Some thoughts on fanatics and how to fight them.

This very wise crystallization of experience was shared by “Pointman” over five years ago. For you who have only experienced the exasperating arguments of Alarmists for a short while, it will be a balm. For those of us who have put up with their abuse for over a decade, it is a reminder of how tenacious an insurance salesman can be, even if their insurance is worthless. Alarmist’s vindicate the Englishman who came up with the doggeral: “No one’s got endurance like the bloke who sells insurance.”

Pointman's

I’ve always liked Churchill’s definition of a fanatic. “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” Once you get past the witty aspect of the definition, there’s a deep truth in it too. They simply can’t change their mind.

I’ve seen a lot of debates in the blogosphere, where earnest attempts to show a fanatic not just a line of reasoning but the publicly documented facts about something, have failed utterly. They were never going to listen or be persuaded; they can’t change their minds. It’s as simple as that. Rational dialogue with them aimed at somehow converting them to your viewpoint is a losing strategy because it’s a waste of your time and does absolutely nothing to stop them anyway

There is also an insidious danger to this sort of interaction with them; you start to get imprinted by them. If you’re not…

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