Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Did I gaslight an identitarian friend? or To Crusaders, God's deniers are Satan's liars

I'm fairly tolerant of political disagreement, so long as you're not hurting anyone and not in a position to change the law, but I've lost a few identitarian friends over the years because their beliefs require constant validation. Believers in secular religions, whether theistic or atheistic, need to stay in the company of fellow believers.

I don't mean to sound glib—I miss the people I thought they were. And I don't mean to suggest they're bad people for demanding conformity or silence.  Many people do. They think that if they occasionally have to burn a witch to save the group, it's only hard on the witch.

At the time, that may be true. But years after the Salem witch trials, a judge and several jurors apologized for being "under the power of a strong and general delusion, utterly unacquainted with and not experienced in matters of that nature". The jurors' apology gives me hope for my species, even though it saved no lives. But so far as I know, some jurors never realized they were wrong. Belief systems have powerful ways to protect themselves.* We are, after all, rationalizing animals.

Which is why my former friend accused me of gaslighting when I offered facts that didn't fit his preconceptions. His charge made me see that "gaslighting" needs two definitions. The first: someone is trying to make you doubt your sanity by lying to you. The second: you declare someone a liar to keep from doubting yourself. The mental health industry cares for a great many people who are sure they're sane and being gaslit.

* See “My-side bias” makes it difficult for us to see the logic in arguments we disagree with

Surprisingly relevant: Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture