Fighting Facts

There are people so set in their ways and perceptions, that even when presented with facts, incontrovertible truths, they dig in deeper, defending their wrongness. People who are wrong become more entrenched in the wrong to where they can’t see beyond the forest of lies they are telling themselves.

It seems like I’m encountering these people every day and they are becoming more aggressive. I know that’s just a perception based on my own biases, but I feel exhausted by the constant onslaught of those diametrically opposed to truth.

Can't argue that logic.
Can’t argue that logic.

In some strange way, I get it. We are the stories we tell ourselves and about ourselves. If we admit to wrong, then there’s the fear that our carefully constructed toothpick teepee (I’m trying to get that to catch on so we don’t have to say “house of cards” anymore) may come crashing down. There’s a lot of fear involved with admitting being wrong. “How will I be perceived?” “What does it say about me that this thing I felt so strongly about is incorrect?” “That side is against everything I believe, so if they are right about even one thing, what am I doing with my entire life perspective?” “Does this mean I have to reevaluate my thought process?”

Example that haunts me three years later: A coworker I don’t particularly get along with sneezes. I say, “gesundheit.” The response, “Around here, we say ‘bless you.'” I’m flabbergasted because, who corrects someone on the mumbo jumbo we say to each other after a sneeze because of some hold over from our superstitious ancestors who thought sneezes were a sign of souls escaping from our bodies? Before I could retort about the blatant stupidity of this complaint of a kind-yet-cursory gesture, a different coworker chimed in, “I say ‘gesundheit.'” To which the first coworker, when confronted with infinite wrongness, responds by shaking her head and saying, “no, no, around here it’s ‘bless you.'” Coworker 2 was born and raised in the very zip code in which we worked. What is the point of clinging to such blatant wrongness? What did she hope to achieve?

Like many times when I’d rather not engage with stubbornly faulty logic, I most often shrug or nod because that’s easier than trying to navigate the labyrinth of  reasoning that lead that person to believe their initial assertion. I’m not talking about subjective things or even marginally debatable things. I’m talking the evry day landmines of attempted confrontation we slalom through every day, like deliberately provocative things people bring up just because they want to argue for some reason. Like the cab driver or mechanic who says, “What do you think about the president. . .” or “Can you believe. . .”

I could tell these parents how dumb this is all day and they still wouldn't get it.
I could tell these parents how dumb this is all day and they still wouldn’t get it.

Isn’t it easier to just give in to the truth, to submit to facts rather than tread water in a sea of ignorant fallaciousness?  My guess is it’s a mix of fear and disdain. People are deathly afraid of being wrong (please watch the video I just linked to), afraid of their personal narrative being wrong and especially if that means someone they don’t like is right. So, instead of adjusting, they/we become mental acrobats. To justify such wrongness, our thoughts do more leaps and contortions than a Cirque Du Soleil show run by an angry ex-Olympics Russian gymnastics coach.

Appreciating the fallibility of humanity is what separates us from our future robot overlords. Be suspicious of anyone who claims to have a grasp on absolute truth. The only way we advance as a species is by embracing our wrongness, learning from it, and building off it. But maybe I’m wrong. After all, I’m only human.

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11 Comments

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  1. What? “Wrong” is just a thing that those other dum dums are, not me. No sir, I’m never wrong.

    *whistles and backs away slowly*

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  2. Jeeze, my husband is never wrong, so he thinks. He refuses to admit that he is. I think that’s one of my main pet peeves with him.
    Oh, regarding the comment you left on my blog about where the “gratuitous sex” was. Darlin, I give to the needy, not the greedy. Even if you are pent up.

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  3. abeerfortheshower July 25, 2016 — 1:49 pm

    I don’t know if it has any merit, but I was reading an article that said that one of the biggest contributing factors to this whole thing is that we’ve somehow been taught that facts can be opinions.

    Example:
    Scientists have concluded that the earth is warming at an alarming rate, as a direct result of increased greenhouse gases.
    “That’s just, like, your opinion, man!”
    No, that’s not an opinion about anything. That’s the textbook definition of a fact.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Being unable to admit that one is wrong, even when presented with a concrete fact, is a sign of psychopathy. It can also manifest itself as the person telling a lie, being shown that people know it’s a lie, but not admitting to the lie. I know a certain someone who destroyed his career at the Naval Academy because he accused someone of doing something baaaaaaad. Even when it was proven to this person that he was wrong and the other person did not do the bad thing, he continued to insist that the person had done this very bad thing. I learned eventually that this behavior was a pattern in life, whether the person was proven wrong or proven to be a liar. It got very old. Many years later, I saw all the symptoms of psychopathy. The person had enough of the symptoms for me to know that he qualified as a psychopath.

    Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the “bless you” person is a psychopath. It takes more than that to qualify for psychopathy.

    I am wrong all the time. It is ingrained in me. I worry that I’m wrong even when the facts right in front of me back up what I’m afraid I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I spent so many years living with a psychopath who insisted that what I saw or heard wasn’t true.

    Oh, and guns don’t kill. People kill.

    People with guns. Bless you.

    Love,
    Janie

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  5. I say we all just passive-aggressively accept that the each other’s wrong. Instead of trying to enlighten someone we think is wrong we just judge them, silently & internally… nodding disapprovingly at their wrongness behind their backs but ultimately leaving them to wallow to their ignorance.

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  6. Debra She Who Seeks July 26, 2016 — 9:36 am

    I’m very interested by Janie Junebug’s observation that psychopaths cannot admit they are wrong even when presented with objective fact. It made me think of an interview I saw once with Ann Coulter. We don’t pay much attention in Canada to rabid right-wingers like her but she was being interviewed by a noted Canadian journalist so I watched. Somehow they got on the topic of World War II and she said that Canada entered the war when the US did in late 1941. The journalist told her that no, Canada had entered the war in 1939 with Britain (an historical fact which every Canadian knows). But Ann Coulter would not admit she was in error, or even possibly might be in error, and she told the journalist he needed to check his facts. Her audaciousness and arrogance took my breath away.

    And actually, I just saw her interviewed again last week on American TV. Apparently Trump’s whole anti-Mexican rantings are straight from her latest book. She is even more appalling than before. I think the woman is certifiably crazy. She’s the kind of person who, if I meet them in real life, I just want to back away slowly with my hands raised defensively to ward off their craziness.

    Sorry about being so long-winded. Just needed to get that off my chest, I guess.

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  7. 99% of all people don’t know about THIS (37:08). Nor do they want to know about facts. It’s scary to have to conclude you’re wrong.

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  8. Pickleope darlin, you said something strange on my blog’s comments section – “Pedere te , forte”. What the f@>* did you mean? I believe you typed it WRONG.
    Just sayin…

    Like

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