Discover more from Fighting Unreason With Reason
Can we really #FightUnreasonWithReason?
How will this strategy work if the target is irrational people?
I received a wonderful question from a reader of American Schism today, that gets at the thrust of the approach I am advocating in the campaign I started called #FightUnreasonWithReason to help heal our democratic republic.
Here is the question:
Do you really think unreason can be addressed with reason? In my brief experience, unreason or irrational behavior is one of the most difficult behaviors to interact with. When someone is being irrational, they are usually unwilling or even unable to listen to reason, logic and common sense. Typically, people acting irrationally have a deep immediate need they desire to be fulfilled or an urgent fear that needs to be alleviated. More than likely they will continue behaving irrationally until their need is fulfilled or their fear is alleviated. That seems to be their pressing priority vs. trying to form or grasp/listen to reason and rational dialogue.
And here is my answer:
I totally agree with you regarding the unlikelihood of convincing someone who is unreasonable to embrace reason as an argument. That approach will never work given the accuracy of your above observations. Or almost never.
But the gist of #FIghtUnreasonWithReason is quite different. In fact, the entire campaign does not at all focus on using reason to attempt to convince those who do not embrace reason. That would indeed be futile. But they are not the majority.
My research shows that 70% of Americans are in what I call the "frustrated majority," a group that recognizes that facts, problem solving, reason and compromise are required elements for successful public policy. And approx 30% are in the extremes that have largely abandoned reason. The problem is that the 70% feel silenced because the 30% minority shout louder and shout more often. They have the megaphone.
The key point of the campaign #FightUnreasonWithReason is not to try to argue or convince the 30% who have abandoned reason, but on the contrary to wake up the 70% in the frustrated and exhausted majority who believe that we can and must have a more productive dialogue. The campaign is a call to action for the more reasonable majority to take back the gavel.
Does this make sense to you? Would love to hear from you.
PS: If you haven’t yet picked up American Schism, the 2022 International Book Award for Best General Nonfiction, it is on sale here for $16 hardcover and $9 for kindle.