Noise Grenades

Why are liberals so rude to the right? (via Instapundit)

The link above contains good examples of ‘noise grenades’ that I mentioned in the comments of this post. Noise grenades are what I call it when somebody rudely attacks your political leanings intent on rattling your cage, with the underlying assumption that you must be an idiot and having no intention to learn why you think the way you do.

I like this line:

Wouldn’t it be better for America if liberals really were liberal, and listened to other points of view?

It does amaze me at how often closed-minded liberals are mistaken for open-minded free spirits.

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4 thoughts on “Noise Grenades

  1. I read a really great article a few years ago that went something like this: People tend to consume media that confirms and reinforces their opinions. People tend to dismiss and ridicule media that denies or questions their opinions If we want a more open and functional political discussion in our society, people should consume more media that posits views different from their own.

    I suspect that noise grenades are common for two reasons:
    1. If someone has only heard the opinion you are expressing (which is different from theirs) presented as “the other” opinion (aka the wrong opinion) then they’re likely to think you are an idiot. How could your opinion be correct when all they’ve ever heard is their own opinion and just how right their opinion is? How could your opinion be correct when it has always been painted as cruel, misguided and wrong?
    2. If someone is speaking for an audience I think noise grenades get used to emotionally charge the event and derail any actual discussion.

    Can you think of other reasons for throwing a noise grenade?

    • Good comments, Wally. I think feedback problems are the main reason.

      Political worldviews do not have natural, direct feedback for being wrong. Ask these folks if they do their own plumbing, they’ll say no way. It’s not worth being wrong. They’d rather pay the professional and have it done right.

      But, many are content to not put their political views to the test. They’re too busy. But, they still like to push some buttons everyone now and again.

      They can get some positive feedback for affiliating with the people who they think are “cool” or share their values, like you mention in #2. It’s like deriding the away team at a sporting event.

      I think sometimes (very rarely) they are calling out for their worldview to be tested and that’s their immature way of doing it. I have some friends who ask me, “Why do you think that way?” when they want to know something. But, it seems not everyone has learned or feel comfortable with that simple and direct approach — so they try to start the conversation with noise.

      That’s why I think my approach is useful. If they are just looking to push my buttons or get cheers from like-minded folks, they lose footing when they don’t rattle my cage. When asked dispassionately if they’d like to engage and they choose not to, they look like the unreasonable one…so they just avoid that situation in the future.

      And, on the rare occasion that it is an immature cry for understanding, my approach diffuses the noise grenade and sets the stage for the productive exchange.

  2. Those who have trouble rationally defending their beliefs typically result to defending them using what we would call logical fallacies or other rhetorical devices or simply shutting off the debate. When we tune into the “news”, it’s typically slanted – one station has a right-wing bias while EVERY other main stream network has a left-wing bias. The biases aren’t necessarily the problem. The real problem – from the perspective of dealing with confirmation bias – occurs when, rather than arguing based on facts and logic, pundits resort to these rhetorical devices, logical fallacies or simply shutting off the debate.

    The “news” media is but one example. For most Americans, by the time they are old enough to bother watching the news, their political ideologies have already been formed. If we want to look at where these “noise grenades” have their most destructive effect, we need to consider when and where it is that most influenceable voting Americans (that is, Americans who are still in the process of forming their political beliefs and may be persuaded to change) are influenced by the right or the left and where they have the opportunity to hear both sides of the argument. that is the university.

    Sadly, it has been the “tolerant” (sarcasm intended) left that has succeeded in lobbing the majority of the noise grenades on college campuses. It is almost unheard of to have a conservative speaker at a university commencement. Additionally, it is commonplace – and almost an expectation – that liberal groups will either protest the engagement of a conservative speaker AT a university of interrupt (shut off the debate) a conservative speaker’s presentation. Similar acts by conservative students are virtually unheard of – and if they did occur would be dealt with by university administrations in a far different manner.

    Indeed, since the comparison of Paul Krugman versus Milton Friedman was recently addressed, one can follow the “debate” regarding Rogoff and Reinhart’s paper and Krugman’s resort to the aforementioned tactics (noise grenades) – as opposed to Friedman’s firm, yet polite style of debate that uses logic rather than insults and innuendo – and observe an example of rationed argument versus noise. Youtube contains many fine examples of Dr. Freidman’s verbal defenses of his positions.

    This is the link to Reinhart and Rogoff’s reply to Krugman’s noise filled criticism of their work:
    http://www.carmenreinhart.com/letter-to-pk/

    PS Wally – the term for what you described in your first is “confirmation bias.”

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