Polite Discussion
Polite Discussion

So… a patient goes to the doctor and has some tests. What the doctor finds is unsettling: The patient has life threatening symptoms brought on by bad habits. Let’s say it is cancer and the doctor knows that the patient smokes cigarettes. The patient doesn’t necessarily have cancer yet, but all signs point to the fact that the patient will get the cancer if he does not stop smoking. Moreover, the patient has back problems that are aggravated by the smoking because of smoking. Furthermore, the patient has experienced mental confusion. The doctor knows that smoking lowers I.Q. an average of 10 points.

The doctor happens to know that the patient has a rather, shall we say, pragmatic belief system. What do you suppose the best way is for the doctor to address the issues with the patient? Perhaps a measured polite discussion presenting all the facts in a logical ordered way designed to sway such people as academics would serve?

Or should the doctor take a more strident approach?

If the doctor suggests that the patient might feel somewhat better if he stops smoking, will that be as effective as coming out and telling him that he is risking his life and chances are, that if he doesn’t die much sooner than he would otherwise, he will end up with painful chronic conditions that make it difficult for him to breathe, become somewhat stupid, have painful back pain and the chances are good that he may very well end up with a stroke and / or heart attack? Which works best, a doctor who doesn’t ruffle feathers or a Dr. Gregory House?

There was a day that I encountered a smoker at the bus shelter on my way home from work. He was smoking cigarettes directly beneath the no smoking sign. I pointed out the sign rather forcibly and argued with him that he should stop smoking. He was miffed. He said that he paid taxes and had every right to smoke where ever he pleased.

Months passed. I saw him again at a nearby bus stop. He wasn’t smoking. In fact, he told me that he hadn’t had a cigarette for 8 months. He was rather proud of his achievement. I must say, he looked a lot better.

Nervous man is smoking cigarette. Smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases.
Nervous man is smoking cigarette. Smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases.

Let’s step back a moment and consider this.

Those familiar with generations in the work place recognize the attitudes and properties of those disappearing denizens born during the early years of the 20th Century: They were oriented to highly structured hierarchical environments where a person earned respect before being given authority. Generally, those who were elders most experienced in a venue of particular expertise were prized among junior members.

Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers Millennials Generation X Y Z

Enter those born after 1945: The Baby Boomers.

Boomers are marked with the propensity to express their opinions. Some may look at the illustration above and conclude that since 1945 to the present there has been an evolution of generations in the work place, but all of them share this common feature: They all want to express their opinions — whether it is the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials or the so-called Generation Z (which suggests that they take naps in the afternoon), they all have a penchant for self-expression.

Social Media
Social Media delivers an almost inexhaustible supply of self-expression.

This self-expression has a particular form: They have their say and go their way — rather expecting that just by expressing their opinion, some how, magically, mystically, someone somewhere will work out the details and bring their vision to fruition in reality.

In the 1990s, the Clintons demonstrated how well it works to let the Boomers come and talk, offer their opinions and then go their way. The issue was health care. There were many stake holders, including, but not restricted to, the poor and indigent who could not afford health care, the middle class who needed to survive the escalating health costs, the rich who needed a social health plan to reduce their expenses so they could make more money and, of course, the insurance companies who needed a new way to gouge the public for health care to make excessive profits. There were also doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, schools and universities of medicine, clinics, hospitals — all needing a reform in health care. They all agreed to meet together. The results were all too predictable: The Boomers were satisfied to get their say and everyone else was frustrated because they could not achieve their goals. The Boomers expected something to come of it with the polite discussions and all. Nothing really did during that decade because, after all, polite discussions produce absolutely no results with people and organizations defending their own agendas.

What does work, though, is brute force.

Brute Force works best to persuade those who merely express their opinions
Brute Force works best to persuade those who merely express their opinions.

With the election of President Barack Obama to office and the dominance of the Democrats in Congress, the stage was set to force a new health care program on the people of the United States. It was “too important to let the people vote on it” and it was also too important for people to see the document before it was signed into law. The Democrats had been waiting since the 1990s and they had a plan. This also shows that you can win using Brute Force and a lot of devious planning and manipulating. This time, the Boomers did not come to have their say and go their way — the whole thing was forced on the Americans. And to this day, not everyone is certain what’s in the package for them… they have to wait until it is fully implemented. Of course, the insurance companies took advantage of all this and the health care coverage for a significant number of people skyrocketed and not a few were unable to afford the health care.

One thing is certain: Brute Force and the strident approach triumphs over ‘polite discussion’. With polite discussion, people may or may not listen, but they certainly won’t make any changes as a result. They will forget all the data presented to them and hold on to their original opinions. This can be seen clearly in each and every edition of The Journal, where people express diverse opinions in an insane chaotic advertising venue and then promptly forget anything that does not jibe with their prejudices.

consider the data or rely on emotion
consider the data or rely on emotion

People need to consider the approach of Herbert Armstrong: Did he broadcast programs of presenting material as ‘polite discussion’ or was he particularly strident? Those who came into the Radio Church of God in the 1960s or the Wordwide Church of God in the 1970s (and early 1980s) with Herbert Armstrong were not persuaded by ‘polite discussion’. Rather they were attracted by being challenged in their beliefs when Herbert Armstrong loudly proclaimed his truths of extremism.

Extremism is the standard fare of Armstrongism

Herbert Armstrong’s ideas and opinions were certainly well beyond one or two standard deviations from the norm. For the normal rational mind, the doctrine of British Israelism is a very strange proposition: That the United States and British Commonwealth are descendants from the lost tribes of Israel is preposterous. In fact, it is so preposterous that journalist Donna Kossy wrote that Herbert Armstrong was a kook in the third chapter of her book:

Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief
Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief

Donna Kossy put Herbert Armstrong in the company of many of those who were the target of her investigations into crackpotology, such as those who believe in pyramidology, men capable of having babies, Hitler alive and living in Antarctica, Dinosaurs created by Satan (actually believed by some people in Armstrongism today) and that the earth is flat (actually believed by some people in the Ronald Weinland group — Church of God, Preaching the Kingdom of God). Herbert Armstrong is just another of a collection of lunatics who believe such things as the earth is hollow (with people living in it, flying out the North Pole in flying saucers), UFOs are God’s Angels (or like Eric William King who founded Church of God Speaking to the Remnant, believes that UFOs are piloted by demons). Metaphysics, conspiracies and enigmas of all sorts are imagined by dingy people devoid of sanity.

The real loser is the one who only listens to what he wants to hear

These sorts of people have followers. Herbert Armstrong had around 140,000 followers and even though he is dead, tens of thousands still believe that he brought the truth to the world. He really didn’t. He was freaking nuts. However, he was convincing because he sounded positive, sincere and was strident. He manufactured answers to so many objections even though he was completely proven a false prophet of dozens of false prophecies, he was undereducated and he had virtually no empathy or compassion for others as would be expected of a minister of a so-called Christian religion. He was a fraud. He was a fake. But he carried it off by being loudly obstreperous and rising to the challenge of challenging people with his faulty reasoning and distorted perceptions.

Herbert Armstrong was a kook.

This is not a trivial challenge which can be ignored.

People are fools and fools will only listen to what they want to hear. Polite discussion won’t cut it because the Armstrongists are incorrigible. They will only consider changing under great duress.

The only thing that really works for over 90% of the Armstrongists is to be strident. They got into the mess they are in because Herbert Armstrong was strident and the only viable way to leave is to encounter strident opposition equal to or superior to the projected emotions that got them into Armstrongism in the first place.

The endless prophecies of the past 80 years have failed. It is high time to admit defeat and get a life.

Get a Life -- it's time to put it on your calendar
Get a Life — it’s time to put it on your calendar

Armstrongists are like mental patients with a variety of mental disorders: They have symptoms such as addictions, paranoia, delusions of grandeur, alcoholism and the leaders usually have narcissism and seem to have antisocial personality disorder.

British Israelism Mental Hospital where the patients run the place
British Israelism Mental Hospital where the patients run the place

Here at the Painful Truth we strive to assist in helping those addicted to the Armstrong British Israelism disorder. We have our work cut out for us, since those afflicted with the disorder are unaware that there is anything wrong with them. They think they are just fine. They resent our assistance and are very belligerent, believing that we are just plain wrong. They are in denial and use every excuse to subvert any attempt to treat them. They refute facts and data so they can remain in their comfortable delusions. Often, we must confront them. ‘Polite discussion’ just doesn’t work.

It’s a thankless job, but we take satisfaction in providing the tools that a few can escape the torment of their affliction.

Painful Truth Mental Health Specialists ready to assist
Painful Truth Mental Health Specialists ready to assist

4 Replies to “strident”

  1. Considering all things armstrong, the religion itself should be considered a mental disorder.
    People in the movement have cognitive biases (irrational judgement) and logical fallacies (errors in reasoning, ex.: logical argumentation deficiency such as circular arguments).

    The confirmation bias (found in any group think) has been described as ‘the in-group bias’, a manifestation of our human tribalistic tendencies. These people use arguments that favor what they believe such as preexisting beliefs or hypotheses on any given subject.

    What is remarkable about those who were members of the wcg, is that many worked their way through this maze and discovered the errors that led them astray. In the process they found freedom from those who exploited their mental weaknesses and further, many began to educate themselves for the betterment of themselves and their families. This is what we call ‘healing’. It is the beginning of personal freedom and a lifetime of objective thinking.

    Remember, this does not only apply to religion it applies over the whole spectrum of what we call human life. To get through this life one needs to think outside the box in order to think for themselves.

  2. “Armstrongists are like mental patients with a variety of mental disorders: They have symptoms such as addictions, paranoia, delusions of grandeur, alcoholism and the leaders usually have narcissism and seem to have antisocial personality disorder.”

    The whole movement attracts this type. Those with ‘antisocial personality disorder’ fits most of those I knew back in the day.

  3. PBS news recently had an interview with Robert Cialdini, about his book, Pre-Suasian. The author explained how, for example, making an opening remark like, “Why did you choose me to be interviewed?” may set off, in the interviewer’s mind, a chain of thoughts on positive qualities in the candidate.
    Typical “Plain Truth style” was to ask a question about a fringe topic in such a way to get one to think, “I never really thought of that before”. Of course, the answer is supplied and the reader content that this matter is resolved. It was assumed that one who gets you to ask yourself a question can provide you with the answer.
    Haven’t you always wanted to know that?

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