Going To Dinner With Hitler And Stalin: How To Enjoy The Company of Crazies

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September 28, 2015 by Liberty

*This article isn’t about literally Hitler and Stalin. Don’t take it that seriously. The names were intended as an silly exaggeration. Apparently, it wasn’t made as obvious as intended so this note was added to clarify. (The images didn’t help the case. My bad…)

Some people are so invested in their ideas that it’s virtually impossible to change them. Imagine you take one of the famous conservative talk show hosts out for dinner. Those men have made careers out of their thoughts on politics. It doesn’t matter how successfully you make your case, you’re not going to change their minds about anything they discuss on air. Studies have shown the average person is virtually impossible to convince even with evidence. Given a person that is deeply invested in their opinions, you’re not going to change their mind.

In the title of this article I used Hitler and Stalin as an example of this. Imagine you take Hitler out drinking one night. Assume that he’s not a crazy sociopath (I don’t know if he was but I imagine many people assume it.) He’s responsible for millions of people getting killed for his ideas. Assuming you could change his mind, he’d become a useless sack of hopeless psychological collapse. He’d feel miserable. That’s why his ideas are going to be so well protected under impossible to change standards. He would have so much on the line that he couldn’t live with himself being wrong.

In the past I would have first and foremost recommended to stay away from these people. Social ostracism is one of the most powerful tools people have for dealing with crazies (idiots, and assholes.) It’s one of the most simple ways you can improve your own life. Why would you ever offer company to those that you find completely bad for society?

Ostracism comes with some challenges though. One of those main challenges is that, in all likelihood, you’re crazy too. Sure, you may be right in certain areas but odds are you have your own problems. The more well-versed you are in one area, the less well-versed you are in every other area. It’s the nature of knowledge. You suffer the same problems as anyone that you’re judging (hopefully not to the same degree.)

On top of that, if you limited your human interactions to people that were curious, skeptical, accepting of criticism and intelligent then you’d likely end up talking to a volleyball your whole life.

There are a lot of advantages to communicating with people you’d consider crazy. Here are some ways to reap those advantages:

Ask Questions

Virtually any notably idiotic looking position has a very intelligent rationale behind it.

If I was to go to dinner with a Nazi, he or she would realize the oddness of their political position. Everyone in the world understands that people are supposed to be hating on Nazis. Even that Nazi understands it. Despite that understand, the Nazi is still a Nazi. I can almost guarantee he or she has a list of interesting reasons. Ask about them.

Highly intelligent people often look the craziest before examination. The average person is comfortable just going with the flow and saying they’re “independent!” If they have a little bit of spunk they might say a political preference. The farther out the political preference, the more good reasons they need to be there. That means they’ve likely examined the situation quite a bit.

By asking questions you can learn interesting things. Some of it may be wrong but some of it may be right. You can try and put yourself in their shoes to understand why they think the way they think. Even if you don’t learn anything worthwhile about your own beliefs, you’ll almost always learn how someone that disagrees with you thinks.

Don’t Convert

As I mentioned earlier, people invested don’t change their minds. Sure, they do… sometimes… but don’t invest energy into people that aren’t explicitly asking for it (unless, perhaps, they’re not the one arguing against you.) When you have someone that’s invested in their position, the attempt to convert them to your own belief is virtually useless. The best case scenario is that you come off as a rational person that disagrees with them. More often, they’ll catch you (or think they caught you) on something stupid and convince themselves you’re a raving lunatic.

“Oh! He was a day off on the day Stalin passed away! He knows nothing about history. What did he fall asleep in history class? What an idiot!”

It’s a waste of time. You’ll get more from asking questions than trying to convert. At most, go socratic on their asses and ask questions that paint them into a corner of idiocy. Don’t rub it in their faces though. That’s just rude.

Find Things To Respect

There is something to respect about everyone you deal with. If there is nothing to respect then you shouldn’t be dealing with them.

Many people with strong opinions have very well thought out rationales behind them. They might even have evidence out their wazoo. They may only have an opinion you consider wrong because of one or two small disagreements. If that’s the case then this process should be easy.

There are some times when people have poor evidence but appear to be doing what they do for the right reasons. A high minded politician might do terrible things all with the hope of changing the world for the better. I can’t agree with their methodology but I can respect their goals.

If you’re unable to find things to respect then it means one of two things that should lead to the same action. One: you may have found a truly bad person. Congratulations. They’re a 1 in 100 catch. Pay attention to the bait you used and consider never using it again. Two: You may be a little over invested in your own opinions.
Either way, it’s a waste of time to be dealing with people in that case. (Given case two, you may want to try and prove yourself wrong about a few things.)

Let Them Pay The Bill

Do not invest yourself into these people. Do not invest your time. Do not invest your money. You can enjoy their company but don’t expect them to provide you any long term returns for it. If they offer to pay the bills, don’t let nobility get in your way, let them pay it. If they want to flip a coin for it or split it then feel free to do that. Just don’t take this kind of a person out to dinner unless you’ve got some damn good reason for it.

People that are not worth your time and aren’t willing to pay for it shouldn’t be in your life.

I suggest the lobster.

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