Is there any hope for rational political discourse?
Posted: 06 October 2012 07:05 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Hi everyone,

Over the years, I have become extremely cynical and frustrated with the level of hypocrisy, bias, and spin, in our countries political discourse.  From the politicians themselves, the media, and other voters, it is nearly impossible to get a rational, clear, and critical critique of a certain politician or policy.  There are hundreds of websites and organizations that apply skepticism and critical thinking to religion or pseudoscience.  I think we need more of that applied to politics. 

At the end of the day, it will always be an individuals choice what politician or policy to support; we each have our own priorities and values.  I’m not concerned with influencing who or what people should vote for.  I just want decisions to be based on facts and a rational, un-biased evaluation of the pros and cons; not based on which politician is the better spin-doctor, or the most charming, or the most popular.  And certainly not based on media bias, or a prejudicial commitment to a particular party. 

There are certain things that are clearly bunk, regardless of your ideology.  These problems are present in all political parties; all politicians seek to serve their own self-interests, and all politicians and voters (myself included) are controlled by their biases (it’s just human nature).  Even those of us who can easily apply skepticism and critical thinking to religion or pseudoscience have difficulty applying it to politics (if we even try to).

Is there any hope that some day, reason and critical thinking will actually play a major role in our countries politics?


Warren

 

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Posted: 08 October 2012 02:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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The short answer is, “No.”  There are many tactics in the art of persuasion and critical thinking is among the least successful.

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Posted: 09 October 2012 06:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Yes, I am concerned that it is not just a difficult dream, but an impossible one.

Perceptions determine emotions, and emotions determine actions.  Hence, politicians and (biased) media target perceptions.  And it is more effective, easier, and more profitable for them if they are not constrained by facts and integrity.

So the first step may be to get enough of the public to start demanding integrity from media outlets and from politicians (by turning to other news sources and by voting for other politicians) to get noticed.  There are a couple major obstacles with that approach: (1) where is someone to find unbiased news outlets and honest politicians? If you vote for someone who has no chance of winning, just because they are honest, will you send a message or will you just be throwing away your vote?  (2) It’s not human nature to apply skepticsm to these things, so it will be a major challenge getting people to adopt this outlook (perhaps not any easier than getting people to think rationally about religion).

Warren

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Posted: 11 October 2012 05:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Rational and Political are mutually exclusive.

Rationality seeks to objectively identify facts in their native context independent of opinion so people can make informed choices.

Politics seeks to bury facts under an avalanche of constantly morphing perception/deception that is only accidentally, if at all, traceable to actual facts so it can carry out it’s hidden agenda.

And the most masterful practitioner of politics I have seen in my lifetime is Willard Romney.
He is so far distanced and disconnected from anything resembling factual evidence that it almost takes one’s breath away to see that it is possible for people to entertain the idea that anything he says could possibly make a lick of sense in the real world.

This man who purloined his his millions taking away people’s livelihoods to stuff cash in his own pockets wants to be seen as a “job creator”.

This man who perpetually, consistently, and unabashedly takes diametrically opposed positions on issues expects people to “trust him” and “know where he stands”.

This man, who can tell these bald-faced lies and somehow get away with it with impunity, has far surpassed the mythic serpent in the mythic garden of eden when it comes to guile.

This man, if elected to preside over the people of the United States of America, will be the final nail in the coffin the oligarchy has built around us for generations now.

 

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Posted: 11 October 2012 08:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Nullun - I would like to keep this discussion unbiased.  Politicians and voters on both sides are guilty of bias, hypocrisy, and deception. 

I hope to get a better understanding of what we can do to try to encourage people to seek a rational assessment of the facts.  We will not achieve that through emotional, biased attacks.

Warren

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Posted: 11 October 2012 08:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Dubs - 11 October 2012 08:08 AM

Nullun - I would like to keep this discussion unbiased.  Politicians and voters on both sides are guilty of bias, hypocrisy, and deception. 

I hope to get a better understanding of what we can do to try to encourage people to seek a rational assessment of the facts.  We will not achieve that through emotional, biased attacks.

Warren

In case you haven’t noticed.

What is bias to one person is fact to another.

And, if it were possible to be the “other person” and see things from their point of view through the inevitable lenses that sharpen certain areas of vision while blurring others, we would all know this.

One thing the simple act of listening to what Willard Romney says will do for you, however, is unequivocally reveal that he says clearly contradictory things on a daily basis depending on who he thinks he is addressing.
All politicians do this more or less, but none have done it as brazenly or as unflaggingly consistently over the years as he has.

I am biased.

But there is a factual basis for it nevertheless.

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Posted: 11 October 2012 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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So if someone did not want to vote for Mitt Romney for the reasons you identified, if they wanted to take a stand for honesty, integrity, and open-ness in politics, who would they vote for?  If you say Obama, then you are blinded by your bias and unable to see these character flaws in him, as manifested by his statements and actions over the years.  (Note that this is a different question from who you intend to vote for based on policies, abilities, and tangible outcomes.  I don’t care who people decide to vote for after a rational and skeptical review of facts.  I’m bothered by rhetoric and non-sequitors, and other logical fallacies.).

Politicians are rewarded for being dishonest.  In fact, someone who is unable to lie or intentionally mislead without reservation is probably un-electable in modern politics. (at least at the national level, I move often and don’t follow state politics in general and certainly not all state and local elections).  If someone out there knows of a state or local electorate that places value on honesty in politics, let me know.

So what is the harm if everyone lies?  Well, I think it is related to the same lack of rational thinking that leads to the inability of congress and the white house to actually solve problems.  Politicians despise and mistrust each other with such a biased passion, that any chance for constructive compromise is dead.  Politics is so polarized with a “you win, I lose; or I win, you lose” mentality.  No one looks for “third options” to solve problems in a way that everyone can win.

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Posted: 11 October 2012 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Dubs - 11 October 2012 12:42 PM

So if someone did not want to vote for Mitt Romney for the reasons you identified, if they wanted to take a stand for honesty, integrity, and open-ness in politics, who would they vote for?  If you say Obama, then you are blinded by your bias and unable to see these character flaws in him, as manifested by his statements and actions over the years.  (Note that this is a different question from who you intend to vote for based on policies, abilities, and tangible outcomes.  I don’t care who people decide to vote for after a rational and skeptical review of facts.  I’m bothered by rhetoric and non-sequitors, and other logical fallacies.).

Politicians are rewarded for being dishonest.  In fact, someone who is unable to lie or intentionally mislead without reservation is probably un-electable in modern politics. (at least at the national level, I move often and don’t follow state politics in general and certainly not all state and local elections).  If someone out there knows of a state or local electorate that places value on honesty in politics, let me know.

So what is the harm if everyone lies?  Well, I think it is related to the same lack of rational thinking that leads to the inability of congress and the white house to actually solve problems.  Politicians despise and mistrust each other with such a biased passion, that any chance for constructive compromise is dead.  Politics is so polarized with a “you win, I lose; or I win, you lose” mentality.  No one looks for “third options” to solve problems in a way that everyone can win.

Pretty much.  To answer the OP, no, not with only 2 parties.

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Posted: 17 May 2013 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Dubs - 06 October 2012 07:05 PM

From the politicians themselves, the media, and other voters, it is nearly impossible to get a rational, clear, and critical critique of a certain politician or policy

 

From where I sit politicians are very clear when it comes to new policies and government organizations that they wish to implement. The only thing is that it is political suicide to say exactly what you will cut from the government. Nobody will protest a new government program which, for those select people who will profit from it, is a net positive, and the taxpayers wont even notice the expense of the program considering it is primarily funded through deficit financing.

However, if, as a politician, you say “I want to cut program ‘x’” then everybody who works for, or benefits significantly from program “x” will have a huge incentive to work day and night making sure the politician that made that promise does not survive politically. They have a massive incentive to insure that person NEVER gets elected. Thats why Republicans and Democrats alike always avoid specifying cuts (and therefore rarely cut anything). They stick to terms like “cutting waste and abuse.” You cannot be clear on policies like this. Everything else seems clear as day.

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Posted: 26 August 2014 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Politics is a quest for power and with power comes money influence and life style.
It is one of the elitist occupations by means of which a man can climb to the top of the pyramid leaving the lower levels.We all struggle to rise up the wealth pyramid only a few can reach the top most positions.
The struggle has been going on for thousands of years. As you rise up your life becomes freer of drudgery, the main danger is the lust of wanting more and more.

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Posted: 03 September 2014 06:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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I think that there could be hope if more educated people start becoming politicians. The good news is that we are entering a more educated era and political policies should be more educated. I think that some kind of law should be made for voters to educate themselves. I also am against ideological political parties and do not think that there is any hope of preventing this. If humanity goes through a severe crisis and decides to recreate government I hope that it will be a scientific one. You are speaking of a very important issue in today’s world and I hope that the generation of today, you and I, and everyone else, will tackle it.

Nullun - 11 October 2012 08:25 AM

In case you haven’t noticed.

What is bias to one person is fact to another.

And, if it were possible to be the “other person” and see things from their point of view through the inevitable lenses that sharpen certain areas of vision while blurring others, we would all know this.

One thing the simple act of listening to what Willard Romney says will do for you, however, is unequivocally reveal that he says clearly contradictory things on a daily basis depending on who he thinks he is addressing.
All politicians do this more or less, but none have done it as brazenly or as unflaggingly consistently over the years as he has.

I am biased.

But there is a factual basis for it nevertheless.


This is a very popular view in today’s politics. You should read “The Republic” by Plato. He is questioning everything in an excruciating way and it is a healthy thing thing to do. He wants to have a government of philosophers. There is another philosopher of today who says that we must try to think through as much as we can and choose the right path (I don’t know his name unfortunately, I read an article on the news about him in NY Times possibly? hmmm).  If you think about it a bias will leave another side weakened and there is nothing factual about that. Yes, NY Times (I even remember the article), I will edit this post with the philosopher’s name ASAP!

 


Nicholas Christof NY Times:

First, Sir Isaiah Berlin described the world as muddled and complex, with many competing values yet no simple yardstick to determine which should trump the others. We yearn for One True Answer, but it’s our lot to struggle to reconcile inconsistent goals. He referred to this as pluralism of values.

Yet Sir Isaiah also cautioned against the hand-wringing that sometimes paralyzes intellectuals, the idea that everything is so complex, nuanced and uncertain that one cannot act. It’s the idea pilloried by Yeats: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Sir Isaiah argued for acknowledging doubts and uncertainty — and then forging ahead. “Principles are not less sacred because their duration cannot be guaranteed,” he wrote. “Indeed, the very desire for guarantees that our values are eternal and secure in some objective heaven is perhaps only a craving for the certainties of childhood.”

[ Edited: 03 September 2014 06:57 PM by AwesomeGuy30]
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Posted: 04 September 2014 12:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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I just heard about the crowds desperate to get into England standing around fires in Calais. The French autorities are angry but charitable people are feeding them.
I confess I have not read the Republic my excuse is there is too much to read. At the moment I’m struggling with The Moral Landscape but I often digress as Sam mentions other authors. I’m 72, retired , so plenty of time in the short term. I like to read fiction as well to balance my diet.
If you have time ( ha ha ) look at Safa Motesharri he has applied a mathmatical model to the subject of the collapse of civilisation. It implies that there is not a lot of time for long thought- out solutions to our dilema.

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Posted: 05 September 2014 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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magnocrat - 04 September 2014 12:23 AM

I just heard about the crowds desperate to get into England standing around fires in Calais. The French autorities are angry but charitable people are feeding them.
I confess I have not read the Republic my excuse is there is too much to read. At the moment I’m struggling with The Moral Landscape but I often digress as Sam mentions other authors. I’m 72, retired , so plenty of time in the short term. I like to read fiction as well to balance my diet.
If you have time ( ha ha ) look at Safa Motesharri he has applied a mathmatical model to the subject of the collapse of civilisation. It implies that there is not a lot of time for long thought- out solutions to our dilema.

Haha I hope to check out Safa Motesharri. Everyone’s so calm but we need to start seeing things negatively in order to prepare. Read on! Maybe it’s better if you watch videos about “The Republic” because it’s too complex to understand fully without assistance. A great classic.

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