It’s Getting Real

Note: this post is approximately 1,250 words with a 9th Grade readability index. Click HERE for complete statistics.

It may not seem like it, but I’ve mostly abstained from posting opinion pieces . . .

Because they are emotionally draining.

Because issues are more complicated than what you read or hear or see, and discussing them get’s messy.

Because I don’t even for a moment think my input will sway anyone’s opinion.

Because the majority of readers are uninterested in my opinion. Especially, opinions they might find challenging.

In real life, I don’t converse with anyone about any of the stuff that’s happening. Some friend might occasionally ask for my opinion, but the amount of time we spend on it is minuscule. Instead, what I like doing — what I enjoy — is reflecting on stuff. I’ve not named this practice, but if it were to demand a name, I’d call it having private thinking parties.

When I write a piece, it’s mostly to put my own thoughts in order.

I enjoy documenting my musings; I classify them as the merging of opinion pieces and argumentative essays. However classified, I occasionally write pairs of essays, each expressing one side of a given issue. I got into this mode because sometime in my late twenties or early thirties, I came across a piece of advice I took to heart.

The advice was that you should not argue a position until you can fully articulate and argue the position of your opponent.

I took that to heart because I saw the benefit to that approach. It’s something I still do. In a given topic, I should be able to argue either position and make readers believe I hold that position even if I don’t. 

It’s a good habit to get into. Skeptical? Let me tell you why it’s good.

It’s good because if you can still hold your position after you know, fully understand, and can argue your opponent’s position, then you have some assurance that you aren’t fooling yourself. Also, you’ll be able to effectively counter any weakness in your opponent’s argument.

Note: There are exceptions. For instance, I can’t argue elements of faith, delusions, superstitions, etc. I don’t know of any argument I could make as to why a rabbit’s foot — one that obviously brought its owner no luck — would bring me good luck.

What if you find no weaknesses in their argument? At the very least, your position is flawed. More likely, your position is wrong, and you should switch sides. 

What if you don’t want to switch sides even after you can’t poke holes in the opposing argument? Then you are useless to yourself, those around you, the country, and the world. You will not make a positive contribution to society. Probably, quite the opposite.  

You’ll be in good company because the above method is not what you see on television, what you read in newspapers, what you hear on the internet (podcasts).

Note: Most news programs are useless because they don’t spend enough time on topics. Instead, force yourself to listen to podcasts that counter your opinions and/or beliefs. Choose podcasts by smart people (yes, smart people can differ in opinions) and listen to understand.

Pay attention next time you listen to two people discussing a particular position. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on. Listen carefully, and you are bound to hear one or both individuals stick to talking points and never answer tough questions directed at them.

Instead of tackling a tough question, the individuals — sometimes, multiple individuals all at once — will instead misdirect by either changing the subject (usually mischaracterizing the opponent’s position in the process), or they will start yelling, repeating their position as they try to outshout the other persons.

If you’re really lucky, they will do it at the same time, and all you’ll hear is them loudly talk past each other. Once the allotted 30 seconds are up, they smile and thank each other, and you have learned nothing.

Most people are OK with it because it keeps their own position safely unchallenged. How? They’ll only listen to the person they agree with.

Media pundits, news personnel, and show hosts have agendas they want to push. They aren’t offering information; they offer indoctrination. It turns out that’s exactly what most people want. 

The reason people with opposing views are invited on “news” shows isn’t to understand or fairly debate said differences of opinions. No. The goal is to make the guest look bad. Shows want the clip that will be replayed ad nauseam on YouTube and other revenue-generating venues — usually out of context or heavily edited — and thus show people with opposing views in a bad light.

That’s what in today’s media wars passes for journalism. It used to be called lying, it used to be recognized as unethical, and audiences used to punish people who did that; they punished them with distrust and loss of viewership.

Instead, Fox News built their whole business model on it, and it was so successful that everyone seems to have followed suit.  We are the poorer for it.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t watch much news. I read articles, but even when from big-name sources, the bias shines so bright that it’s difficult seeing the point of reading them. The antidote — always — is to sift through what one reads and try to glean the substance from the emotional chaff.

Writing things down helps me with that process. Sometimes, the mere act of writing something down will have me intuit a new insight and change my opinion and what I was going to say about a topic. I have notes and articles — going back longer than I’ve had the blog — that will never see publication precisely because the act of writing them — or reading what I wrote — made me realize where I went wrong with my thinking.  

Obviously, even when “pretty sure” nothing I write is cast in stone. Changes to my positions will come from effective counters to my arguments based on reason and some application of hard data and/or rigorous logic. Emotional appeals seldom have any sway unless supported by said data, reason, and logic.

Also obvious, there’s nothing special about me, my access to information, or my life’s experiences. That means that what I write is nothing more than observations anyone can make . . . and anyone can argue for or against.

Readers should always feel free to do so in the comments.

One thing; I’ve been remiss in articulating a comment policy. I do so now (it’s on the sidebar):

Comments are subject to editing and/or erasure to maintain this blog at what is loosely described as an “R” rating. The preferred comments rating is “PG.”

Personal attacks, threats, or offensive material is not tolerated and any such material will be removed. Stupidity is tolerated but subject to merciless ridicule.

I’ve been lucky to date, probably because of my low readership. However, one can’t be lucky forever, hence the policy. You know . . . in case more people ever read this blog.

Finally . . . yes. This is a long-winded announcement warning of more opinion pieces. As I once did, I will be dispensing with photos in the opinion pieces. That will make it easier for people not interested in my musings to ignore those posts.

Meantime, one more photo.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at DisperserTracks.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

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Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Finally, if you interpret anything on this blog as me asking or wanting pity, sympathy, or complaining about my life, or asking for help and advice, know you’re  likely missing my subtle mix of irony, sarcasm, and humor.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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13 Responses to It’s Getting Real

  1. susurrus says:

    A thought provoking piece. I too crave ‘good’ news – without an agenda, without simplification, without harassment of the people involved in a news-making event. Dream on, eh? I dislike the idea that everything we need to know can be summed up in a couple of paragraphs, even as I accept that many people are only willing to read two paragraphs. I can’t understand why there are so few follow-up pieces – the people whose tragedies we are supposed to be interested in vanish after a day or so and we never hear how they get on. Victims who campaign to keep their story in the public mind are often the ones who achieve genuine change.

    News as we have it today is mainly paid for by what I’d call fake advertising – brand managers somehow feeling that if their image intrudes on us as we are reading an unrelated story, there is a commercial advantage worth them paying for. Or rather ‘worth us paying for’, because the money we will no longer pay to fund news, we tacitly agree to pay as an unseen advertising tax on everything we buy. In the process, commerciality drives the concept of what is news worth publishing and we get Pleasure Beach style news.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Unfortunately, the news (as presented to us in this day and age) is very much driven by — as you state — financial interest in terms of advertisers, be they actual sponsors, or click, or page views, or “likes” etc.

      There’s also a much stronger editorial (I call it propaganda) factor to most newscasts. It was probably always there, but now they wear it on their sleeve if not outright wave a flag in our faces.

      There’s another thing at work that I’ll be writing about. Education as it relates to attention levels and reading comprehension and the ability to understand complex arguments. I’ve seen numbers that have us (today’s individuals) at something like 60% of what it was 100 years ago. If you want to hold an audience, shoot for 7th or 8th-grade readability score whereas we used to read at the 12th-14th-grade level. And, there’s more bad news . . . the 7th and 8th-grade students of 100 years ago were reading more challenging materials than today. That’s a double-whammy.

      Like

  2. sandra getgood says:

    I think we all have to start listening as well as announcing and spreading our own opinions. We really need to listen, you’re right about that. And a lot of what you have written is worth thinking about, so I’m saving this in my ejd file . Which I sometimes return to to see the hawks or the flowers or the antique cars. And sometimes because rereading something sometimes makes a difference in how I look at an event, a statement, what someone else has introduced into a discussion.

    And I’m saving it because the llama made me smile, and I haven’t smiled much today. Thank you for that, too.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Thanks, Sandra.

      Fair warning, though . . . I aim to speak about difficult topics (while I still can). All I ask is to give me a sound thrashing if/when I’m off the mark.

      Like

  3. “…and all you’ll hear is them loudly talk past each other. Once the allotted 30 seconds are up, they smile and thank each other, and you have learned nothing.”
    SO true!!! :-(

    I remember eons ago watching Hannity & Colmes a few times…and they seemed to always talk over each other and their guests. They’d ask the guest a question and then they’d blab over the guest, or yell at the guest, and we never got to hear the guest’s opinions, etc. Ugh.

    I quit watching news channels and news shows at least 10 years ago….for several reasons. I do watch my local new on occasion when something big is happening locally (like our recent summer fires) and I want to hear about it. Most of the news I get is on-line.

    Was there ever a day when news broadcasts/newscasters just reported facts without slant or personal opinions or bias or ???
    (I’m trying to remember back to Cronkite and Dan Rather and some those guys.)

    Love the photos! The smiley llama got a snort-laugh from me! :-D
    HUGS!!! :-)

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Weird . . . I just remembered I used to watch H&C way back when. Even O’Reilly (sp?) in his early days. That didn’t last once I caught him in some lies . . . er . . . deliberate distortions. The thing is, if you don’t check up on those guys, they sound reasonable; their arguments sound reasonable.

      One of the reasons I strongly advocate to watch whatever you want but always get a second source for what you hear. Even a third.

      Also, the big nightly news so also editorialized. Not overtly, but by what they chose to report. That said, they still reported fairly even-handed (it’s never completely even-handed).

      I like those photos as well, and the llama is a Alpaca (llamas don’t look as goofy).

      Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So is the Alpaca the Llama’s goofy cousin?!?! :-D

        Yeah, always good to get several sources on news.

        Yeah, I was trying to remember if, way back when (1970s etc), the newscasters and news broadcasts were any better than they are today.

        Like

      • disperser says:

        They can look goofy(er) but also cuter. Also, very limber . . .

        It’s difficult to remember in the context of the times, but what I can say is that they seemed more measured in their opinions. Also, per my perhaps faulty memory, there seemed to be a clearer demarcation between reporting and editorializing. Perhaps it was just an illusion, but today’s networks should be truthful about what they are . . .

        CNN –> CPN: Cable Punditry Network
        Fox News: Fox Punditry
        etc.

        Like

  4. I do wish you’d get a more reader friendly, set up and font, This is very thick and ugly, and at times hard to read and follow, AND DON’T TRY TELLING ME IT’S BECAUSE I’M ENGLISH!

    Like

    • disperser says:

      I would never tell a Brittish person that they’re English.

      Also, I’m not sure how changing the font would improve your cognitive abilities. I could try smaller words, but that’s counter to the advice of “pushing” people when they read and help build their reading muscles.

      The font I’m using is not a haphazard choice. I researched the readability of various fonts and read suggested fonts for blogs. Unfortunately, the number of devices people use to access the blog has grown, and I have little control over stuff appears on various screens, phones, pads, etc. Resolution matters, colors matter, along with a host of other things.

      WordPress and the browser you are using are supposed to work in conjunction to present the text in the best possible way. While it looks good on all the devices I have, I have no idea what it might look like upside down to a guy that likes to use emojis.

      But, in deference to you, I will once again look into the choice of text and what is recommended these days. Unfortunately, changing the font will change all the posts back to the very first one and might mess up some formatting. As hardly anyone goes back that far, perhaps it’s not a big deal.

      Like

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