It's so frustrating (and sort of funny) to me when people can't engage in a difference of opinion. All my life we've always heard that we should never have discussions of politics or religion to avoid fights. I've always struggled with this because I have always enjoyed debates about differing opinions. I never get really angry when people have an opinion different than mine, but I won't back down from my opinion unless I arrive at a different view as the result of a debate with someone.
It's taken me years to realize that I think a bit differently than other people, and there are a small group of people who get what I am saying. I've grown accustomed to people getting defensive and acting as if I am crazy when I have a particular view. I thoroughly enjoy saying something that is contrary to what people have been told and have slurped up like obedient little sheep. It's always fascinating to me to watch how people react when something is stated that is entirely contrary to their belief system.
Thomas Kuhn addressed this topic in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It's been a while since I have read the book, but what I remember was Kuhn's discussion of peoples' intellectual paradigms, beliefs and ideologies. Kuhn discusses this idea through the lens of science, with certain "schools of thought" being so ingrained in us as a result of indoctrination by others who hold that view. Much of what we believe is taken for granted and we hold a "common sense" view of it.
Kuhn claims that scientific revolutions and changes in knowledge are characterized by a "series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions". Knowledge changes as a result of conflict as well as when other people point out "anomalies" in peoples' views or question assumptions that have been taken for granted. As a result of the conflict, a new understanding or Truth will emerge and "one conceptual world view is replaced by another".
Many years ago people were absolutely positive that they knew the Truth with a capital T when it came to the solar system. At the time, it was common knowledge that the Earth was the center of the solar system. When Copernicus came along and espoused the view that the Earth was NOT the center of the solar system, many people refused to accept his view. Copernicus was labeled as wacko, a heretic and his theory was denounced.
What was once labeled as a crazy idea is now taken as common knowledge. Maybe tomorrow we will find out that the sun isn't even the center of the solar system. Truth is never as it seems, and can be fluid and multidimensional. Most of us brilliant geniuses are already accustomed to having amazing and innovative ideas while other people call us crazy. It is what it is.
My ideas about the scientific revolution of ideas and knowledge is inspired by a recent debate that I had on twitter this morning. I saw something on television this morning where people stated that they would like to go to Haiti to help, but they were "afraid for their life". Because I don't believe everything I am told and like to interrogate an issue and question common knowledge, I posted the following comment on twitter:
Bothers me when news say ppl "fear for their life" to go to Haiti to help. Why? Is this another case of dehumanizing black people?
I also said:
That's the same thing people did with Katrina-made it seem like people were just running around randomly killing people.
I state this because of the longstanding tradition of dehumanizing black people by making them appear to be wild, violent savages. We saw this happening during the Katrina crisis, where the myths swirled that some black people were raping, killing and murdering aid workers and children. At the time, I can remember my racist mother saying, "These blacks are savages. They don't even deserve to be rescued". I told her that I didn't believe the rumors that I was hearing, and told her that I thought that it was the same type of dehumanization tactics that the Nazis used to dehumanize Jews by depicting them as rats in pictures. Or the same type of dehumanization of gays that occurred during the Prop 8 campaign (i.e., gay marriage) by anti-gay marriage proponents spreading tales of people getting beat up and attacked by gays when trying to put anti-gay marriage signs in the front yard.
I can go on and on about different types of dehumanization, que no? I don't know if this is what is happening in Haiti when comments are made that people are afraid for their life. I am not there and I do not see what is happening. I am merely posing a question and offering an alternative perspective. I am merely wondering if people make comments about being scared because of rumors that swirl perpetuated by ingrained racist beliefs. Did people have these same fears and rumors during the tsunami that hit Indonesia or the Samoan islands? Just asking.
And of course many people will think I am crazy, for reasons mentioned in my discussion on Thomas Kuhn. People will refuse to entertain what I am saying, because it might be entirely inconsistent with their paradigm. Go ahead and label me a heretic though, because I am firm in my questioning of these rumors.
After I posted that comment, a Latina female contacted me and here was our conversation:
Her: I'm in the med field and was offered to go and feared for my life so that is why I didn't go. Not about race.. about survival!
Me: but what are you fearing for your life for? What is the concern?
Her: So many have been threatened already. Alot of medical have been evacuated because of attacks on them. I have family too!
Her: Why haven't you offered your help or go? Easy to talk ,But not easy to step to the plate!
Me: I did call and they will only take people who can stay for six months or more. I can't stay six months.
Her: It is dangerous. I know info from military base here. Not all peach's & cream when U have some people making it hard to get help
Her: Already had some medical staff attacked and made to vacate
Me: the same sort of myths of danger of the ppl were overexaggerated when katrina happened
Her: I helped with Katrina and so did my hubby. So wasn't easy, But different circumstances. didnt have people trying to shoot me!
Me: BUT they were saying the same thing-people attacking, raping, etc and when you went you saw it wasn't true, right?
Me: you are different. other people might be spreading rumors without even knowing it
Her: look I will say this..I have connection in the med field that let me know what's up. I HAVE FACTS!Not Tv News!Major Difference!
Me: I am not criticizing you, I am criticizing the news who spread the myths that it is so dangerous.
Her: To each their own... Just get facts and not hearsay!
Me: you are not there, so you are hearing heresy from other people. practice what you preach sista.
Her: I'm not there but when I have inside scoop because I have medical in put I can state facts not bullshit like most!
Me: you do not have inside scoop. You are getting second hand information from other people.
Me: until you are there and see something with your own eyes, it is not a fact.
Me: nor is mine fact. I am hypothesizing whether they are rumors perpetuated by fear.
Me: Never said mine are facts. u are the one claiming the claim to the truth.I am questioning these "facts" until substantiated
Her: This conversation is going nowhere and I'm not gonna sit here and entertain you .. Go on with your babble and enjoy!
She then immediately unfollowed me after the conversation. Not that I care or anything, but I find it highly entertaining that people can't engage in productive debates because such exchanges lead to a deeper understanding of issues that we might normally take for granted.
Immediately after the conversation, I received a few direct messages on twitter, criticizing my conversation. Because these people didn't make their comments public on twitter, I will not write about their conversation in detail. The general idea about their comments was that a few people were perturbed that as a "dominant woman" I should have never talked shit to another "dominant woman".
If people think that the exchange that I outlined above was me "talking shit" then they have yet to see me give a verbal bitch slapping of epic proportions. You will find rare instances of me verbally bitch slapping another woman, however. Get a grip and recognize a debate about competing ideas of viewing a situation.
And this I will say: If anyone has a different view than my own and responds to something that I say, expect me to stick to my guns and engage in a dialogue about our differing opinions. If after a productive dialogue you make some excellent points then I will keep an open mind and enough mental flexibility to look at the topic from a new lens. I don't care if you are a liberal, conservative, man or woman-if you engage in a logical debate and can back up your shit without effectively peeing all over yourself then I might take into consideration what you have to say. If you are too intellectually deprived to engage in a logical debate and lack the mental acumen to look at things from a different perspective, then, uh, well, I don't know what to tell you.
I will NEVER be silenced and stand firm in my beliefs, whether they are heretical to the world or not. I suggest everyone else do the same.