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  As of late, most conversations about politics have led me to believe there is something severely wrong in the way people think about politics. Most conversations involve two or more people who have spent hours and hours reading material that argues for their narrative or policy. These websites, books, and documentaries present facts and arguments that support their ideas. After having read the material of various groups I have found that a lot of this propaganda is actually very convincing. What I mean by this is not that they are right, but that I could imagine myself writing a character in a novel with those beliefs who was able to represent those beliefs and still seem reasonable. It seems very easy for someone to become convinced of a narrative, and have no idea that there narrative could be wrong.

 

 It seems like people are just telling themselves stories and using whatever "information" they get a hold of to fit into their narrative. You may think that the easy response is "well show them counter examples that prove their theory wrong". Somehow this doesn't work though. When people are shown contradictory information, they usually do one of two things. They readjust the narrative without rejecting the original premise or fundamental ideas, or they demonstrate a way in which that information is irrelevant or consistent to that narrative. This makes arguments about politics seem little more than arguments about theology.

 

 This has me thinking that I am susceptible to the same bias, While I have a firm belief in some basic political ideas, it seems that mostly what I have are hunches, stories and biases. Mises pointed out this problem in his works Human Action and Theory and History. He argued that what most people would do is that if the data did not correlate with the success of their policy they would just argue that their policy was working, but that other factors caused the data not to change in the correct direction. Making debates about political philosophy pointless.

 

  Mises responded to this problem by forming a deductive philosophy that defended capitalism through a rationalism and subjectivism. However Mises really only made an economics system, and deducing political ideas from his works seems unreasonable. I think that his response to this problem and the way Libertarians have used his work is one of the contributing factors to their ideology today.

 

 tl:dr

 

 Hypothetical Question:

 

  If someone brings up Israel and condemns their country for being a racist terror state, do I need to be knowledgeable to correct them and what exactly do I need to know to show that they are wrong?  

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To answer the title question, I would say: compare what someone says to what they do, and judge to the best of your ability. If you aren't knowledgable enough to decide, because of sketchy or missing facts, or because you don't know the correct answer, refrain from answering, but still judge as best you can.

So much goes on in the world and so much reporting may be wrong, dishonest, or just missing, a cautious attitude is best. That said, principles and educated guessing can make up for a lot of information holes. Not everything, but a lot. As far as bias goes, it's always a possibility, but an honest man will keep a look out, and over time develop a habit against it. Like anything, bias-checking can be learned and more or less overcome. You'll get quicker and better at catching yourself. And you can't assume that bias ruins everything you think, because it isn't true, and it would leave you intellectually impotent, where you could never be sure of your own conclusions.

As for your hypothetical, if I was actually interested enough to debate Israel, I would start with the best sources I could find, read some summaries from those sources, find firsthand accounts from both sides of the debate (from both respected figures as well as laymen), read some historical summaries from both sides, and then draw the best conclusion I could. Since I'm not interested, though, and considering the typical raving lunatic argument type with heated topics, I would ask some pointed questions of him with the intent to reveal his own ignorance on the matter, thus ending the argument before it began.

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As for your hypothetical, if I was actually interested enough to debate Israel, I would start with the best sources I could find, read some summaries from those sources, find firsthand accounts from both sides of the debate (from both respected figures as well as laymen), read some historical summaries from both sides, and then draw the best conclusion I could. Since I'm not interested, though, and considering the typical raving lunatic argument type with heated topics, I would ask some pointed questions of him with the intent to reveal his own ignorance on the matter, thus ending the argument before it began.

 

I would like to sharpen my comments on your wet-stone. Those that engage with me cannot be quelled with a pointed question... Perhaps my questions have blunted edges :o)

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That sounds like a "village idiot" to me! Best to leave him be.

Seriously, though, there is no point in arguing just for its own sake (and I consider it valid to argue with the only purpose being to get better at arguing). If someone won't listen to your opposing rebuttals and shows no sign of reasoned consideration, I see no point in humoring that person. Of course, you could also argue with the intent to sharpen your questions for future hard-nosers.

It's easy to get sucked into pointless discussions with people who have little or no interest in ideas. I think there's a threshold of honest consideration that needs to be shown before you decide it's worth your time to try to change someone's mind. (Of course, you should hold yourself to the same standard from the opposite side if you choose to engage with someone.)

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Engaging in argument is often much like the rough-housing and school yard fighting guys go through in junior high school.

I agree with JASKN, in that there is little benefit to arguing for the sake of argument, with the exception of simply improving your arguing skills. Over the years, I have found that you rarely ever change anyone's mind, and that they have to arrive at the shared understanding on their own. If one is ignorant, or short of facts on a subject, there is no shame in admitting that it is not an issue you have much interest in. State some generally accepted (and documented) facts as to why you hold the opinion you have, and leave the other guy to his. If it is a matter of genuine interest, whether of a material or abstract nature, be prepared. Have your opinion supported with a solid premise. As Rand was often quoted, "check your premises."

Incidentally, I never liked rough-housing on the playground, but I was always bigger than the others. I didn't have to.

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 Hypothetical Question:

 

  If someone brings up Israel and condemns their country for being a racist terror state, do I need to be knowledgeable to correct them and what exactly do I need to know to show that they are wrong?

 

 

  

I'm new here and I'm sorry if I butchered this, Hairnet. I'm not answering your hypothetical, though it's important and I've found myself defending Irael against lefties, many times. My intent is to highlight a situation that helps evil rise to power, like the movie, No, I saw last night, about Pinochet's defeat. Yeah, he was far from ideal (and Israel has its flaws, as does the U.S.), so what I see happening is people in representative democracies voting in anything, as long it's not the incumbent. It's where Socialists or Jihadists, etc., see people with only an anti positon that has no platform, just a didain for a certain government or person, then they fool people with a tactic like, [implied]: "Israel did something bad, therefore their enemies are the good guys." Not mentioning the worse actions of these implied good guys. Please don't think I'm anti-Israel. I'm not; I'm on their side. And to try to answer your question, I would point out that Israel's record on protecting property rights is good by today's standards, if that means anything to Israel's detractors. Usually not. I'm not much help. Sorry.  

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 Hypothetical Question:

 

  If someone brings up Israel and condemns their country for being a racist terror state, do I need to be knowledgeable to correct them and what exactly do I need to know to show that they are wrong?

 

 

  

 For sure. You have to know the history of Israel and Israeli-Arab conflict. You have to be well orientated in the current political situation in Israel and in the Middle East. You have to know a lot about Israeli social and political structures. It would help if you have a personal first hand knowledge.

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@theestevearnold

 

I see where you are coming from. However I don't know enough about the issue to see how that principle applies.

 

@Leonid

 

You understand the problem then right? How is it that  people are EXPECTED to have opinions on these issues when in reality one would most likely need to take a few courses on the subject before being knowledgeable on the subject at all. Doctors who have studied these issues at great length seem to disagree about this stuff.  If I took politics as seriously as I took my career, it would probably take me twenty years to gain the knowledge required to back up all my knee-jerk ideological opinions (Rand's opinons, a few others).

 

Yet all these people, including some pro-market folks, claim to have knowledge on a large variety of issue which they most likely don't.  

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