A lot of people think they’re "reason"able, but when people take sides for politics or religion it’s amazing how all logic contrary to their opinion goes out the window. The person who won the debate is the person you were for, before the debate started. The person you like always answers the questions better than the person you don’t like.
One of these days I would love to get a transcript of people making statements, edit out their identity and mention of their political affiliations, then get other people to read the scripts. I wonder how many people would be able to figure out who made which statement, and which party they represent. It would be fascinating to watch an audience react to comments, citing their outrage at the stupidity of some statement, only to find out it later that it was their own favored candidate who made the statement. After a moment of embarrassement I’m sure we would find this fictional audience back-peddling to clarify their response and re-align themselves with their candidate. I’d think the urge to re-align would far outweigh any logic to admit that what their candidate said was simply stupid and probably should re-factor into their overall views. In other words, facts be damned.
It’s amazing how many people, again primarily in politics and religion, try to make a point about one thing by changing focus to something completely different – and very few people raise the BS flag and say "no, stop, this is the topic, respond now to that topic or we won’t continue." If that happened more often, our world of rhetoric would change entirely and questions, innuendo, and misinformation wouldn’t persist for months to years. Human beings waste a large amount of time talking about things that they say are important to them, but it’s obvious that people are more concerned with being true to their established beliefs, than understanding what’s true in order to establish their beliefs.
While not a perfect science, in our household we make it a point to raise the BS flag no matter who drops it, and to give points to people who deserve it, no matter what their party, history, age, race, beliefs, or affiliations. When some issue goes uninvestigated we don’t care which party it affects or whose religion it helps or offends, we want to see some facts. (Rarely do we get such facts since the news media never really goes that deep.) We don’t cloud "she said this" with "she is that". We try to focus on what she or he did, or did not say, and we take it through to a logical conclusion. We try not to base our interpretation of what someone says with our prior opinions of the person – each statement should stand on it’s own to create the opinions.
Again, while not a perfect science, we try to switch channels to get different perspectives of the news – the bias I cite above is amazingly evident there, where the channel you’re watching determines the spin you get, the questions asked, and the facts that are broadcast. There’s no doubt, for example that CNN attempts to filter news toward the democrat sensibilities while Fox News is far to the right. It would be fascinating to shock viewers of either station by inviting talking heads from the other station to speak their mind. Would the Fox viewers suddenly complain of obvious democratic bias? Would CNN viewers scream with similar pain? Would anyone recognize that their own station of choice was already so biased that it’s no wonder that such a switcheroo would cause such havoc?
People pretend to watch "the news" to get informed, but it’s amazing that people choose to get their news from biased sources, so they are in essence welcoming only the news that already agrees with their view of the world. That’s not information, that’s appeasement, pacification – and people simply fooling themselves so that they continue to see the world as they want to see it rather than as it is. Again, people want the view they get of the world to agree with the view they already have. It makes them more comfortable in the knowledge that they were right afterall.
One of these days I hope people can look at their world more objectively, and listen to other views objectively. I have the utmost respect for people who can switch direction 180 degrees in a discussion where they realize that they were dead wrong to start – of course I have the same respect for someone who knows they’re right and sticks to the conviction. Compare this to a compromise where both parties sort of turn 90 degrees together. They both know they’re right but they understand they need to work together anyway. It sure beats another condition, where people riot because they can’t get what they want. In this case everyone just runs in in different directions.
In America today we have mob mentalities and witch hunts, fueled by people who don’t understand how humans behave in groups, and a troubled economy serving as a spark to ignite it all. Over the coming months I’m afraid we’re going to see much less "agree to disagree" sentiment and much more havoc as people react to rhetoric rather than resolving issues with reason.