Monday, July 23, 2012

Picking My Arguments

I try to pick which arguments are worth my time.  Yesterday I got into an argument about which arguments are worthwhile.  Talk about circular arguing?

A friend had read an article in which the author claimed that the Supreme Court decision that prayer cannot be required in public school had resulted in a drop in SAT scores for 1963.

I looked up the SAT scores between 1952 and 2011:

Simple fact – the average 1963 SAT scores were higher than any previous year.  Not by much, but definitely higher. I’d have thought the argument was over. 

I was wrong.  Suddenly I was embroiled in an argument about how I had to do something about this man who was blaming a non-existent problem on a Supreme Court decision.  I went to his website. I posted the link to the SAT scores.  Anybody who reads his nonsense will see my link.

But my opponent – who was on my side regarding the angry man – was not satisfied.  She wanted me to “call him out” for his wrong headedness in criticizing the Supreme Court. She thought he was immoral. Evil.  She read me the riot act that all it takes for evil to happen is that good people do nothing.  Yet she did not bother to post her thoughts on this man’s website.

This man has no power. He wrote a book with a faulty premise. I think he’s best ignored.  Why give him any more time, any more space on the web or in our lives?  Note: I’m not giving his name or a link to his site here. I’m not really discussing him.  I’m discussing a tendency to argue about nothing.

If this man were running for office, I’d support his opponent. 

If he was teaching a prayer class to increase SAT scores, I’d leave him alone.

As it is, he’s just saying untrue things and calling these statements facts. There have always been people who tell lies in attemt to convince people to do what they want.

What’s new is having an argument about how seriously to take such liars. How to deal with them. This seems to be arguing for the sake of being heard.

Has argument become a form of entertainment?  If so, this is also something that concerns me.
Argument can be intellectually stimulating if the disagreement is fundamental.  

But argument, just to get attention is no different than crying wolf.

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