caro thinks

that you should sort by topic

date 2001-04-18:17:11
fallacies The Appeal to Schizophrenia: Insult your opponent. Become a moving target, darting from one topic or area to another. Ascribe a variety of hateful motives in each area to your opponent, creating increasingly interesting and comical insults as you go along. Desired Effect: Your opponent will be so offended and so convinced of your irrationality that he or she will feel that it is no longer necessary or possible to respond, at which point you can use the final blow: the Appeal to Non-Opposition, or 'Qui ne dit pas, consent' Strategy.

Failing to obtain the Desired Effect, an almost-equally satisfying result would be to have the opponent chase you around to all the topics, attempting to deny or rebut the unsupported claims in each area. Comedy ensues as your opponent expresses outrage and demands apologies, and you explain how irrational and overly-emotional he or she is being, pointing out that Serious, Intelligent Thinkers insult each other all the time and no one minds, and then flit off to the next topic.

Strategic hint: Be sure to maintain at least a thin thread of tangential connection between the topics. For example, don't dart directly from "Pornography is Man's right, so you're a piss-ant voodoo mumbo-jumbo tribal oppressor-victim-mentality aardvark of a sniveling bleeding-heart liberal femi-nazi" to "Elephants should be kept in small cages, so you're an envirofreak commie".

Instead, move from "Pornography is Man's right, so you're a piss-ant voodoo mumbo-jumbo tribal oppressor-victim-mentality aardvark of a sniveling bleeding-heart liberal femi-nazi" to "And furthermore, contrary to your obvious hidden premises, there's nothing wrong with elephants having sex in any manner or position that they choose and selling videos of it if they want to, which brings us 'round again, full circle, to your absurd whiney complaints about sado-masochism being a problem because as we can plainly see all kinds of mammals, including humans and elephants, enjoy having sex in cages. Haven't you ever been to the zoo, little Miss (or Mister) Marx?" This leads quite naturally into insults about the person's envirofreakish-communism and lack of scholarship.

Sometimes it isn't so easy to maintain this kind of tight integration via ideas alone. In a pinch, you can just repeat in your conclusion one of the words you used in your premise; to maintain your opponent's interest, let the word be one of the more damning insults. This is called "distributing the terms" and is easily sketched in a Venn diagram should your opponent raise any awkward objections about relevance.
on being a woman Interviewed three Women today, as I ran into them. Each time I began the interview with, "Can I ask you a personal question?" First, H, 27 approx. She's been married several years, one six-month-old daughter. We don't talk often, but whenever we do, I'm behaving like this, so H's not surprised, and she says "Sure!"

Caro: Would you have married J if he wasn't making a lot of money? [note: I don't know how much J makes, but he's an engineer]

H: [laughing] When we started going out he was making $7/hr. In fact, I was dating a guy at the time who had a lot of money and his own house. I didn't even consider J, because I was 22 and he was 20, and at the time that seemed like a huge difference. He was just this little kid! But I had a lot more fun hanging around with him that I did with the guy I was dating. So I broke up with him. So, yes.

Caro: Do you know anyone who chose to date or marry a man on the basis of how much money he was making?

H: [pondering the sky] Nooo... Well, I tell my sister her boyfriend doesn't seem right for her because he tends to be irresponsible [late for or skipping appointments, e.g.]. But she keeps saying he must be OK because he owns his own house.

Caro: So is it that he has enough money to buy the house, or that he must be responsible, despite the evidence, because he has house?

H: He must be responsible because he has a house.

Caro: What about your mother, or your grandmother?

H: All the women in my family have always worked. So I don't think it was an issue for them.

Caro: I've been having a discussion online, and some people seem to be indicating that they've run into women who rejected them because they weren't making enough money. I wonder where they could be meeting such people.

H: [contemptuously] Nightclubs!

Caro: Or maybe personals ads, such as ones that say other shallow things like, "Like long walks on the beach, dinner, and wine."

H: I think these people just don't want to wait. You don't find people like that at nightclubs. J and I were friends first, then we started going out.

Next, M. M is a new doctor, 31, married several years to T, no kids.

Caro: Would you have stopped seeing T, if you didn't think he was going to make good money?

M: [eyes wide] NO! I LOVE him!

Caro: I mean, what if, while you were dating, he had said suddenly, "You know, I changed my mind. I don't want to become an engineer. I want to teach English in college and make $10,000 a year. Would you have dumped him?"

M: No. That wouldn't have been important. But I think I was probably attracted to him because he's that engineer-type. I don't think I would have done very well, given my personality, with an artist, or an actor. Too many ups and downs. Too unstable.

Caro: Do you know anybody would have decided against a boyfriend on the basis of how much he was making?

M: I can't think of any cases.

[At this point, a neighbor, A, stops by M's open door. I have only met the poor woman once before, but what the heck. A is 33]

Caro: [to M] Should I ask her too?

M: Absolutely! [explains to A:] She does this sort of thing. She has a Ph.D. in philosophy.

A: Oh, OK!

Caro: I have a personal question that's none of my business. You don't have to answer. First, do you date men?

A: Yes.

Caro: Would you refuse to date someone, or would you stop dating someone, because he wasn't making a certain amount of money?

A: It would depend on why. I wouldn't be interested in someone who just wanted to surf all day, and maybe wait tables once in a while to get by. I guess I'm interested in his having more ambition than that. But no dollar figure, no.

Caro: What do you do?

A: [holding several business suits; just back from the cleaner's] I work in development at the Salk Institute. [translation: she's a professional and makes good money]

Caro: Do you know anyone who makes their decisions regarding men on the basis of how much they make?

A: I put myself through college by working at a department store. There were women there would wouldn't date a man who didn't have a certain kind of car or wasn't in college. But they weren't educated; I think it was because they didn't have those things, that they wanted the man to have them. It seems like the more educated you are, the less those kinds of things matter.

Caro: What about your mother?

A: My parents understood that my mother would stay home with the kids and do everything else, and my dad would make the money. I think it was probably important to her to know that he was a steady person and that if they needed more money for the family he would do what he had to to get it. But that was their arrangement, and the work of the family was equally divided between them.

Caro: I ask because I've been having this conversation on a web forum with a bunch of libertarian/objectivist types. As soon as the Personals section opened, they started talking about the fact that it would be difficult to get women signed on, since most of the people there are intj and interested in abstract ideas, whereas women don't enjoy that sort of discussion.

A: And these are supposed to be intelligent men? [everyone laughs]

Caro: I assume they must have run into some women who rejected them on the basis of their not making "six figures", as one of them said. I wonder where they're getting this idea.

M: [derisively] Television!

Talking to Tom on the phone last night.

Caro: Have you ever about any women you know rejecting men because they weren't making enough money?

Tom: Ever read a bodice-ripper? A Harlequin Romance?

Caro: No.

Tom: I've read three or so. They're all about the fantasy of a powerful male coming to solve all of the woman's problems.

Caro: And that's supposed to be because of his income?

Tom: No, it's the powerful male who can do anything. There must be a market for the books, because they sell, and they're very formulaic; the bodice-ripping sex scene is on page 149. So there must be a lot of women who dream of a man who will solve all their problems. Maybe the books are creating the dream, or the dream sells because that's what they want.

Caro: There are other ways to interpret the popularity of those books. The people I've known who read that sort of book are very practical, down-to-earth people. They want to fantasize, but they're not interested in science fiction or fantasy; they want to read about "real human beings". Nevertheless, it's a fantasy. They believe in magic, in the idea that something will magically come and save them. But they are still reading about human beings, not elves, so it seems more sensible.
Today, T and G, also residents here. G is 66, T is 65.

Caro: You've both been married before this. Have any of your decisions to get married had anything to do with the man's earning potential?

T: [snicker]

G: No, not at all. The most important thing is being able to talk to the person and feeling comfortable with him. We're very good like that. He doesn't like as many intellectual things as I do--he only has a 7th-grade education, and I finished high school; I read books and I watch informative tv, and he likes junk. But other than that we can talk to each other. [She and he both go on for some time about this factor of relationships.]

T: You can't do it the way people try to do things today, going to bed the first time they meet. It takes time. You have to get to know somebody. People don't want to do that anymore.

Caro: What about your parents?

G: My mother was 16 when she married my father, who was 33 and decided he wanted a young wife and my grandmother was a pushover so he won. He was very domineering. But that's what women did in those days.

T: Women couldn't just get jobs; they had to marry a man.

Caro: How about your friends and relatives your age--do any of those women reject men on the basis of income, or have any of the men told you that some woman wouldn't go out with them because he wasn't making enough money?

G: I can't think of any.

T: No. Well, what about L! [they both laugh]

Caro: She chose a husband on that basis?

T: She didn't marry 'em; she used 'em! She always made plenty of money herself, but she wanted them to make money so they could spend on her. Then she'd dump 'em. But she went both ways: she'd take a man or a woman and she treated 'em both the same.

G: She treated all her employees bad too, and borrowed money from her friends and didn't repay them. She'd go to bars and pick up men.

T: Or women!

Caro: So she met them at bars? Did she check out what they were wearing to see how much they might be making?

G: Or what kind of car they drove.

T: How much they spent on her in the bar!

[now ensues an extended series of tag-team stories regarding the woman's generally psychotic behavior]

Caro: So this is pretty much the only one you know--what about your children?

T & G: No.

G: In fact, my daughter has children by two different husbands who don't pay child support, and she doesn't care; she just pays for it all herself and never goes after them.

Caro: Well, people I've been talking to seem to think that men don't get to have sex until they prove their earning potential to women. Where do you think they are getting this idea?

G: I'm sure there must be people like that. Bars, probably.

T: Communication. That's what's important. And nowadays it takes TWO people to earn a living; it's hard for somebody to make it on their own.

Caro: Don't I know it.

Just after my conversation with them, my dear pooky Lizzy, 41, calls with some news. I think I already know her own answer to this question; I've known her for 10 years and she's my best friend. But I've only asked whitish Americans so far; she's American-born Chinese, her parents are immigrants [her mother calls her 'eeLEETsabett'], and she has lots of Asian friends, many of whom are foreigners, so maybe I'll get a different perspective from her. She and her man S are business partners.

Elizabeth: Well, it tends to be an indication of what the rest of the person is like. F [an old boyfriend] didn't make any money, and that was on principle, and he was never going to make any money. But his overall ambition was low, and it affected all areas of his life. It's more on the basis of that kind of thing that I'd reject someone as a possibility. It's not the money.

Caro: Why did your parents get married?

Lizard: Oh, I think they had similar educational backgrounds, and they were pretty young, and they were both attractive people--I don't think it was much deeper than that, really.

Caro: Was it money?

Lizzybear: My father was going to make good money as an engineer, but my mother had a science education too and she was working. I think it was just that there was a male and a female there, you know, and they didn't think too hard about it.

Caro: Your sisters?

Blizzard: D's boyfriend makes money now, but he didn't always. And C's husband isn't ever going to, probably, and C has started law school so she can make the money. What're all these questions about?

Caro: I'm trying to find the women who are supposedly choosing their mates on the basis of proven earning capacity. I've been talking to some people who are citing statistics.

Lizzups: Oh. Well, S says that at Walmart he overhears women talking about things like that sometimes; they all turn their heads to look when a handsome man walks in and they whisper. But they don't have any education. They're probably looking for a way up in the world. I'm sure there must be women like that; you hear about it all the time.

Caro: You hear this from friends? Or in books?

Eliza: I don't want to say I just saw it on tv or in books. It seems like I've heard it, maybe not from my friends. But from acquaintances, or someone who knows someone. I can't really say. There must be some because I hear about it. I don't think it's very important to most people, though. Most women seem to want someone they can talk to. Women used to have to do that; it was the way they made their living.

Caro: It seems like even then, it wasn't because that was their choice, but because they had to. That's why novels like Pride and Prejudice were written.

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