Teflon Intellects

Back in the days of “Ronaldus Maximus” – President Ronald Reagan – people would derisively refer to him as “The Teflon President” because nothing of the mud the enemedia slung at him seemed to stick in the minds of voters.  To their utter rage.  And, truthfully, mine, considering that back then I was also a die-hard liberal (please cross reference my most recent “Red Pill Journey” essay (#5) – and please do read the others too).

But over the course of the intervening decades I changed.  I learned new things, had That’s weird… experiences which prompted me to investigate, learn, and adjust my beliefs to those that seemed to make more sense in the light of those new experiences and that new evidence.  Learning, growing, developing, changing are, I believe, all part of the human experience.  A static mind is, IMHO, a waste of G-d’s gift of intellect… and beliefs, in the face of new evidence, need to be questioned even if, at the end, the belief stands the trial.



THE CURIOUS VS. THE INCURIOUS

I’ve noted, in many attempts at debating people on the Left, that there is a barrier to the introduction of new information… a near-allergic reaction against information from outside their ken.  I wrote a piece a while ago, back when I was guest-blogging elsewhere, and will pull from that essay, The Leftist Sense of Self (TLSoS):

In the days when I debated in the local paper’s comment section I was one of the few regularly-posting people from the Right. One day a Leftist sneeringly replied to one of my comments “Do you realize nobody ever ‘likes’ your comments?” My reply was something to the effect of “I didn’t realize we were in a high school popularity contest.”

But that got me thinking that Leftists are herd-beasts (I started keeping track – all the good little Leftists would like-swarm each others’ comments). They move together. They think together. They studiously avoid thoughts that are not of The Collective. A former co-worker was, one day, ranting about eeeeeevil Conservative attacks on Planned Parenthood; he then commented “I don’t know anyone who is against abortion.” I raised my hand, and he sneered and dismissed me outright. That reprises the apocryphal quote “I can’t believe Nixon won. I don’t know anyone who voted for him.”

They subconsciously insulate themselves from anything that might disrupt their already-extant views.  Their intellects are Teflon – because nothing new sticks.  Not only that, they intentionally discourage anyone else from hearing anything outside the collective knowledge of the Hivemind (from TLSoS; bolding and links in the original):

Take their utter hatred for Rush Limbaugh (and Conservative talk radio in general). For years I had heard only the worst about him. Racist. Misogynist. Selfish. Hater!!!!!!!!! I very deliberately avoided listening to him because of what my peers said about him. One day I was radio-channel surfing in my car and I stumbled across a man talking. I didn’t know who he was, but he had a nice voice and what he said intrigued me. I listened to him, agreeing with most everything and accepting the well-laid-out persuasiveness of his argumentation on the remainder, when he identified himself before a commercial break.

I was utterly floored. I had been assured that Rush was one small step away from the Devil Himself, but I’m agreeing with him. Again, that’s weird…; Rush had two books out – The Way Things Ought to Be and See, I Told You So – so I bought them at a used book store and devoured them. Wow. Even, at the time, still believing myself a liberal I found very little to disagree with him. It was then that I realized: maybe I’m not a liberal.



EXAMPLE ONE: DISAPPEARING FEEDBACK

There’s a far-Left blogger whom I read regularly, and comment on their site too.  They and I actually agree on some non-political things, which is what they normally write about.  On those topics, my occasional comments typically make it through moderation.

Lately, though, and particularly in the wake of the Parkland shooting, they’ve broken their own rule about politics, guns, and religion (aside: a liberal breaking their own rules… how typical) and posted several columns about it.  Naturally I’ve commented, with the majority of my comments being disappeared.  Even when my thoughts get through, they reply… and my rejoinders do not.  Thus, they ensure that they get the last word.  Every time.  It’s like they can’t stand the prospect that someone on the Right might actually be making a point without their rejoinder to smash it down in the minds of their (doubtless mostly-Left) readers.

This is now becoming typical.  I comment on some newspaper websites, including some college papers.  And more and more, my comments – admittedly barbed and somewhat caustic – are automatically dumped to being moderated where before they got through without it.  (And I’ve been permanently banned from commenting on a couple of newspapers.)

On one article praised “edgy” art and specifically mentioned the infamous and utterly nauseating Piss Christ (I’m not even a Christian but I still took offense at it) … I asked when they might open an exhibit with a Koran smeared with fecal matter, or a hammer and sickle in urine.  Disappeared.

Another article had a lengthy reaction of the local Fakestinians to Trump’s declaration that US law would be followed and Jerusalem would be recognized by America as Israel’s capital (imagine, a country having the temerity to decide what city is its capitol and expecting other nations to respect that </sarcasm>).  I responded to that article by fisking the Fakestinian claims, with over 20 references backing up said fisking.  Disappeared. 

Similarly I’ve commented on countless pro-choice articles, pro-gun-control articles, other pro-Fakestinian articles, pro-Left-wing-causes-in-general articles… virtually all get disappeared when my responses made strong points, or asked uncomfortable questions that might force anyone with a shred of intellectual curiosity to – you know - think.

On the blog of a woman who praised the whole punch a Nazi concept, I asked if she had considered this path advice might lead to a reprisal punch… or flurry of punches… or a “stronger response” involving high-velocity lead poisoning.  Disappeared, along with the whole article.

The conclusion is plain: Leftists intentionally spike thoughts that differ from The Collective.  The Narrative must be preserved, and uncomfortable thoughts must be kept from the herd lest anyone in the herd start thinking for themselves.  (That’s why they turn on each other so readily when one does stray; witness the vitriol aimed at Candace Owens and Kayne.)



EXAMPLE TWO: OSSIFIED INTELLECTS

The owner of that blog I mentioned above is a hard-core liberal.  OK, that’s fine, that’s their prerogative.  But in discussing one of their posts I cited several links from what are, IMHO, “mainstream conservative” places, e.g., American Thinker, News Busters, PJ Media, Hot Air, Instapundit, and Legal Insurrection, etc.

That person immediately blasted me for posting “hate sites”.  Hate sites?!?  I’ve read these sites for years, easily multiple thousands of articles over that time.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that I would consider bigoted.  Angry, perhaps, warning (especially about Islam) definitely, certainly leaning well Right in most instances, absolutely critical of the Left in others… but hate sites?  Horsefeathers!

The upshot was that, as above, anything that wasn’t on the very short approved list, like the New York Times-Traitor, the Washington Post-Fabricator, National Progressive Radio, etc., was outside the Collective and therefore – like Rush Limbaugh from above – had to be screamed at and pre-emptively Othered a la the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers lest an impure, i.e., Conservative, thought be put into the Collective and contaminate its purity.

[SCREAM!! (Invasion of the Body Snatchers - Donald Sutherland) / 0:21]


They’re conditioned, Pavlov-dog style, to reject anything from outside the approved list.

Look, I don’t enjoy listening to NPR; my blood pressure is under control except for when I do.  But I do.  Same for reading articles by the New York Times-Traitor, etc.  Or other left-biased sources.  I do it not for the fun of it, but because I understand that to develop a full picture of anything, it’s important to listen to all sides – even when you disagree… actually, especially when you disagree.

(From National Review, don’t recall when.)



EXAMPLE THREE: RUN, RUN, RUN AWAY

In an online venue, someone posted about the Fakestinians and “If only Israel would offer to divide the land, there could be peace”.

This person ranted on and on and on about the *cough cough* “occupation”, how eeeeevil those Jews were, and so on, so I asked “OK, so what happened in 2008?”  Cue crickets.  They never responded to anything else I posted, even in direct response to comments on their comments.  They’d rather fall silent than admit I had a point to which they had no reply.

(The answer, of course, is that Israel offered the “Palestinian” Prime Minister Abbas Gaza (from which Israel had already withdrawn in 2005), 90%+ of Judea & Samaria (aka the Jordanian-dubbed “West Bank), plus provisions for a traffic corridor between the two and East Jerusalem as its capital.  Abbas took that proposal and never came back to the table.  In other words, offered almost everything they asked for, they turned it down.)

Before I continue with this section, please understand that I don’t just wander up to people and assault them, dragging them kicking and screaming into a conversation.  Often I’ll jump into already-existing arguments online, or a conversation with someone in meatspace will evolve to a particular topic in which I have a dog in the hunt, and then – claws out.  Onward…

In another instance, discussing abortion, I asked the question “When your mother was pregnant with you, do you think she referred to you as ‘the clump of cells’ or ‘the fetus’… or ‘our baby’?”  The clear implication was that it was not the actual entity that was different, but merely the terminology that was.  That pro-abortion person, being Jewish as well, sputtered… so I said “Perhaps it might help if you just called them ‘Untermenschen’” (tThat was the term – under-men – that the Nazis used to dehumanize their victims to create emotional distance and help their killers overcome their natural resistance to murder).  Cue crickets again as they disengaged, angry – not angry that I’d destroyed their argument, but that I’d brought in an uncomfortable thought forward that held the potential to disrupt their Hive Mind support of abortion, and did so by presenting an argument they couldn’t derisively dismiss a priori.

Talking abortion with another person, I mentioned that Margaret Sanger – the founder of Planned Parenthood – was a virulent racist.  She spoke to the KKK, the go-to bete noire of the Left when smearing the Right; when confronted with that fact, it was first denied; then when I pulled up proof on my computer (the discussion being at work), they harrumphed and disappeared behind their cubicle wall.  Let me repeat that: faced with actual evidence that the founder of the organization they admired openly spoke to racist institutions – an act they’d outright condemn had it been a Republican – they preferred to flee the conversation rather than say “Holy sh*t I never knew that!” or question their belief that Planned Parenthood is a virtuous organization.

And a fourth instance.  I was talking about (cue dramatic music) climate change.  I got the “Well, 97% of climate scientists…”  OK.  “What’s the provenance of that statistic?”  Baffled look.  “Where did that statistic come from?  Baffled and somewhat panicked look.  “Who did the study?  How was it conducted?  Has it been reproduced?  What criticisms has it received?”  Disengagement, and cue crickets.

In each time and myriad more they’d rather flee the engagement than even conceive their smugly-superior belief might not be true.  And faced with someone who, apparently, knows something about the topic they’d rather cut them off rather than take an opportunity to at least listen and maybe learn something.

Pure Teflon.



EXAMPLE FOUR: MORAL SUPERIORITY

There’s a great Thomas Sowell quote, which I don’t – alas – have archived so please forgive the paraphrase from memory to the core meaning: A person who has tied their sense of moral superiority to specific beliefs cannot be debated.

And that’s what so many on the Left have done.  They’ve based their perception of themselves as good people as being founded on specific beliefs.  Thus, when you challenge their beliefs – even only one – you are threatening their perception of themselves as good people.  This quote by Frantz Fanon is perfect:

"Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief."

It boils down to the Conflict of Visions, outlined in Thomas Sowell’s excellent book and well-summarized by Bill Whittle:

[The Battle of Big Ideas, Part 1: CONSTRAINED vs. UNCONSTRAINED / 8:11]


If you are good and virtuous, as the Left believes themselves to be, because you believe certain things – pro-choice, the crisis of climate change, Israel (and America and the West) are evil, gay marriage and more are just fine, etc., etc., etc. – then anyone and anything that challenges that belief challenges your view of yourself as a good person.

Let’s be honest: very few people have the strength to do that – to admit you’re not as good a person as you think you are. No wonder they reject anything that might force that critical self-evaluation.



CONCLUSION

We Jews love to argue and debate.  Many quips outline that love; one of my favorites is “Ask two Jews a question, you’ll get at least three answers.”  Of course this love of discussion / debate is not limited to Jews.  Several friends of mine, none Jewish, have gotten in my face intellectually and gone toe-to-toe with me on numerous issues.  Each time I’ve enjoyed it because those discussions have broadened my perspective.  I do not flee the field of intellectual battle, and almost always I’ve learned something – even if I’ve not changed my mind.  And given the caliber of people with whom I attempt to associate voluntarily, on more than one occasion I have modified what I’ve believed, or at least acknowledged that the topic is far more shaded and nuanced than I’d initially thought.  In other words, debate and discussion broaden my mind… why on earth would I fear that?

Now there’s truth to the old chestnut “A man convinced against his will, is a man who is unconvinced still”; again, I don’t step into social situations itching for a fight.  But my point is not that I’m right, you’re wrong, change your mind you libtard – well, OK, part of it is – but rather pleading for people to simply be willing to entertain ideas outside your set of beliefs.  There are times, e.g., debating the topics of the “Fakestinians” and their openly-stated goal of wiping out Israel and committing another Holocaust with JINOs (Jews In Name Only), when they take Hamas’ side against a nation smaller than New Jersey, channeling Cromwell “… think it possible you may be wrong” about the so-called reasonableness of people who openly chant “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas”!

IMHO, someone who cannot debate, who flees discussions in the face of information outside the circle of what they already “know” is true, and who avoids new sources of information is to be pitied as an ossified intellect.  That habit of fleeing contention and debate permeate to other aspects of life.  (Without going into detail, I got into it with a retired senior executive on a human management issue… that executive, despite a number of articles I sent their way on the topic supporting my contention by recognized persons in the field, and pointing to multiple comments from other individuals on those articles that aligned with my own thoughts, essentially said “shut up” as their rejoinder.  OK, an example of one, but I’ve got more examples.)
[Andrew Klavan:SHUT UP! / 4:43]

So never mind the costs to society of the conflicts that could be resolved by a willingness to discuss and debate in a civilized manner – not internationally, but just domestically.  Just consider the loss to society of countless Teflon intellects, unable to engage in discussions that introduce new information whether in the political venue, or the workplace.  And my experience says they’re overwhelmingly more common on the Left - so keep that in mind when you engage a Leftist in debate... more often than not, and by a wide margin, you're not going to get anywhere.

 
What a loss.  Where might humanity be with that added brainpower working to solve problems in the “marketplace of ideas” rather than fleeing discussing them?



"I do not coexist with cancer; I do not find common ground with gangrene.  The Left must be fought and destroyed, or America dies."



© 2018, NITZAKHON

Comments

  1. You make some excellent points. The Left doesn't respond to facts or logic (as I have posted on other blog sites). You can't argue with them, period. Your blog post delineates why it is almost impossible to have any sort of a conversation with them.

    Loved the part regarding abortion. So very, very true.

    Thank you for a very thoughtful and heartfelt post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!

      Please do browse. I'll flatter myself, but I think I've got some good stuff in my varied essays.

      Delete
  2. "Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief."
    The left definitely has reached the pinnacle of that but the right is mired down in it as well...So many are stuck on ideas that haven't worked but for some reason they just think they need a little more time and then they would...Also the right will let the lefts perception of them control what they do or don't do while the left doesn't give a damn what the right thinks of them... Sad That...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's no question that people across the spectrum can have this tendency of ignoring data that don't comport with existing beliefs; certainly I'm guilty of it too.

      But at least I'm open to considering things... and I sure don't flee.

      Delete
  3. EXCELLENT ESSAY! Several parallels to my own experience. I've lost friends of long standing to this issue.....and there are things I simply don't bring up with my kids for fear of same. :-(

    By the way, the quote you were looking for is: "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still."

    ReplyDelete
  4. Not one soul will perish
    who puts their trust in Me.
    -Jesus

    ReplyDelete

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