Have you been watching the media lately? I've learned a lot. I have not learned about the truth of vaccines, healthcare, or gay marriage, or gun rights, or ______________________ (you fill in the blank). But, what I have learned about is how many agendas are moved forward. Movement does not have to be based on truth, facts, intellectual integrity, or a fuller, more robust view, but on who speaks the loudest, and often, the rudest. I've noticed many of the arguments out there contain four consistent elements that are foundational to moving an agenda forward. I have learned that many agendas are moved forward through the usage of the following tactics:
- Fear Mongering - Be selective with statistics, throw the title, "scientist" "doctor" or "professionals" behind a quote (often taken out of context) to induce fear about the acceptance of the other argument. Paint the worst case scenario, even if it is not the most probable scenario, make it as scary as we can. We've pushed a lot of agendas in this country and in families by the good ole, tried-and-true scare tactic, why stop now?
- Extremism - Find the un-silent minority, extract their extreme views and 'reasoning', and assign their points-of-view to everyone who doesn't agree with the proposed agenda and ostracize them as dangerous to the norm.
- Be Loud and Fast - Be as loud and as fast as one can with the argument, then it doesn't even need to make sense. Add to that - censoring the actual reasonable arguments from the others side, then degrade one's opponent with name-calling and belittling. This is a pretty smart tactic, because who wants to be on the side of someone who wants to kill the children?
- Bank on Ignorance - Bank on ignorant adopters to buy-in without any personal research. After all, even if they did research, they could never come to the same truth conclusion that "scientists" "doctors" or "professionals" do - then get some "famous people" on your side, and you've got a done deal, after all, all people who are famous are famous because they know more than you. This is a big one, it seems to be our hope that the majority of people will be so busy they remain ignorant about the whole truth. When this is the case, we throw our sales-pitch at them, pull on emotional strings, throw selected and out-of-context data at them, and successfully persuade them to our side. After all it only takes a majority to win, and it doesn't matter if the majority is absolutely ignorant on the issues. And it is so good that we have finally learned that winning is more important than truth.
If you know me, then you can be sure I have opinions about many of the issues perpetuated by the media today, but it doesn't matter what side I'm on, or you are on, we are all guilty of this. If you are a vaxer or anti-vaxer; gun-control vs. anti-gun-control; religious or secularist; Pro-GMO or Anti-GMO; universal health-care; pro-life or pro-choice; gay-marriage or traditional marriage - and the list could go on. The truth is, most of us don't fall an either of the extremes mentioned by the media, or the boxes we are forced in. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle, rather than either/or, most of us are 'both/and'.
Are we so afraid the 'other-side' might win that we have to forego intellectual integrity and lower ourselves to fads; selective statistics; out-of-context sound bites; and name calling in order to win over those who can ignorantly be persuaded in order to forward the agenda we've bought into?
Aren't we better than this?
photo credit to Red State (there's a lot of irony that I picked this graphic from the article I did when considering what I just wrote)