Wired Magazine has released a video telling people how to win arguments online. There’s a problem with this and Wired is Wrong. Their suggestion is that when someone makes a claim that has no basis, they expect the defender to provide the proof that something didn’t happen. That’s impossible. You can’t prove something doesn’t exist, such as the idea that there is a teapot orbiting the sun, for example, if I say it’s true and you disagree, is it up to you to prove I’m wrong? I can always say, ‘well when you looked for it, it was on the other side of the sun.’
The problem is, in these situations the facts don’t matter. Consider the Newtown’s Sandy Hook massacre. The argument being put forth by trolls is that the shooting never took place. In this instance evidence does exist of the shooting, but the people who disbelieve refuse to accept the facts. The proof does exist and they don’t care.
At this point (and in most cases) the desire to argue has little to do with what is true. What is important is triggers in the brain are stimulated during these arguments, that deliver a chemical reaction in the brain similar to what takes place when someone shoots heroin, or when they tell lies.
I think the same thing happens when people argue about ‘facts’ on global warming or whether the Russians “hacked” our elections (btw I think that’s a very poor descriptor of what, if anything, was done by Russian operatives).
The point is, we can no longer argue over issues of fact. Facts don’t matter to these people. Instead we must appeal to their other desires. Engaging in ‘falsehood or fact’ gets them high and you can’t argue with someone stoned, especially when its your argument that is giving them a high, you have become their pusher of choice. [update 1-27 The debate over crowd size is a perfect example of giving deniers a high as they refute truth to deliver that stoned feeling]
But something has to be done. I believe there has to be a Methods of Best Approach created. The following list is a starting place and should be modified whenever possible.
1. Don’t show anger or aggression. Aggression helps get them high. Also, they can use your anger against you, and use it against other people who share your view. Don’t threaten, or call names, or demonstrate giving them a label. They will use that as well.
2. Attempt to understand the other party. This means profile them. In your mind you can begin to associate them with a different group of people afflicted with an illness of addiction. Do research on them. Look at their other posts. Is there a consistent train of thought? Or do they just make attacks? This can be tricky figure out, but most people associate themselves with a group for support. They develop a group’s way of thinking, and acquire the groups jargon and language. Maybe the person even has a group uniform; a football jersey, a suit and tie, a red hat, or loafers and elbow patches. It is the group-think representative who is most likely to be out there trolling, and these are the people you want to redirect, or avoid.
3. Consider how this person may have another motivation that you can tap into to get them to agree with an outcome or a goal, even if they still want to disagree with you on lack of reason. Fewer abortions might be the person’s desired outcome or goal, but his or her reason’s for achieving that outcome could be different than yours.
4. Adopt their language and ways of thinking, share it with them to bring them to the same desire of outcome or goals as you. If you start to fail, stop. If you can get even just a little way to redirecting them its a win, so don’t blow it by getting mad.
5.Disengage. If it’s not working, don’t respond. Ever. You’ve heard “don’t feed the trolls”? This is true. Stop arguing facts. And don’t antagonize. What you say will be used against someone else in the future.
6. Keep in mind we are all people and we all want pretty much the same things. We are not so dissimilar to each other in that way. We are just led to believe that we hate each other and that we have to disagree because we disagree on why, even if we do agree on what.
7. Don’t use the statements of third parties against your foes. If a politician says something awful don’t assume his supporters believe the same thing. If you do, you’ve just become a troll.
I found some things in this article interesting.