A few random thoughts about political conversations

When someone presents some data, followed by a conclusion, I see these typical responses:

  1. A person loves the conclusion, so they are eager to see the data so they know what to share in order to prove the conclusion
  2. A person has already come to the same conclusion, but they had different data so they are eager to talk about the data with the other person
  3. A person has already used similar data, but came to a different conclusion, so they are eager to talk about the conclusion with the other person
  4. (#2 or #3, but with an antagonistic twist)
  5. A person is offended or worried about the conclusion, so they are going to be suspicious of the data in hopes to find a flaw and disprove the conclusion.

I think #1 and #5 are odd, because often what is at stake isn’t data that proves anything, but data that has been interpreted in a certain way. In other words, conclusions are interpretations. What #2 and #3 recognize is that the same data can lead to more than one conclusion, and the same conclusions can come from more than one set of data.

I think #1 and #5 represent most (99%) of political discussions on facebook, unfortunately!

Also, I think that politicians often have this pattern

Data —-> Conclusion —-> Action

I might have similar data, and even agree with the conclusion, but disagree with the action suggested by the politician.

I have attempted to follow this election, and I have been curious about the outsider Bernie Sanders. But boy, it’s draining to try to study things out, guess where there’s fudging going on, and then talk to people who have read different things than you and come to different conclusions based on different data. It’s amazingly difficult to think of how to get a group of people, of any size, to have read and experienced enough in common to then have a political conversation!

I guess that’s why local involvement seem so much more productive and uplifting — you have something in common!



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