October 30, 2003

A Rough Algorithm...why internecine rivalries are always the worse

Level of my annoyance at being disagreed with =

((importance of the issue) + (view of how simple the issue is to grasp)) X (degree to which interlocutor 'should know better')
It may seem as though how simple something is to grasp and the degree to which your interlocutor should know better are the same, but many issues are complex only to someone who doesn't share your assumptions and or education.

Example 1: The Catholic who is "pro-choice" (i.e. pro-choice after pregnancy):
a) Importance of the issue: 1.3 million babies a year = 10 (on 1 to 10 scale)
b) View of Simplicity: a separate DNA exists within a mother's womb = 8? (10 for partial-birth abortion anyway)
c) Degree to which your opponent should know better: For a Catholic = 10

So for me the pro-abort Catholic = 180 on scale of 0-200.

Example 2:
Level of annoyance at a liberal Democrat disagreeing with me on tax policy:
a) Importance of the issue = 3 (taxes in a split Congress will not radically change either up or down)
b) View of Simplicity of the Issue = 5
c) Degree to which my opponent should know better = 1*

Hence, a mere 8.

The formula implies an 'annoyance parity' between importance of the issue and how simple it is to discern; this is a recognition of human nature as it exists rather than logical assertion. Even minor things tear at communities - seemingly minor things from an outsider's perspective. But what they miss is a) they are not minor to the community involved and that b)'they should know better' is off the charts within a community given common assumptions and level of education.

I've noticed that I am susceptible to the views of those I respect. For example, I may change my diagnosis of a sickness if a doctor tells me my view is false. Similarly, if someone shares my assumptions and faith but has a much firmer grasp of church teaching in a certain area, I'm liable to moderate my opinion. My view of the simplicity of the Terri case, for example, went from a "10" to a "5" after reading commentary by those who have studied the issue.

* -- Reasonable people can disagree at what point punitive tax levels inhibit production, for example, and to what degree lowered production levels might serve a greater good.

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