When Did Confusion Become a Virtue?


unixknight
 Share

Recommended Posts

I watch a lot of YouTube videos.  I mean, a LOT, and a large proportion of those are Star Trek related videos.

Yeah, I know, shocking.

Well I was watching one the other day by a YouTuber who also does a lot of political commentary.  I avoid his political content, partly because I'm trying to avoid politics in general but also partly because his commentary is usually pretty vapid and mindless.  His Star Trek videos tend to be much more insightful.

Well on this particular video, he was doing a Q&A and some fan wrote a question to the effect of "How can anyone support Trump AND like Star Trek?"  His reply was that he had no idea.  He wasn't saying that Trump supporters shouldn't watch Star Trek, but he just kept emphasizing  how he just doesn't know how that can work.  

And it got me thinking.  Ever notice how often people say "I just can't understand how you can think X, Y or Z.  I just don't get it."  Now, sometimes we say that and it's a legitimate expression of confusion.  "I don't know how you can think Star Wars is better than Star Trek.  Have you seen Jar-Jar?"  That's like an invitation to elaborate.  It means "please, by all means tell me what it is you see in Star Wars that resonates with you over the awesomeness that is Star Trek."

But that's not always how it's meant.  In examples like the one in the YouTube Q&A, and very frequently in debates, it's meant as a moral argument in itself.  Saying "I just don't get how you can both appreciate Star Trek AND like Donald Trump" basically translates into "My sense of morality and righteousness is just so well developed that I can't comprehend how your views can make sense in any context, so it's a mystery to me why we can share an appreciation for something like Star Trek.  See how virtuous I am?"   It's like that kind of confusion is taken as a positive.  "I'm too smart/wise/good to understand your perspective."

That's insidious.  It essentially equates the other view as being so flawed, so bad, so immoral that it isn't even worth the effort to understand it.  In fact,  not only is it not worth the effort, it would actually be a bad thing to try.

Now, maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.  Maybe my introvert brain is overanalyzing something that's really a non-issue.  But tell me this:  Haven't we all seen this done?  "I just don't see how you can think that." used not as a way to prompt a more detailed explanation, but as a way to close off argument?  Doesn't that, broadly speaking, just translate into "If your argument/views/opinion made any sense I'd be able to understand it.  But since I can't, it must be wrong."

I dunno.  Sorry for rambling.  Maybe I'm losing my mind.

Edited by unixknight
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're not losing your mind - the notion is everywhere.  "Why on earth would anyone..."   "I just can't think of a single reason why..."  "Will someone explain to me how..."

People say that, and then think they're scoring legitimate points.  If I choose to engage them, I first ask them if they're interested in hearing an answer and removing their ignorance.  Rarely do folks respond positively to that, and I can see why.  But a negative reaction indicates to me, they aren't asking real questions, making an actual request.  They're just throwing mud at a wall in hopes it'll stick.

One reason my arguing Facebook buddies are cool, is they'll genuinely ask questions like that, and will on occasion consider an answer.  I ask them stuff too.

(I'm currently asking stuff like "I don't get it.  If y'all really think gender is a fluid or a spectrum, then why are y'all so entrenched in the concept of toxic masculinity?"  FYI, the answer seems to be "We gotta use the words culture uses, so we pretend it matters so we can educate people".)

Edited by NeuroTypical
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know in the past I've been guilty of doing that, and you're right... It feels like an easy way to score points... But I've been trying to keep from doing it, and only express that kind of confusion as a way to earnestly ask.

I'm glad in your example you got an actual answer.  Usually when I try that I get an answer to the effect of "If you don't understand, it's not my job to explain it."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm confused by your confusion.  Puzzled by your bewilderment.  I mean, it's not like we can all be clear on how incomprehensible other people's incomprehensibility is, but it's perplexing that you're not confused by other people's baffling befuddlement.  I'm stupefied.  Mystified.  ::walks away shaking head in astonishment::

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well see... this is the problem for me as a non-native English speaker.  I have no idea how else you can interpret ""I just can't understand how you can think X, Y or Z." other than it's literal meaning.  It's not something in my figurative speech book for daily use.  The only other way I can interpret that is trolling.  And that's not about moral superiority... that's just teasing on steroids for the purpose of getting a rise out of somebody.  I can pretty much tell when somebody is trolling.  Only because my sons do it to each other and their friends so I recognize it.  But with strangers on the internet, unless it's really egregious like you see a lot of times on Reddit, I can't tell if somebody is genuine or trolling.  Let alone being morally superior!

The worse part of this is I have probably said ""I just can't understand how you can think X, Y or Z." plenty of times and not know that somebody read it and thought I was being morally superior or something.  I just had this incident with @wenglund recently.

Edited by anatess2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with you to a point. Most viewpoints are worth understanding, including (perhaps especially) ones that aren't compatible with your own worldview. On the other hand, I feel that trying to apply comprehension to extreme viewpoints can give them too much validity. The problem we're seeing now is that "extreme" is being redefined to the point of absurdity. Some folks may think I'm an extremist because I believe everyone should have affordable access to health care and college education/trade schools. Many people in my camp feel the same about people who want to shut down Planned Parenthood. People simply don't want to understand opposing views anymore, so they dismiss everything that doesn't fit in their echo chamber as "extreme".

1 hour ago, NeuroTypical said:

(I'm currently asking stuff like "I don't get it.  If y'all really think gender is a fluid or a spectrum, then why are y'all so entrenched in the concept of toxic masculinity?"  FYI, the answer seems to be "We gotta use the words culture uses, so we pretend it matters so we can educate people".)

I don't necessarily believe that gender is fluid or a spectrum. I haven't read up enough on the science (if any) behind those arguments. But if the fluid/spectrum idea has any reasonable basis, then I would think that toxic masculinity is part of that spectrum. I see no reason why traditional concepts of gender wouldn't be included in the modern interpretations. I think the most logical argument is that masculinity exists, femininity exists, but so do a few things in between.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Godless said:

I agree with you to a point. Most viewpoints are worth understanding, including (perhaps especially) ones that aren't compatible with your own worldview. On the other hand, I feel that trying to apply comprehension to extreme viewpoints can give them too much validity. The problem we're seeing now is that "extreme" is being redefined to the point of absurdity. Some folks may think I'm an extremist because I believe everyone should have affordable access to health care and college education/trade schools. Many people in my camp feel the same about people who want to shut down Planned Parenthood. People simply don't want to understand opposing views anymore, so they dismiss everything that doesn't fit in their echo chamber as "extreme".

Indeed.  

Where I'd differ is that I do think that even genuinely extreme viewpoints are worth understanding, why?  "Know thine enemy."

I don't use the "it gives them validity" argument.  I get where you're coming from on it, but I think people overuse it to the point of creating bubbles.  "Why are you interviewing that person?   You're giving them a platform!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, Godless said:

I don't necessarily believe that gender is fluid or a spectrum. I haven't read up enough on the science (if any) behind those arguments. But if the fluid/spectrum idea has any reasonable basis, then I would think that toxic masculinity is part of that spectrum. I see no reason why traditional concepts of gender wouldn't be included in the modern interpretations. I think the most logical argument is that masculinity exists, femininity exists, but so do a few things in between.

My follow up questions (which I have yet to pose), are 
- Is there such a thing as a biologically female cisgendered heterosexual, who exhibits toxic masculinity?  Could you name a few examples?
- Is there such a thing as toxic femininity?  Could you name a few examples?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, unixknight said:

Well on this particular video, he was doing a Q&A and some fan wrote a question to the effect of "How can anyone support Trump AND like Star Trek?"  His reply was that he had no idea.  He wasn't saying that Trump supporters shouldn't watch Star Trek, but he just kept emphasizing  how he just doesn't know how that can work.  

This is a pretty easy answer.

Yesterday's liberals are tomorrows conservatives.

Not always, but many who used to be Hippies are now the far Right?

How does this happen?

Well...let me introduce you to Star Trek...it's a PRIME example. We are talking about the original series of Star Trek as far as I understood it (so, as I'm not one of those fervent fans, maybe mistaken, but from what I have heard about the original series through the years and what little I've watched I've gathered the following...)

In Star Trek you have indications of men having certain roles and women do as well.  That men are subject to certain emotions around attractive women (from what I know, a defining aspect of Captain Kirk) and that women, though able to be smart and equal also have certain tendencies as well.  A VERY FAR RIGHT political aspect today.

In Star Trek you have racial stereotypes.  These are exhibited.  Obviously a taboo today on TV.

In Star Trek you have Capitalism as being a VERY GOOD thing.  It is a positive aspect pushed above and better than other systems such as communism...though it also portrays greed unfettered (Mudd for example) it also shows that this greed can be redirected to a better good as well...normally in the same episode.

In Star Trek you have mention of Christianity and blatant pandering to Christian thought, attitudes, and mores at times.  A very Right Wing thing to look at today.

 

In essence, the Original series was very liberal for the time it was made, but today, though some of it stills stands a liberal ideology, much of it is actually leaning more towards a far right ideology.

Hence, Star Trek is actually a PRIME example of what is liberal yesterday may not be as liberal today, and may actually be a conservative thing tomorrow.

The Next Generation and such being newer probably does not have as many examples but it still has the idea of white men and women being the majority of main characters who are the heroes on the show.  It still has the idea in general that men and women are attracted to each other, though it occasionally addressed some other ideas.  It shows the idea that communality or a communistic idea of shared thought and action are bad (the Borg) and that individuality and freedom are good. 

It is sort of a middle ground between Liberal and Conservative thought today I suppose.

 

Thus, I think it would be VERY easy, and especially in the case of the Original Series, to be a Trump Supporter and a Star Trek Fan all at the same time.  Only a Fool would ask how one could be so...unless their only comparison was with TV shows written in the past decade in relation to conservative ideas.

 

I'd say it may be harder to be a Liberal and support the Original Star Trek series.  Even with that, I'm sure there are MANY hard left Liberals that LOVE the original Star Trek. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 minutes ago, JohnsonJones said:

I'd say it may be harder to be a Liberal and support the Original Star Trek series.  Even with that, I'm sure there are MANY hard left Liberals that LOVE the original Star Trek. 

Depends on the motivation, I think.  I rather enjoy watching shows like Star Trek (TOS) and MASH, and some of the others.  It's a time capsule to watch the kind of issues that the writers were drawing as motivation for the context of their culture.  For instance, MASH routinely deals with racial themes and racial equality. Star Trek has several episodes that look at the morality/immorality of cultural imperialism.

I may not necessarily agree with either the state of affairs at the time, the arguments that are presented, or even the conclusions that are reached.  But it's one form of instruction into how we got to where we are today.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, JohnsonJones said:

Yesterday's liberals are tomorrows conservatives...Hence, Star Trek is actually a PRIME example of what is liberal yesterday may not be as liberal today, and may actually be a conservative thing tomorrow.

Agreed.  But (playing devil's advocate) I think a leftist like the guy I talked about in my example would respond to that by saying "Well of course, that's social progress!  If you have to go back 50 years to find Trek that you can identify with politically, that's just proof of how backwater and stunted your views are!"

And let's be honest, if left-wing issues really are the measure of societal progress (which I'm not conceding), he'd have a good point there.

3 hours ago, JohnsonJones said:

The Next Generation...It is sort of a middle ground between Liberal and Conservative thought today I suppose.

I think it feels that way because it's just more recent, and is closer to where we are today as a culture than the original Trek.  Again, I'd theorize that the leftist view is that TNG represents greater social "progress" than original Trek.

3 hours ago, JohnsonJones said:

Thus, I think it would be VERY easy, and especially in the case of the Original Series, to be a Trump Supporter and a Star Trek Fan all at the same time.  Only a Fool would ask how one could be so...unless their only comparison was with TV shows written in the past decade in relation to conservative ideas.

For me, the strength in Star Trek is that when the episodes are good, they're VERY good.  Quality science-fiction is about holding up a mirror to our culture and seeing social issues from a perspective we may not have considered before.  It doesn't take sides, it just gives us a new perspective.  Consider the original series episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield."  That's the one where the two aliens with the black/white split in their skin color were at each other's throats because of the difference in which side of their face was which color.  The episode ends with the two aliens forcing the Enterprise to take them back to their homeworld, which has been completely depopulated by the war between the races.  That episode didn't say which race was right and which was wrong.  It didn't even condemn racism per se.  What it did was to show the inevitable result of people battling each other over arbitrary, oversimplified, black and white (get it?) issues.  The two aliens didn't have to be of different races.  They could have been of different religions, or nations, or different preferences between Coke and Pepsi.  It didn't matter.  The point was that such divisions lead to eventual destruction.

That's a lesson that resonates even today.  Can it still be thought of as pandering, because there are people who embrace that kind of arbitrary hate?  I suppose so, and in full honesty there is a little bit of moralizing, but there isn't a whole lot.  The episode mostly shows, it doesn't just tell.   

3 hours ago, JohnsonJones said:

I'd say it may be harder to be a Liberal and support the Original Star Trek series.  Even with that, I'm sure there are MANY hard left Liberals that LOVE the original Star Trek. 

They do, because there's plenty to point to that resonates with today's left wing views.  What they don't get is that those aren't only left wing views.  They think Conservatives don't like Uhura being on the bridge, or that Kirk kissed her in one of the original episodes.  Heck, I first saw that episode as a kid in the '70s and I've never met anyone in my life who was bothered by that.  Quick poll of the mostly Religious Right on this forum:  Anybody bothered by the interracial kiss?  Anybody?  

Didn't think so.  And yet I have leftist friends who would be surprised to learn that. 

Edited by unixknight
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Star Trek and arguing politics go hand in hand.  I could start posting memes, but I'll resist the urge.

My take on things is similar to JohnsonJones': Star Trek isn't socialism.  It's best described as "post-scarcity capitalism".  Meaning, there's more than a surplus of goods, there's basically no limit.  Technology has made energy so cheap, that the only real limitation is how big of a warp drive, how many many backup reactors, how big an auxiliary generator can you fit in your ship and still fly it around?  On the fringes of space, or in less-enlightened cultures, you still have greedy Ferrengi grubbing for un-replicatable gold-pressed latinum.  Otherwise, there might be a premium on original handmade artifacts and restaurants serving traditionally-grown-and-prepared food, but everyone can have as many artifacts and as much food as they want.  

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

My take on things is similar to JohnsonJones': Star Trek isn't socialism.  It's best described as "post-scarcity capitalism".  

I would argue that it varies by who writes the particular story.  In some episodes you hear about Starfleet personnel receiving a salary, and in other stories they talk about the Federation not using money at all, and that's all separate form the question of spending latinum.  

I think those contradictions are a result of the dichotomy between the idea of the Federation itself being in a post-scarcity time, but still needing to be able to do individual transactions with people outside of it.  So the answer to the question "Do Federation citizens use money?" is "Depends on the story." 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fair enough.

Now if you want an example of socialism, you find it perfected in the Borg collective.  Centralized planning bringing utter harmony. Nobody wants anything other than what's best for their society.  And the central planner tells them what that is, and gives them all the processes and procedures they need to accomplish what they should.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, NeuroTypical said:

Fair enough.

Now if you want an example of socialism, you find it perfected in the Borg collective.  Centralized planning bringing utter harmony. Nobody wants anything other than what's best for their society.  And the central planner tells them what that is, and gives them all the processes and procedures they need to accomplish what they should.

There's also an interpretation of the Borg as being what the Federation is,  taken to its ultimate conclusion. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 2/21/2019 at 11:32 AM, unixknight said:

 "I just don't see how you can think that." used not as a way to prompt a more detailed explanation, but as a way to close off argument?  Doesn't that, broadly speaking, just translate into "If your argument/views/opinion made any sense I'd be able to understand it.  But since I can't, it must be wrong."

I was in Ann Arbor in 1996 when there was a Klan march. A black woman put herself between a Klansman and the crowd, which was about to beat him up. Every now and then the story will come up in some 'faith in humanity' article. Well, the last time I saw such an article, I looked for the woman on FB, just to see what she was doing after all this time. On her page, she says that she doesn't care if you are gay, trans, illegal, whatev, you're cool with her UNLESS you voted for Trump. In which case, pretty much get off of the planet.

I was so disappointed. For 20 years I've thought of this woman and her brave act, only to learn that, if I were to meet her and express admiration for her selfless act, she'd probably turn away and not even talk to me, just because of my vote.  This is why I don't deal with known liberals. They lie and say they are open to everyone, but that's only true if you accept their world view, or confirm their believe that as a minority, woman, gay, etc., you must be a victim and in need of their care. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone with an IQ above room temperature knows that Trump should not be president - he is not respectable, honorable,  honest; I do not know if he has any redeeming qualities.  But the problem is - no matter how bad any Republican is that run for any office - The Democrats will, without any effort, somehow will find someone even worse by exponential factors of 10 to like the 22nd to run against the Republican. 

What I do not understand is how anyone with superior intelligence when compared to a rock would think that anyone running against Trump (so far) would be a better option.

 

The Traveler

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, Traveler said:

Anyone with an IQ above room temperature knows that Trump should not be president

I disagree, and my IQ is plenty high enough, thanks.

Perhaps your statement is another version of "I just don't understand how..." virtue signaling.  It says "Anyone who doesn't see things as I do must be stupid."

That's... breathtakingly arrogant.  

Edited by unixknight
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, Traveler said:

Anyone with an IQ above room temperature knows that Trump should not be president

Only people who think being a President of a secular Democratic country somehow has to have the same qualifications as the Lord's Prophet would think so.  People who think the Chief Executive of a country should be chosen in the same manner as choosing the Chief Executive of a secular private enterprise especially when said country has the solid tradition of of the US Constitution limiting its government would think otherwise.

 

11 hours ago, Traveler said:

What I do not understand is how anyone with superior intelligence when compared to a rock would think that anyone running against Trump (so far) would be a better option.

Well, people who think this "enterprise" should be heading in the other direction instead of the direction it is currently going would do so.  Thinking they don't have superior intelligence because they disagree with you is exactly what this thread is about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, Traveler said:

I do not know if he has any redeeming qualities. 

- He is a master dealmaker, and he's been making master deals that benefit the American people regardless of how politically unpopular many of them are.
- It is so nice to see blunt opining without a trace of "focus groups agree that holding a position like this will be politically advantageous".
- In the quarter century I've been paying attention, he is the only president I've ever seen actually reference/work on/deliver on campaign promises.  The going normal was "politicians speak to the center, then govern to the right/left".  But no really, we elected him on swamp draining rhetoric and big wall and conservative justices and end dumb treaties and stop sending our treasure overseas, and it's like he still carries that list of promises around and is working to check them off.  Never seen a president actually do that.

I'm not arguing against the presence of bad qualities, but anyone not blinder-wearingly stubborn to the point of ignoring truth, can see he has some redeeming qualities. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

37 minutes ago, unixknight said:

I disagree, and my IQ is plenty high enough, thanks.

Perhaps your statement is another version of "I just don't understand how..." virtue signaling.  It says "Anyone who doesn't see things as I do must be stupid."

That's... breathtakingly arrogant.  

Generally I see myself in the middle - anyone that appears smarter than me; I think of as smart.  Anyone that can do what I can do; I think of as average.  And anyone that cannot figure out things I can - I consider below average or stupid.  Anyone that rejects logic - I catalog as foolish.

What seem to be is that we all tend to be foolish about certain things.

 

The Traveler

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, Traveler said:

Generally I see myself in the middle - anyone that appears smarter than me; I think of as smart.  Anyone that can do what I can do; I think of as average.  And anyone that cannot figure out things I can - I consider below average or stupid.  Anyone that rejects logic - I catalog as foolish.

What seem to be is that we all tend to be foolish about certain things.

That isn't what you said, brother.  Foolishness/wisdom is not measured by I.Q.  Also, that statement is no less arrogant just because you've narrowed its focus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share