The Instigator
ReganFan
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Con (against)
Winning
123 Points

Liberals are Lunatics

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/9/2009 Category: Science
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,534 times Debate No: 9174
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (30)
Votes (19)

 

ReganFan

Pro

this debate is asking if you think liberals are smarter than conservatives
RoyLatham

Con

This is an odd topic, but Pro has challenged me, so I will take the opportunity to argue the subject. Pro has provided no opening argument argument or definitions, so I will take his resolution at face value. He affirms "Liberals are Lunatics."

lunatic http://define.com... "Affected by lunacy; insane; mad; crazy; demented." or "A person affected by lunacy; an insane person, esp. one who has lucid intervals; a madman; a person of unsound mind. ...The lunatic, the lover, and the poet, Are of imagination all compact. --Shak." [I believe Shak is Shakespeare, as the basketball player is Shaq]

I also assume the resolution means "It is fair to generalize that liberals are lunatics, because most are." The question is whether the generality is appropriate. Liberals are not lunatics. They are smart and perfectly sane. The question is why do smart sane people believe weird things.

Examples of weird things abound. A few examples:

Barack Obama rose to power starting as a community organizer. Liberals vigorous defended the role of community organizer as an important and valid one. Liberals now attack town hall protesters on the grounds that they are organized, and hence not genuine and therefore worthless. It seems like lunacy to deify and attack the same thing.

This morning on CNN, Paul Kurtz interviewed White House "disinformation czar" Linda Douglass. Douglass said it was her job to correct misinformation about the current health care proposals. In particular, videos were posted on the Internet in which Obama, before becoming President, advocated single-payer health care system and stated that it might take 15 or 20 years to transition to a single-payer system. Douglas said that the comments were taken out of context, and she had to correct the misinformation. Kurtz pressed for the details of the context; had Obama clarified or repudiated his earlier statements, so that it was unfair to represent what he has said as being the way it sounded? Douglas gave no such context, but rather that the comments were old and hence were not in the context of the current health care debate. She pointedly avoided saying that Obama has changed his position, but rather only that he should not be quoted as saying what he clearly said. That sounds like a lunatic rationalization.

This is not lunacy, it is in fact rationalization of a belief system. The fundamental beliefs are overarching, meaning they take precedence over seeming counterexamples. We see this happen all the time among intelligent people who are perfectly sane:

1. Religion is an obvious example. Within any faith, there are countless examples of contradictions and inconsistencies that are fervently rationalized away. For example, in Christianity is a good Christian an ascetic who renounces family, wanders in the desert preaching, and dies a martyr or is a good Christian one who embraces family, community, and orderly values? The extremely coexist. There are many more radical examples of religious rationalization.

2. In economics, Milton Friedman and, say, Noam Chomsky are diametrical opposites. One or the other is dead wrong. For example, productivity increases, Friedman would say that it proves that capitalism increases prosperity; Chomsky says it proves capitalism exploits workers. We don't have to know which one is correct to know that one of them is applying intelligent rationalization. Neither is insane.

3. Conspiracy theorists, like 9/11 conspiracy theorists, rationalize away all contrary evidence. Explosives experts say it would take many hundreds of people many months to prepare a building like the WTC for controlled demolition, but none of the 10,000 occupants and visitors ever noticed anything. this is contrary evidence that must be either or ignored or given the ultimate rationalization, "we don't know how it was done, but it was done."

Politics is like religion and many other aspects of society. People seek simple all-explaining beliefs, and they use their mental faculties to defend those rather than challenge them. I think this is a consequence, in part, of the world being too complex to be coped with without simple beliefs that readily resolve many problems. I don't think people will ever get past that. The best that can be hoped for it that some people can come to snap out of "belief mode" and into "analysis mode" upon the occasions when they ought to.

In support of my view, I cite the analysis by Michael Shermer in "Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time" A book review summarized:

"So, why do people believe weird things? "More than any other, the reason people believe weird things," says Shermer, "is because they want to. . . .It feels good. It is comforting. It is consoling." Secondly, weird beliefs offer "immediate gratification." People like weird beliefs because they are simple. Weird beliefs also satisfy the quest for significance: they satisfy our moral needs and our desire that life be meaningful. Finally, he says, people believe weird things because weird things give them hope. " http://www.skepdic.com...

Shermer has a video that gives a flavor of his explanation of the thinking process at work in the minds of believers http://www.ted.com... Shermer is talking about science not politics, but the nature of his arguments are applicable to our topic. A primary use of intelligence in humans is to rationalize preconceived beliefs. Intelligent people can build extremely complex rationalizations.

Liberalism is the rationalization of overarching beliefs, it's not lunacy. What that means is that it leaves individual issues to be debated on their merits, outside of the warm blanket of total belief. I agree with the general liberal position on some issues, while disagreeing on many more.

The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 1
ReganFan

Pro

Liberals, especially Secular Humanists, believe that Man is innately good. The good just has to be encouraged by untrammeled personal license and therapy. So, evils like crime and terrorism cannot be simply condemned as evil. Liberals have to look for a "politically-correct" root cause for wrongdoing. Popular scapegoats for Liberals are: "Poverty" (even when that poverty is the fruit of a dysfunctional society unwilling to adapt to new realities), "Racism"(which might limit one's opportunities but doesn't lead directly to criminal behavior), "Zionism" (the Jews always make a convenient scapegoat), "Colonialism" (even though most of the colonial empires educated their subjects and built enough infrastructure for said former subjects to make a better go at modern statehood than they otherwise could have), or "Alienation" ( a convenient dodge for those who lack ambition, a work ethic, or any sense of personal responsibility).

Therefore, the United States, being relatively rich, powerful, and the world's policeman must be the cause of all the world's ills. The solution is to hand our American sovereignty and military over to the United Nations, a true coalition of the weak and powerless. If the United States imprisons terrorists caught on the battlefield as unlawful combatants at Guantanamo, then it is a "gulag" and the U.S. military is equivalent to "Soviet Russia" or "Pol Pot".

How can Liberals make such a morally ignorant simile? It's really quite simple. First off, to a liberal, history is mutable. History to be valid has to be reinterpreted by each generation and by each "oppressed minority". You end up with no history at all, unless it is in the Orwellian sense of constant reinvention to suit the causes of the immediate present.

Facts don't matter much either. Facts are hard and cold, the province of Conservatives who care about results. Results don't matter, only intentions. How else can a bloody-handed murderer like Che Guevara still remain a cool lefty icon? So what if Castro runs real gulags and Guevara was his hangman? Castro brought free health care and education to Cuba.

It's all about emotions. Liberals have to be constantly outraged. And they feel the need to express their outrage by outraging others. Why else would a picture of a crucifix and a beaker of piss be considered great art? It expresses what Liberals really want to do, which is piss on religion. They react emotionally, so they acclaim the "artist" in a Pavlovian response.

They commit outrages, because they don't want to build. Not really anyway. There are rare exceptions like Jimmy Carter out there swinging a hammer for Habitat for Humanity (which is, btw, a Christian organization) The Left really wants to destroy. They want to destroy America, the family, God, capitalism, the Boy Scouts, and all these bourgoise fascist infrastructure that keeps them from their Neverland utopia where we can live off the dole, smoke pot, sleep around, and somehow not starve. Peter Pan was the penultimate liberal, because he never wanted to grow up and always got the best of that fascist capitalist pirate, Captain Hook.
RoyLatham

Con

Pro did not address the debate topic. The question is whether the gross errors of some liberals are best explained by "lunacy" or by ideological fervor of the type that characterizes true believers of anything. I gave the reasons why Liberalism is typical of many fervent beliefs that are held contrary to facts and counter-examples. The most obvious parallel is traditional religious belief, but I gave other parallels. In each case, the belief provides simple, satisfying answers to problems. Pro has the burden of proof to show that Liberals are insane, and not merely wrong -- insofar as they are wrong. Therefore, the resolution is negated.

Pro claims "Liberals, especially Secular Humanists, believe than Man is inherently good." Where do Liberals assert that? It seems quite contrary to liberalism in that it poses "good" as a moral absolute, and moral absolutes are not typically liberal. It seems to me that liberal thinking is closer to "an enlightened elite determines what is good, and must impose that good upon society for the sake of social progress." Liberals seem to believe that it is good not to have interpersonal social norms, so they seek to eliminate them. However, they have strong ideas about what people are allowed to say, what property they are allowed to possess, and so forth. It's a pseudo-religion with very strict doctrine.

I agree that for true-believing Liberals facts don't matter much and that emotions rule, but that is typical of any true believer's rationalization of their faith.

We are talking about broad generalizations, and while a generalization may be fair overall, there is no guarantee that it applies to everyone who thinks of himself as "Liberal." For example, while two-thirds of evangelical Christians are are Conservative, about a third are Liberal (think Jimmy Carter). It also leaves individual issues to be resolved on their own merits.
Debate Round No. 2
ReganFan

Pro

I'd like this debate revoked on the grounds that my opponent is in fact a liberal
RoyLatham

Con

Pro posed the challenge to me and then refused to debate the topic he proposed.

Whether the resolution should be affirmed or negated should not depend upon whether I am a liberal, conservative, or visiting Vulcan. Arguments stand on their own. Pro has made no case and offered no opposition to my arguments.

People can be very wrong on some things, to the point where it seems like lunacy, yet they can at the same time have completely logical lines of reasoning on a different topic. That's just the way people are. Liberals are not lunatics, they just, in the extreme, subscribe to a type of religion.

The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 3
30 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
@hfordney, The details are arguable, but "We hold these truths to be self-evident ..." is a straightforward observation of human nature.
Posted by hfordney 4 years ago
hfordney
I think to call even the right to self-preservation a natural right is to muddle up what the distinction of 'natural' and 'artificial' or 'human' is in the first place. The fact that we need food, shelter and water is natural, it is no way under our control. But whether we get those necessities is a matter of how we act, its not natural. You could say its a natural law in the sense that any society that fails to reasonably secure preservation will fail. But we have to be careful that what were calling one of these rights is actually a natural law. The people should be constantly thinking over and modifying what we call natural laws - the alternative is to subject people to wrong definitions of human nature. What we call natural laws can become the most subtle form of tyrranny if they dont accurately apply to people's needs and desires. My point is that yes, I do think property does correlate to a fundamental desire reasonably intrinsic to human beings as I have experienced them - but our legal definitions dont exactly correlate to those intrinsic notions
Posted by Eitan_Zohar 4 years ago
Eitan_Zohar
One of the most amusing debates I've read in a while. Three years ago? Smh...
Posted by tmar19652 4 years ago
tmar19652
This guy basically committed debate suicide. I wonder what their though process was, "maybe I should challenge the best debater on the site to an un-defendable resolution". Maybe I should challenge Roy to a debate, I will be pro on the resolution:the moon is made of cheese.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
People are born with instincts to protect themselves and their families. The natural right to property derives from the right to self-preservation. We need food, shelter, and tools to survive. It doesn't make sense to say that a natural right cannot need "artificial" protection, because all protection requires volition and none is natural. People also have an instinct to form tribes. There is a survival advantage in belonging to tribes. This sets up a conflict be individual needs and tribal needs, with accompanying rights. Liberals believe the tribe has most of the power -- so if you need a gun to protect yourself, the state has the right to take it way regardless. the state cn determine what you eat, how you are educated, and what you can own. Conservatives believe individual rights should have precedence -- you should be able to protect yourself, keep your property, and so forth.
Posted by hfordney 4 years ago
hfordney
I believe the key notion here is property. What gives someone the right to property? (not in the legal sense). Why do we want property? The definition and protection of property is perhaps the greatest reason why we create governments in the first place. Jefferson and Locke believed property was a natural right, along with liberty and life, that was given to us by God. Given our different conclusions about the natural world today, I don't think we can say rights are natural in the sense that these men envisioned it. It also seems illogical to say a right is natural if it must be protected artificially - these are not laws of nature like gravity or thermodynamics. I would say rather that we call property natural because we think it just. Now just because something is called the word "property" and is treated by law as "property" it may not be that particular condition which we call property that is also just. I think that there is something which we call property that is just. Perhaps a question which we could debate is: are property rights as they stand in the current legal system just? Or perhaps: are property rights as defined by most classical liberals just?
Posted by hfordney 4 years ago
hfordney
You're right, corporations ,or more generally private power, does not directly control the political and legal systems. Our political structure is largely based on the commonwealth as envisioned in Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, with additions from Locke, Montesquieu and other liberal (little 'L') thinkers from the Enlightenment. According to his commonwealth system, the people are the source of all legitimate power, which they impose upon themselves to escape the state of nature. He calls this first entity that is created a sovereign, or absolute regular system. This would correlate to the federal government as constituted by the executive, legislative and judiciary branches. The sovereign has absolute power over all other systems that arise from the society which it is created to rule - among which are public dependent regular systems (lower levels of government) and private dependent regular systems (the private sector). These systems must abide by the rules devised for them by the sovereign. The sovereign, being the absolute power in this hierarchical system, answers to no other system. However, it is accountable to the people by whom it was created. What the people require from their government isn't always clear, but it is often called justice. So to recap, corporations must be law abiding, while the government must be 'just'. Law is defined by sovereign, while justice is defined by the people. The idea here is that the laws which the sovereign enforces are also just, so that the entire system, including private and public dependent regular systems, embody justice. So in a sense, the sovereign has an obligation not just to be just, but to make every system which it has power over just. So as you imply, it is not possible for the private sector to be unjust (structurally unjust) unless the sovereign is also unjust. Now here's the question we must all answer: is there structural injustice in the private sector? This is answered by ethics not law
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
@hfordney, Modern liberalism works the same as religion used to work in society. The elite decides what is good and then declares dissent to be not just wrong, but immoral. Government regulations attempt to control the most minute details of how you live. There is catalog of political correctness, enforced socially the way religious correctness used to be enforced.

If "corporations" control society, then obviously they could not fail. But they do fail, all the time. The way they fail is to fail to provide goods and services at a price people are willing to pay. That works for giant corporations like Eastman Kodak and US Steel. Only the government can bail out failed companies like General Motors or the big banks. That's not capitalism, it's politics. only government is immune from failure, because they need not compete.

Corporations are nothing more than collectives formed by individuals to accomplish a purpose. Believing they are independent life forms is silly.

The media suffers from group think, but the internet is slowly destroying that. More people now get their news from the web. Fox is now successful presenting news that doesn't interest liberals. So maybe there is reason for optimism.

If there is something you'd like to debate, PM to me.
Posted by hfordney 4 years ago
hfordney
because they fit into some kind of moral world view. In all probablility this world view was defined by the very same corporate mass media political discussion simulation which is now challenging him to add a new notion to his concept of the good. The question is whether this world view could be called a view of social progress. I would say thats true in the sense that its an ideal (although one very similar to the norm), but false in the sensenof some kind of dialectical notion of progress as conceived of by Marx. My big question here is, have you read Walter Lippmann? Your comment sounds just like something he would say
Posted by hfordney 4 years ago
hfordney
I could talk myself to death about this subject, but I'll confine myself to one point: the mass medium for political discussion has a conflict of interest between defining and promoting ideals for the common good and between defining and promoting ideals that serve their own business interests. One could say there isnt a conflict at all actually, because their hegemony of influence means that they effectively decide what the truth is anyway. Their desire to turn public opinion for their own interests manifests itself not as manipulation to produce consent for the actual corporation, but rather as consent for the status quo in general which they embody and political apathy which also serves their interests. It is predominantly in this third avenue of discussion that I believe the common good is today defined. The debate on where the political debate should take place basically consists of the Right arguing for the total hegemony of the third avenue and the Left arguing that the third avenue should enlist the second avenue as a useful technocratic lackey who gives the status quo legitimacy. It is in this sense that I believe you are totally correct in saying that modern Liberalism believes that "an enlightened elite [should] determine what is good". Your second assertion was that Liberals believe further that this enlightened elite should administer the goods theyve defined. This doesnt require a long argument - Liberals along with the entire political establishment are only concerned with a top down style version of democracy. The only point worth noting here is that the elites that do the decision making end up being influenced by the same corporations that define what is good (and get them into office). Finally, you say that this social good is envisioned as a part of some notion of progress. This is the only place where I disagree with you - I would say that the typical Liberal becomes interested in issues like gay marriage and universal healthcare
19 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by tajshar2k 2 years ago
tajshar2k
ReganFanRoyLathamTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro never refuted any of Con's arguments, and even conceded near the end. This is poor conduct on Pro's part, and he even challenged Con to the debate.
Vote Placed by tmar19652 4 years ago
tmar19652
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro did not make a coherent case for why liberals are lunatics, in addition to skipping sources entirely.
Vote Placed by Eitan_Zohar 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro did not make a coherent case for why liberals are lunatics, in addition to skipping sources entirely. Pure comedy, this was.
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: For the instigator, Pro didn't have much interest in debating the topic. Nor was he interested in maintaining his conduct, which he loses points for accusing Con for being a liberal.
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