Sunday, December 19, 2004

Other People Are So Stubborn!

Michael Kinsley is one of my favorite columnists. He seems to understand that he may not always be right and people who disagree with him may not be entirely stupid. That's unusual among pundits and bloggers alike, regardless of their political orientation. He writes about this in his column today, recounting what happened when he included the "blogosphere" in an invitation to refute him on an issue. What he says about bloggers is interesting, but I particularly like this:

If you're going to peddle opinions for a living, self-assurance is essential. If you don't have it, you need to bluff. People don't want to read a lot of "Oh dear, this is so terribly complicated, I just can't make up my poor little mind . . . ." Many's the pundit who has retired on full disability after developing a tragic tendency to see both sides of the issue.

He continues,

Like you, I'm sure, I try to be a good sport about the inexplicable fact that other people sometimes disagree with me. What other choice is there? The nonsense that other people think is often amazing and always disappointing -- but at this late date it's not really surprising, is it? And other people are disappointing in so many ways. What's one more? For all I know, you yourself may even disagree with me about this or that, and I may disagree with you about the other. It's everywhere.

And other people are so stubborn! Possibly unlike you, I actually get paid to try to convince people that I am right and they are wrong, and thank goodness I'm not paid on the basis of results. It's almost enough to make you consider the possibility that other people are right and you are wrong. Merely considering this possibility is therapeutic, if you don't make a habit of it.

But when you're sure of something to a mathematical certainty, everything changes. It becomes supremely irritating that other people continue to debate the issue as if there were some doubt. It is enraging that some people even act as if certainty belonged to the other side.

I completely agree with Mr. Kinsley. If you don't, then there's obviously something wrong with you....


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