“That’s Simplistic” Usually Not a Valid Argument

It’s interesting how people who don’t have an answer to your point often say, “It’s not that simple.”

That’s the answer I received to my comments in an earlier column about abortion. I asked the question as to why we don’t celebrate our births as the day of our conception, rather than our actual birthdates, if it’s true that life really begins at the moment of conception?

“It’s not that simple,” is the condescending reply.

OK, then. What did I leave out?

No answer is ever given, because the person making such a comment rarely has an answer. Their condescension is simply an attempt to stall, evade or intimidate.

Substitute the abortion issue with any other political or social issue — socialized medicine, for example — or substitute it with issues in business or everyday domestic life. The psychological-intellectual formula is the same.

When having a debate or disagreement in any context, I don’t want to hear, “That’s too simple.” I am always willing to hear something like, “I believe you’re leaving out something very important. This is what it is.”

And then I’m willing to listen. The thing I’m being told I left out might or might not change my conclusion. But I’m willing to listen.

This is how adults talk to one another, because this is how adults have to function in order to think.

With abortion, I honestly don’t understand the proof or basis for stating that life begins at conception, and therefore the “life” of a brand new fetus ought to be given the same protection as anyone who’s already born — age two days, two years, or age ninety-eight.

It doesn’t do anything to change my mind when you call me a “disgusting baby killer,” because all you’ve told me by this is that you don’t have an answer to my point, and so you’re resorting to calling me names. This makes you look weak, not myself. And, deeper than that, it reveals your actual weakness as evidenced by the lack of a calm, objective and provable point for your position. If you’re so sure you’re right, then prove it. There’s no need to attack when facts and logic are on your side.

I recognize that some people find an odd, neurotic reassurance in things not “being simple.” In the fog of complexity and the unknown, there is — in some — a wistful yearning for the unknowable. I think this explains the persistence of ancient falsehoods such as mystical supernaturalism and socialistic collectivism, even in the era of vast, sophisticated technology and (relatively speaking) unprecedented freedom in which we now live.

If there’s a dark side to human nature — the side that will ultimately destroy the human race, if it happens — it’s the allure of the unknown or the uncertain for its own sake.

It’s not the same as intellectual honesty. Intellectual honesty appropriately tells us, “I don’t have enough of the facts here for conclusive proof.” If you don’t have proof, then you don’t have proof and objectivity requires an acceptance of this fact. But this isn’t the same as attempting to shoot down proof, or an objective argument, with the basic attitude that, “None of us know anything and who are YOU to be certain of anything?”

Anyone who tries to shoot you down with this attitude has only revealed his or her deepest insecurities and (perceived) inability to cope with existence.

Just ignore such people. Their internal conflicts need not hold sway over your conclusions about anything.

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