Guided By The Beauty Of Our Weapons | Slate Star Codex

Source: Guided By The Beauty Of Our Weapons | Slate Star Codex, by Scott Alexander

Imagine a classroom where everyone believes they’re the teacher and everyone else is students. They all fight each other for space at the blackboard, give lectures that nobody listens to, assign homework that nobody does. When everyone gets abysmal test scores, one of the teachers has an idea: I need a more engaging curriculum. Sure. That’ll help.

I’ve changed my mind on various things during my life, and it was never a single moment that did it. It was more of a series of different things, each taking me a fraction of the way.

Given all of this, I reject the argument that Purely Logical Debate has been tried and found wanting. Like GK Chesterton, I think it has been found difficult and left untried.

Therapy might change minds, and so might friendly debate among equals, but neither of them scales very well.

The media already spends a lot of effort recommending good behavior. What if they tried modeling it?

Logical debate has one advantage over narrative, rhetoric, and violence: it’s an asymmetric weapon. That is, it’s a weapon which is stronger in the hands of the good guys than in the hands of the bad guys. … The whole point of logic is that, when done right, it can only prove things that are true. … Unless you use asymmetric weapons, the best you can hope for is to win by coincidence.

You are not completely immune to facts and logic. But you have been wrong about things before. You may be a bit smarter than the people on the other side. You may even be a lot smarter. But fundamentally their problems are your problems, and the same kind of logic that convinced you can convince them. It’s just going to be a long slog. You didn’t develop your opinions after a five-minute shouting match. You developed them after years of education and acculturation and engaging with hundreds of books and hundreds of people. Why should they be any different?

The problem is that Truth is a weak signal.

There is no shortcut.