Saturday, December 31, 2016

CS Lewis knew gammas

He even coined the term to describe how they argue:
I remember one time one of my patients missed a session because his flight back from vacation was delayed. I told my supervisor this and he got angry with me, saying it was superficial to blame it on the flight instead of talking about which of my comments had triggered the patient and made him decide to miss his plane. I insisted that we’d had a perfectly good session the week before, that the delayed plane had just been a delayed plane, and me and my supervisor got angrier and angrier at each other for both missing what the other thought was the point. Finally I got on the Internet and managed to prove that my patient’s plane really had been delayed to the point where it was impossible for him to have made my appointment, at which point my supervisor switched the discussion to why it was so important to me to believe that his plane had been delayed that I would do an Internet search about it, and whether I was trying to defend against the unbearable notion that my patient might ever voluntarily miss one of our sessions. …

But this method also reminds me of something else. This is Christopher Hitchens:

“I think Hannah Arendt said that one of the great achievements of Stalinism was to replace all discussion involving arguments and evidence with the question of motive. If someone were to say, for example, that there are many people in the Soviet Union who don’t have enough to eat, it might make sense for them to respond, “It’s not our fault, it was the weather, a bad harvest or something.” Instead it’s always, “Why is this person saying this, and why are they saying it in such and such a magazine? It must be that this is part of a plan.”

The avoidance of object-level discussion in favor of meta-level discussion can get really nasty, really quickly. … This can be more insidious when complaints are less dramatic and less binary – I know a lot of psychiatrists who will respond to people saying their medication isn’t working (or is causing side effects), with analyzing their motives for wanting to piss off their psychiatrist or stay unhealthy. And finally, this is absolutely fatal to any kind of complicated social discussion – the thing where instead of debating someone else’s assertion, you bulverize what self-interest or privilege causes them to believe it.
Bulverists are gammas. Any time you are dealing with someone who always prefers to argue motive to substance, you have a pretty good clue that you're dealing with a) a gamma male, and b) someone whose communications are limited to rhetoric.

That means the only way you can even try to change their mind is to tell them they're stupid and socially reject them.

30 comments:

scottb said...

Or C) a woman

javaloco said...

Scottb - hehehe. That very thought went through my mind as I was recalling a post breakup discussion with my last girlfriend.

Mr.MantraMan said...

The Left has the mind of a woman/gamma and any day now our brilliant conservative intellectuals will defeat them with logic and reason, I've said this for decades,and I know I am right.

Otto Lamp said...

Bulverism.

This is a good word to bring back into our arsenal, as the left is so guilty of it.

The Infogalactic examples are much clearer than the one above. https://infogalactic.com/info/Bulverism

Trust said...

This definitely explains pretty much every campaign against Trump.

"We either have a country or we don't" = He hates Mexicans

"Hold on immigration until we get a better vetting process" = He wants to ban a religion.

"Many women will let me do anything to them because I'm rich and famous" = he hates women

"Black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter" = he hates blacks.

"I denounce David Duke and the KKK" = he insulted blacks Muslims women and hispanics, but hesistated to denounce the KKK.

Translation - deep down they know they have screwed everything up, so their only hope is to convince people they have better intentions, since history and reality don't work in their favor.

haus frau said...

Not sure if this is completely on topic of gamma but my 7 year old boy will get discouraged during school work or other challenging activities and launch into a frustrated tantrum saying "I'm no good at anything. I'm just too stupid." etc. What is a constructive way to respond to this habit?

MNL said...

@haus... I don't think a 7 year old in a pattern of saying this is a gamma at all; he's just being a 7 year old. When I heard talk like that from my kids (I'm now a grandfather) it was often a plea for attention or security. Of course if there's instability-type shit going on in the family, by all means fix that. Otherwise, this may be addressed by spending time, listening, and attention.

Harry Cassandra said...

If one were to suggest that what motivates atheists like Hitchens, Richard Carrier, Dan Barker is not a love of Reason, Truth or scholarship (which they claim is what drives their atheist 'evangelist' efforts), but a hatred for God that they refuse to acknowledge - is that not Gamma/Bulverism?

Similarly, when we say that women are driven by hypergamous instincts, is that not an appeal to motive, particularly when we maintain this truth in the face of female insistence to the contrary ('I marry for love' etc.)?

What are the distinctive marks of gamma/Bulverism vs. a legitimate observation of motive?

Wanderer said...

@haus Tell him that people are only talented at something because of hard work and practice, and that everybody sucks at everything when they're new to it. Sucking at something when you're new to it is how it is for every single human being. What separates talented people from untalented is the desire to get good from putting in the work.

haus frau said...

No, no, he's just a little guy. I would like to redirect this stuff to something more constructive without coddling too much but without crushing either.

David The Good said...

@haus frau

Wanderer's advice is solid. I tell my children something similar.

"Yes, that drawing isn't good. But remember when you were three? Look at how much better it is now. You're not going to do any great works of art now and that's fine - but to get better, keep pushing. And don't be a wuss."

Koanic said...

my 7 year old boy will get discouraged during school work or other challenging activities and launch into a frustrated tantrum saying "I'm no good at anything. I'm just too stupid." etc.

Tell him his complaint is off-topic.

tz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tz said...

Doodle Video
Text
From God in the Dock

Harry Cassandra said...

It occurs to me that the efforts of Ludwig Feuerbach, Ludwig Otto, Sigmund Freud, C.G. Jung, Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade to explain away the object of religious faith (God) by psychologising religious awareness as a projection of human ideals/desires, were Gamma in nature. Mind you, they were correct insofar as other gods are concerned (although Vox may be right about a plurality of lesser supernatural beings (gods) being found to exist in Scripture).

Ceerilan said...

I remember being pleasantly surprised when debating a particular liberal in school a while back. During the conversation, he actually said that I had swayed his opinion. My arguments were purely factual.

Michael Maier said...

Or C) a woman

I went there immediately, too. Good times.

S1AL said...

@haus Frau - this might also be something where his father will get better results. I could come up with a dozen explanations for why, but my dad's expectations and lessons always carried more weight than my mom's.

Does he have an older sibling who can do the same things with far less effort? That might be what's driving his reaction, though the response and explanation is still basically the same as the other guys said.

Johnny said...

Statements of motive are the least reliable things that people say for a wide variety of reasons. And it isn't always being a Gamma or deliberately being evasive. I am to the point where I routinely note statements of motive and discount their importance. People are the way they are, that's all.

Tatooine Sharpshooters' Club said...

Statements of motive are the least reliable things that people say for a wide variety of reasons.

Indeed, it's one question someone can answer "I don't know" in complete honesty, which is why it's often considered irrelevant by police detectives, among others: most events can be understood by means and opportunity. Or to put it in a more folksy aphorism "Why is a crooked letter that can't be made straight."

gambino dellacroce said...

Or they are a woman.

bluetenlese said...

Imputing motives is passive-aggressive but as Mr.MantraMan sarcastically hints at, the left keeps winning while bulverizing, so what is to be done?

Mr.MantraMan said...

Blame them don't explain to them.

haus frau said...

@S1AL He is the oldest, very competitive, and the most sensitive to criticism. Husband is almost always at work when school is done which is almost always when this comes up. Otherwise, yes, dad handles it really well. Thanks for the responses.

VFM #7634 said...

Come to think of it, I've noticed that Ron Paul, in his continuous attacks on Trump, also bulverizes a lot. I've wondered why so many of his attacks seem incoherent to me, but now they make sense.

Valtandor Nought said...

This might even be more than just Bulverism. Scott Alexander's supervisor sounds like this:

I can't believe you could be so petty and cruel as to make me feel bad by proving to me that you won the argument and I lost it. What could motivate you to do this?

There is no sense in trying to argue with such an emotionally driven fool.

Trimegistus said...

Harry: There's a difference between trying to understand someone's motives ("I think Hitchens is mad at God") and using that as a cheap rhetorical device to shut down argument ("You're just saying that because you're mad at God!"). Analyzing Hitchens's motivations doesn't have any bearing on the validity of his arguments. That's what Lewis was getting at: the tendency of people to pigeonhole an opposing argument as the result of a particular motivation, and then act as though that actually refutes it.

Mountain Man said...

@VFM
I too noticed that too. He's been acting very gamma like when it comes to Trump. As someone who has long respected the guy , I find it both repulsive and dissapointing.

Tom Terrific said...

Interestingly, I've not only give up arguing with the Left, I've given up arguing with the Right. I can't find anyone who wants to argue facts. Or even theories. Everything is just inconsequential name-calling and ineffective social shaming. My response is intelligent mockery. Like years ago when a punk kid I mistakenly accused of something was defending himself to me, he said, "I TOLD you I didn't do it!" To which I replied, "Well, would you believe you?" He was stymied and looked away.

The idiots are running loose. Smack them as hard as you can.

Harry Cassandra said...

@Trimestigus - The Bible teaches that the heavens declare the glory of God so that every man is without excuse. Further, that the unbeliever suppresses the truth in unrighteousness; effectively, that there's no such thing as an 'honest' atheist. In which case, what 'I think' of Hitchens' motives are irrelevant. Imputing motives based on the authority of one's own autonomous reason/speculation is Bulverist, but relying on Scripture to tell us the psychological motive of the speaker (Hitchens, for example) is proper.
Which leaves me wondering if secular psychology, with all its talk of 'unconscious desires' etc. is anything but Bulverism.

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