Is it attacking a person to question their beliefs? | INFJ Forum

Is it attacking a person to question their beliefs?

Discussion in 'Relationships and Sociology' started by Satya, Nov 17, 2009.

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  1. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    Since this seems to be a constant theme in both political and religious discussions, I figured it might be interesting to address it directly. Is it an attack of a person to question a person's beliefs or views? Why do some people feel that asking questions which challenge a person to defend their views is considered an attack of that person?

    I'm perfectly open to any questions. There is a thread entitled, "Ask a Gay" in which a person can ask any question of me to force me to defend my beliefs in regards to my sexual orientation. I welcome it. Even if I found the question to be offensive and ill informed, then I would see it as an opportunity to demonstrate such by answering with strong evidence and reasoning.

    I think people are just afraid of having views which aren't supported by anything but their personal opinion, rationalization, or faith being exposed to the scrutiny of reason. Of course, that could just be me. What are your thoughts? I would prefer not to bring any specific threads into this discussion, I'm simply inquiring from a broad sense.
     
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  2. sassafras

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    In a word, no, but some people have a pretty interesting way of presenting their questions; sometimes some of the questions in these "Ask a....." are absolutely absurd or tongue-in-cheek in nature. Text isn't as black and white some people think. Especially when you're able to take the full post or commentary in context.

    The other thing to consider is that some topics of discussion are more controversial then others; depending on the social situation, some topics are more socially accepted (that doesn't mean morally acceptable) to be either mocked or criticized, while others are "no-man's land." There's a lot of social psychology that is working behind the scenes. Especially once individual prejudices start filtering in the text on the screen; it's difficult not to feel cornered... especially when you're defending a belief that you're aware isn't popular with other people.

    So if you're questioning beliefs, or reasoning, go ahead. But do it tactfully and don't ignore the important factor of human psychology. That itself isn't a rational science, can't be held up against any sort of logical scrutiny, but damn, it makes the world what it is today.
     
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  3. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    If someone says "Can you please not question my beliefs" and then you keep on doing it then maybe. People can ask me whatever though and I'm more than happy to say I don't know or "just because".
     
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  4. VH

    VH Variable Hybrid

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    Only if the person is so overly sensitive that they cannot handle the fact that someone appears to disagree with something they believe... in which case, it's still not your problem.
     
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  5. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Permanent Fixture

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    I think its a question of whether you actually want to understand their beliefs or whether you are trying to foist (or 'convince' them to adopt your beliefs). People tend to reject (or at least not immediately agree with) anything which directly conflicts with their worldview, I know that I sometimes need time to process something which conflicts with what I already think I know. So it could be considered an attack, depending on the person and the objective you are trying to accomplish.
     
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    #5 Zero Angel, Nov 17, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2009
  6. IndigoSensor

    IndigoSensor Product Obtained
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    It is an attack if the intention of the questioner is of that. Of course, there is no way to tell if that is the case or not. For the most part, I would say no. I see it as becoming an attack when one says that the persons beleifs are wrong, or it is heavily implied that it is wrong. It is also on the others persons hands too, in the sense if they can take critizism and questioning well.
     
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  7. Tamagochi

    Tamagochi Sushi Destroyer
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    This. Also some questions can be loaded. One thing is to ask: what do you think about Christianity? Quite another: why do you support a religion that has organized Holy Wars and killed people? Because there is an assumption in the second one that religion that is connected with killings cannot be good.

    Forcing your own assumptions on other people I consider an attack.
     
  8. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    As long as they are still alive and able to speak, the torture is fine. They'll confess, trust me!

    Blind people must be bullied and called dummies until they admit they can see what you see. Sigh, what else can you do, some people just need to be helped out of their irrational misery...

    /cynical_mode = 0;

    Mentioning torture...: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5G7MOHZp48 . I'm afraid those with stronger will can "prove" anything to the others, can make the others agree, can make them change their beliefs for real - and that still won't mean a thing. Thus the notion of "free will" is a little artificial, and its validity is questionable.

    About beliefs - all people "believe" what they percept in one way or another. Nothing more. To question each other's beliefs is to question each other's perception system, which is in many cases useless.

    In my opinion, the best approach is to just demonstrate new data to people, which you hope they percept correctly and can help them update their beliefs. Usually, some clarification / adaptation is a must, since the other side may not be able to interpret the data. To go further is often pointless.

    And remember, if someone can't back up their opinion rationally, that doesn't mean it's false. Inability to prove a claim doesn't make the claim incorrect. It usually means the other person's method of reasoning is very different from yours. Your dog can't prove to you that your neighbour has drugs stored at home; it just smells it and you don't. Which also doesn't mean your dog is correct all the time, because such a level of sensitivity creates so many more distracting inputs, invisible to you.
     
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    #8 enfp can be shy, Nov 17, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2009
  9. sookie

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    I think that questioning is not necessarily an attack. I think you ask a very profound question. I can only speak from my perspective in the US and what it seems to be like here. I would be curious if the answer differs depending on the country and the culture. I think it is an attack if the person, first is not listening to what the other person is saying. They take what is said out of context. They relentlessly try to discredit you. That is what I think of as an attack.
     
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  10. Raccoon Love

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    No, but only to a certain extent, you can question beliefs as long as it does not lead to major conflict which can lead to verbal/physical abuses. There's always a line to how critical we can be and we have to take into account other factors such as the other person's sensitivity. Some people word questions in a way that's different, to confuse them, make them trip and then make them feel bad, I do not think that's right, if you can for a paragraph out of a question then you probably know it and just trying to start a debate in which if the person has not asked for a debate then it should not start in the first place. Most likely you have your own opinion on this question but want to spark something up because these different beliefs are so different, but as humans we will never agree completely with each other so it's best to let it go....
     
  11. Moxie

    Moxie Absent-Minded Professor

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    I think... that not everyone is capable of debate. It seems to me that most people hold onto their beliefs firmly, and are angry or defensive at being challenged.

    Most people on this site do not seem to be like this--but in the general world, it definitely is. I've always wondered about this myself. Why do people think so much in terms of black and white and ignore the myriad shades of gray in between?

    Why do people hold so tightly to their views, that any differing view is considered a challenge to them?

    I just don't even try with those people - there's no sense upsetting them, and really I have no need to try to open their eyes. I just look for more compatible people.
     
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  12. Architectonic

    Architectonic Regular Poster

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    Well besides considering the intentions of the 'attacker', which has already been mentioned by others. The other reason is that some people perceive it as the suggestion that they were not competent enough to select a useful (or true) worldview.
     
  13. Solar Empath

    Solar Empath Community Member

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    Because they base their personal value on the 'truth' of those beliefs, and to shake that foundation is an attack on their personal worth.
    This is always true as well of course. It's an attack if you are attacking. :)
     
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    #13 Solar Empath, Nov 17, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2009
  14. sookie

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    Moxie this is so true. I also think that sometimes people use debate as an agenda. This changes the dynamic.
     
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  15. Wyst

    Wyst Are you there?

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    I think some people are more comfortable taking a stand for things they feel strongly about. Now, what it is they feel strongly about and what it is they are willing to withstand or defend their belief on will vary, no?

    Honestly, I couldn't give a rat's rump about politics. I really don't have a preference to the right or to the left. Both sides have pros and cons. But I haven't researched (and have no desire to research) and think out my political beliefs.

    Coffee, however must always be drunk black. Period. I will fight you on this until the cows come home. You may not like my argument but because I believe in my arguement, I will argue until I'm blue in the face.

    So what Satya said at the top of his post is pretty close. I would add to it, however, that the fact that those that decide to take up the debate (or arguement) are generally confident in their ability to debate/argue on the topic.

    Think of it like the different belts in karate. A second degree black belt is going to trounce a yellow belt. It comes down to who has more skill. A black belt will happily spar with a yellow belt but a yellow belt may be very quick to give up or become very defensive early into the sparring session.

    Here's a couple of thoughts:
    1) Is it wrong for the yellow belt to become defensive once they realize they're in over their head?
    2) Do you think they should never have started sparring with a black belt?
    3) Knowing they are more skilled than the yellow belt, how should the black belt conduct themselves once the yellow belt becomes defensive and perhaps bows out of the spar?

    I would hope that both the yellow belt and black belt would treat each other with respect, be gracious to each other, and strive to both make no offense and to take no offense.
     
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  16. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    I generally can intuit if people are attacking or making a genuine inquiry or searching for dialogue. That said, religion (or spirituality) is a complex topic and many of the nuances come only through experience. Things are not always linear in the world of religion...lots of paradoxes. Add to this the exoteric dimensions which are apparent to all (and occasionally quite bizarre) are far more familiar to most than the more esoteric, inner dimensions which are often at the heart of religious practice and have many, many integrated layers. Another twist...many people nowadays who do believe are operating with very primary intellectual material to deal with...debates are uncomfortable. Religious cynicism/ambivalence is pretty high out there right now...best to engage with believers in as friendly a manner possible if real dialogue is the intent.
     
  17. arbygil

    arbygil Passing through

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    I think it can depend on the situation. As others have said, there is a distinct difference between questioning why someone believes the way they do and asking someone, "so, when did you stop beating your wife" (so to speak). There are ways of asking questions if you want answers and if you're interested in the dialog with another person. But those questions can become antagonistic if you're at odds with the other person's viewpoint, and you have deep-set prejudicial roots about it.

    For example, I'm not going to go to a KKK rally meeting and ask them why they hate me. It's not productive. But if I'm in a one on one conversation with someone and they happen to be prejudiced against Blacks I might be a little upset but I honestly want to hear their opinion so we can come to a point of balance. I want them to know my perspective but I'm not going to beat them up for theirs, if that makes sense.
     
  18. Sithious

    Sithious Well-known member

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    Well, it kinda depends how you ask the question.

    For instance:" Are you an idiot!?" Is kind of an insult
     
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  19. gloomy-optimist

    gloomy-optimist Used to live here

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    I agree with arby.

    I mean, there's a difference between questioning and attacking. If you want to question a person's beliefs just by degrading those beliefs or looking down on them, then you're not giving that person any chance to defend themselves.

    Basically, people see it as attacking their person when they feel like the person questioning thinks less of them. "Your belief is stupid" can essential be translated to "You're stupid for believing that."

    Questioning provokes dialogue and productive communication. Attacking generally does not allow for the person to defend their beliefs.
     
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  20. OP
    Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    Hm...so it follows intent of the questioner, how the questions are phrased, and what is at stake for the person being questioned.

    Aiming to disprove a person's beliefs with loaded questions that could expose a person's incompetency in their worldview would be considered attacking whereas aiming to form a dialogue with tactful questions which do not endanger a person's self esteem would not be considered attacking.

    But where is the fun in not making a person's views look dumb, particularly when some of their views are offensive to you? To borrow the analogy, if a yellow belt comes into a class pretending to know everything about martial arts and arguing that girls can't do them right, would it not be fitting for a female second degree black belt to kick their ass and set them right?

    When people speak in terms of their political ideologies or religious faith, they make the following assumptions...

    1. That their beliefs are infallible and anyone who does not agree with them is wrong.
    2. That any view that they hold that could be perceived as offensive to others is justified regardless of lack of reason or evidence because they percieve their beliefs as infallible.

    As such, it does not seem like an attack to me to challenge the perceived infallibility of a person's beliefs as a way to demonstrate the baselessness of their offensive views.
     
    #20 Satya, Nov 17, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2009
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