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Posts Tagged ‘nonviolence

Don’t Hate, Cooperate

with 3 comments

Welcome to my blog thingy! I’ll do a proper intro post eventually, but I was inspired enough to write this so I thought I should just let it out before I get lazy.

PZ Meyers thinks being a dick is a viable strategy for skeptics to effect change. I disagree.

Behavior is determined by the perception of positive and negative consquences. Not intellectually, but sensually, in the moment. If you try to change someone’s behavior with abuse, YOU become their problem, not the behavior. The energy they could be putting into thinking about what you are telling them gets redirected to behaviors that will mitigate the violence being done to them. That probably means getting defensive and holding ground on the very beliefs you are trying to change.

To truly change someone’s behavior, you have to show them how the new behavior will reward them. This goes beyond just telling them, you have to get them to experience it subjectively. You have to listen empathically, learn their language, and express yourself in the most meaningful way from THEIR perspective. Much harder than to say “you’re stupid if you don’t get what I’m saying” and hope their feelings will be hurt enough to make them change.

That is the virtue of dickishness. It provides the social and psychological penalties that counter the draw of complacency.

Ignoring the arrogance of believing that annoying-ness will be interpreted as a “social and psychological penalty”, the question I’d like to ask PZ Myers is: would you like people to start thinking critically because they want you to stop being mean to them, or because they see that they can live richer, more authentic lives? Which do you think will stick better?


Written by xaqrox

August 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm