Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
has anyone here ever had an opinion that was changed by this setting out of the arguments, with evidence, etc?

I can name a very simple one: I used to think that deposing Saddam Hussein was a good idea, because he was a Bad Guy. Then somebody pointed out that Bush the Lesser had started pushing the smaller members of the UNSC around by blackmailing them with threats of withdrawing foreign aid, and I went "hey, waitaminnit - you don't get to do that! You've got a case, why do you have to bribe and blackmail to make the other guys come around to your point of view."

Similarly, I used to think about Afghanistan "well, it worked fine enough for Kosova..." Until some kind chap pointed me to a declassified MI6 analysis that said that the official British story about Kosova (which the Danish press had plagiarised wholesale) was basically a load of crap. Now, if the Russian spies say that the official British version of events is full of crap, I take that with a grain of salt. But when the British spies say it...

Of course, when you have a position that you've spent a long time thinking through, spent a lot of energy nuancing and spent a lot of debating hours refining, the chance that a single argument will shatter it wholesale is much smaller. No doubt it's partly because you have a greater emotional attachment to the idea and the narratives you use to justify it. But I think it would be silly to discount the fact that the position has already been changed and refined quite a lot.

In principle it's possible that someone can point me to an argument that completely justifies slavery. In principle, it is also possible that someone will provide me with data that conclusively proves that Maxwell's equations are wrong. But it has to be really, really good, because there's rather a lot of data and theory to support Maxwell's equations, and slavery violates most of my principles. So proving Maxwell's equations wrong would entail finding another model that describes all these volumes of data, and convincing me that slavery is right, would involve convincing me that most of my principles are wrong.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 07:09:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Others have rated this comment as follows:

melo 4


Top Diaries

Herd Immunity .. Filling the Gaps

by Oui - Jul 24
1 comment

LQD - Long Term Covid: The Brain

by ATinNM - Jul 13

Say No to Racism

by Oui - Jul 12

England surrenders to Covid

by IdiotSavant - Jul 9

Occasional Series