In a Conversation, Seek to Learn/Understand, not Seek to Try to Prove Yourself Right

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Recently I engaged in a conversation with someone about a topic I rarely talk about, much less with anyone: Politics. I know, first sentence and you know it’s a disaster already lol. For some reason, it’s just…~I just hear a lot of embarrassing and turn-off-moments when some people talk about politics especially when there’s partisanship involved and when their dog’s getting criticized. Anyways, let me tell the whole story:

I initiated a political conversation so I can poke and prod and see the conversational and intellectual capacity of the person I was talking to. Not to belittle or to set in high or low regard, it’s just that I don’t know how he would measure up. I was curious.

We were talking about racism, and then international relations and then suddenly the conversation went to something like “and that’s why President (of an Asian country) so-and-so is the best” (yea this caught me off guard too lol). I didn’t lead it there. It wasn’t going there, but it went there lol. Now do note that I and the person I was talking to are Canadian citizens. We have Prime Ministers, so it wasn’t even our nation he was talking about lol.

I let him talk which is totally fine but then my inquisitive and fact-checking side kicks in. This is where the teachable moment/learning opportunity starts:

So when it comes to politics talk, what I enjoy talking about is how things are implemented, how ideas are presented to the system, how it’s vetted, carried out, and implemented (or denied). I enjoy the conversation about the system, how it works, the wonders of what the public sector can do regardless of who is in power. Now the leaders can change. They may make bad calls or good calls (note that I’m judging a leader by their individual implementations and that “good or bad” is relative to me, instead of quickly dismissing the totality of their performance and capacity). How can you? You don’t have full information of everything that has been going on. You’re not the Chief of Staff, nor was/is a president. I like progressive talks. I like making things happen.

But nooooo, some people just to steer “politics talk” to: “Candidate A is better than Candidate B!!!”

It’s such a turn off. It just speaks….URGH. I can’t even…

As I’m an openly inquisitive person and I listen more than I talk, I think he took it as an invitation to talk about it more and so it was one massive-and-sweeping-statement after the other.

And so for me, ok, everyone has their opinions, people like things, people like…sides (which omfg this is fucking stupid, this is another burrito on its own), and this isn’t even directly concerning me, my country, or my government, so meh. It’s not even the president of a G8, even G20 nation. BUT what really got me are the not-fact-based-or-checked-statements to which I simply ask: “how so?” or “what’s the proof?”, “if you say X condition happened, this could be caused by A-Z factors”

BAM!

Just like that, the person goes defensive stance, and the mode of conversation just changed. It’s not an exchange of ideas for mutual gain anymore. He is now conversing and arguing to prove himself right. At this point I have nothing to gain any more, and a lot to lose (my time). Remember that I only asked the basic question of: “how, or why”. I ask for facts and proof. I did not even criticize him for the sweeping statements but damn, the defensive stance was better than Mayweather’s.

So the first turn-off and just rubs-me-the-wrong way things for me here was that he came back and stated more baseless thoughts.

Point of Clarification

So at this point I should point out that the person I’m talking to is educated. He’s not lawyer-level but you know what I mean. He’s also not a liar or something but what I fear is there may be a lack of critical thinking and facts. I have nothing against this person.

He also presented some facts that are true (maybe 10-20% of the entire conversation), to which I fact-checked too. I learned something, I improved, no ego was hit.

More to his statements were…~he was referencing news and public knowledge, which is great! He may refer to facts on several statements but what hits anyone’s integrity is that when you sprinkle opinions or false statements in there and then you’re caught in the lie. tsk tsk. Or when someone asks you for evidence to which you cannot produce.

Which leads to my next pet peeve, which is the: (I ask for proof then they say…) “Oh I don’t know…Google it” or “Oh it’s a public knowledge” statements.

It’s just…ugh, it’s always sad when you see something being misused beyond its intended purpose, like a performance car being stuck in sand.

Facts, Verifiable Information, Statement Integrity (which you need critical thinking for)

When you’re stating something, anything, on any given topic, the very first step you want to do is you want to make sure that what you’re saying is right/correct/factual.

If I say: “This apple is red. It is fresh. Apples are the most nutritional fruit out of all the fruits“.

So here I’ve made three statements. The first one is that it is red (let’s say that it is). I have stated a fact. It is verifiable by other people just by looking at it. It is undeniably true.

The second is that “it is fresh”. This may or may not be true. Looking at an uncut apple on a table, I might assume that an apple is fresh simply because of the fact that it does not look dry or rotting. If I say “it is”, that’s not true but it’s not fully proven and we’d need more information to claim that. If one says “it may be fresh”. That’s a correct statement because the statement is admitting and stating that that person is just assuming or unsure.

Oh man, now if you come at me with statements like the last, you better be ready with facts. If I told you, that apples are the most nutritious of them all, one would then say “how so?”, which is a very scientific and smart question to ask. This statement is not easily verifiable, much less perceivable, so we will need to experiment and test that in order to see if that’s correct. Ideally you would prove it, but by doing so you need to find a way to measure the ‘nutritious-ness’ of the apple and then you would then have to do the same thing to ALL the fruits in the world. Only then can you prove it. Now no one will have all the time to do that every time and it’s redundant for people to keep on doing the experiments again and again for each declarative statement. Enter facts, articles, videos, studies, or any document that has gone through the scientific method that made use of reliable data and unbiased conclusion! That’s what civilized people use. Holy fuck this is grade 1 science class…can’t believe I’m in my 30s and having to preach this still..

Lies, False Statements, Just..No.

Why is it important (apart from the glaring obvious: facts, truth, and science)? It takes a hit on your credibility and capacity. If you have made 10 statements and 1 of them is false, that one false statement can negate ALL your 9 statements. I see this usually happening when people are too lazy to provide facts to a statement. Sometimes the effort to produce evidence is so minuscule that a person skips that process. The problem here is that it becomes habitual and next thing you know you’re cutting corners everywhere and you’re not offering facts anymore. Other people use this when the evidence is so heavy to produce that again to expedite the statement, you just skip the process. Either way you’re not making good statements and you’re just being lazy.

It’s the same as being caught in a lie. If you’re caught in a lie, anything you say before, during, and after becomes questionable.

At the very least it’s just a turn-off, especially when you hear it from people you respect. Such a let down…

The “I dunno, Google it” Escape Clause

History

Let me tell you the history of this and how it’s supposed to be used (opinion). This statement originated from the digital/information age/generation. Of course it had to occur after the prevalence and accessibility of Google. This was originally used by people engaging in healthy and informative conversations in order summarize and expedite delivery of information.

In my line of work it happens a lot too. If I see a coding syntax I have never seen before I could ask someone what it is. They might respond with: “It’s a ternary operator, look it up’. The person was just answering my question without any condescension or ego. He was trying to be prompt and concise since usually when someone is asking these sorts of questions it’s because you’re currently working on something (hence urgency). This type of response is VERY useful for me because just by knowing the term of what it is, I can pull up technical docs about it online. It can give me the full explanation of what it is, how it’s used, the conditions are needed, scopes and limitations, etc. All that from a 2-word response.

This can also be beneficial outside the technical realm. For example someone can ask me “Dan, how can I get some financial relief if I get laid off due to covid19?” I can then say, “Google CERB”. Again, no ego present and I’m asking you to Google it because I do not have all the facts but I can point you to the place where the facts are. Plus this is a government/legal conversation. You want to be right and make sure. Imagine if I said anybody can apply and you did, you’d be committing a crime and you’d be screwed because the government is cracking down on people like this now.

This is how it was used and how it should be used.

This is not a tool to use when you’re caught in a lie and you cannot produce your evidence! I feel like I need to address this because I hear so many people using this tactic.

If you made a bold statement(a claim) and someone called you out and tried to fact-check you, it is not their responsibility to prove you right. You are the one making a claim so the burden of proof is with you. You can even bring this to court. You don’t show up as a lawyer in court and say “I don’t know you’re honor, you google it”. If you are unable to generate your proof/evidence you are then just making unsubstantiated claims, lies, or false statements, all of which are useless and as described above is SUCH. A. TURN. OFF. It just reminds me of old, half-naked, big-bellied men drinking by the streets of Philippines drunkenly saying “you know what, X president sucks. You know what I would do if I was the president?!”
Bruh, statements and demeanor like that are the reason why you’re sitting on the side of the street and NOT the president. fml…

As for the “public knowledge” excuse…

Unless you’re talking about science-based facts (e.g.: an atom has a proton, neutron, and electron), information gets mangled for each time the information is passed. Politics and government is “social science” so technically there is no “science” to it. Every time an information is passed around, it is open to manipulation, misunderstanding, or degrading integrity. Specific to my conversation, governments are not the most transparent organizations out there so from the get-go you’re not getting the FULL information. Within the government the information gets passed around already then add in partisanship so another government official can repackage the message to benefit his/her agenda. Media will then get wind of it first and they too can/will repackage it to their own agenda. Maybe a media firm is biased. Maybe the author / reporter is trying to advance in the workforce so they add a little drama to it. So by the time it gets to you, the information is heavily distorted. That is why as I’ve mentioned you need critical thinking so you can weed through these. So again if your claims are contested and you can’t show proof, this is not the way to go because the public does not fully know and they only know what the government/media wants you to know. Your source is flawed. Even top leaders in corrupts governments don’t know for sure so how dafuq do you know for certain?!

Wrap Up

Do not take a good thing and use it to wipe your ass. Be informed and learn, please. Don’t lie and pull stuff out of your ass. Ass play is reserved for the bedroom.

Check your ego out the door. When you converse, aim to learn and understand. Your insecurity and ignorance are showing otherwise. If it’s just you yapping, it’s called a monologue. If the person mentally checks out, you’re then just talking to yourself. Hence, you’re crazy.

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