Do your ideas have consequences?

When I get into philosophical discussions with people, I now ask them to specifically state the negative side effects of their beliefs. I ask this early in the discussion, because if they can’t answer they’re not worth talking to.

For example, some people are happy to make wise-ass comments about people who don’t believe in evolution. Ask such a person what he believes the downsides of the theory of evolution to be. The answer will be enlightening. Most people will look at you with a blank stare. This demonstrates that such a person is as ignorant as anyone he’s criticizing. At that point he can safely be ignored. HBDers are the only ones – at least that I am aware of – who can honestly answer the question about the downsides of evolution. In their telling, the downsides of evolution are: 1) groups have different average levels of skills and abilities; 2) some people will simply be unable to perform at certain levels (e.g. we can’t all be Einsteins, even if we’re all taught by Harvard graduates in elementary school); and 3) modern, liberal society’s selection pressures seem to be creating an ever-stupider population.

Feminism also presents itself as an "everybody wins" phenomenon. Obviously this is bullshit. We can easily see the ultimate logical conclusions of feminism: fatherless children; marriage as just another stage in relationships that end after a few years; a totally screwed up sexual marketplace with a few major winners and hordes of losers; the death of femininity; the death of masculinity; the growth of the welfare state; etc.

It’s particularly enlightening to ask someone to explain the downsides of democracy. Talk about blank stares.

If your beliefs have no consequences, you haven’t though very hard about them.


9 Responses to Do your ideas have consequences?

  1. Jehu says:

    I’ll reprint a comment of mine from Dr. Wes’s health care blog as I think it’s relevant to what you’re speaking of here:

    The fact that it always sucks to be SOMEBODY is an inevitable consequence of the fact that we live in a world with limited resources. That’s simply a readily observable result of living in a fallen world when viewed from a Christian point of view. The problem with public discourse is this:

    You have a massive disadvantage in rhetorical combat when you admit that your decisions WILL suck for someone, even though that is nearly ALWAYS true. So everyone who wants power or wants power kept away from someone else in the public arena has to pretend that their plans are all sunshine and dancing unicorns. That’s the problem. The most successful parties politically are the ones best at laundering their naked group interest through noble-sounding language. Personally, I prefer it when people speak plainly. I don’t condemn people for advocating things simply because they’re in their own self-interest, I simply object strenuously when they misappropriate moral language towards those ends. The end of the moral language arms race is war, which ends in tears.

  2. Samson says:

    Great points, F and Jehu; I’ve thought this way many times myself. Oftentimes in real life I have great difficulty sounding very convincing, because I refuse to collapse my position into a soundbite. It can come across as mealy-mouthed or wishy-washy, when really I’m just trying to be fair. And unfortunately, that doesn’t work if your goal is to persuade. I confess I don’t know what to do about it.

  3. It’s quite simple. You’re in intellectual mode. It’s not persuasive. You have to speak from the heart. R-mode will allow you to deliver a great deal of information in a very short amount of words.

    Trying to be fair is a fear reaction, the fear of being unfair, which may be rooted in the fear of being misperceived and criticized, because one is in a minority with views superficially similar to outcast groups.

    Let it go.

  4. Samson says:

    Trying to be fair is a fear reaction, the fear of being unfair

    I’ve thought of this, too, and while to a great extent you’re correct, I also believe there’s something intrinsically morally right about being fair. But you’re correct: one does need to ask oneself whether one is trying to be “fair” out of fear or for other reasons.

  5. Morality is the great beta-izer. The intellect’s attempts to apply fairness to social dynamics will always fall short.

    You have to arrive at an internal subconscious state that you trust to run free in the moment, without applying “fairness” brakes.

    If you’re not confident enough to do that, you’re not confident in your true self.

    Of course many people shouldn’t be. But it would be even better to transform the self so that it is trustworthy.

    In sum: to try to be fair is to be in your own head, which feels inherently untrustworthy and manipulative to others.

  6. Buckethead says:

    Joseph, I think your last point is why most effective leaders seem to be smart, but not too smart.

  7. That’s true. Another reason is that IQ differences greater than 2 SD impede communication and rapport.

    • Jehu says:

      Yes, if you’re going to try to communicate beyond 2 SD, you need to rely very heavily on three things:
      1) Established rituals, structure, and chain of command
      2) Commonality of religious faith and lots of religious language
      3) Framing as much as you can in athletic or sports metaphors

      It’s still a terrific strain though. One of the reasons I think doctors seriously earn their economic status in the US is that they have to deal with customers constantly who are a lot more than 2 SD lower than they are—God forbid they work in an ER.

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