Monday, September 11, 2006

Some Things I Learned This Weekend

I guess the posts I did at Echidne’s blog caused a little bit of a stir. In the process of reading and answering the responses, disagreements and outright fabrications of what I was alleged to have said, there have been some lessons to learn.

1. A shocking number of people do not pay attention to what is written. Some of these pick up cues from what is written and plug them into a pre-existing picture of a role model or a stereotype. Once plugged in they find it hard to deal with what was actually written, they ignore that and react to their stereotype.

2. This stereotyping extends to a sort of “the whole package deal” assignment of ideas. If you do not repeat the expected lines then it is assumed that you didn’t buy that package but you bought its one alternative. If you say something reminiscent of a part of a package you will be immediately assigned that whole deal. That you don’t say that you accepted any of the other junk in the package is beside the point. Even saying that you didn’t buy the package deal isn’t enough for hard cases. Both types of stereotyping are too clumsy to do much real thinking with.

3. People who read and write sloppily tend to think sloppily.

4. Some people on leftist blogs are no more honest than what you find on your average LGF style blog. This one wasn’t a total shock but being reminded of it was kind of a wake up jolt.

5. There is nothing like a good, reasoned, well thought out disagreement for enlarging your understanding. Thank you, A. L. and some others.

I am beginning to think this is a bigger problem than I’d first thought. It could produce disadvantages for the left, which depends on clear, independent thinking. These wouldn’t be a problem for the right, delta-epsilon zombis, don’t think they just need to react. They don’t make very successful leftists. Being on the left requires breaking these manacles of the mind and looking at things as they are, not as they are handed down by any orthodoxy, not even one that is reputed to be unorthodox. Reason is a good solvent for those, reason and the maturity to see things as they are not as you expect them or wish them to be.

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