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Beware the unimpressed older Irish woman with a keyboard, Internet access, copious spare time and who has already heard more than enough bullshit from fellas in her life already (see "Irish" above).

What terrible things have I engaged in recently? Why, I have whiled away the pleasant hours casting aspersions on people's genitalia!  As proof, I proffer the very accusation so that you may see for yourself:

"This doesn’t really answer my question, though. First of all, I didn’t say that it would make no difference TO KNOW ABOUT or TO HAVE EVIDENCE OF alien life; that is a totally separate claim that has nothing to do with my argument (which you might have noticed if you weren’t too busy casting aspersions on my genitalia). What I said – and I’m quoting myself here, since you apparently are incapable of even that basic action – was: “let’s say that we’re talking about THE POTENTIAL EXISTENCE OF sentient alien species on other planets – is that really something that is at all analyzable in terms of its effect on my day-to-day existence?” (caps added for emphasis) See? Not the same thing."

I won't go into the whole discussion, save to explain that I was making a general reply to another commenter in a discussion on another blog (which wasn't actually about the possible existence of alien life; that was just an example this person used).   I may indeed have been mean about manhoods and their metaphorical and symbolic (ab)use, but you know, I cannot find it in myself to regret it.  Let me tell you why.

This kicked off because of a post this young man made in which he makes the following statements in development of his point:

"humans are optimized for aggressive, raised-hackles, high-stakes reasoning", "human reasoning faculties are practically weaponized in their forms and functions", "In short, the evidence indicates overwhelmingly that we reason best when we reason competitively" and that " Asking us to reason with a constructive curiousness – to reason, that is, in a state of suspended disbelief or make-believe – is tantamount to asking us not to reason at all."

He clarifies in a further comment in reply to another commenter that "Charity is a flawed heuristic and I reject it openly."  (This is in regard to debate; I have no idea of his opinions on charity in other human interactions or indeed life as a whole).  Well, fine, then: to quote Hilaire Belloc, caritas non conturbat me, so let me answer a fool according to his folly.

Because I am so damn well sick and tired, fed-up to the back teeth, of the attitude expressed by that young man - I mean his discovery that "Hey!  If I talk really fast and really loud and steamroller over anyone else trying to make a point and be all aggressive and in-your-face, then I can win debates!"  Ah yes, I vaguely remember back when I was young and stupid, too.

But now I am old and cranky and I don't care a straw about your delicate sensibilities, and certainly not about this same old nonsense, where there is confusion between making a convincing argument and winning through boorishness.  You can bore your listeners into submission or piss them off enough to make them ragequit, but that is not the victory of obvious truth or superior wisdom, that is winning because all you care about is winning.

In short, I am sick, sore and sorry of this "who's got the biggest sausage stuffed down his trousers?" approach to debate or conversation or any attempt at discourse.  All too prevalent and easily visible all over the Internet, but not confined to there; it's in the media, politics, and all areas of public and private life.

Listen, if you be capable of instruction, and know that an argument is not the same thing as a quarrel.  The point is to convince your interlocutor through the rigour, sturdiness and elegance of the proposals you put forward and the conclusions you draw from them.  Thinking that "competitive reasoning" is the prime and only sincere method of reasoning leaves those of us not in possession of a
membrum virile and/or in possession of common courtesy and functioning manners unable to engage in reasoning at all, by your definition.

As further proof of my all-round baseness and malignity regarding the never-to-be sneered-at phallus, let me confess that I await with contemptible glee the moment when this young man gets a job, tries this style of discourse on a customer or superior, and gets smacked down so hard he bounces by his boss or the staff who have been in the workplace longer than him.  Because in the Real World, this attitude from a snotty-nosed brat does not fly - he won't find the flawed heuristic of charity too prevalent!  So that should make him happy, correct?

Oh, and apparently, I am also a WASP (or at the very least, in possession of "WASPy cultural presumptions").  Given that I am, as mentioned above, Irish and that he was lecturing me on making assumptions, the irony that he was himself assuming I am an American mainline Protestant (credit where it's due, he at least got the "white" part right)... well, what else should I expect from a competitive reasoner exercising his weaponized, optimized abilities?

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