I’m going to be running an evil experiment with select work colleagues which I do not recommend you replicate with family or friends. Why? Because they may not like you much. You don’t want to lose family and friends generally, but you might apply this technique to those you do.

You already know that I work among staunch conservatives. Look up ‘resilience’ in the encyclopaedia, and there’s a weary-looking picture of me. I’d invite other leftists to walk a slow mile in my 5.11’s but I suspect they wouldn’t make it. I don’t meet many progressives at my work, but on the rare occasion I do, we exchange the secret handshake and keep our heads down.

obviously, that’s not it

Well, no longer!

My head’s up now. I’ve achieved sufficient age and seniority at work to not give a fuck what people think. Their opinions about my politics can’t touch me anymore. I dont have to toe their line. But my opinions about their politics may still matter.

Or at least, let them keep thinking that!

I did say evil experiment.

In brief, my plan is to switch from the fact-check approach I usually apply when confronted by ignorant conservative opinions, to “the illusion of explanatory depth” approach.

Vaccination conspiracies. The 5G nutters. The climate change denialists. We even have a guy who thinks the Holocaust never happened! They have their stock answers memorised, ready-reckoners brimming with rebuttals, not to prove they are right but instead to argue there’s a possibility you are wrong.

97% of climate scientists agree that human-caused climate change is real, so of course the denialists fixate on the three-percent.

Big Tobacco didn’t have to prove smoking was safe, they just had to pay a scientist to cast doubt on the emerging evidence.

You can apply this to every conspiracy theory — conservatives will always trot out an ‘expert’ who (for a fee) will publicly discredit your position on anything.

For some odd reason, humans seem better at attacking than defending (Exhibit A: Donald Trump) so my experiment involves simply asking them to explain their views. Explain them in depth. Beyond the stock answers and ready rebuttals, to the degree where the holes in their rhetoric become obvious.

Then, a few weeks later, come back to them about those holes. All innocent sounding, revisit the topic to see whether they’ve plastered them over with more lies, or whether they have recanted their views. Self-doubt puts conviction to the test. They will rally or be routed.

Mind you, they’ll still be hard-wired to conservative views and values, blathering on about God and Family and Morals as if it proves their credentials. But that’s okay. Sheep follow other sheep, always assuming there’s a shepherd at the head of the flock and not a wolf.

I can live with the fact that we can be the wolf, or watch the wolf, but at least we’ll never be the sheep. My moral compass is totally okay with that, how about yours?

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