I said this on Facebook recently:
From now on, before I engage in any argument either online or off, I'm going to ask one question: "What evidence might it take for you to change your position?" I suspect that nine times out of ten I won't get an answer, or I'll get something patently ridiculous. I'll walk away, content to let the other person think they "won".
...and was immediately asked why I feel the need to win.
I put "win" in quotes for a reason. I should have put "argument" in quotes, too. Because what goes on on the internet these days is anything but argument: it's almost always just pointless screaming, ad hominem attacks, and piles and piles of logical fallacies. We desperately need a required course or two in rhetoric and critical thinking. It should, in fact, be the entire focus of school curricula. Critical thinking and empathy ought to be the whole purpose of an education -- the information is very much secondary.
What I was trying to say was that I'm content to let people think they "won" a game I refuse to play.
I will no longer engage with people who can't support their positions without those ad hominem attacks or logical fallacies. As Hitchens says, "that which can be asserted without evidence can be refuted without evidence". Or indeed, simply ignored.
Let's take one topic that is, for some ridiculous reason, extremely touchy: the Covid-19 vaccines. Obligatory blahblahblah: people who are allergic, or who have some other condition that contraindicates innoculation, you're not my target audience here.
I confess to a great deal of impatience with the vaccine-hesitant, at this late date. There have been over four billion shots administered worldwide, but let's use the Canadian numbers current as of August 6, 2021: 50, 204, 577 doses administered vs 12,006 reported adverse effects. Note that of those 12,006 adverse effects - a whopping 0.024% of all shots given - most of them aren't serious. The "serious side effects":
- Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (clotting, low platelet levels): 76 cases -- 56 of which involve AstraZeneca which isn't even given anymore, so 20 cases
- Myocarditis/pericarditis (inflammation of, respectively, the heart muscle and the heart lining): 607 cases
- Capillary leak: two cases, both AstraZeneca
- Guillain-Barré syndrome: 58 cases. Of these, 27 were AstraZeneca (0.96 cases per 100,000 doses); 22 were Pfizer-BioNtech (0.06 cases per 100,000 doses); 9 were Moderna (0.2 cases per 100,000 doses). The AZ number here IS actually higher than they expected, which is a big reason it's been pulled. But even that "high" number is infinitesimally low.