Friday, August 27, 2004

You're a poopy-pants.

I must start by acknowledging that this post was partly inspired by comments in a blog currently called Blonde Sagacity, which is linked over on the side there somewhere. So, props to Ala71.

I was having an email exchange with some family members regarding one of those things circulating around about what it takes to be a Republican today. I've read some similar ones, about both parties, but this one was over the top. It was saying things like:

to be a Republican today you have to believe that
> Government should limit itself to the powers named
> in the Constitution,
> which include banning gay marriages and censoring
> the Internet.

I have a hard time with things like that as I (and all my Republican and Democratic friends) know that gay marriages and censoring the internet are not addressed in the constitution. It may be argued that it was intended as humor, but it would have to be funny to qualify as humor. I'll admit that humor is in the mind of the beholder, but statements like that are so factually flawed that I can find no humor; sooner or later some idiot that read that list is going to tell me that he hates me because I want to censor the internet.

I indicated via email to the rest of my family that I didn't believe any of that shit and I was still Republican and that the list was boring. Some additional emails were exchanged and it helped me to formulate the Poopy-pants argument as used by many people to support their positions.

Which I now inflict on the unsuspecting blogosphere:

a very intelligent but politically inert family member said:
Yeah, there's a lot of poor logic and sweeping statements here, but isn't
it meant to bring light to some inconsistencies? By using exaggeration? For me, as someone who doesn't have much time at all to really evaluate what's going on in politics, it rings true in a lot of intuitive ways. By intuitive, I don't mean to be lazy or give credulance to pure "feelings". I mean whatever I've been able to glean
just by living and observing without being an "expert". Yeah, you could probably hammer out the falsities of each statement. It's the general tone that I agree with. And believe me, I don't think democrats are any better.

Frater Bovious replied:
No, they aren't meant to bring light to some inconsistencies, they are meant to sway the uncritical mind, since factual arguments are unavailable. The intellectual equivalent of saying, "You're wrong because you're a poopy-pants."

The earth is flat, intuitively. Anyone who says different is a poopy-pants.

a very intelligent but politically inert family member said:
But when I travel away from something, I notice that it sinks and disappears. And things I travel towards seem to rise up and get larger. Intuitively, this suggests that the surface of the earth is curved convexly. In fact, it seems entirely possible that if this curve extends across the surface of the whole earth, then the earth may well be a sphere. Guess I’m a poopy pants.

Just as a point of conversation, is there any real difference between "bring light" and "sway"? One seems to have a positive connotation, and one negative, but aren't the meanings essentially the same?

Frater Bovious replied:
That is a good question. Sway has some negative connotation due to some of the various legitimate definitions. For example, a hammock can sway in the wind. Indicating that its position is dependent on some outside force, and no proclivity on the part of the hammock. Sway can also mean to exert force or control over within that context.

"Bringing light", as a phrase, implies to me that some hitherto unknown fact or aspect of something is brought out into the open for all to see and evaluate.

You could technically argue that the terms are interchangeable within certain contexts, but you would never say that a tree branch blowing in the wind was having light brought to it. You would say it was swaying in the wind.

There are people that are easily swayed in their opinions by the baseless statements of others. You gave some observations in your example above of reasons why the earth may be curved. The observations you gave are capable of being evaluated. A person who thought the earth was flat could look at your reasonable argument and draw
his own conclusion. He could, for example, walk away from things, and toward things, and see if his observations matched yours. You may have brought light to the issue, and caused someone to rethink their position on the flat earth theorem they've been working on, lo these many years. If they changed their mind, some might say the person was swayed by your argument. But in reality, he wasn't swayed. He reevaluated his position based on newly considered information.

Or they might respond to your observation by saying "You're a poopy-pants." And someone else may hear this argument that you are wrong because you are a poopy-pants, and decide that you are wrong also. Never mind that the "poopy-pants" argument didn't address your actual observations or provide supporting facts against the concept of the earth being round. Just, "you're a poopy-pants" and someone else was swayed into the belief the earth is flat.

For some reason, the poopy-pants argument is extraordinarily compelling to a lot of people.

So there you have it. If you think there is something wrong with the above scintillating exchange and brutal display of logic, then you are a poopy-pants. Ψ


~Jen~ said...

I have said "poopypants" a couple times too since I read it over at Ala71's site. *wide grin*

Thanks for the giggle today!

Frater Bovious said...

You're welcome!! Thanks for visiting!