From: Reed Konsler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sat 24 May 2003 - 08:21:05 GMT
Well, I still don't agree with you.
But, I've seldom observed two men getting into an argument and one saying to
the other "oh, yes I'm sorry, you're right. I must have been mistaken after
Men don't like asking for directions. We do like winning bets.
There is a deep biological imperative to appear right, to win. It is not so
important, biologically, to BE right. Agreement on what a best answer to a
question is benefits the group. Appearing to be right benefits the
Appearing to win makes a man feel like his status has been elevated.
Serotonin is released. He puffs out his chest and struts around. 'Who tha
MAN!" Appearing to be wrong leads to a drop in serotonin, sulking, and a
loss of interest. 'Oh, big deal.'
Alpha males win conflicts. He that wins the conflict is the Alpha male.
The Alpha male attracts more women and thus his genes are more successfully
replicated. This is why males are so incredibly compeditive.
Theories and stands are vehicles for competition. The truth of them, in the
heat of battle, is irrelevant. Once a man has locked horns he has to win,
or suffer the very real biochemical and social consequences of defeat.
Everything is bent to that purpose, to win.
At times in my past, I have found myself arguing positions passionately and,
quite suddenly, realizing that I was wrong. It was a terrible feeling
becuase I kept arguing but felt that, inevitably, the facts and logic of the
situation were going to defeat me.
This happened often with my father when I was a teenager. I wasn't much
different that a chimp, really. Hormones were raging and my desire to win,
to dominate, exploded. So I argued and argued. The thing I love about my
father was his incredible patience. He just talked to me in a calm tone of
voice. The more agitated I became the slower he spoke, and the simpler
language he used. He knew, instinctively, that I was loosing my grip on any
sort of logic or coherence and he changed his style to accomodate it.
The thing that frustrated me about my father is, he was so God Damn adamant.
He was even, and this was much worse, bemused. I entertained him. And he
wasn't going to let me out once I had started. He just talked calmer and
slower as I dissolved into irrational screaming. His mind just pressed down
on mine until every thread was crushed. It left me crying and shaking.
The thing I love about my father was that, when it was all over, he would
sit close to me and tell me that he loved me. He would tell me that I
shouldn't get so upset about something so unimportant. He never laughed at
me or lorded his victories. Once it was all over, he never reminded
me...not even in the course of the next argument we would have. He never
told me that I was stupid, just that, in this case, I was wrong.
What I find kind of satisfying, and what my father also finds satisfying, is
that we still argue. It's still fun for him. And, now that I have my own
home, family, and life...it's fun for me, too. We'll talk and talk.
The thing is, I've still never won a single argument. I've won a bet, sure.
But he has never, ever said to me "oh, yes I'm sorry, you're right. I must
have been mistaken after all." The best I've ever recieved is twenty
dollars and a "I'll get you next time" smile.
Of course, he doesn't win either. We eventually get distracted by food, or
need to go somewhere with our wives.
Men don't admit defeat.
What we do, secretly at night when no one is watching...we think about what
has been said. That is where 'truth' is made. Sometimes, it's even
subconscious...particularly if we adopt another's idea as a whole. If it's
secret, we never have to suffer the consequences of defeat.
The creation of truth, elegance, and complexity isn't a end in itself. It's
an expression of that same deep desire to win. It's an effect, not a cause.
We create better theories...we learn from other men...in order to have
better weapons to win the next argument.
Eventually, those secondary desires become detached from the biological
imperative that spawned them. We start to pursue victory as an end in
itself. We accept that serotonin high as the end reward instead of
recognizing it as an enticement offered by our genes.
We play to win.
There is absolutely no chance, based on this analysis, that I will agree
with you. There is absolutely no chance, based on this analysis, that you
will agree with me. It really doesn't matter what the truth is, or what
each of us would imagine the truth is if we weren't in the middle of the
So, I tell you what: three years from now we can find out where each of us
is on the issue. And, if we are as magnanimous as my father was with me,
then whichever one of us "won" won't point out to the fact to the other.
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