Thursday, 15 September 2016
During the course of the last couple of days I have heard or read reports of some person or other, in respect of a healthy exchange of views, of ‘ripping them apart’ or, of ‘tearing them a new arsehole’. Invariably, when you click on the link and watch the events themselves – Prime Minister’s Questions, for instance – you wonder if you are actually watching the same thing as the poster of the link thought they saw. Did Jeremy Corbyn really ‘wipe the floor’ with Theresa May, or did he (and she, to some extent) simple slug out their time repeating the same old mantras, waiting for the end-of-round bell?
Every day on Twitter thousands of people claim to have won arguments on totally spurious grounds; ‘I win because you called me a bad name’ or, ‘No reply? That means I win!’ or, ‘I see you have your troll army wading in... you lose’ or, and this is always the best by far, by blocking anybody who disagrees, as if putting your fingers in your ears and singing “La-la-la-laaaah!” is the ultimate Socratic clincher. Incidentally, I keep a gallery of screenshots of those who block me as a sort of trophy wall. Today’s picture is made from some of those images... just because it amuses me.
Anyway, the principle of hearing in an argument only those aspects with which you agree is known as confirmation bias. It’s bad in science and it’s bad in society but unfortunately it is a built in ‘feature’ of humanity. It’s where we get political tribalism from and why morons call for Tony Blair to be dubbed a war criminal and for Iain Duncan Smith to be tried for murder. It’s why you keep the circle of acquaintances that you do and why it is sometimes so difficult to countenance the company of those with opposing views.
It’s almost certainly why I find lefties weedy and whiny and utterly incapable of understanding the true nature of humankind. Humans are clever(ish) opportunist monkeys with a central drive of self-preservation and greed. This incisive and accurate analysis is naturally why some lefties think of me as an unreconstructed Nazi who cannot be salvaged and therefore must be disposed of. I expect they would have me gassed if they could.
Every now and then, however, somebody surprises me and I stumble across a concord with another which goes beyond politics and life-view and in whose company entirely opposing dispositions go almost without comment. But such encounters are rare; we all tend to drift along on our own little raft of preconceptions and sooner or later I find the sanctimony of the worshippers at the holy church of the NHS gets too mawkish to bear.
Anyway, I watched yesterday’s PMQs and it followed the same old script. JC managed to get in an email from an admirer and repeatedly bleated on about ‘segregation at eleven years old’ as if the proposal was to separate kids into barbed wire enclosed work camps (like they did when he was at grammar school!) and the PM reiterated the government intention to provide good school places for all. But if you think Jeremy Corbyn ‘wiped the floor’ with Theresa May yesterday, it just proves you are a dangerous, untrustworthy, gullible, communist fool!
PS: If you are a dangerous, untrustworthy, gullible, communist fool you may want to avail yourself of a dictionary and look up ‘irony’, ‘satire’ and ‘block’.