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There is not anything in regards to debating an issue that bothers me more than the use of conjecture. Today, conjecture is the tool of those who don't have the facts behind them thus they use anecdotes and presupposition to make a point that appeals to the emotional and irrational beliefs of those who already think like them. Examples of this can be found across the board, regardless of the issue there is always those who argue using absolutely nothing but conjecture. Conjecture not only manifest as anecdotes and presuppositions, it also manifest as ideas drawn from ones own experience via actual human interaction or the media. For instance a middle class white person who interactions with Black folk is none-existent but he or she hold beliefs about Black people rooted in racist imagery that does not reflect the reality of Black folk and is mostly drawn from their own biases and affinities to believe negative things about Black men and women. Like white folk who believe Black men and women are lazy. The idea that we are lazy is not rooted in historical facts or contemporary realities; it is rooted in historical and contemporary racist ideology engineered to appear as facts.

You will also find those who use conjecture saying things like Poor people choose to be poor because if they really wanted a job they can find one. To qualify this they will say look in your local paper there are tons of jobs or one can always get a job at McDonalds. Then they will give a few examples that are mostly unique to the situation they are talking about but have no place in reality when extrapolated out and applied to the masses. An example of this can be found in the panhandlers thread on this forum wherein Rowe commented that those of us who believe the homeless are homeless because they can't find a job are naive, and to qualify this statement she says that there are people who will pay other men and women to hand out flyers to advertise their business or night clubs and to do so require no education, or presentable appearance. This is Bullshit but again because it offers up anecdotal evidence it appears to make sense but when dissected the bullshit rises to the top. Any ideas that a homeless man or woman can get off the street by passing out flyers or advertisements thus making enough money to pay rent anywhere in the continental U.S is conjecture, because it ignores all other realities of that persons life not to mention the cost of living and the fact that no one will pay a homeless person who has not bathed, does not have any clean clothes to hand out flyers representing their business.

The worst and most used form of conjecture is when people offer themselves up as the means by which certain realities should be measured. These individuals can be found saying, that if I or this person can do it, so can everyone else as if we all have the same tolerance level and we all have the same breaking points. One's tolerance level and breaking point is established through their life experiences and because of that each one of us have different levels of each. There are things those of you reading this will tolerate to no end where as I might snap within five minutes of seeing it or it happening to me based on my life experience.

This little tirade of mine stems from a debate I had last night with a conservative white male who could not address the facts of what I was saying and the eerie resemblance between what he was saying and what Rowe wrote in the panhandlers thread. His argument was that Poor people choose to be poor albeit he knows very few poor people, he still believes poor people choose to be poor. Unfortunately for him he suffers from kidney failure and has dialysis three times a week. Of course I said to him he chose to suffer from Kidney failure by going camping and getting bit by a bug and not having that bite looked at for a few weeks. When I said this to him, I believe the ridiculousness of his argument that poor people choose to be poor finally dawned on him because it is clear that he did not choose to have kidney failure but circumstances in life led to him having kidney failure and while the circumstances that led to his kidney failure were under his control, Kidney failure is still his reality. Surely he can change his condition much like the homeless and unemployed, but first he has to find a match, in the same way a man or woman looking for a job and homeless need to find a job that match their skills, then the person he finds that is a match must be willing to give him one of their kidneys, you know the same way the unemployed and homeless person must rely on someone else to give him a job and finally he must have the means to pay for the procedure similar to how the unemployed and homeless man must be able to afford clothing and transportation to their job.

Even so, both of them still chose to be as they are, homeless and suffering from Kidney failure. The facts surrounding their condition don't support believing this about them but through the use of conjecture, anecdotes and presuppositions about their conditions the irrational will argue to no end that their condition is a choice.
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There are Negroes who will never fight for freedom. There are Negroes who will seek profit for themselves from the struggle. There are even some Negroes who will cooperate with the oppressors. The hammer blows of discrimination, poverty, and segregation must warp and corrupt some. No one can pretend that because a people may be oppressed, every individual member is virtuous and worthy. Martin Luther King

More to come later! Your Brother Faheem
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quote:
Originally posted by Faheem:
This little tirade of mine stems from a debate I had last night with a conservative white male who could not address the facts of what I was saying and the eerie resemblance between what he was saying and what Rowe wrote in the panhandlers thread. His argument was that Poor people choose to be poor albeit he knows very few poor people, he still believes poor people choose to be poor.


I thought the discussion started by MBM was about panhandlers (beggars), not the poor. There are plenty of poor people who don't panhandle. I work with a lot of teachers who are poor. Like most Americans, they live pay check to pay check, yet they don't panhandle. And unlike the person with whom you had a discussion last night, I've clearly described what I believe the situation is for many of today's panhandlers. I believe the majority of today's panhandlers are suffering from various mental ailments and addictions. They are not out there, however, simply because they are "poor." What some of these folks really need is long-term care and rehabilitation, not short-term fixes that ultimately thwarts their motivation to seek help. And giving spare change in order temporarily pacify one's guilt for having better circumstances is not going to change this.

And before you question me about how many beggars I know, I don't feel comfortable airing out my family's dirty laudry, but I will tell you that five of my uncles were homeless. All of them suffered from severe alcoholism, spending most of their adult lives living in and out of homeless shelters and in the homes of various women. All of them are now dead, except for one, who from time to time, sells newspapers to people waiting in traffic. I see my uncle sometimes when I'm traveling in D.C., and I don't stop to give him money.
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Panhandlers are poor just like your teacher friends, except your teacher friends are the working poor and panhandlers are the out of work poor. The reason why I mentioned what you wrote was because I believe it was written from the same elitist mind set that the white boy spoke from when he said the poor are poor because they choose to be poor. You stated "So if you think people are asking for money because they're poor and can't find a job, you're niave." You supported this statement by noting that these poor panhandlers could get a job that require little education and does not require them to be presentable. However when this belief of yours is put under the microscope we see that it is nothing more than conjecture meaning the facts don't support your beliefs. You know as I noted in my post above that no businesses will hire anyone that have not bathed, and have filthy attire to pass out flyers or advertisements for their business.

Conjecture is an enemy to real debate.
quote:
Originally posted by Faheem:
You know as I noted in my post above that no businesses will hire anyone that have not bathed, and have filthy attire to pass out flyers or advertisements for their business.


Exactly! Oh my goodness, how many times do I have to say this. If begging is simply about "getting lots of dough," then for a sane person, deciding to become a beggar is one of the dumbest decisions that you'll ever make. Not only won't you make a lot of money begging, it will take you a long time to earn enough to claim a liveable wage. THEREFORE, BEGGING IS NOT SIMPLY ABOUT BEING POOR AND GETTING MONEY! More than likely, beggars have other problems with which to deal, untreated problems that have accumulated over time. Can we at least reach an agreement on that point?

Dude who passes out flyers or works at a local restaurant = a person who is interested in earning a liveable wage

Dude who begs = Isn't concerned about "wages," "increasing salary," or "resumes;" lives day-to-day; could possibly have mental illnesses and/or addiction
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quote:
Conjecture is an enemy to real debate.


Debating isn't about cold hard facts and cold hard logic. Debating is about manipulating the audience. That is why the palefaces are into rhetoric, oratory and sophistry. When cold hard facts and cold hard logic lead to obvious conclusions that people don't like it goes out the window. It becomes a matter of bullsh!tting people.

umbra
Faheem,
Excellent post. tfro

umbrarchist
Unfortunately, you are also on point with your observation. There was a story on CNN and the NY Times this week about the debate team at Liberty University, Jerry Falwell's university. Evidently, they have a huge debate program that has a national reputation. Most of these students are also looking to go to law school, which they also have a Liberty. Basically, this is their strategy for winning the so-called culture war.

They are unabashedly ideologically driven by the agenda of the Christian right. The reported asked them questions about Roe v. Wade and they all wanted to see it overturned. I could see them taking the same position with respect to any number of positions whether it be same-sex marriage, global warming, or international treaties that effect foreign policy.

The thought of these folks being in our legislatures or our courts scares the bejeezus out of me.

But it also raises a question for me as to how best to combat or respond to such a threat?

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