and anti-intellectual. If we could break that - we would be in business. One can read many books on the areas of logic and thinking that people engage in. Training in such flaws would be useful.

So examine yourself and say - did you look at both sides of the issue? Are you overemphasizing one incident to the exclusion of the whole picture?

If we move away from guns and 'our' opposition - you would find that the correlated groups are just as irrational on many issues as you may think 'our' opposition is on guns.

Hope, I wasn't too political or shying away from our mandate. If the purpose was to say that political position A is a paragon of decision making rationalilty as compared to B on all things - I don't buy it.

October 10, 2008, 03:34 PM
I think what I was looking for was "the end justifies the means."

There are otherwise "nice" folks out there who consider vandalism to be a viable response to a political sign or bumper sticker - Has this country become so polarized, so mired down, that we won't be able to establish a dialogue with those folks? Right now, if some side says that the sun will come up in the morning, the other side wheels out the skin cancer experts, or proclaims that the first party is responsible for using up the sun at too rapid a rate...

And people pay attention.

Because for reason to work, there needs to be bilateral communication. As it is, when the second amendment comes up, they do the equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and singing... How can one get past that?

Glenn E. Meyer
October 10, 2008, 04:42 PM
My point was that it isn't just the 2nd Amend - although that is our focus here.

When folks have a belief, probably locked in by emotional evaluations, they don't look disconfirming evidence.

A person whose loved one was killed by a nut with a military derivative rifle is not going to read a book on the pros of the 2nd Amend.

A person who defended themselves with gun against a rapist is not going to read evidence that overall guns are dangerous to society.

Either will focus on their experience and overestimate its validity.

It takes explicit training in empirical methods to overwhelm the emotional.

One might decry a person who vandalizes your progun sticker. At work, we had a person with a Darwin fish on their car and it was vandalized. Some folks justified the vandalism as acceptable because that statement was contrary to their beliefs. Someone who vandalizes a progun sign probably has the cognitive belief that guns are only instruments of unacceptable violence and that preventing such violence is a greater good that justifes the action.

Only if folks are willing to objectively analyze the situation can you change beliefs. There are various persuasion techniques in many disciplines. Will folks go to the effort - no - most are intellectually lazy unless they are forced by circumstance to do this.

So I ask - have many progun folks read articles and books that might suggest gun control has utility - to see if empirically some programs might be good for society? Have antigunners read the progun literature? It has been done by some - McClurg, Kopel and Denning have a great book - Gun Control and Gun Rights - A reader and Guide - 2002 NYU press. It is a rational pro and con.

If one says apriori that there is no value to any antigun argument - then that's the problem. Emotional evaluation as compared to empirical.

If one wants one to come up with the magic progun argument.

1. It's a right from God
2. It is to protect against tyranny
3. More guns, less violence or crime

and expect not to back it up to an anti - that won't happen. I think the people who change position have the cognition resources to actually think about the issues.

October 10, 2008, 09:27 PM
I think what I was looking for was "the end justifies the means."
That is what came to my mind when i read your opening post, Bogie. I don't think the problem is a lack of critical thinking skills as much as it is a problem with society. When the perpetrator goes to others to brag about what he has done, he will receive positive reinforcement for "attacking those crazy gun nuts" or "those stupid conservatives". There are so many people out there operating on the "ends justifies the means" approach that they reject society's values which state that damaging the property of others is wrong. As long as they can find enough people providing them positive reinforcement through the "ends justifies the means" crowd to negate the negative reinforcement they receive from the societal norm crowd, they will continue to do it for more positive reinforcement. The answer won't be easy, because you would have to reprogram the societal norms of the entire "ends justifies the means" crowd. In my perfect world, I would do the whole eye for an eye thing. You want to deface someone else's vehicle? Fine, the courts will take a grinder to your vehicle and grind in a statement about how dumb the owner is, and grind it in deep enough so replacing body panels is the only option for removing it. I think that's the problem with society, it seems you never have to feel shame these days. In the Army, commanders have the option of posting the proceedings from nonjudicial punishments on the company board so everyone else can learn from their mistakes and know that the offender did something wrong. I haven't had a commander who has posted the proceedings on the board in eight years, even when encouraged to by the senior NCOs. Can't let the troops feel bad about themselves, they might need to seek counseling from mental health experts for their newly-lowered self-esteem. :barf:

So what brought this on? Did someone deface the Bogie-mobile?

October 10, 2008, 11:39 PM
Bogie, you've raised a good question.

Glenn, your answers are superb and well thought. But your best points were buried in the verbiage.

People need training in empirical methods to rationally examine positions on the basis of the merits of the issue. Many folks don't - they are socialized to the emotional, playing on fears and the like.

They are taught to be self-centered and anti-intellectual.

One difficulty is that once a person has invested any time or intellect in supporting one side or another, their emotional interests usually outweigh or cloud the ability to rationally examine the facts.

But let's get into some specifics. You aren't going to change the mind of a hard-core anti-gun person, not even with the most impartial of facts. So ignore that part of the equation for a moment. The focus has to be on the "ends justify the means" mentality.

Someone who defaces property because it holds a pro-gun message or pro-something message have a form of self-delusion and/or mental illness. This would include any of us who might deface property because of a "No Guns!" sign.

Those who push such actions as acceptable need to be interrogated as to when such actions are NOT acceptable. If it's okay to deface a car with a McCain/Palin sticker, is it also acceptable to trash a Prius with the Obama sticker? Why not? The response is likely to be informative about the mindset of the person.

The follow-on question is, of course, Supposing your justification is true, is there ANY law you won't violate to support your cause? Once they admit there are certain laws they'll obey, then the question becomes why it's permissible to break some laws, not others. And consequently, if you can lead them to justify violating some really serious law like arson or murder then step back and paraphrase it like "so you think it's okay to burn down people's property or kill them if they don't follow your view?"

Of course, this presumes you can actually carry on a dialogue with them. Usually attempts at a serious dialogue are met with ridicule, hyperbolic statements (you'd let 3rd graders take machineguns to school!) and frequent forays into off-topic subjects like racism, social inequities, class warfare, ad nauseum.

Discussing flawed research is usually beyond the scope of competence for most of the anti-gun crowd. When I pointed out that Kellerman's 43-times study exempted lawful uses it was dismissed as irrelevant. But when I point out that his study is tantamout to studying only the survivability of plane crashes while ignoring the vast majority of safe flights, it gets a little more thought (albeit not very much in some cases).

If you listen carefully to left-wing speakers on media shows, they try to monopolize as much time as possible in rapid fire to prevent questioning of a point or continue talking regardless of someone calling them on something. When they do the same thing in a personal discussion or small group discussion, it's the verbal equivilent of putting their fingers in their ears and singing.

October 11, 2008, 07:23 AM
Nope... The Bogie-mobile is still unscratched...

How long it would remain that way at a "rainbow gathering" could probably be measured with a very small hourglass. But I think that an Obama-stickered vehicle would likely be fairly safe at most "conservative" events - altho it might end up getting a little damp at Knob Creek...

Thing is, I see a pretty fine line between "the group is willing to vandalize property" and "the group is willing to have the area 'cleansed.'"

Mike Irwin
October 11, 2008, 08:36 AM
Lord knows that our side is pure as driven snow in things like this...

October 11, 2008, 10:21 PM
Well, I -have- had vehicles vandalized... likely from folks who felt "justified" in it...

(lemme tell you - when the vehicle in question is a clapped-out 1987 2.8 litre Chevy S10 4x4 with a "done at the range" spraybomb paint job (altho I was taught how to do it at Unca Suga's Woodland Art Studio...)," it is pretty much useless, and actually somewhat amusing, to have someone key the thing...

Two minutes, good as new...

October 12, 2008, 02:59 AM
<chuckling> Here's a good test...

Take your painted-at-the-range S10 and park it next to a Pirus somewhere near a known "liberal zone" (e.g. university). Put McCain/Palin stickers on both, then set up a camera in a nearby spot to record the fun.

Though the comparison test would be to put Obama stickers on both and park them at a tractor-pull or NASCAR racetrack parking lot.

Which do you think would show more "action"?

44 AMP
October 12, 2008, 05:46 PM
And "you can't make an omlet without breaking a few eggs". In simplest terms, it is the law of the jungle. Might makes right. Except in this case, we are talking about the morality of your particular cause (might) and since your cause is moral and just, whatever you do to further that cause is just (right).

The basic premise has been with us since the first proto-human ripped up a plant or killed an animal because he was hungry. And since Og bashed Thag and took the food away from him, because he was hungry.

When we became "civilized" we created rules which govern the morality of our actions. Whether it is the rule of law, or the will of the gods, these rules state which actions are considered just, and which are unjust. It is the general agreement of the people to follow these rules that creates and allows society to function.

There is a strong tendency for mankind to consider those who break the rules as evil. Most of the time that is how we define evil. This carrys over to lesser things as well. We tend to think of those who disagree with our positions (rules) as wrong (because, mostly, they are), and it is a small, indeed, a very small step from there to bad, and from bad to evil. The greater the moral importance of the cause to you, the more likely those opposing it are considered evil.

And since they are evil (and no doubt in league with the Devil - by whatever name you know him), then whatever harms them must be "good". Someone keying your car because of your bumper sticker is at one end of the spectrum, and terrorist bombings the other.
The only solution that has proven to work is codifying the forbidden acts (laws), and punishment for breaking them. AND punishment only works as a deterrent IF the potential perpatrator believes the punishment WILL happen to them, AND it is severe enough to deter them from committing the action contemplated. Most criminals do what they do because they do not believe they will be caught. And even if caught, the punishment is not more than they can easily bear.

There is very little deterrence from "slap on the wrist" justice. Fines and even jail time are not deterrence to some people. For them, the only solution is to remove them from society.