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The importance of critiquing bad ideas

(13 Posts)
thatbags Sun 14-Aug-16 07:38:50

One of the main challenges now facing liberalism is how to critique ideas while protecting people by Valerie Tarico.

A long read but worth it if you're interested in the difference between attacking ideas and attacking people.

Mumsy Sun 14-Aug-16 08:17:02

but is there really a difference? if someone comes up with an idea it is their idea, so by criticising their idea is surely criticising that person who came up with the idea in the first instance.

Its similar to someone posting on a forum, some posters attack the poster not what the poster has posted.

varian Sun 14-Aug-16 09:33:01

There is a big difference. It should be possible to debate ideas, to try to persuade by the power of argument and not by the irrational attack on the other person - ad hominem insults.

The article focusses on the power of religion, especially fundamentalist religion, to deny free speech and foster intolerence.

This is something we must resist. It is alarming that political movements such as nationalism engender an emotional response amongst supporters and discourage any criticism. This is a threat to liberal civilisation.

whitewave Sun 14-Aug-16 10:05:40

I haven't read the article, but as a thought. Ideas have been critiqued since the first idea ever. It is essential that they are critiqued, that is how progress is made. Critiquing the messenger doesn't make any sense.

There have always been movements/ belief systems that try to suppress thought/ideas badangry.

M0nica Sun 14-Aug-16 19:34:34

Any idea, good or bad, should be critiqued. It is very difficult to think of any idea put forward by one person alone that cannot be improved by the input of others.

There is nothing new or unusual about opponents of an idea, good or bad, using some aspect of the proponents personal life to condemn a whole group of people with whom they associate. Homosexuals, catholics, the Irish, Jews, 'foreigners', gypsies, the Masons, the groups attacked in this way are too numerous to mention.

In fact the author of this article having deplored the personalising of ideas to people, does a pretty good hatchet job herself on Christianity. hmm

obieone Sun 14-Aug-16 19:48:52

I agree M0nica.

trisher Sun 14-Aug-16 21:41:49

I thought it was an interesting article but rather obvious and that she chose to debate things which can be largely agreed upon. The real question about all religions, but of Islam in particular is why the fundamentalist ideas rooted in the 6th and 7th centuries should attract young people in the 21st century? It can of course be said that this provided young men with a means of punishing women, but then why are young women leaving for Syria and Isis? There is of course a similar development in fundamental Christianity. This sort of religion must fill some sort of gap in the human psyche, Until we can understand and deal with this it doesn't really matter if we criticise the ideas or the people, they are really not listening.

jinglbellsfrocks Sun 14-Aug-16 21:59:21

"recovery from religion" indeed! hmm

That way of talking puts me right off of trying to work out what the hell she's talking about.


M0nica Sun 14-Aug-16 22:10:20

I do not think we are talking of criticising these views, rather doing a critique of them so that we understand what their argument is so that we can enter into a dialogue building on the positives while probing the reasoning behind the negative aspects.

The attraction of fundamentalist religions of all persuasions is that they provide certainty in an inherently uncertain world. They usually attract those who struggle to cope in life or who feel that they have been abandoned by main stream society.

Looking specifically at the problems facing many young muslims. Many are living in ghettos, they live and socialise within their own world, often with parents who cling very closely to every aspect of their religion and culture as lived in their home countries.

It leaves many of these young people in a nomansland, lacking the social skills and culture to mix in a multicultural society, which they need to do if they are to fulfill their aspirations for careers and recognition. If they do take tentative steps into this more open world they than find they face hostility and prejudice.

Torn two ways and with all the hormonal turmoil caused by adolescence, The certainties of ISIL are attractive. Living in a land, they are told where they and their religion are in charge, gradually taking over the world that has treated them badly, given guns to play with, most teenage boys secret dream. Plus the certainty that if they die the afterworld offers them everything they have yet to attain on earth. It can seem very attractive.

Why girls are attracted to ISIL is less easy to understand, and there are fewer of them than boys - and many of the girls go as friendship groups. I think they possibly see themselves as a cross between Florence Nightingale and the pioneer women of the American west, following their man and working side by side with him while providing the secure background to incentivise the fighters. I must say that aspect does puzzle me.

M0nica Mon 15-Aug-16 08:59:36


I read this just before I read the item in the link above. It says it so much better than I did.

TriciaF Mon 15-Aug-16 18:54:21

It's an important issue, but I don't think the extreme views of most fundamentalists, Muslim, Jew or Christian, can be changed by logical argument. Only by, over time, each person's personal experience of the longterm effects of holding these views.
I've had experience of living with Jews with fairly extreme views, and although , Thank God, not advocating violence to those who think otherwise, they are very intransigent.
But many do, in time, take more moderate views.
There's a saying, 70 Jews, 70 opinions.

TriciaF Mon 15-Aug-16 19:23:12

ps Good post, M0nica, with many points I left out.

M0nica Tue 16-Aug-16 07:55:18

TriciaF, you are right about the immunity of fundamentalists to any kind of logical argument. I think the particularly religious or political tinge of fundamentalism is relatively unimportant and driven more by cultural background, either a desire to belong more or to distance more.

What needs to be understood are the factors that make fundamental beliefs, of any kind, so attractive to some people. I suspect that the factors that drive both Donald Trump and his most fervent followers and the ISIS leader and his acolytes to the extreme simplistic views they hold are inherently not that different.